Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria was born in the summer of 2005 after co-owner Justin Lussier visited Pizzeria Sorbillo in Naples. He contacted his friends and future business partners Jason Allard and Christian Bullock and hatched a plan to bring authentic Neapolitan pizza to Canada (granted, he wasn’t the first to have this plan). After opening a handful of locations in Western Canada, Famoso added brothers Dean and Chad Labreche to the team, and they set their sights on Ontario. The Labreche brothers are responsible for two Famoso locations in Toronto: Chad opened his location in Yorkdale Shopping Centre’s revamped food court Dine on 3 in early June. A few weeks later Dean opened his location on Bloor just west of Spadina. We dropped by the freshly minted Annex location to check it out.
The laid-back pizzeria occupies the building that used to be the James Joyce Pub. The nightly Irish music and legions of drunk first-year students have been replaced by rich colours and a homier atmosphere. A large wood-fire oven (capable of reaching 900°F) is front and centre, cranking out pizzas at a furious pace. The exposed pizza prep station brings life and energy to the eatery. Plush leather booths invite guests to linger, while Famoso’s counter service ordering accommodates those looking for a quick bite. Guests seat themselves, and the menus are already on the tables. Once they’ve made their selection, diners order at the counter; they’re then served at their table.
Famoso is careful to use the traditional ingredients associated with Neapolitan pizza. The crust is made using Caputo 00 flour, which produces the characteristic chewy-yet-crisp crust, and Campania tomatoes from Southern Italy form the base of their marinara. The pizzas themselves range from traditional Italian pies to what you might call fusion creations. The funghi tartufo ($14.50) features roasted white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, white truffle oil and a light sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano. The San Andreas ($14.50) steps outside Italian convention, boasting chili lime–marinated chicken, fresh pico de gallo and avocado slices, finished with a drizzle of sour cream. For dessert, Famoso has a wide selection of gelato flavours. And while some revellers mourned the loss of the Joyce when it closed last summer, Famoso is already hopping with customers only a couple weeks after it opened.