Crescent Beach Events Italian Lunch Restaurant Reviews

Cotto al Mare Surrey Location – Grand Opening

July 22, 2019
A sign on the front of the restaurant reads Cotto al Mare Est. 2012

Cotto al Mare (Oven by the Sea) is the new Surrey sister location of Burnaby’s popular Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria. Cotto has been getting some buzz for their Authentic Neapolitan pizza. Yes that’s a capital A, these guys are certified capital-A Authentic by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, but more on that later.

  • Tables set with wine glasses
  • Tables, flowers, and wall decorations inside Cotto al Mare restaurant
  • A view of Crescent Beach through a window at Cotto al Mare restaurant with a table in the foreground
  • Two wine glasses on a table with a Surrey beach view through the window
  • A tree is seen through a window behind a table at Cotto al Mare
  • A coffee mug emblazened with the Cotto logo and two types of olive oil in the background
  • Crescent Beach viewed through the front door of Cotto al Mare restaurant
  • The view of Crescent Beach from under a patio umbrella at Cotto al Mare restaurant


Cotto al Mare's patio with a view of Crescent Beach in the background
Cotto al Mare patio

Crescent Beach is my personal fave summer chill spot, I just love the vibes and the friendly people there. Everybody seems oblivious to the fast-paced city life being lived just a few kilometers away and the various urban problems the rest of the City of Surrey is grappling with do not seem to have reached their sandy shores. And while White Rock is rebuilding their pier and renovating their waterfront, Crescent Beach is fully open for business. So Cotto al Mare is a perfect reason to get out there and bask in the sun!

Craig's hand holding a can of M.O Fruitsecco Sparkling Basil flavour
Sparkling Basil M.O Fruitsecco

Andrew Peller Import Agency had a booth set up with a variety of wines, free for the tasting but unfortunately I arrived late and the ship had sailed on that one. However they also had a selection of wine coolers from Kelowna-based M.O Fruitsecco including this intriguing Sparkling Basil flavour.

I was expecting something new and exciting to hit my palate but all I tasted was sweet. Apparently the ratio is four apples to one basil leaf, so I guess the apples overwhelm the basil. Too bad. At least the sweetness isn’t from added sugar, all M.O’s beverages feature zero refined sugar.

Their other flavour, the Sparkling Rosé, delivered the goods though and was perfect for some patio sippin’ action. I’m curious to try the Sparkling Dry which sports a lavender flavour, although again just one sprig per four apples.

A tall glass of Four Winds beer
Four Winds Pale Ale

Delta’s finest Four Winds Brewing Company is fast becoming a Surrey Eats favourite, and this time we sampled their Pale Ale ($7). Now I’m no big craft beer aficionado or anything, so take my beer reviews as just kind of an every-man’s viewpoint. I would have to sum up Four Winds’ Pale Ale with one word: skunky. Now I mean that in the best possible way, as this smells like only the finest of BC Bud with a finish to match. Great way to relive your high school memories of getting crossfaded without waking up realizing that your so-called friends shaved your eyebrows and drew things that aren’t mentionable on a food blog all over your face.

Not that this ever happened to me, of course.

Big Shucker poses making the "hang loose" signs at his oyster bar
Big Shucker’s Traveling Raw Bar

Big Shuck! Shuck Knight! This guy is about the same size as Suge, but far less murder-y. He’s actually super friendly and goes by the name of Big Shucker, cruising up and down the province in his Yellow ’52 Chevy Shuck Truck delivering oyster experiences to anyone lucky enough to catch him on his travels. Of course you can always hit him up on the official Insta @bigshucker and book him for your event.

A platter of six oysters with lemon wedges and sauce
Oyster Platter
We sampled his local variety platter featuring the famed Fanny Bay oysters and the lesser-known Kusshi oysters, a Japanese variety harvested in neighbouring Deep Bay. The FB oysters were fat, juicy, and umm…oceanic? as per usual. There’s a reason these guys are world famous, and if you’re ever in Fanny Bay I’d highly recommend a visit to the Fanny Bay Inn to taste these babies in their natural habitat.

The Kusshis were small and salty but with a hint of sweetness. They paired well with Big Shucker’s homemade sauce, made up of water, sugar, shallots and one mystery ingredient which stumped Craig and I, but Michelle immediately nailed it as fish sauce. It was the bee’s knees.

Cotto Polpette, a meatball dish served with garlic bread
Cotto Polpette

Moving on to Cotto al Mare’s selections, we had the Cotto Polpette ($14) as an appy, but with six meatballs and a generous portion of garlic toast this was a meal in and of itself. They mix pork with their beef for the house-made meatballs which keeps them moist and juicy, and their sugo al pomodoro (tomato sauce) is rich, thick and inviting. And the aroma…if they could bottle this up as a potpourri I’d keep it in my kitchen 24/7, it smells THAT good.

Lasagna Carne topped with parmesan
Lasagna Carne

The Lasagna Carne ($18) features the same beef/pork mixture cooked into a bolognese with a hint of spice. It comes with fresh shredded basil and we had them grate some parmesan table-side to top it off in style. Tastes very home-style, which makes sense since Cotto al Mare makes all their pasta from scratch in-house. This lasagna was particularly generous with the meat and definitely deserves the Carne title.

Gnocchi funghi topped with parmesan
Gnocchi Funghi

Their Gnocchi Funghi ($18) sports the namesake wild mushrooms mingled with cherry tomatoes and chunks of smokey pancetta. The gnocchi was a hit with all the guests, but while I enjoyed the sauce I found the gnocchi itself a bit starchy and bland, and this is coming from someone who normally loves it and orders gnocchi every time I see it on a menu.

Pizza Carbonara topped with a 63 degree egg. In the main photo the egg has been broken and spread over the pizza, in a heart-shaped picture-in-picture the egg is shown close-up and intact
Pizza Carbonara

Cotto’s sister restaurant has a rep for pizza, and Cotto al Mare has also managed to secure the vaunted VPN certification of authenticity for their Neapolitan-style pizza. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana regulates everything from the type of flour used, the thickness of crust (down to the millimeter—no more than three to be precise), the regions from which the toppings are sourced, to the time spent in the oven at the exact precise temperature. So when you come to Cotto al Mare you are getting the real deal, just as you would in Italy.

Anyway here she is, the Pizza Carbonara ($18) with the same pancetta we got familiar with in the gnocchi sauce, a sprinkle of green onions, and a 63 degree soft-poached egg posted up in the center like a crowning jewel. We busted it open and spread the contents over the center of the pizza. Traditional Napoli pizza is already soft in the center so this softened it into heavenly territory, like bites of fluffy pizza-flavoured clouds.

There was a lot going on at Cotto al Mare’s grand opening including a live R&B/rock/throatsinging thing from Dino DiNicolo (seriously this guy is amazing, we caught another set later that evening at Central City Brewpub and were blown away by this guy’s passion and presence), a pop-up clothing shop in the back parking lot, and even gourmet dog treats from See Spot Bark. Unfortunately we don’t have space to cover it all here but check out some highlights below:

  • Big Shucker, owner of a travelling oyster bar poses while smiling and making the "hang loose" sign
  • An outdoor bar at Cotto al Mare with Andrew Peller wine and M.O Fruitsecco coolers
  • Cotto al Mare owner and his female partner standing on the stairs
  • Chef Jack and his wife, the manager of Cotto al Mare
  • A woman carries a serving tray of M.O Fruitsecco
  • A woman in a Cotto shirt making pizza at a pizza oven with Cotto written on it
  • Chef Jack
  • Dino DiNicolo singing at the Cotto al Mare opening
  • A man rides by the restaurant on a bike eating ice cream
  • Matt from Surrey Eats poses with a single oyster in a bowl on ice
  • A couple smiles for the camera
  • Craig and Michelle from Surrey Eats seated with three friends on Cotto al Mare's patio

Anyway, I’m glad I managed to get through this review without resorting to cheesy Italian stereo—AAAY WAZZAMATTAYOU-AH? Thinking about ordering Domino’s for their 50% off sale this weekend? FUGGEDABOUTIT! Come down to Crescent and try the Cotto Polpette. Now THAT’S a-spicy meatball!

Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🤭

Author: Matt

Prior to joining the Surrey Eats crew, Matt's love of all things edible and passion for writing led him to long-running food blog Eat 'n About where he penned articles under the nom de plume Hitman Howdy for several years. Matt's also been published in various local magazines, and is an extremely adventurous eater who has dined on things that would make Anthony Bourdain blush. Matt enjoys the melting pot of international cuisine on offer in Surrey and hopes to help put his beloved stomping grounds on the map as a smorgasbord for food-lovers of all ethnicities. SURREY WHAT!!



Surrey, BC

Hi my name is Craig and welcome to my food blog! Join me and my crew as we eat our way around Surrey BC's local dining scene reviewing the hottest restaurants, covering all the latest food events and news, and uncovering plenty of hidden gems along the way. This site aims to be your one-stop shop for everything you need to navigate Surrey's cuisine like a foodie boss! While you're here why not follow us on social and get access to all sorts of deals, steals and giveaways: