Pizza is hard to review. It's so intensely subjective, that---perhaps more so than with any other food---saying you like one better than another is basically just the opening strains of a Sondheim musical. Do you like Neapolitan more than Sicilian? (Finger snaps.) New York more than Chicago? (Heel turn. Kick.)
It's clear after a few visits that Mother's Pizza is a kind of neutral ground. ("Whew." ---Riff and Bernardo.) The crust that isn't thick, but it isn't thin. Toppings are creative, but not unconventional. It lacks the blister of a great wood-fired pizza, and falls a little closer to standard American delivery pizza than the other gourmet pizza places in town. To my pizza-loving taste buds the pizza here actually reminds me a lot of the take-out pizza I had in Sardinia more than any other regional pies I've tasted. In a word, it's average.
The restaurant itself is beautiful. Huge windows flood the dining room with natural light. And while there is a big communal table in the middle of the room that offers a sort of intimate, convivial space, the restaurant is very roomy and the expanse between tables allows for a casual privacy, which I really like.
A very cool light fixture made of industrial mixer whisks hangs in the centre of the room. The tables are all heavy, gorgeous slabs of wood---cute terrariums sit on the tables, the one on ours has a tiny plastic dinosaur in it. A gnome sits on a patch of Astroturf off-centre on the communal table. There is a lot of whimsy in the restaurant, which is a delight.
It's my second visit to Mother's. Our server is instantly pleasant. She's attentive and chummy, and keeps our water glasses full without being overly solicitous. I order the cheapest red, a Malbec ($7). I like the casual service of wine, in a tumbler. Their approach to service reminds me even more of a number of the casual pizzerias I've been to in Cagliari. If they'd just add pizza topped with French fries and Aperol Spritz to the menu, it would basically be the closest thing in town to a pizzeria in Piazza Yenne.
We decide to start with the Baker's Lunch ($6.50), a cold appetizer plate with pickled vegetables, sausage, cheese and crackers. The house-made crackers are served in big crackling shards. They are very salty, hard to eat on their own, but a great foil to the creamy cheese, tart pickled vegetables and the mild smoked sausage from Peasant's Pantry in the Annapolis Valley. The bite of pickled onions is a highlight. Our only complaint is that the pickled beets lack the sweetness we expect, so there is a roundness of flavour missing from the plate.
We decide to split two of the small pizzas ---the white pizza ($11) and the spiced pork shoulder ($13).
The white pizza has a really lovely collection of toppings: a crumbly, spicy chorizo (from Peasant's Pantry) is the base for crunchy walnuts, a creamy combination of mozzarella and smoked gouda, and drizzles of honey and balsamic reduction. A puff of arugula brings a peppery finish that makes it a nice combination.
The pork pizza is underwhelming. The onions fall a little short of being truly caramelized and the cured pork lacks personality beyond salt, so it is ultimately a very boring pizza.
The big problem for me is that the crust is ---across the board---just not great. It's chewy and bland, with little crispness and airiness. There is a valiant effort to give texture with cornmeal on the bottom, but there is something missing between proofing and baking that results in a flat-tasting crust.
The pretty space and excellent service make Mother's a really nice experience, but the pizza itself---at least in my opinion---is good, but nothing special. (Jazz Hands. End scene.)
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5710 Young Street, 406-5050
Tue-Sat 11:30am-2pm, , 5-10pm; Sun 5-9pm