Falasca SPQR serves up fresh Roman-style pizza, offering a salivating and equally authentic alternative to the Neapolitan-style craze that's sweeping the city with the likes of Pizza Libretto and Queen Margarita Pizza.
My friend and I go by at lunchtime when they serve a wide variety of pizzas that are pre-made and on display, sort of like Pizza Pizza but far more appetizing. In the typical Roman custom, the pizza is cut to order and served by weight, which gives us the option to try a couple different things and to order the exact amount that we want. At dinner they prepare full round pizzas and have table service, but because it's lunch, and they hand us our pizzas at the counter and take a seat.
We order two varieties and it's hard to decide where to start because they both look gooey and wonderful. I reach for the Arrabiata ($2.00/100gr.), topped with tomato sauce, fior di latte, cherry tomatoes and a subtle but poignant hit of chili spice. Classic pizza with a bit of a kick. The crust has a crunchy bottom, contrasted with a light, bready centre. It reminds me of fresh baguette.
Next I tried La Numbero 1 ($2.40/100gr.), their award-winning pizza topped with zucchini, brie, parmigiano, fior di latte, and an Italian-style cream cheese called stracchino. It's hard to get it wrong when you're using four types of cheese, but this one really impresses. It's understated, with soft flavours but still manages to be far from boring.
We selected well. The two varieties compliment each other nicely and we're not able to pick a favourite because they're both great. It's worth noting that the pricing is a little confusing, but a person could easily order a tasty, decent sized lunch and a drink for under $10.
At the owner's recommendation, we also get a side of stuffed olives. He tells us he's surprised more places don't serve them in Toronto because they're very popular back home. They're green olives stuffed with beef pork and chicken liver, then lightly breaded and deep-fried. They're crispy and meaty and go nicely with our meatless pizzas.
We finish with a serving of fagioli e prosciutto ($9), an Italian spin on pork and beans and a popular rural dish. Slow roasted tomato sauce with romano beans and prosciutto, with some nice bread for dipping. We shared a plate of it and it was the perfect dish to get us warm and cozy before heading out on a cold December afternoon.
We agree that we should come back soon for dinner though because, according to the staff, it's quite a different experience - less grab-and-go, more fine dining. The dinner menu also offers pasta dishes and full, round, Roman-style pizzas. The owner explains to us that Neapolitan dough is kneaded and stretched with the hands (as is our lunchtime pizza), formed into a rough circle and baked in a piping hot wood fire oven.
Roman dough, on the other hand, is left to rise for anywhere from 36-48 hours, far longer than Neapolitan, and using a rolling pin is then made into a very even, thin, round crust and cooked in an electric oven. The result is that Neapolitan crust is fluffier, making it bubble and char in places, while Roman is something between a flatbread and a pizza, arguably putting more emphasis on the toppings. This pizza lover is keen to try it!