110 – 800 Pender Street (at Howe)
T: 604 602 7263
Brief Description: Where the beautiful people eat and work…Sciué offers simple Italian fast food at affordable “I-can-eat-here-more-than-once-a-week” prices.
Even though it has now been a number of years, I can still vividly recall a pizza bar in Florence that created the most fantastic pizza my 21 year old taste-buds had ever dined upon! The base of the pizza (similar to a rustic bread) was vastly different to the greasy, spongy pizza bases that I was used to. And the ingredients…wow! The ingredients were so fresh that I could actually taste each individual vegetable, from the sweet tomatoes to the sun-kissed peppers to the aromatic basil crushed over the top. Not only was I completely mesmerized by the quality of the pizza but I was fascinated by how they served it. The large, long loaves of pizza (not the usual round shape) were displayed behind a glass counter. The server would put his knife over your selected loaf and you indicated to him how much you would wanted by directing his knife (“more” or “less”) and then he would slice it to where you wanted it and weighed it. Since then, I have rarely seen this way of making or serving pizza so you can imagine my delight when I found that Sciué does exactly this!
I was struggling for another way to describe Sciué than insultingly referring to it as “fast food”, when I discovered the meaning of the word “sciué”. Apparently, it is Italian slang for “good and fast” and I thought – perfect! – that is a very accurate description! The “good and fast” food that is on offer is what the owners describe as Roman Street Food, which is basically freshly made pane romano’s (simply put, pizza on more of a bread crust than a dough), Italian sandwiches and more hearty dishes, such as pasta or meat and vegetables variants. To further convince your taste-buds that they have made a quick trip to Italy on their lunch-break, you can also indulge in coffee, gelati and traditional Italian pastries.
The setting is a modern, funky cafe, complete with Italian soccer playing on a TV in the corner. Getting a table during the busy lunch hour can be quite a challenge so there are a few tables outside to try to ease this problem.
The Pane Romano’s seem to be the favourite of the busy lunch crowd as there is usually a line-up of uncertain people trying to decide which of the incredible toppings they want to treat themselves to. So, although it is fast, it isn’t that fast. Some of my favourites are:
- The one topped with black olives, chilli flakes and Italian sausage;
- The one topped with mozzarella, rosemary potatoes, red peppers, Italian sausage and olive oil;
- The Caprese, topped with tomato sauce, misculin salad, sliced bocconcini, sliced tomatoes, olive oil.
I’ve not managed to pull myself away from the Pane Romano cabinet so I’ve yet to try their sandwiches but they do look delicious and their selection is unique. Where else in Vancouver can you devour a Veneto (roasted pork loin, provolone, sauteed mushrooms, spinach) or a Milano (pastrami, crem de brie, carmalized onion, tomato, misculin)? And I must say that I am using the term “sandwich” very loosely – they really don’t look like traditional sandwiches as they proudly sit behind the counter, the rustic bread enveloping fresh and colourful ingredients. I have, however, tried some of the Italian pastries and unfortunately they do not come close to comparing to the ones that I’ve had in Italy. They just weren’t fresh enough.
Final Thoughts: A great place to grab a slice or two of quality pizza for only a few bucks. The selection of toppings will have you “umm”-ing and “ahhh-ing” over which one to choose. You can expect fresh ingredients and pizza that tastes like a somewhat healthier option than those from other pizza places. Try and nab yourself a seat in the cafe and watch the busy lunch chaos unfold before you.