Friday, 15 April 2011

Famoso Neopolitan Pizzeria Edmonton - Ze original downtown location

Rosa Comforto pizza
Rating 7/10 

What happens when you combine an enterprising fellow on a Euro trip who ends up looping his friends into helping him transport a Naples staple back to their hometown? A successful chain of pizza/wine/gelato franchises... With the total rising to 7 after opening a few years back. When you step through the doors of the original Famoso downtown, the smell of tomatoes, cheese and pizza dough tickles your nose. A small gelato and dessert counter greets you with a decent selection of gelatos and a few plates of tiramisu squares.  





Initially when the pizzeria opened, it operated cafeteria style, and now has morphed into a blend of sit down and cafeteria. Although you no longer have to get your own utensils and napkins, you still need to go to the counter to order after you set your coats down at your table. The slatted wood patio was still sadly closed, but is a nice place to hang out with friends in the summer. Decor is typical of pizzerias, with wooden tables and a semi open pizza counter whee you can see glimpses staff stretching dough into rough circles, topping them and sliding them into the oven. Service is prompt and friendly, with the hostess checking on patrons periodically.



the DRINKS
A good selection of wines are available - Famoso tells you straight up the corkage fee is $15 on top of the retail price. A variety of alcoholic drinks, Italian sodas, gelato floats (think ice cream soda but made with gelato) and coffee is also available.

the FOOD

Sticking to the basics, we chose a tomato sauce based Rosa pizza and a Bianca pizza - made with a base of olive oil, garlic, oregano and white cheese. Both were served promptly after ordering despite the kitchen staff in a flurry of motion filling take out orders on top of the orders coming in from the restaurant side.

1) The Comforto Rosa pizza had lean chunks of pork sausage, mushrooms, julienned red pepper on on top of a few puddles of melted mozzarella and wilted basil leaves. The tomato base was simple, mellow with low acidity tomatoes that lent a faint sweetness to it. The crust was a bit disappointing, as it was slightly soggy in the centre and tough... I had to hacksaw at it with a knife to the amusement of other patrons... pizza is a hands on finger food! Though the flavors worked well, it was a little scant on cheese and toppings, and heavy on sauce - so the crust was not structurally sound with the tomato sauce saturating it... It just plain flopped when you attempted to pick it up.

Pollo Bianca pizza
2) The Pollo Bianca pizza had a few chopped chunks of slightly tangy marinated artichokes, fewer diced chicken breast pieces, and red pepper bits atop a slightly chewy and slightly burnt thin crust coated in a thin sheen of olive oil, garlic and cheese. The Bianca topping complemented nicely with the chicken and artichokes, and a little bit of oregano goes a long way to making this pizza sing. Having adequate amounts of cheese on this pizza also helped meld the flavors together into yumminess in the tummy-iness.

the DESSERTS
1) Gelato - while not as indulgent as the gelato from Chocolate Esquisite or Leva, its passible and is a nice lighter way of ending your meal.. and you get a bit of calcium!

Banana Nutella dessert pizza from the top and side
2) Banana Nutella Pizza - A calzone made from the same dough base as the pizza, enveloping some chocolate hazelnut Nutella spread, some slices of banana and topped with whipped cream. The idea is sound. The execution was not. Normally, you'd think you can't go wrong with fruit, hazelnuty chocolate and whipped cream right? By default, the pizza dough if baked just right is a bit crispy and slightly chewy, and when overcooked plus soggy from the nutella and melted whipped cream - takes on the consistency of shoe leather. Our essentially banana nutella calzone came out slightly burnt on the top and completely charred on the bottom, which no amount of whipped cream or caramel sauce it was liberally doused with could hide. I would suggest either using a nice puff pastry or any other type of soft pasty dough instead of the pizza dough, or use a very thin sheet of the pizza dough and leave it as a flat pizza and whiz it in and out of the oven so it doesn't resemble charcoal.
Banana Nutella dessert pizza's burnt bottom

3) Tiramisu - Usually a staple dessert in anything remotely resembling an eatery that serves Italian fare, we passed as we lacked the tummy room. That and despite having quick turnover and plenty of customers, the little plates of tiramisu squares in the dessert counter never diminished and the same number languished sadly in its display case as we stepped out into the night.


the VERDICT
 Quibbles - the pizza crust is slightly soggy and tough on the Rosa pizzas, not too bad on the Bianca pizzas, dessert charred, and dirty cutlery. I still prefer thin crust pizza done with a thin crispy crust that can hold up a few simple toppings, so this joint still has plenty of room for improvement.  Overall, a decent place to grab a "Naples style" pizza and drinks with friends in a casual, relaxed setting - with piped in jazz in the background to set the mood. Just avoid the charcoal briquette dessert calzone.

Famoso Neopolitan Pizzeria - Downtown location
Address 11750 Jasper Ave NW Edmonton, AB
Phone (780) 732-0700
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria (Downtown) on Urbanspoon

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