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The new Gastown restaurant is serving some strange and spectacular pies.
“I think the carrot pizza looks good,” my friend Laura tells me as she studies the menu at Gastronomy Gastown. It’s the first time either of us have been to the restaurant—which describes itself as fusing “modern day Vancouver with Italian influence”—because it just opened in January 2023. Lots of the pizzas look good to me: there’s the Queen Bee (topped with chili honey and edible flowers) and the Notorious P.I.G. (gochujang pomodoro, ham and fire-roasted pineapple).
The carrot pizza does not look good to me.
It’s something I should have expected: beyond the regular core values our friendship is based on (you know—racism is bad, women should have bodily autonomy, etc.) we disagree on almost everything. She’s a cat person, I’m a dog person. The Venn diagram of foods we like is two separate circles. She dresses like an old man crossed with a beautiful emo doll and I dress like a clown that became a substitute elementary school teacher.
I’ve accepted that we don’t agree on much (her e-transfer question to me is “What colour is our couch,” so I have to type “blue” if I want her money; the sofa was green, and we haven’t lived together for three years). But when we ask our server, Liz, which pizza best encapsulates Gastronomy Gastown, she says it’s the 24 Carrot Gold. She also says it’s an adventurous choice, and that the Queen Bee is a more traditional—safer, if you will. I won’t be called “safe.” Laura wins this one.
And aesthetically, the 24 Carrot Gold pizza is definitely spectacular. It’s made on a classic sourdough crust (head chef Selim Louis Dehmane has been using the same starter for over a decade, Liz tells us) and in place of tomato sauce is a brilliant orange spread made of—you guessed it—carrots. There’s rose-like peels of pickled carrots and edible gold on top, plus basil pesto and fior di latte. The pizza practically glows in the candlelight.
The first bite seals it: Laura: 2, Alyssa: 0. Gastronomy Gastown: 1,000. The carrot sauce is not tomato sauce, but it’s different in a good way: there’s ginger in it, giving a complexity to the sweet puree. The pickled carrots look like lox and mimic the freshness, but also have an awesome crunch. The sourdough, pesto and fior di latte ensure that some semblance of the original remains—there’s no question that we’re eating a pizza—but it’s definitely unlike any pizza I’ve ever had. Miraculously, myself and my dinner date agree: the 24 Carrot Gold pizza is a winner.
In fact, much like carrots and pizza, we’re an unlikely pair that somehow makes it work.