I’m not unfamiliar with Neapolitan pizza chains. I used to live next to one for more than five years. To me, Neapolitan pizza became sort of like Domino’s or Papa John’s. If I was too tired, too lazy to cook my own meal, or unwilling drive more than 5 minutes for takeout, I would order a Neapolitan-style pizza. Eating Neapolitan pizza became so commonplace for me that eating greasy New York-style slices actually felt exotic.
But that was years ago. I have spent the past five years eating bland-tasting, west-coast-wanna-be-pizza that is light years behind New York or Neapolitan or even Greek pizza (disagree with me all you want, but that is the truth). Finding New York style pizza is next to impossible in Vancouver, but finding a decent Neapolitan pie has become quite easy with the recent explosion of local Neapolitan pizzerias.
My search for an exemplary local Neapolitan pie brought me, my wife, and my kids to Famoso yesterday. Famoso is a chain, and I was hoping that the pizza they offer would at least be equal in quality to the pizza offered by the branch of the Neapolitan chain I used to live next to.
The restaurant is quite new, and it has a fresh, cosmetically unblemished interior and open kitchen to match.
We arrived at the restaurant at around 6 P.M. and were not surprised to find that we had to wait 15-20 minutes for a table (which is why I had the spare time to take pictures of the interior). Once we were seated, we took a quick look at the menu and decided to order two adult pizzas, one kid pizza, and a meal-sized salad. Since the restaurant required customers to make their initial food orders at the counter, I walked up to the counter to put my order in.
The restaurant was quite busy, so it took around twenty minutes before we finally received our order. The first item that came to our table was the Margherita pizza with a supplement of Italian sausage.
After the Margherita pizza, we received the ‘new world’ pepperoni and mushroom pizza.
The two pizzas were decent tasting. They were as good as the pizzas from the chain I used to frequent, but they were no better. My wife thought that the tomato sauce tasted generic, I thought that they tasted like canned tomatoes. The fior-de-latte cheese was nicely moist, regularly-melty, and disappointingly lacking in chewiness. When combined with the basil included with the Margherita pizza, the cheese tasted gamey. This gamey flavour was unexpected but not unflavourful. The crust was the most enjoyable component of the pizza. The non-edge portions were thin and enjoyably chewy, and the perfectly-sized edges (crust) were even more teeth-bouncingly chewy. The other components of the two pizzas were typical. The Italian sausage that we added to the Margherita pizza was more texture than flavour; the pepperoni was thick, oily, and tasted maybe a smidgen better than garden-variety pepperoni sold at your local supermarket. The mushrooms were mushrooms; they tasted like cut-up-then-roasted fresh mushrooms.
My picky son wanted a pizza with pepperoni and sausage, but without cheese or tomato sauce. We ordered exactly that for him – in a kid sized pizzetta.
He liked it.
For our meal-sized salad, we ordered the eponymous Famoso salad.
The greens were fresh, the pizza-dough-bread was pleasantly chewy, the dressing was sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and the crispy prosciutto strips packed an intensely spicy punch along with serving as the primary salty flavour component of the salad. The combination of sweet, salty, and spicy was okay-tasty. In other words, the salad was slightly above-average-tasting.
Let’s see…above average salad, generic pizza sauce, garden variety sausage, supermarket pepperoni, okay cheese, good crust. Good Crust. Better crust than my last pizza at The Bibo. Hopefully, I will find a better all-around local Neapolitan pizza (the chances are good since there are quite a few places I have yet to try out). If not, I’ll have to make Famoso my pizza fix because of its teeth-bouncing dough.