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Anchovy delight: pizza paired with a warm welcome at Bubby Rose’s

Allan Reid’s monthly Voracious column
The Anchovy Pizza at Bubby Rose’s. (Allan Reid)

Bubby Rose’s has been a fixture of the Victoria culinary scene since 2002, when it first opened its doors on Cook at Meares. There, a tiny café counter still fronts the bakery hidden behind. Subsequent locations served by that bakery have appeared downtown, in the Cook Street Village, and in James Bay. The most recent addition is in the bustling Quadra Village where, in addition to the expected assortment of in-house baked sweet treats and breads there is also pizza. I’ve enjoyed Bubby Rose’s baking for years, so now I’m eager to try the pizza.

It is a quiet Sunday in the noon hour. The place is mostly empty. Display cabinets offer selections of croissants, sticky buns, various muffins and cake slices. There are also promises of sandwiches and wraps, but I am not to be deterred. Approaching the counter, none other than Darioush Diba, Bubby Rose’s affable owner, steps from a back room with a warm welcome, a big smile and a printed menu. I am instantly charmed and take my seat right there, not three feet from the till.

There is Pineapple on this menu: the proverbial white elephant in the world of pizza, at least in North America. A maligned topping that never fails to make an appearance, though it may conceal itself deep among long lists of toppings for this pie or that, as if hoping to sneak by unnoticed. Fat chance. Despisers are always on the lookout. So imagine my surprise at the audacity here to so boldly assert itself in the very name of its own pizza!

Bubby Rose’s at 2571 Quadra St. (Allan Reid)

The Anchovy Pizza ($17 for a 12-inch pie) starts with Bubby Rose’s own sourdough crust: soft, bubbly, buttery and elastic. This is not a crust that can sustain its toppings. Even the folding trick does not work, so prepare to be messy. The crust is painted with a house-fired San Marzano tomato sauce, on top of which anchovy fillets flirt with kalamata olives, capers, red onion, and big glops of melted mozzarella. The whole thing is then slipped into the nowadays de rigour Italian-style brick oven. The thin crust resting on hot un-oiled bricks while the dome above circulates hot air among the toppings. It arrives, dusted with fresh parsley on touchable cast iron. The pizza hot, molten, charred. Despite the long list of toppings, the anchovies shine. Now, I must confess that I am usually critical of salt. I contend that if salt is meant to enhance flavour, and then if I can taste it, then it is no longer enhancing, but rather competing, and most often distracting from the intended flavours. However, this pizza offers a rare example wherein the salt, brine and umami of the anchovies, capers and olives, all perhaps slightly charred, work cooperatively, creating a flavourful sum far greater than the parts.

While my pizza cooked, I enjoyed another of Bubby Rose’s newest culinary explorations: their own house-roasted coffee. A medium-bodied, well-balanced roast available by the cup or by the pound, which I sipped patiently while continuing my conversation with Darioush. His is an infectious personality enriched with life experiences. He is a highly personable, well-educated, well-travelled, quite thoughtful Iranian-born man with a bubbling optimism and a love for living, working and serving customers right here in Victoria. It is a wonderful and rare treat to enjoy great food and its purveyor who’s enthusiasm for people matches his passion for good food.

Bubby Rose’s Bakery and Pizzeria | 2571 Quadra Street, Victoria

250 594 4411 |

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