Edmonton really does have a proud history when it comes to launching restaurant chains. Earls/Joey traces its roots to this city. Boston Pizza was birthed in Edmonton. And, Jason Allard, Justin Lussier and Christian Bullock have taken the Famoso vision from its initial location on Jasper Avenue, just a stone’s throw from Earls No. 1, to the national stage. How has Famoso earned such a wild following since it was launched in 2007? By sticking with tradition. The thin-crust pizzas are cooked for a short time at high temperatures. This guarantees that the pizzas cook evenly. Sure, Famoso has pepperoni, peppers and mushrooms for the traditionalists, but its gourmet pizzas stand out. The prosciutto arugula sees the two ingredients married on a white pizza. It’s peppery, salty and, with a squeeze of lemon, this pie is divine. But while the method is straight from Naples, Famoso isn’t afraid to cross cultures when it comes to what goes on top. The spicy Thai pizza features peanut sauce; while the moo shu BBQ duck is an ode to Chinese takeout. – Steven Sandor Original location – 11750 Jasper Ave.,780-732-0700, famoso.ca
There’s a constant scramble to complicate the art of making pizza; new gourmet toppings, new crust recipes. But there’s something so inherently satisfying when a simple pizza is perfectly executed. And that’s what you’ll find at Leva. The University of Alberta-area hotspot features a small pizza menu, and there aren’t any varieties that will have you scratching your head. Sausage. Mushrooms. Pepperoni. Peppers. Fresh herbs. When it comes to the table, there are large circles of cheese throughout the pizza. You can tell where the balls of mozzarella were placed before the pizza went into the oven. The basil flavour is prominent, and the tomato sauce is sweet but not overpowering. -S.S. 11053 86 Ave., 780-479-5382,
Honourable Mention: Ragazzi Bistro Italiano
Ironically, this pizza place, located far away from the busy part of Whyte Avenue, is right beside a Pizza 73. Both places have pizza as the stars of their menus. But that’s where the similarities end. Ragazzi’s pizza is similar to what you’d find in Italy – it has a thin crust and fresh ingredients. The restaurant’s namesake pizza, the Pizza Ragazzi, pairs capicollo with mushrooms and is topped with circles of bocconcini and mozzarella. Capers lend a sharp hit of saltiness. Meanwhile, the Bronx is full of flavour with salami, capicollo, Italian sausage, green peppers, olives and fresh tomatoes. The dough, which is made fresh daily in-house, really stands out – it’s exceptionally thin, but still has a crunch.– Caroline Barlott 8110 82 Ave., 780-414-0500, ragazzibistro.ca
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