The quick and dirty story is that one of the founders, Justin Lussier, was traveling through Italy, including Naples, in 2005 and fell in love with the pizza in Naples. He decided then and there that he needed to bring that style of pizza back to Canada. After training with Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza Association), he and his friends did indeed bring it back to Canada.
Since 2007, they have opened 15 locations across British Columbia, Alberta and now Ontario with a number of new locations set to open in Spring and Summer 2013.
The Toronto Annex location (the other is in the new Yorkdale food court) opened this summer at 386 Bloor St. West, between Bathurst and Spadina. When you walk in, you seat yourself, and the menus are on the table. A server will come by to take drink orders, and explain what happens next, which is you go up to the counter, place your order and then head back to your table for full-service.
The stand-out at Famoso is obviously the pizza. The crust is made using very fine 00 flour, and thin and crispy, yet chewy. It is baked in their huge wood-fired oven at 900°F for 90 seconds (I know, right?). This makes for a super-hot, super-fresh pizza, as described in the first sentence of this paragraph.
In addition to their pizza, they offer a variety of salads (any of which you could turn into a pizza!), apps, sandwiches and desserts.
For my meal, I decided to start with a half Caprese salad ($8). It was delicious, with soft, fresh mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil and balsamic on top of mixed field greens. It came with a toasted garlic flatbread wedge. Dan ordered the roasted Kalamata olives ($4). I forgot to take a picture, but they were also really good, marinated and seasoned and still warm. They were served with two flatbread wedges.
For my entrée, I went with the classic Margherita pizza – the best way to actually taste the pizza that I was trying for the first time. I actually got it as part of the pizza and movie deal, which cost $16. With the pizza, you get a Cineplex coupon good for one movie and expiring at the end of 2014. Sweet deal for sure. Without the movie, the Margherita costs $11.50. You can add the movie ticket on to any other pizza for $6.
The pizza was amazing…definitely one of the best I’ve had. I am not a huge tomato sauce fan, but this one was delicious. I could actually taste the tomato flavour instead of just salt and acidity. In speaking with owner Dean, I later found out the sauce was literally just crushed tomatoes with a bit of salt. The pizza was topped with fresh mozzarella and basil. Honestly, it was the most simple pizza and so good.
Dan got the Siciliana pizza, basically the Margherita topped with Italian sausage, Italian ham, and baked prosciutto.
Finally, dessert. I looked no further than the gelato menu. We went up to the front so we could sample some of the flavours. In the end, I went with two scoops ($4.50) – Blood Orange Creamsicle and Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate. So good, and so creamy…so I was shocked that these gelatos are lower in fat than most!
One important thing to note about the restaurant:
Wine. They are upfront about the cost of their wines, which run LCBO price + $18. The wines are all inexpensive compared to other restaurants in the city. That’s awesome. I love how upfront they are. Even better…on Wednesdays, they have Vino Wednesday, where they take $20 off a featured reserve bottle…so, you would get it cheaper than if you were to buy it at the LCBO.
I can’t wait to go back. The service was quick, and the servers were friendly. Owner Dean was right out there, chatting with customers and bringing out orders. And it was one of the best restaurant meals I’ve had in a long time. It was a really great overall dining experience!