As Justin Lussier traveled through Naples in 2005, he decided to stop for the city's famous pizza at a small street-side eatery bearing the sign Pizzeria Sorbillo. He loved his traditional thin-crust pie so much that he rushed to a pay phone and called his friends Christian Bullock and Jason Allard to tell them that he wanted to make that same pizza. When Justin returned to Canada, the trio travelled to confer with the culinary experts at Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) in order to uncover what truly makes a pizza Neapolitan. Two years later, the friends set out to open Famoso.
Famoso's chefs all follow strict guidelines set by the AVPN—they only use OO Caputo flour imported from Naples, and they hand mill tomatoes imported from the foot of Mount Vesuvius, where each crop is grown in soil enriched by volcanic ash and sung to daily by volcanologists. Chefs top the crust with local fior di latte mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and pecorino romano cheese. They then spread dough into wafer-thin disks, which they blast-fire at 900 degrees for 90 seconds inside imported Italian bell-shaped ovens. Pizzas are also topped with ingredients such as soppressata, oven-roasted Italian sausage, kalamata olives, and truffle oil.
Famoso Baristas can pair many of these pies, some of which are reinvented twice each year, with a mix of local and international wines—including vintages from Italy and Canada—and hand-crafted gelato. At each restaurant, they ferry dishes and drinks through rustic and inviting interiors, each of which reflects the unique style of its neighbourhood, though all are united by accents of exposed brick and wood, wine-bottle art, and sculptural pizza-box displays.
When Joe and Theresa Klassen first founded Joey’s Seafood Restaurant in 1985, they were simply looking to create a friendly neighbourhood eatery that served made-to-order seafood. Though the company has since expanded to more than 69 franchises across Canada, it still falls under the leadership of its founder, who frequently develops new strategies for growth and expansion while continuing to supply each location with fresh, Pacific-based seafood. Joey’s offers two distinct dining experiences: full-service restaurants (designed for families and their hungry sock puppets) and quick-serve places (designed for younger generations). At the quick-serve eateries, foodsmiths dole out a smaller menu of fried fish and shrimp. The full menu includes seafood entrees such as sautéed PEI mussels, blackened Pacific snapper, and Joey’s famous fish 'n' chips—fillets of halibut, cod, or haddock dunked into a secret-recipe batter and then deep-fried in canola oil. Nationally, the company supports the Alzheimer's Society of Canada through local and national fundraising efforts. Since 2000, its franchises have collectively raised more than $950,000 for the organization.
The Yardhouse's dishes have been around the world and back. The menu's range of dishes speaks to the kitchen's penchant for international recipes and punched-up pub cuisine. This global appreciation hasn't uprooted barroom tradition, however—classic chicken wings often steal the menu spotlight, especially on Wednesday, when they are prepared in batches of 100 per order.
Apart from worldliness, The Yardhouse stresses on-site prep, showcasing truffle fries and housemade thai chicken bites. Despite elaborate recipes for pumpkin basil gnocchi and maple dip for yam fries, the dining-room atmosphere is a far cry from the stifled silence and mandatory caviar chugging of gourmet halls. Chatter overlaps with sports broadcasts, the tinkling of cocktail glasses, and the sound of draft beers being poured into pint-sized servings—or, for especially thirsty patrons, the bar's signature yard-long flasks. Bottled craft beers round out the drink list with ciders, ales, lagers, and stouts.
Situated just off the banks of Calgary’s Bow river in Eau Claire, Oceana Seafood, Steakhouse & Bar features views of Prince’s Island Park pathways from three different dining rooms. Along with a huge selection of fresh fish—including Alaska King crab legs, Arctic char, and Pacific oysters—the eatery uses AAA Sterling Silver Alberta Beef for its juicy filet mignons and New York strips. Steaks can be combined with Nova Scotia sea scallops, lobster tail, or other fresh shellfish. Pasta dishes also take advantage of the fresh fish, with options such as the salmon linguine in an herbed lobster bisque sauce.
In addition to three dining rooms that pair the elegance of white-linen dining with the flair of animal-print chairs, Oceana’s lounge area helps diners cozy up with two fireplaces, leather club chairs, and clamshell booths taken from undersea toll ways. In the warmer months, the patio opens for additional dining space surrounded by lush greenery and potted plants. This comfort and hospitality is the vision of founder Nick Papaioannou, a transplant from Greece who has worked in Calgary restaurants for more than 40 years.
Banff Ave Brewing Company's English-style brew pub entertains visitors with a menu of gourmet pub fare, up to seven of their own draft beers, and seven HD televisions alongside pool and foosball. Brewmasters craft their foamy libations from global malts and hops blended with their own cultured yeast strains and glacial water found in Canadian Rockies streams by water-sniffing dogs. Cream ales, stouts, and pilsners flow from towering steel vats sitting in full view of clientele, down brass pipes, and to taps descending from the ceiling. Brews pair with colourful platters bearing beer-infused meats as well as vegetarian and gluten-free fare and offerings from a children's menu. A teak bar, low- and high-top tables, and lounge chairs hold indoor revellers, and an outdoor patio with panoramic views of the Rockies lets diners feel breezes and partake in casual snowman watching. In a commitment to eco-friendly practices, the brewers recapture water used in brewing for subsequent rounds, recycle and compost spent barley and hops, and ensconce leftovers in biodegradable containers.
Instrumental Indian music provides a rhythm as tandoor chefs knead fresh naan in Rajdoot's open kitchen, filling the restaurant with the scent of authentic spices and freshly baked bread as diners watch them work. A tandoor heats chicken marinated in yogurt and coated in mild spices, and nearby spiced curries bubble around pull-apart cuts of butter chicken, beef, or lamb. Mixed vegetables dance in a drizzle of flavourful sauce in vegetarian options or build their own rice fort in biryani dishes. For dessert, tropical fruits lend their tang to fresh ice cream, and balls of fried dough do somersaults through a shower of warm honey.