Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria opened this past week at the corner of Bloor and Dalton, with aspirations of making authentic Naples pizza easily (and quickly) accessible in an elegant setting. Replacing the James Joyce Pub, this place is polished – as it should be. Though new to the Annex, the growing chain has many locations throughout Canada, and its first Ontario location opened earlier this month in Yorkdale Mall.
There are no rigid seating policies here. You can browse the menu at the table then step up to the counter to order. You can pay upfront, or start a tab and enjoy your meal at your leisure.
The service concept here is unique in that it offers flexibility in the pace of your meal, but, rest assured that once you've ordered, you are hardly forgotten. Our server, Molly, is friendly and attentive; she is there with recommendations and to take incidental orders for drinks, dessert, and whatever else is needed.
Inside, the restaurant is bright and airy – dark wood floors, crisp white ceilings and exposed brick create a chic and neutral base. Pops of red, golden yellow and chalkboard black add touches of drama – even the restrooms are impressive (especially for the Annex).
We begin with cocktails – the Italian Spritz ($6.50 a glass or $24.50 a pitcher) is refreshing and not too sweet. Prosecco, Aperol and soda make for a welcome summer beverage as I sit back and take in the bustling atmosphere.
Our appetizers arrive quickly. The small Caprese salad ($8) layers thick slices of fresh mozzarella and local, vine-ripened tomatoes over a bed of greens.
The Caesar ($6) is dressed in a garlicky and tart vinaigrette – thankfully, not too creamy – and the prosciutto crisps and pecorino romano add dashes of salt and fat in the right proportions. The prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella balls (3 for $10) are served in tomato sauce and topped with basil and pecorino romano.
Next come our pizzas. For the true Naples experience I know we should have ordered the traditional Margherita ($11), but the Funghi Tartufo ($14.5) with roasted white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and truffle oil sounded too enticing. This 'red' pizza arrives topped with Campania tomato sauce, fior-di-latte fresh cheese, and fresh basil that still shows off the merits of Neopolitan cuisine.
The Prosciutto Arugula Pizza ($14.50) is made with Bianca sauce – a simple mix of extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and oregano – then topped with fior-di-latte fresh mozzarella, and piled high with arugula and prosciutto. Made with 00 Caputo flour, these pizzas are baked in an enormous, 900-degree, dome-shaped oven for just 90 seconds to ensure a light and airy crust that's thin but not crunchy.
For me, the night's highlight is the gelato ($3.50 for one scoop, $4.50 for two) from Calgary-based Fiasco Premium Artisan Gelato. On offer are playful flavours such as salted caramel, burnt sugar banana chocolate and blueberry basil, and I sample them all. All of the desserts sound amazing, and the Dolce & Banana ($7) – caramelized bananas paired with crushed pecans, caramel sauce, and vanilla bean gelato – may even deserve its own visit.
Now the real question: is the pizza as good as their rival in the realm of Neopolitan pizzas, Pizzeria Libretto? Almost. Will you get a seat and be in and out in less time than it takes to get a table on Ossington? Yes. Unless of course, you'd rather take your time, then you're welcome to it.
Photos by Natta Summerky