Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company & Incendio

October 16th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Rocky Mountain ExtRocky Mountain Flatbread Company
Address: 1876 W 1st Avenue (map)
hours available on homepage

** (of four stars)

Kitsilano – 2118 Burrard St (map)
Gastown – 103 Columbia St (map)
hours available on homepage

* and 1/2 (of four stars)

Scenes from some Italian Restaurants

By Jason Chin
Eat Vancouver Editor
Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

A welcomed trend has recently emerged in Vancouver in the form of the casual Italian restaurant. Two relative newcomers, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company and Incendio, happily succeed in flying this banner, but in a slightly different way. Rocky Mountain takes the healthy angle, while Incendio tends more towards an epicurean style of eating.

True to its moniker, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company started east of Vancouver out in Alberta. The branch in Kitsilano is a recent addition, but don’t float the word “chain” around the owner, who in our conversation objected to the loaded term. Whether you want to call it part of a chain or not, the Kitsilano location is well chosen given this neighborhood’s hippy-friendly attitude and Rocky Mountain’s focus on healthy Italian.

The restaurant itself leaves little to complain about. Rich reds and wood paneling speak of comfortable, easy-going Italian. The service is of the same mind: helpful and friendly, but not overly so. On one night, a friend and I came in with fairly specific appetite restrictions: we were hungry but did not want to load up seeing as we had a party to attend later. Our server directed us to a small salad and regular pizza, a recommendation that worked out perfectly.

rocky mountain pizzaThe owners of Rocky Mountain are quite serious about their pizza, boasting an impressive birch-burning oven. The philosophy appears to be healthy Italian, serving organic pizzas with no added salt or sugar. I know what you are thinking, and as a proud salt addict, I was skeptical as well. I have to admit, however, the no additional salt rule doesn’t really impair the food. It helps that they rock some big flavor, such as with the pesto in the pesto pizza, a fine creation. However, if you do order it, I’d suggest you request they hold the avocadoes, oven-baked avocadoes not being an overly pleasant taste. I see finding an avocado on a pizza as akin to finding a condom wrapper on the sidewalk: it’s unappetizing and you have to wonder about the series of events that brought it there. After all, why not cook the pizza and then add them raw afterwards? Regardless, the pizzas are generally quite good. The screaming dry heat of the wood-burning oven does wonders for the pizza, lending it a slightly charred crispy crust but not overcooking the center. The ingredients also appear to be high quality, with the cheese rarely appearing overly greasy and bright tomato sauce accenting the work. From any angle you look at it, Rocky Mountain is serious about pizza, and it shows. In fact, they are serious enough to have begun porting them over to local grocery stores. This means that even if their dining room isn’t full, they are still getting return on their capital. Their pizzas, as it turns out, are prepared in their Kitsilano kitchen and transported to frozen food isles throughout Vancouver’s grocery stores. One must wonder what this means for other local restaurants? Will we one day see Hamilton Street Grill’s gingerbread pudding in Caper’s frozen food section, or the Feenie Burger at our local Choices?

Of course, there are times when one doesn’t feel like settling on a healthy pizza and an organic soda. Enter Incendio, a restaurant that helps slake that thirst for a good beer with a pizza that doesn’t dwell on sodium content.

Although have their similarities (casual Italian, wood-burning ovens, two locations, in terms of personality, Incendio is in many ways Rocky Mountain’s leather jacket wearing, motorcycle riding kid brother. That is to say, it’s rowdier and forgoes the health food angle – of course that’s rowdy in a way only casual Italian can be rowdy.

pasta at incendioWhen you look at Incedio’s pizza menu, you can pretty much tell it’s going to be the sexier of the two. The Capricossa, for instance, boasts ham, salami, artichokes and mushrooms, and indeed balance them well. This pizza is just as fine as anything Rocky Mountain Flatbread produces and let’s face it, when you order a Capricossa, you aren’t interested in the salt content of your meal, and you’re probably also a person who likes a nice beer with his or her pizza. Incendio ups the ante here as well, sporting a terrific beer list and daily drink specials. Of the beers, my favorite is the fairly priced Unibroe Maudite, nearly a meal in itself for $8. The weakness of Incendio is in its pastas, where oversauced and undercooked appear to appropriate mantras. I like the pollo pasta for the nice rosemary kick in the sauce, but the chicken comes out dry, the pasta has a little too much bite, and the whole thing is ridiculously oversauced. Long story short: stick to the pizza.

Decent casual Italian is a relatively new development in the Kitsilano scene, where it appears Chianti’s is finally ready to be usurped by superior contenders. Incendio and Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company take different paths, but both make a serious pizza and together add new depth to Vancouver’s restaurant scene.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company on Urbanspoon

Tags: Italian

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 EnoughAlready // Oct 10, 2009 at 12:03 am

    It is amazing to me what some people consider a good restaurant these days……..this place has no atmosphere and feels like a step above a cafeteria.
    If you don’t have kids and don’t like to go out where the place is packed with them running about, go elsewhere.
    The food is not bad and price point is a bit high for a “family” restaurant.
    The staff??? Well have a go and see for yourself if you consider that “good” service. Oh and the “organic” deliveries at least by one company likes to idle the loudest truck heard to man for about 45 minutes while making it’s delivery.
    Great for our air quality and the tons of residents in the neighbourhood who are sleeping!!
    We have so many restaurants in Vancouver and a lot are mediocre at best. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have standards of “good, bad or ugly” anymore….slap the word “organic” on it and charge and arm and a leg and us Kits folk who seem to be starving for a half decent place will lick it up!!!….yummmmmm

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