A Slice of Napoli at Via Toledo
The new Neapolitan-style pizzeria Via Toledo entices with a Valoriani oven and lots of southern cordiality.
Vienna has its fair share of ristorante italiani, particularly in the 8th district, where pizza, pasta and other delicacies from our southern neighbor confront you at every turn. Via Toledo, the latest entry into the game, is named after an ancient street in the heart of Naples; It does its name justice with no-nonsense Italian cuisine, boasting a very respectable, Neapolitan-style pizza.
As my partner and I enter on a Thursday evening, the very friendly staff greets us – as does an enormous, glossy-tiled pizza oven. “A Valoriani original,” one of the waiters hurries to point out. We learn that this kind of wood-fired oven is deemed essential for Neapolitan-style pizza and is used by the world’s foremost pizzaioli (pizza chefs). A fact noted by Francesco Calò and Donato Santoro, who opened Via Toledo in November after previously working the ovens at Pizzeria Riva.
Via Toledo © Derenko
The main space was designed with the same cookie-cutter decor used for so many establishments opening now: state-of-the-art copper lampshades, a wine-bottle chandelier, heavy upholstered furniture and a dark wood floor. Some quasi-Italian elements like wallpaper printed with antique facades and colorful floor tiles in the bathroom (lots of people took Instagram-ready pictures of their footwear during our visit) create a formulaic but harmonious vibe.
At around eight in the evening the place is buzzing, the service staff scurrying hither and thither. The menu offers a large selection, including antipasti from €4.90 (focaccia with olive oil and rosemary) to €10.80 (grilled vegetables).
Around 20 different pizzas (classic with tomato sauce or bianche with white cream) range in price from about €7 to €14. The impressive wine list includes selections from some fine Italian wineries such as Biserno, Gaja and Prunotto.
All’s well that eats well
The mixed salad we started with was simple, with surprisingly intense cherry tomatoes. The aromatic bresaola (thinly sliced air-dried beef) is served with parmesan on the obligatory bed of arugula.
For the main act, the pizza, we chose the Napoli (tomato sauce, oregano, anchovies, extra virgin olive oil) and the Bufalina (tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil) – after asking our passionate and tireless waitress for her special recommendation.
The dough, fresh tomato sauce and aromatic, fruity olive oil left a good first impression. My companion and I agreed that taste in pizza is inherently fickle and oh so personal. Thick crust, yay or nay? It can be a dealbreaker for some. Via Toledo’s soft and slightly chewy crust is superb if that’s your preference.
Via Toledo © Derenko
As for dessert, we shared a Torta Ricotta e Pera, a hazelnut sponge cake with ricotta filling and pickled pear. Deliciously sweet with a heavy finish, it tasted very much like something from a typical Austrian pastry shop. Two of the neighboring tables ordered the cannoli (tube-shaped pastry shells filled with sweetened ricotta) and seemed to enjoy them very much – one happy couple even feeding each other.
While the surroundings are not particularly Italian, the staff’s Mediterranean hospitality makes up for it in spades. As the proverb on my cutlery sheath wisely states: Chi tene che manga’ nun ave a che penzá (those who have something to eat don’t have to worry). All’s well that ends in food, especially if it is pizza.