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62. Cilantro Cafe

Classification: Artisan

Location: Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Let's start by scrutinizing these photographs. There are thousands of pizza restaurants scattered around the globe, and like pretty much everyone in the entire world, I've only frequented a microscopic percentage of them. Still, it's hard to imagine that many are so happily situated as Cilantro. Set deep within the borders of a Canadian national park and surrounded by water on three sides, with majestic peaks and forests of pine springing up all around, it barely seems real that someone would have the wisdom and foresight to see the desperate need for pizza here. But whoever thought of it, well...we owe them our gratitude. The setting is truly the intersection of Frank Lloyd Wright, Paul Bunyan, and the Hand of God. The outdoor patio seating nestled among the shores of Emerald Lake separates it from all others on this list, and its bounty can't be overstated. It is fabulous.

The second photograph reflects the actual pizza which, while generally pleasing, didn't completely hold up it's end of the bargain. There's a good reason why nobody writes reviews about the snack bar at The Louvre, the ample parking at The Great Sphinx, or the pristine restrooms at Graceland; it's tertiary to the main attraction--seldom amounting to anything more than a modest enhancement to something that's magnificent and unforgettable on its own accord.

But we've all seen God's glorious creation and the true North strong and free, blah, blah, blah...and this is a pizza blog. While it certainly didn't detract from our visit, and I couldn't realistically expect it to further enhance the landscape, this pizza ends up falling into an uncomfortable No Man's Land slot. I recommend it unflinchingly, but mostly in a "come for the splendor, stay for the pizza" kind of way. It's artisan-style, which means some picking and sorting may be required for purists, but it wasn't overly burdensome. Prepared as an individual serving, it was a good amount for refreshing yourself along the trails without overindulging. It wasn't magnificent pizza, but it was magnificent dining. O Canada! (7 of 10 stars)

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