Famoso – Edmonton, AB


Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria
1417 99 St NW
Edmonton, AB
(780) 468-0000

O-toro previously wrote about this now five-location strong pizzeria based in Edmonton known as Famoso that is trumpeting some true ingredients that go into a classic Neapolitan pie.  So on my recent visit to the Alberta capital, I knew I had to give it a try myself, as there is no sign of it coming to the west coast any time soon, and I don’t have immediate plans to visit Calgary (where they have one of their five locations).

As it was on the city’s south side and thus closest to the airport that still is way too far for my liking from the city’s downtown core, the South Edmonton Common location was visited for this lunchtime meal.  [I did manage to see the location for the one downtown later during my stay].  It was quite busy for a mid-week day, although I’m sure the pending holidays had something to do with it, but the access to this shopping area wasn’t as bad as it ended up being days later (and of course for Boxing Day).  First impressions were positive.  Bright, clean, with a nice buzz about the place.  The centralized glass display that housed many of the desserts and drinks anchored the room, with the pizza cooks working in the open towards the back where I could also spot the wood burning oven.  Everything fit the “fast casual” claim they spout out in their marketing.

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Twisted Yogurt – Edmonton, AB


Twisted Yogurt
#650-3803 Calgary Trail
Edmonton, AB
(780) 440-4955

New concepts, especially in the do-it-yourself kind seem to be sprouting out all over the place these days.  Perhaps its a way to cut labor costs, but having customers/diners do all the heavy lifting and giving them countless choices to suit their every need and desire, seems to be partly (in my opinion) due to the ever burgeoning something-unique-for-everyone ethos that has arisen from the Starbucks business model (“super venti mochachino with quarter-whole, quarter-skim, and make the rest half & half, decaf with a few shavings of nutmeg”” anyone?).  No single item will do, you get as much leeway as you want.  Kind of a steroid-driven upgrade on the old “have it your way” style of one of the major fast food burger chains.

I wouldn’t even try to come up with all the permutations of configurations you can get with your Twisted Yogurt dessert.  Rather than try to come up with something both accurate and witty, I’ll let the marketing gurus of the operation themselves tell you how they would give their elevator pitch:

“Twisted Yogurt is all about exploring your creative side, because you get to create your own frozen masterpiece. You start by choosing one of our eight flavours of fresh, natural non fat frozen yogurt and then add on as many of our over 50 toppings as you can load into your bowl.”

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Chronic Tacos – Vancouver, BC


Chronic Tacos
382 W. Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 709-8226

l’d say that I was among the early birds several months back to spot the disappearance of the former tenant at this location (that served horrible pho) and the pending notice that Chronic Tacos was going to set up shop – mainly due to the fact that I pass this Cambie/W. Broadway corridor very often.  As a result, I kept making a mental note to stop in once things got up and running, which I did hear about from a loyal reader when they themselves passed through their open doors.  A further few weeks passed since that heads up but I finally made my way in on a recent Sunday afternoon.  Coincidentally, as it was just past the 2pm local time kickoffs for several NFL matches, the place was rocking inside and all tables were occupied, which led me to understand that this joint has a serious sports bar vibe and relevant customers (many decked out in the uniforms of their favorite teams).  I thought this was interesting, not assuming the proprietors would take this angle, but it sure has proven to be a success judging by the boisterous room.  While glancing at some screens to get updated on the scores (I happened to be listening to the Seahawks game on the radio on my drive over), I made my way to the very back where the ordering and prep counter is situated.  I didn’t bother to check, but I don’t think there is any table service here, which one might expect given how busy the place was upon setting foot inside and how the seating layout was designed.

With no intentions of dining alone inside – not that there was even a single free chair – I got my order to go.  A few signs on the walls and a menu board are posted up high and are quite visible, and given its a fast food-type of place, its not rocket science to decide what you want and the choices run the usual gamut of popular North Americanized (despite the claims of authentic Mexican recipes) items such as burritos, the hilariously named “fatty” tacos (in reference to the whole chronic thing – “whatup Dr. Dre!”), and other assortments such as nachos and quesadillas.  I’m sure their website would reveal more history and the rationale behind the name, so will leave that to you to delve into and I won’t regurgitate anything here (urgh, that’s a really bad word to use when writing about food, but so be it!).

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Red Brick Pizza – Edmonton, AB


Red Brick Pizza
965 James Mowatt Trail SW
Edmonton, AB T6W 1S4
(780) 756-9000

Self-described as a neighborhood pizza café, I was pleased that there was a new option to choose from when it came to satisfying my occasional craving for pizza in Edmonton.

Tucked away in a small strip-mall just off of Ellerslie Road on the south-side of Edmonton, this new pizza franchise appeared to be focused on thin-crust pizzas, ideally suited for the quick cooking times and intense heat of their “red brick” pizza oven.  Scanning the menu, I was initially disappointed when I got to the description for the Margherita Pizza:  “ mozzarella, provolone, white cheddar, parmesan, basil, garlic, fresh tomatoes, red sauce”

Hmmm – red sauce?  Maybe I should turn around and leave…

Uncertain what to order – I tried looking for something that I couldn’t find at the two-for-one’s around the corner.  Settling on #13:  Proscuitto, Mushrooms & Arugula: with mozzarella, parmesan, olive oil and garlic sauce.

We settled into one of the booths complete with its own TV – and took in the décor of this café.  It is nice, but feels more commercial than its advertised neighborhood café promise.  The pizza arrived quickly – delivered on a cardboard tray, along with paper plates.

redbrick_pizza

First impressions were that it looked good, with a fair amount of toppings for a thin-crust pizza.  The initial taste reactions were that it was a bit salty – not sure if it was from the prosciutto or the parmesan, but was still quite good.  The base stayed crisp throughout, and the crust was surprisingly light with a nice bite.

Is this traditional Neapolitan pizza?  No – nor do they claim to be.

Is it the best pizza ever?  No, but definitely better than the aforementioned two-for-one’s.

Nothing to get too excited about, but with Edmonton’s weak pizza offerings – it’s better than most.

UPDATE:

To better answer some of the comments posted, I figured some additional photos would make things more clear.  The term ‘crust’ is used very loosely when describing pizza, and will ultimately lead to confusion.   i.e.  thin-crust,  pan-crust, stuffed-crust, etc.   The pizza offered at Red Brick Pizza has a very thin ‘base’, but a doughy ‘rim’ which has a nice outer crunch due to the open fire oven it is cooked in.

Picking up a slice of this pizza is very similar to picking up a New York style slice, where the base is not able to support any of the toppings.  The fold-and-hold method used in NY also works very well with Red Brick pizza.

redbrick_slice

The hot stone base within the pizza oven is what makes this style of pizza different from many of the other broiler/conveyor-belt oven joints around.  Having personally experimented with this style of oven – I know that loose flour will burn quickly — eventually sticking to the base of the next pizza if you’re not careful.   The base of this particular slice was clean, unfortunately there were a few slices which were not so.

redbrick_slicebottom

Pictured here is the RedBrick Gourmet Works.   Available sizes are Small (9″),  Medium (11″), Large (14″)  ranging in prices of approximately $8, $14, $19 respectively.

redbrick_gourmet_takeout

Red Brick Pizza on Urbanspoon

IHOP Restaurant – Las Vegas, NV


IHOP Restaurant
7490 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 617 0077

IHOP on Urbanspoon

I recently read that approximately two-thirds of American adults are considered obese. That’s a pretty striking statistic.

I know that Las Vegas cannot seriously be considered an accurate sample of a population, given that a good part of it that you see in public, are visitors from out of state, or out of country. For anyone who’s ever been there, you know that the availability of large quantities (and varying quality) of food in “America’s Playground” is a 24/7 proposition. Being responsible, meaning not overeating, can be a challenge with the never ending temptations from the numerous restaurants and all-you-can-eat buffets especially along Las Vegas Boulevard. And with most people staying awake for longer hours each day, it also leaves the possibility of sneaking in a few more snacks than usual. All a deadly combination for those who want to avoid gaining significant weight during a vacation.

With that in mind, on my recent trip to Sin City, I tried to keep an eye on what I was eating. For some reason, during my whole stay, I didn’t feel like having more than two meals a day – which was probably helped by my getting up a bit later each day than I usually do at home. I had in mind some potential places to eat during the time I was there, but in the end, I completely ignored my list and just ate when I was hungry, someplace close by at the time, and I tried to keep it simple and affordable. I can hear the Foodosopher groaning at me already for passing on some of his suggestions (although the Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay was shut down due to lack of power). (SMILE)

The International House of Pancakes (better known as IHOP) has been in business for fifty years and according to their website, they have 1,375 IHOP restaurants located in 49 US states, Canada and Mexico. 14 of those are in Las Vegas, and I was surprised to learn that 12 exist in British Columbia. Until this trip, I have never stepped foot in any of them. In fact my only exposure to it was probably seeing it appear in the feature film staring Sean Penn, “I am Sam”. My breakfast choices, when I even choose to have this morning meal, is usually a combination of some toast and coffee. Not since my high school days have I really had a huge appetite in the morning, and thus this bare bones combination tides me over til lunchtime. Driving up the Strip at the noon hour in search of some caffeine to start my day, I spotted the distinct sign and decided I’d make my virgin visit to the place that boasts serving up “700 million pancakes per year”.

Believing that the crepes at least would be on the lighter side, I chose something off the “international crepes” section of the menu in the Danish Fruit Crepes. I should have stopped it right there, but when asked for what topping I wanted, I looked down and said “cool strawberry”, with the warm blueberry, and the cinnamon apple being left aside. What was a light meal turned into a heavily sugar coated mess, as the strawberry compote just overwhelmed the more delicate crepes. I wish it had come in a separate pouring container rather than lathered on top by the kitchen. Add in the squirts of cream cheese, and the dollop of whipped cream, it was a sucrose bonanza that I would have preferred to have avoided.

Also at our table was the Double Blueberry Pancakes, which I had a taste of and frankly don’t see what the fuss is about. If this place is known for pancakes and this is their offering, I am puzzled by the apparent success of this franchise which uses this as their flagship dish.

Lastly, the simple combination of eggs and hash, was the most comforting dish that I had some bites from. Perhaps its my advancing age, but for breakfast, I am into more savory items rather than anything sweet anymore. And will remind myself of this the next time I am having my morning meal outside. IHOP sure was a popular place though, as the room was packed with people, and with all the other breakfast/brunch places in town, this was pretty surprising. I suppose its capitalizing on its strong name value in America, and the de facto choice in some households for their breakfast fix. With the size of servings, heavy influx of sugar in many of their dishes, I think this is working to contribute to that obesity figure that is plaguing modern day society in this part of the world.

IHOP on Urbanspoon