If there was ever a restaurant named just for Mack, it would be called Love Pizza. When we’re meal planning for the following week, his consistent answer for dishes to add on the list is “pizza”. It’s also the single item he would commit to eating for the rest of his life if he was forced to pick just one. So in many ways, Love Pizza was the perfect place for us to end up on Valentine’s Day, given Mack’s affection for pizza.
In the past, Mack and I have written about our reluctance to dine out on Valentine’s Day, particularly as it relates to the perceived lack of value and an inability to live up to expectations. But on that night, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cook. Plus, in an unlikely twist, Love Pizza was actually offering a deal of half off a second pizza, almost unheard of on an occasion where the opposite is more likely to occur. Given the origins of the restaurant, however – a first date for the owners at a local pizzeria that led to love – it’s a fitting way to celebrate a day all about love.
Famoso, a quick-serve pizza concept, has grown in the ten years since its debut in Edmonton to more than two dozen locations in Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Last year, the folks behind Sabor Divino opened Urbano, a fast-casual pizzeria focused on customizable pies ready in under two minutes. Love Pizza is the latest to embrace this build-your-own trend (including offering a gluten-free crust), and opened up in the Canterra Centre (10196 109 Street) on January 29, 2016.
Walking in to Love Pizza that night, we found the restaurant half full. The former tanning salon has been transformed into a cafeteria-style dining room, where orders are placed and picked up along the counter. We were both impressed by the fully-developed nature of the concept – everything from the signage to the menu had obviously been thought through to the point where we almost thought Love Pizza belonged to a franchise.
In addition to the ability to create your own pie, Love Pizza also offers ten signature creations ($11.95 each), as well as a limited number of salads and desserts. They source some ingredients locally, including Gold Forest Grains flour for their whole wheat crust, Irvings Farm Fresh bacon and Spolumbo’s Italian sausage. I did appreciate the fact that toppings were differentiated from “finishes” – ingredients that are added after baking (it never made sense to me why Famoso would always choose to incinerate fresh basil on their margarita pizzas). That night, we chose to order the Meatatarian and the Old MacDonald on regular crust.
The pizzas were assembled in front of us with an obvious amount of care by very personable staff. They were then placed in an oven that promised a fully baked pizza in three minutes. We were told that the restaurant is working on installing a hood fan; the smoke wasn’t particularly noticeable that evening, but on a subsequent visit we definitely smelled like smoke after dinner.
Love Pizza understands that we all eat with our eyes first – their pizzas are some of the most photogenic I’ve ever encountered. They also didn’t skimp on the toppings, especially with the cheese. The crust is sturdy but nicely chewy, earning a thumbs up from Mack.
I enjoyed the Meatatarian, featuring a tomato sauce base with fior di latte, pepperoni, capicolla, Spolumbo’s Italian sausage and shaved parmesan. Mack’s pick of the Old MacDonald layered spicy tomato sauce with fior di latte, two eggs, Spolumbo’s Italian sausage, spinach, shaved parmesan and a drizzle of chili oil. Both pizzas had a ton of flavour from the toppings and a great diversity of texture.
Based on the food, reasonable prices, and a relaxed atmosphere, Love Pizza just may have become our go-to pizzeria Downtown. They even have a loyalty program offering $5 off your next purchase. It’s a great concept, one that works for people looking for a quick bite during the day or those hoping to unwind in the evening. I hope they are successful and can maintain the quality in the long run.