The Flatbread Pizza Company

Ottawa Farmers Market (and Beyond)
Date: June 16th, 2012

The Ottawa Farmer’s Market has been a tradition in the Glebe/Old Ottawa South area for a while now. Formerly located at Lansdowne Park, it was relocated to Brewer Park for the foreseeable future as the “Lansdowne Live” saga continues. While we can’t comment on its success compared to past years, the new location along Bronson Ave across from Carleton U seemed to serve it well. It’s a great place to go on a Sunday morning to get your fix of local fruits and vegetables (including cranberries), meats and cheeses, baked goods, ice cream and popsicles, apples and cider, delicious doughnuts, and crafts.

One of the pleasant surprises we found was the wood-fired Flatbread Pizza Co., who serve their wares from a clay wood oven the back of a trailer. For under $10 and a 10-minute wait, they serve fresh thin-crust pizzas made to order.

While they do offer a plain cheese pizza intended for kids, we decided to go with the more traditional margherita. The pizzas are fairly small but make a filling meal for one or a nice snack for two. As with any wood-fired pizza, the crust is the star. We found Flatbread Pizza Co.’s to be no exception. The crust was light, crispy and delicious, though it could have been a little more well-done for extra tasty char (a tradeoff for being ‘fast food’). There was only a small amount of cheese, in little gobs of fresh bocconcini. We could have had a bit more of that, and again, being more well-done would have helped with some added crispy flavour. The sauce was a little plain (just thin tomato) so basil added needed flavour.

Overall, it was a light pie with a great crust that’s perfect for lunch at the market!

Newport Restaurant

334 Richmond Rd. (Now: Corner of Churchill and Scott)
Date: June 8, 2012

There has long been a gap in these reviews, one of Ottawa’s most Famous and renowned pizzas: Donna’s Pizza, available at the Newport Restaurant in Westboro. That’s the Elvis restaurant, for those who may not know it by name, situated on the corner of Churchill and Richmond, backing onto Elvis Lives Lane.

It was a gorgeous spring day when we decided to finally right the wrong. As we walked through the closed-off streets of Westfest it was a perfect day to celebrate this end of the city.

We settled into the middle of the main dining area and took in the vast array of Elvis memorabilia adorning the walls of the Newport and ordered our usual large plain. After a short wait we were served our pie on a classic ‘pedestal’, with the first gooey slices served to us by the waitress, a must for any dine-in pizza place!

The pizza had a soft, fluffy crust that was a little crispy (but could have been more crispy). It had a good flavour. The tasty cheese was classic Ottawa pizza, wet with little grease puddles! mmm Ultimately it could have been a little more spread out closer to the crust, which we feel adds to the overall cheese flavour experience. The tasty sauce was in good amount but it wasn’t amazing.

Later that night we ventured down to the Elmdale Tavern to take in a fun show by local folk/roots/alt-country group Jack Pine and the Fire.

The post-script to this review is both establishments will be undergoing some changes down the road… It was reported in August that Moe’s Newport would be downsizing to the Donna’s Pizza located further down Churchill (note to self: add this to list of places to try). Further, the Elmdale Tavern has changed hands to the owners of the Whalesbone seafood joint. Fortunately they pledge to keep the live music going… Maybe they can do something about the high beer prices!

eZpZ Pizza

437 Sunnyside Avenue – 613-421-6011
Date of Order: July 4th, 2011

To Ottawa pizza connoisseurs, the corner of Sunnyside and Seneca in Old Ottawa South is a local landmark. For years it was anchored by Fida’s and Sunnyside Pizza. We imagined that they had a Capulet/Montague-type relationship (easily won by Fida’s, it should be said) and the competing businesses always offered choice to hungry Carleton students. These days, the intersection houses one of Ottawa’s many Milano pizzerias and the “new guy” on the block, eZpZ Pizza. (We say new, but they’ve been in business a couple of years already, so they must be doing something right…)

On this day, we decided to pop in for some pick up (walk-in specials are the budget-conscious pizza lover’s best friend!) and we got our large plain pie for $10.40, taxes in.

We quickly whisked the pizza home and dug in while it was still nice and hot. The pizza was aesthetically pleasing with a smooth, nicely cooked crust and melted, browned cheese. The crust was fairly thin but still supple. It was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and had a distinct, slightly sweet flavour. One reviewer found it to be a little dry but the others felt that it was just right.

Moving on, the sauce was a strength. It had a nice consistency with a good balance of tomato and oregano and a little bit of ‘zing’. Definitely one of the better sauces we’ve tried.

The cheese was in good amount and had a nice sharp flavour. It was a little crispy and a little chewy, which was a good complement to the crust.

All in all, it’s comforting to know that the corner of Sunnyside and Seneca continues to be well-served by a healthy pizza rivalry. We definitely recommend eZpZ Pizza to anyone who hasn’t tried it yet.

Pizza Ottawa does Belfast

Little Wing, Little Italy and Pizza Express
Belfast, UK

A working life as a software designer doesn’t usually provide much in the way of international jet-setting, but a project kickoff provided me the chance of staying in Belfast, Northern Ireland for three weeks. Not really the bustling metropolis that one thinks of when Europe, or even the UK, is mentioned, it was actually a really fascinating place to stay and experience both the tourist-y sights and the usual day-to-day grind. I was holed up in a non-descript budget hotel on the edge of the city centre, and was left to mostly fend for myself for meals and entertainment. This, of course, provided me with lots of time to wander the streets looking for interesting things to see and do and eat. Old habits die hard, apparently – I found a pizza place a few short hours after arriving in Belfast.

I bought two slices of pepperoni pizza from the small takeout window of a local chain called Little Wing, nestled in amongst pubs, shops, and most likely several SPARs on a pedestrian street close to the gigantic Victoria Square mall. I chose it, not only because they sell a thin crust wood-fired pizza very close to traditional Neapolitan or NYC pizza, but also because it was the only thing open at 7PM on a Sunday evening. The slices were contained within a custom-printed, cheeky-comment-festooned, pizza slice-sized box. Nice touch. Upon returning to my hotel, and getting a glass of water (there wasn’t even a place to buy a drink open past 6PM) I dug in while watching the first of dozens and dozens of chat shows I watched on the (strangely personalized) Dave channel – though, thinking back, it might have been its sister (brother?) station, Dave-ja-vu. The pizza was good; the crust was just the right amount of thin-ness, the sauce was flavorful with a hint of spicy, the cheese was tasty, and the pepperoni had a nice kick. A nice surprise to start the trip, to say the least…

It didn’t take long for me to get a chance to try Little Wing again. A lunch with some co-workers and ex-co-workers was organized for our first Tuesday there, and I tried a full pizza this time, the ‘Piccante’, which had spicy pepperoni, hot peppers and basil. It was just as tasty as the first slices, if not more so due to me being considerably more lucid this time.

Then…nothing. No pizza for two weeks, at least. It definitely felt like I subsisted on Marks and Spencer sandwiches and salads the whole time, but I also did a bit of travelling, so that broke things up a bit. For the purposes of this review, let’s flash forward past those two weeks…

I was walking past the Europa Hotel, which holds the dubious distinction of being Europe’s most bombed hotel (thanks to the IRA), when I decided to walk down a side street past the Crown Liquor Saloon. I stumbled upon this tiny pizza place called Little Italy that serves hand made Neapolitan-ish pizza baked in a normal pizza oven. I mean ‘stumble’ figuratively, though knowing the neighbourhood many would do so literally later in the evening, confirmed by their no-nonsense, stain-resistant décor. I ordered a large pepperoni to go and watched them make my pizza, and many others, while I waited. Back at my utilitarian hotel I turned on the TV and dug in. The pizza wasn’t as good as Little Wing, but it was miles better than any drunk-people pizza that can be found in Ottawa. The crust was thin but held together, the sauce was tasty and the cheese was just right. The pepperoni was just OK, but it didn’t hurt the overall experience. Considering this was pizza eaten by a large number of people who won’t remember it in the morning, I was pleasantly surprised.

Finally, on my last night in Belfast, a co-worker and I went to Pizza Express, a UK-wide chain of high-ish class Neapolitan-style pizza places. Knowing of the chain from my other trips to the UK, but having never actually tried it, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I decided to start simple and had the margherita – just lightly applied but tasty sauce with dollops of fresh mozzarella and some big leaves of basil. It was tasty pizza – not GREAT but good for a chain place. They were certainly aiming at more upscale, sober crowd than the last place, but it was all very cookie-cutter chic as opposed to actually classy, or original. It was expensive, too – but luckily for me it was all expensed away once I got back home.

Considering the fact that I did not expect to try one good pizza place when I went to Belfast, let alone three, it was a nice experience to try out what the UK thinks is good pizza. Now, to convince my employer to send me to Italy…

Tennessy Willems

1082 Wellington St. W., 613-722-0000

Date: May 7, 2011
Time: mid-afternoon

May 7th was a pretty nice day to be in Hintonburg / Wellington West, one of Ottawa’s great neighbourhoods. Full of wonderful restaurants, cafes, galleries, and shops (and home to half of Pizza Ottawa), it’s a great place to spend a day shopping, taking in culture and, of course, food!

We started the day making ice cream at the home of one of our Pizza Ottawa reviewers. After making a delicious chocolate base and adding in some brownie chunks courtesy of the local Bridgehead coffee shop, we were ready to head out in the ‘hood while letting it freeze.

We did some record shopping at Legend Records and the Record Centre, stopped by the festive opening of the Parkdale Market, popped in to the 50th Anniversary celebration at Giant Tiger (with a free reusable shopping bag our reward for a $10 purchase), and made our way over to the new Tennessy Willems pizza place.

Named for the children of the owners of the joint, Tennessy Willems offers wood-burning pizza to the Ottawa pizza scene. They have a fairly limited menu of various gourmet, specialty pizzas, as well as other fare that we did not sample on this day. In addition to the food, they serve select Ontario craft beers, including our local favourite, Beau’s.

When we entered the restaurant we were greeted with some classic weezer tracks from the Blue Album and Pinkerton. We were off to a good start! We sat at the wood-grain tables (a not-so-subtle nod to the fuel for the oven) by a large window overlooking Wellington St. West. The friendly staff took our order and after a quick wait (and more weezer), the four of us in our party each had our own pizza. We had ordered a variety of pies, including the classic margherita, as well as some of their specialties. The pizzas range in price from around $12 to $18, depending on the toppings, and each serves as a filling meal for one or a satisfying snack for two.

As the pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven, the strength of this pizza is the crust. The crust is thin, with a delicious woody flavour. It is crispy and chewy in all the right spots, and the charred bits and the edge of the crust (where it’s airy and bubbly) are the best. The flavour is light, reminiscent of matzoh (water and flour) but with much more depth.

The sauce was homemade, which is always a plus! It had a sweet and smoky flavour, with lumps of tomato smattered throughout.

As for the cheese, the margherita had dollops of fresh mozzarella spread over the whole pie. The reviewer noted that where the cheese was merely melty (near the middle of the pizza) it was kind of watery and bland, but where it had melted and fused with the crust (near the outer edge of the pizza) it was a bit crunchier and had a wonderful cheesy flavour.

The other pizzas were a mixed bag. The pizza with cured sausage and onion was found to be spicy and delicious, while the pizza with capers and anchovies was a salty letdown (our reviewer noted that the anchovies were far too dry and salty).

Ultimately, a good (and unique) pizza place is a welcome addition to the ever-improving Hintonburg. We wish them the best success in carving out their niche in this great part of the city.

(Oh, and our ice cream turned out to be pretty amazing, too!)

Pizza Plus

4 Lorry Greenberg Dr – (613) 739-7777
Date of order: October 21st, 2009
Cost: $23.11 for an extra large plain pizza

There’s nothing more rewarding than home maintenance. This Wednesday night was no exception when the long-overdue repair of the side door bell was the primary source of the evening’s entertainment. Despite the threat of electrocution, being rained on, and getting those tiny wire ends stuck under our fingernails, we persevered and the door bell was successfully brought back to life. This, of course, was cause for celebration. We scoured the pizza fliers, searching for a local place we hadn’t tried before. Pizza Plus caught our eye, being enthusiastically named and reasonably priced.

After checking their ad in the yellow pages, and hoping to take advantage of their drop-in specials (home improvement isn’t cheap, you know), we sent a Pizza Ottawa representative out to their location just off Conroy Rd. Upon ordering, our daring pizza adventurer was dismayed at finding that their Yellow Pages ad was completely out of date and their prices were at least 20% higher! Not a good start. But our man was ultimately triumphant and returned with an extra-large cheese pizza.

The negativity of the pizza purchase fresh in our minds, we dug into our feast – home renovations made us famished. All would be forgiven if Pizza Plus delivered on its promise. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The crust was thick at the edges but thin in the middle, barely able to hold up the thick slab of greasy cheese on top. The crust was chewy like a bun, but didn’t have that crispy crunch that we like at the ends. The sauce was bland, but not horrible. All in all, it was a perfect example of ‘utility pizza’, not bad but not special either – it’s just unfortunate that it wasn’t priced accordingly.

House of Georgie Sorento’s

211 Gilmour (at Elgin) – (613) 238-3333
Date of order: March 2nd, 2009
Cost: ~$49.00 for two large and a small

Ottawa has a rich and colourful history. From full-on riots and political assassinations to the Tulip Festival, there are a lot of stories to be told (or that have been told) in this town. Touching on the subject of a previous review, our most recent pizza adventure found us once again on Gilmour St. Not only that, but we were again admiring some of the finer points of the city, although this time it was from the perspective of books.

The Ottawa Public Library’s Main Branch is located at Metcalfe and Laurier. The boxy, brutalist structure is a relic of the 70s but it’s a pretty cool building (even if it did replace what appears to have been a much nicer building, the Carnegie Library, of which only the stained glass window remains…). Of course, with libraries, the inside is where the fun lies. This branch happens to have the Ottawa Room, which is a special room filled with photos, records, maps and books all about Ottawa. Taking advantage of their Monday evening hours, we made the first of what we hope will be many visits to this room. We (mostly) had fun perusing books like 1904′s “The Hub and the Spokes.”

Of course, while we have history we also have the present to deal with. Since we had hungry mouths to feed, we decided to visit another local landmark, House of Georgie Sorento’s. The draw here is their gravy pizza, but we didn’t go for that on this day. We ordered three pizzas (two large with toppings and a small plain) and waited in the small shop. A map of downtown Ottawa and an aerial photograph of Carleton University provided a bit of entertainment. After a 15-20 minute wait, we happily collected the steaming boxes and drove them home in an increasingly fogged up car.

Upon our arrival, we gathered the troops and some utensils and dug in. We first tried the plain pie and then moved on to the others (pepperoni and vegetarian).

The cheese was thick and gooey, which meant a knife was useful for dividing up the slices. It was a little salty with a nice cheesy taste. It was pretty much standard fare, but satisfying.

We found the somewhat thick crust to be soft and chewy, almost bread-like. We would have preferred a bit more crunch and a bit more flavour, but it did the job.

As you may have learned from our past reviews, we usually find the sauce to be a let-down. Not so this time. While we wouldn’t say “We’ve found it!” we will certainly say that the sauce had a nice sweet and spicy flavour that complemented the pizza very nicely. It’s definitely one of the better sauces we’ve tried.

All in all it was a fun night of old and new. We hope to pay a few more visits to the Ottawa Room and we’ll certainly go back to House of Georgie Sorento’s. We’re thinking we’ll stop in for a slice of gravy pizza on a summer day and follow it up with a visit to Pure Gelato…

Uncle Joe’s Pizza

1227 Kilborn Ave – (613) 736-1414
Date of order: February 2nd, 2009
Cost: ~$30.00 for two large

Groundhog Day! The annual occasion when a band of heartless animal oppressors rip a happily sleeping rodent out of the ground to perform magic tricks for the benefit of the slack-jawed masses. Sounds like a perfect pizza day to us!

Depressed by Phil and Willy’s prediction that winter would last another six weeks -doesn’t it ALWAYS last another six weeks? Maybe their magical incantations are meant for warmer climes – we ordered some pizza from a local place we hadn’t tried before. After queuing up the Bill Murray classic ‘Groundhog Day’ on demand we dug into what we hoped was some tasty pizza. We had ordered the pizza (two large – one plain and one vegetarian) from Uncle Joe’s Pizza, a standard pick-up and delivery place in an unassuming strip mall on Kilborn Ave. near Bank St.

Maybe it was our less-than-stellar moods (due to winter lasting forever) but we weren’t so keen on either choice. The dough was soft and crunchy in all the right places but lacked a noticeable flavour. The sauce seemed almost non-existent, so much so that we sacrificed a slice to go searching for an alcove or a mound or ANY kind of structure that could house enough sauce to get a good taste but were unsuccessful. The cheese was standard Ottawa pizza fare, golden brown on top, stringy and gooey underneath but nothing all that special. On the plus side, ‘Groundhog Day’ is a pretty good movie.

In the end it was decided that Uncle Joe was one of those bland relatives that you see at family reunions but never seem to remember who he is or why you’re related to him…is he really your uncle or just a sad, old family friend that keeps showing up because no one has the heart to tell him not to?

Gloria’s Pizza

1580 Walkley Rd – 521-2025
Date of order: January 21st, 2009
Cost: ~$30.00 for two large

In yet another case of ‘pizza for dinner’ (as opposed to ‘pizza for an event’, even if the event is the pizza itself), we ordered two larges from Gloria’s Pizza (One plain tester and one with toppings for friends). It was very reasonably priced at $30 plus tip to the cordial delivery guy. With curiosity and hunger, we tucked into yet another ‘unknown’ pizza.

When we opened the box, the first thing we noticed was the dark golden brown cheese covering the whole pie. This was obviously a more ‘well done’ type place and after we ventured in for the kill, we decided that this was different from many other pizzas we’ve had. The cheese was chewy and more dense than the greasy goo we’ve come to love. This rubbery texture worked in its favour, however, because it didn’t slide off the crust when a bite was taken. As for the flavour, it benefited from being well-done and had a nice cheesy taste.

Underneath the cheese, the sauce was less prominent. Even taking cheese-less bites, it was hard to pick up on any distinct saucy flavours aside from the standard tomato. It could have been due to the limited amount of sauce, but we found it to be lacking. Are we ever going to find the elusive ‘perfect sauce’?

The foundation of the pizza was a soft, chewy, bready crust that fell limp under the cheese. There was a distinct yeasty flavour around the edges that only added to the bread feel and the overall flavour was quite good. The crust served well to absorb whatever grease there was so that this was one of the least greasy pizzas we’ve tried.

In the end we were satisfied with Gloria’s Pizza. While it’s not up to the standards we like, the friends who joined us preferred it to the usual greasy goo that Ottawa pizza is known for. As a suggestion, with better sauce it might have more kick.

Super Duper Pizza

1080 Pleasant Park Rd. at St Laurent – 523-0000
Date of order: January 3rd, 2009
Cost: ~$16.00

Yes, our loyal readers, I know. It’s been a while. It’s just that we drifted apart – that spark, that excitement we had between us just faded. It wasn’t anyone’s fault…it was bound to happen eventually. But now, with an infusion of capital from our good friends at Google (keep clicking those ads!) we’re back and ready to eat some pizza. We both now live in different parts of the city so expect some new perspectives on the Ottawa pizza landscape. And if you’re extra smart you can map the pizza places we try and figure out where we live…please don’t stalk us, though.

We had been to the grand re-opening of the Mayfair the night before. As longtime patrons of the Old Ottawa South landmark we were happy to see the Mayfair get another chance to shine. It was doubly better now that they would be showing more movies that we’d actually like to see, instead of the usual Hollywood drivel! (To be fair there were usually one or two cool shows a month, but those were getting fewer and farther between.) The local short films were great – I highly recommend ‘Skins and Rubbers’ or any of the Harry Knuckles films if you ever have a chance to catch them – but the highlight was a screening of Metropolis with a live band. We were impressed that a silent film kept the capacity crowd’s attention for the full two hours; no small feat in this age of YouTube and Twitter.

Our first pizza of the new era was ordered from Super Duper Pizza on Pleasant Park near St Laurent. We were intrigued by the name – was the pizza really ‘super duper’ or just ‘super’? It also helped that their location was close to our testing facilities. We needed some good pizza to help get us through what would become a rollercoaster ride of emotions, with the Canada/Russia game as well as the Senators game and NFL playoffs all on at the same time. To combat the issue of having three things to watch at the same time we set up three televisions. To be fair, two of the three are setup in a side-by-side configuration permanently, one for watching TV and the other for video games. The third TV only comes out on special occasions. It reminded me of the Dire Straits video for ‘Money for Nothing’ only with less cheesy 80s computer graphics.

We ordered one large plain (our standard) and one large vegetarian. Prices were what we think of as standard for a non-chain pizza place. They were ready for pickup (save 10%!) in under 40 minutes. It definitely looked pretty good – standard ‘Ottawa style’ pizza with lots of golden cheese and a thick, crispy crust. The toppings on the vegetarian looked well proportioned and didn’t make the crust so soggy that it was impossible to pick up, as others that we reviewed have. The cheese was tasty but not too greasy. There was a good amount of sauce – over saucing is the worst pizza abuse! – and it was mildly spicy without being overbearing. The crust was chewy without being too chewy and was a nice golden brown. While we here at Pizza Ottawa feel that a good crust doesn’t need dipping sauces to enjoy, the folks that do suggested that the small amount of browned cheese on the crust removed any need for it.

All in all this was some good pizza. I might not live up to its name – it’s gotta be great to be ‘super duper’ – but if you’re in the area we definitely suggest trying it out.