“Summer + Local Beer + Local Pizza + Quidi Vidi,” boasted the ticket page for the pizza pairing event put off by Quidi Vidi Brewery and Olio which sounds like a winning combination to me. St. John’s has been blessed with what has so far been an awesome summer and hopefully, you are getting out there and enjoying the weather. I couldn’t think of a better way to take a break from my summer session courses at MUN than to visit Quidi Vidi for some beer and pizza on July 19th.
I have been raving about Olio since before my spotlight on them was published here on Tint back in March. In fact on the first day of my summer session class, I revealed to my group in an ice breaker activity that I really, really, really, really really, really like pizza. I told them how just the night before I had been at Olio for their all you can eat pizza event that happens every Monday.
For this event, Olio collaborated with Quidi Vidi Brewery. Olio’s owner, Trevor Hickey says that his team “has worked [hard] pairing the pizzas and beers”. I spoke with him a few days before the event and he told me that there would be four different pizzas from their menu paired with Quidi Vidi beer including a classic from the Olio menu, a generally speaking universal classic pizza recipe, an upgraded Olio creation and a brand new recipe. Trevor said he was excited about the event and that he thought it would “be a great night.”
Despite the fact that summer decided to take a little break and it rained a bit heavily, it was indeed a great night. (I also realized that no matter what the weather is like, the view around the brewery is always picturesque). I was really impressed with the pizza and beer pairings. The cost of the ticket might have seemed a bit steep at $38.78 taxes in (though to be fair I often spend this much or more for beer and pizza, or beer and wings, or beer and…well whatever else I decide on indulging on when I got out), but you were served with a pint of draught of your choosing as an appetizer. (I’m new to the Honey Brown party but as a good friend of mine once exclaimed over some muffins… “YUM!”)
The first pizza and beer pairing that was served was Olio’s “The Great Fire” which has banana peppers, caramelized onion, soppressata (which I keep saying it in the way Justin Bieber says “Despacito”), and a garlic oil base. This pizza was paired with Quidi Vidi’s 1892, a traditional ale. I hadn’t had soppressata before so in case you also aren’t enlightened, it’s like a spicier pepperoni. I’m not sure if I’ve had Quidi Vidi’s 1892 before but what a great pairing! (Also for trivia purposes, this pairing was meant to be since Olio’s pizza is named after one of the worst disasters to ever befall the city, which happened to occur in; you guessed it, 1892).
Between the first and second pizza and beer pairings, we were treated to some complimentary garlic fingers. I haven’t had the garlic fingers from Oliio yet, but after having a taste of these I may have to add them to my next order. (That bacon though…).
Next up was Olio’s 5 Brother’s Smoked Cheddar which had toppings including green pepper, chicken, bacon, a BBQ base and of course 5 Brother’s smoked cheddar cheese. This pizza was paired with Quidi Vidi’s British IPA, which I must admit isn’t my cup of tea, even though I know that IPAs are very popular amongst beer aficionados. This pizza also tasted great but I still give the edge to The Great Fire/1892 at this point.
The third pizza and beer pairing were Olio’s Chicken Pesto paired with Quidi Vidi’s seasonal Continental Pilsner. This pizza is featured on Olio’s static menu and has a pesto base, chicken, roasted red peppers, roasted tomato and goat cheese. I will also admit that the pilsner is not my cup of tea either but I did like the food pairing. I think that food and alcohol pairing is definitely an art and the team behind this event found a way for me to enjoy the pilsner with this pesto based pizza.
Finally, the main event, and Oliio’s new reveal: The Gut. Now, anyone who isn’t from here might think this is a poor choice for a brand new pizza’s name. (Though I can’t be the only one who thinks that the term “gastropub” sounds sickening despite the fact that I know the difference?) “The Gut” which borrows from the nickname bestowed upon the neighbourhood of Quidi Vidi. This pizza is a vegetarian option for those of you who identify as Team Brachiosaurus over Team Velociraptor. It has a tomato base with oregano, roasted garlic, basil, Parmesan cheese and chili oil. The pizza was paired with what might be Quidi Vidi Brewery’s most popular beer, Iceberg lager. This was a wonderful pairing but since I’m “Team Raptor” I kept thinking “Imagine if this had bacon!”(The great thing about the whole “Create Olio” campaign I wrote about before, I could add bacon to this vegetarian presentation and it would be just fine).
Olio really is nothing like any other pizza place (or restaurant for that matter) in this city. In an effort to get a conversation going amongst strangers, cards resembling the black ones from Cards Against Humanity were placed at each table setting with interesting questions like “If your parents were turned into zombies but they wouldn’t eat you, would you kill them?” (The answer is no since I kind of like my parents and I really quite enjoyed the antics and misadventures of the characters on Santa Clarita Diet this past winter).
I can’t say enough about Olio and the effort Trevor puts into this business. He walked around to each table before each pizza and beer pairing and explained what was about to come and why he thought these pairings worked and he was genuinely happy to see people enjoying themselves. I had messaged him and told him I was planning on attending the event and writing about it and he said he was looking forward to it and hoped for some kind words. I’m by no means a food expert, nor do I have the social media clout to Tweet somebody out of business but there is no way I could say anything bad about such quality pizza being pushed by a genuine and passionate business owner.
With the weekend coming up, why not pick up some Quidi Vidi and pop into Olio? They have some pretty sweet deals for groups and you can try one of the pizzas on that were paired with beer at the event. Better yet, pick up one of the other brews from Quidi Vidi and try out your own beer and pizza pairing; I’m interested to see what would go well with Premium; my favourite of the Quidi Vidi brews.