One of the appeals of staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel is that you don’t have to eat out for every meal. And, one of the best things about travelling is meandering the local markets and specialty shops to collect a bounty of ingredients to bring home to vacation home rental with luxurios kitchen. There’s something exceptionally satisfying about having a well-appointed kitchen in a fabulous pied-a-terre vacation home.
What better way to get to know the place you’re visiting than by indulging in delicious meals that reflect its people, culture and lands? In this edition of easy meal ideas for vacation rentals we’re diving into the world of artisanal gourmet pizzas. And the best part? We’ll be sourcing our ingredients from some of our favourite local Victoria, BC, foodie businesses: Ottavio Bakery & Delicatessen, The Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria, and The Root Cellar Village Grocer.
Just imagine the comforting aroma of freshly baked crust, the zing of quality toppings, and the perfect blend of flavours dancing on your palate. That’s the magic of gourmet pizza. It’s a canvas for creativity that can be as simple or elaborate as you want. It’s a hassle-free way to celebrate beautiful, local ingredients and let them shine in all their glory.
Ottavio Deli: A One-Stop-Shop for Authentic Italian Pizza
Every memorable culinary experience starts with top-notch ingredients; at Ottavio Italian Bakery and Delicatessen, quality reigns supreme. This Oak Bay hub is a gold mine of authentic Italian foods ranging from cheeses, cured meats, baked goods, homemade gelato, and an array of artisan vinegar and oils. You can get all your pizza needs in one spectacular shop. They stock the bakery fridge with fresh pizza dough daily. It sells fast, but there’s usually extra in the freezer (insider tip: you can call and reserve a ball if you want to guarantee getting a fresh one). This is our favourite dough in the city. One ball creates the equivalent a single-serving thin crust pizza. It is easiest to roll out once it has fully come to room temperature, so we suggest doing you shop ahead of time to leave enough time for the dough to sit out before meal prep time arrives. Their shelves and deli cases are always brimming with various specialty products procured from local artisans or imported from Italy. Be sure to check the fridge for fresh mozzarella and burrata that are flown in regularly from Italy. The Murgella burrata is like no other we’ve had. And, if you’re a meat eater, we suggest trying the artisan salamis from the renowned Vancouver charcuterie masters at Oyama Sausage Co.
The Whole Beast: Elevate Your Pizza Proteins
Speaking of meat, let us introduce you to (hands down) the best charcuterie artisans in Victoria: The Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria. For meat lovers, a gourmet pizza is incomplete without exceptional proteins, and that’s where The Whole Beast comes into play. This revered local shop is a treasure trove of traditional, hand crafted cured meats made without unnecessary additives (and everything in the shop is gluten-free). Although this isn’t an all-in-one shop for procuring your pizza ingredients, it is in the same neighbourhood as Ottavio and its worth making an additional stop for. Whether you’re looking for spicy, spreadable nduja, classic pepperoni or melt-in-your-mouth Parma-style prosciutto, this small but mighty shop will have you contemplating making multiple pizzas so you can can have a smorgasbord of meat.
The Root Cellar: An Emporium of Locally-Sourced Ingredients
The Root Cellar Village Green Grocer has two locations: the original shop near the rolling, farmland fields at the foot of Pkols (Mount Douglas Park, a favourite hiking and dog-walking spot of locals) and a newer store in one of our favourite Victoria neighbourhoods, Cook Street Village. The Cook Street location is the one most vacation rental guests will likely frequent due to its proximity to many of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods. Whichever of the two you shop at, you’ll find everything you need to make a delicious pizza (or several).
While The Root Cellar originally started with a focus on providing a spectacular selection of produce from near and far, it has evolved to carry most food products you would seek out in a standard grocery store – with the caveat that they focus on sourcing local first. It’s worth noting that you won’t see much produce that is certified organic, but it’s worth asking a clerk about what they have that has been grown without chemicals. Organic certification is very costly, far too costly to be feasible for many small-scale farms. Despite not seeking official certification, many of our regional growers practice employ chemical-free practices. The Root Cellar also has an in-house meat division called The Chop Shop, that offers a full-spectrum range of fresh and prepared meats that come from local, naturally-raised animals.
This community-focused grocer is a haven for locally sourced products, and while you can shop til your heart’s content for all manner of gourmet pizza toppings, here are a few tips for base ingredients. They have two options for dough, depending on what crust style you like. If you’re more of an old-world Neapolitan traditionalist, go for the 900 Degrees Pizzeria option, which comes in organic and gluten-free versions. A word of warning, though: We have yet to roll the gluten-free dough successfully. One ball of dough makes a single, personal-size thin crust pizza. If you’re looking for a more pillowy, deep-dish crust, use the dough from Oregano’s – another local pizza joint. One ball of this dough makes a pizza more a king to a standard medium to large pizza.
There is a plethora of tomato sauce and cheese options. Our two favourites, however, are the classic marinara from Zambri’s, one of the city’s most acclaimed Italian eateries and fresh mozzarella from Natural Pastures. This fantastic local producer makes mozzarella in the traditional Italian style using milk fro island-reared, pasture-foraged herds that include Canada’s first-ever heard of water buffalo.
Whipping up a gourmet pizza topped with local ingredients can be both a feast for the senses and a foray into the best culinary delights of Victoria, BC. Each bite can be a journey through layers of flavour and a medley of exceptional products from local businesses that take pride in their craft. Gourmet cooking doesn’t have to be reserved for restaurants. With the right ingredients and a dash of curiosity, you can create an easy vacation home meal that rivals any of our most popular pizza purveyors. That being said, if you love the idea of making your own pizza but not the reality of doing it, then may we suggest a few hassle-free options for some of the city’s best pizza makers: Standard Pizza (take-out only), Prima Strada or Faro for eat in or pick-up, and Fernwood Pizza (pick-up or delivery).