Italian Kitchen To Go: Gooey Cheesy Timballo and Fire Roasted Flatbread Pizzas
1030 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
Looking for a quick and hot lunch on a cold, windy Vancouver day, Design Girl (www.foodology.ca) and I ducked into Italian Kitchen To Go. Ok, actually, we almost missed it, the entrance to this place is not obvious at all! Downstairs from the restaurant, Italian Kitchen, the To Go section is at the end of a long hallway and under a staircase. It looks like a deli counter. When we finally stumbled upon it, Design Girl said, ‘Oh, I guess this is it.’ Although, by then, we could smell the baking pizzas and fresh pastries.
We picked the most delicious looking items from the display cases. I skipped over the paninis and pasta salads since it was so cold that day, I was totally craving something hot and covered in melted cheese. We settled on the incredible looking Timballo (actually, we nicknamed it the mac and cheese pie), a squash and bacon pizza (the bacon sold us) and a couple of desserts.
Next, we were up against the same dilemma as dining at food carts. Where to sit? With our food cooling fast, we high tailed it to the nearby Royal Center mall. Thankfully there were a few tables available so we quickly unwrapped our food and as all food bloggers do, proceeded to take a million pictures before digging in!
The squash and bacon pizza was the first thing we attacked. It was delectable! And I am not just saying that because it was topped with my three favourite ingredients: cheese, bacon and butternut squash. At first, I didn’t know how the sweet squash would fare with the cheese and bacon combo, I was more curious than anything. But it all worked out, the sweetness from the juicy, roasted caramelized squash balanced the crispy and salty bacon and the gooey, melted cheese tied it all together. Watch out for the red chilli flakes though, hidden under the squash slices, I bit down on a few that made me tear up a little. I am such a wimp when it comes to mild spice!
I also loved that the flatbread crust was just the right thickness. I know this is an Italian restaurant, but admittedly, I am not a fan of thin crust pizzas, I’m more of a pan crust or Chicago style pizza crust kind of girl. And the flatbread crust is perfect, not too thick and bready but sturdy enough to hold up heavy ingredients like juicy squash plus lots of cheese.
I loved the airy layers in the crust, soft and fluffy in the middle, dry and crisp on the bottom and along the sides.
Now, onto the Timballo. We picked this item since it looked so interesting in the display case, shaped like a pie but made of mac and cheese, how could anyone resist? Did I mention it is also filled with lamb sausage? The sign in the display case also says there are caramelized onions baked in, I guess our slice didn’t have many onions as I didn’t really bite onto any. Nonetheless, everything else about the Timballo was delicious and addictive. Just imagine the perfectly baked mac and cheese with a crusty top and very creamy, ooey gooey insides AND lamb sausage!
Except for the crusty layer of pasta on top, the pasta in the middle of the Timballo slice was very tender and smothered in cream and cheese. This is the ultimate comfort food for a cold day.
My only complaint is that the lamb sausage is a little bit on the salty side. I spent the rest of the afternoon chugging a lot of water and juice to make up for that.
For dessert, I picked a couple of macarons since I was craving them and there was a big plate of them on display. When we opened the bag, we found that one of the macarons was cracked and slightly crushed. I thought this was pretty promising though since it showed how delicate the pastry was. The high end macarons I bought in Paris practically cracked at a puff of air.
Unfortunately, as pretty as they were, these Italian Kitchen To Go macarons really didn’t measure up to Paris macarons. I’m actually still wondering what flavour they were. The macaron cookies were obviously vanilla, specked with vanilla bean seeds and tasting sweet and clean like vanilla. The texture was not what I was expecting though. Hollow in the center and more crunchy than chewy, these cookies definitely weren’t baked at the right temperature in order for the delicate egg whites to set. But it’s the filling that was such a mystery. Instead of a fluffy cream, the filling peeled off in one solid disk. It was sort of fruity sweet but I still have no idea what flavour it was.
Our second dessert was delicious though! A thick, fudgy square with a chocolate crust. The actual fudge portion of this square was slightly lighter than I had expected. I thought it would be so thick that it’d stick to the top of my mouth like cement but it had more of a smooth, melty texture, gliding off my tongue and melting into a silky creamy chocolate liquid as I chewed it. It was bittersweet, a great balance with the syrupy sweet macarons we just ate. The crust was also chocolate, a dark bitter chocolate. This dessert was essentially chocolate on chocolate. How could that be bad? It was a great ending to a great cold day meal!
I will definitely revisit Italian Kitchen To Go! If only to try the rest of their flatbread pizzas!