The Great Pizza Quest
Competing not only across North America, but also in France and Italy, Diana Coutu has been named Canada's Best Pizza Chef from 2005 to 2009 - and for 2005-2006 was tagged as being the creator to the 4th best pizza in the world. She has been judge at numerous global pizza competitions, and been made an honourary member of not only Australia's Pizza Team, but also France's and the World Champions'.
Going into a pizza experience with these kinds of credentials backing it is in some ways intimidating. It took me a few years before I gathered enough courage to take a bite; it wasn't that I was truly frightened at the thought of eating an award-winning pizza, but more that I was afraid I'd be thoroughly disappointed. Sometimes the anticipation is better than the actual experience. And I'd certainly feel as though something was terribly wrong if I found a pizza so highly revered in pizza circles as merely mediocre.
We tried two pizzas, each on a different crust. The classic Canadian Pizza on the signature Moosehead crust, and the new Ladies Golfers Dream, which comes on a thin whole wheat crust by default. The latter pizza had an olive oil and herb sauce, and was piled high with feta, spinach, asparagus, green peppers, broccoli, garlic, and pesto chicken - and when I say 'piled high,' I do in fact mean 'piled high,' so much so that the very green ingredients had trouble staying on any given slice. But they were rather tasty greens: fresh and deliciously flavourful in their intriguing combination, and every bite had the pleasant burst of feta cheese. The whole wheat crust was unquestionably the best I've ever had - I could barely even tell it was other than an original white. It made me wonder how their gluten-free crust would be.
The Canadian was excellent. The crumbled bacon was noticeably real and fresh; the pepperoni was flavourful, even if not as crispy as it could've been; and I always love mushrooms - especially fresh ones. The balance of meat and cheese was nigh-perfect and the sauce was not overpowering. This was among the best Canadian Pizzas I've eaten. I feel, however, that overall it was too soft - you see, I much prefer a well-done pizza pie, but the softness did give it a bit of its homemade quality - and I wouldn't have been able to tell you it was a Moosehead crust except for the fact I knew that's what we ordered.
Diana's gourmet pizza was decidedly not mediocre. I surely got a sense of why it's such an awarded pizza; I would definitely be a return customer, but to be sure not a frequent one. Such a highly respected meal comes with a price; to become a loyal fan would make me broke - it would be a very expensive habit indeed. But I think everyone who enjoys pizza should experience Diana's at some point in their lives. I know we'll be trying some of the other gourmet pies - and not because they sent us a Thank You postcard with a coupon. But that certainly helps.
Carbone Coal Fired Pizza
Diana's Gourmet Pizza
La Salle River Inn
Lady of the Lake