Now that Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria’s been open just over a week, it was time to taste some of the deliciousness I’ve been hearing about as fellow foodies talked it up on Twitter during/after the restaurant’s media launch.
While on holiday in Naples, founder Justin Lussier fell in love with fire-roasted pizza at Naples’ well-loved Pizzeria Sorbillo. He immediately phoned two friends (and future partners) Jason Allard and Christian Bullock to turn them onto this divine culinary discovery. This led the three to train at the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), an organization that preserves the standards of true Neapolitan pizza.
“The Famoso boys” opened their first fire-roasted pizzeria in Edmonton. Fast-forward to 2012, where the partners teamed up with Brian Goheen to bring the taste of Naples to The Drive.
“Famoso is the perfect addition to Commercial Drive. It is true to the neighborhood’s roots but recognizes The Drive’s own transformation. I’m excited to be returning to the neighbourhood,” says owner, restauranteur, and native East Vancouverite Brian Goheen. “I grew up here so launching Famoso is like coming home for me.”
Famoso has taken over the now-defunct Alpha Video space at Commercial Drive and Kitchener Streets. This is the company’s first BC location. General Manager Ryan Chilibeck oversees operations while Culinary Manager Alex Newton looks after the kitchen chefs and menus.
The interior is modern; large windows allow a lot of natural light to pour through to the dining sections.
The very friendly staff greeted me as I chose a table near the open kitchen to get a view of the pizza-tossing action. The centerpiece of the kitchen is the beautifully tiled pizza oven. Once seated, I chose from the selection of menus on the table, ordered at the counter, and waited for the dishes to be brought to my table.
I began my lunch with an order of Prosciutto-Wrapped Mozzarella Balls (3 for $10; 6 for $18).
The wonderful scent of freshly-crushed, cooked tomatoes arrived at the table as well. I tasted the tomatoes brought in from the Campania region of Southern Italy. They’re grown in volcanic-rich soil in the Monte Vesuvio region. This terroir is responsible for their unique flavour. Famoso crushes the tomatoes in house and seasons them simply with a touch of sea salt. The meatballs had a slight char on top that also went very well with the richness of the tomato.
The accompanying flatbread was nicely seasoned; I tasted the oregano, garlic, and coarse flecks of sea salt. There’s just enough leftover sauce to dip the bread into. I didn’t want to waste any of that sauce!
I ordered a Prosciutto Arugula Pizza ($14.50) from Famoso’s “White Pizza” menu to sink my teeth into next.
The pizza has generous slices of prosciutto with arugula and Pecorino romano cheese. The pizza is so simple, so purely flavourful, with a light brushing of olive oil, cured ham, and an arugula that’s not too heavy on the bite. The cheese is creamy smooth, and I was very impressed with the tastes that continued throughout my enjoyment of this winning pizza.
Famoso’s pizza crusts are made using Caputo ’00’ flour, one that’s highly refined while low in gluten. This unique flour, characteristic of a true Neapolitan pizza, produces a soft, crispy, easily digestible crust. And like the tomatoes, it’s also imported from Naples.
A variety of antipasti, salads, fire-bread sandwiches, and half-size pizzetas help to round out the menu.
I didn’t have room for dessert, but will return for some of Famoso’s handcrafted, small batch-produced gelato. The current gelato menu includes Key Lime Graham Cracker, Cappuccino, Vanilla Bean, Fior-di-Latte, Burnt Sugar Banana Cioccolato, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Flake. In addition to gelato, there’s Sorbetto and Tiramisu ($3.50 to $8).
Famoso offers both Italian and international red and white wines, sparkling wines (glasses start at $6.75; bottles at $30), Italian cocktails, liqueurs, sodas, speciality coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria is located at 1380 Commercial Drive and is open from Sunday to Thursday, 11 am to 11 pm; Friday and Saturday, 11 am to midnight. Visit the website for detailed information and menus.
Disclosure note: My lunch was compliments of Famoso Pizzeria cmply.2 .