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.
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!
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.
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 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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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. 🤭