If you can’t find a place that makes pizza exactly how you want it, then Urbano Pizza has the solution: build it yourself.
Christian Mena and Lino Oliviera of Sabor Divino and Bodega, opened the doors to Urbano Pizza Co. in early June at 10220 – 103 Street. The long and narrow space features a workspace assembly line at the front and seating for 20 or so a few steps up in the back. Brightly coloured chairs, spiffed up original pendant lighting and splashes of red and black play well with the reclaimed wood and original brick.
Let’s get to the ‘za.
The dough is Lino’s recipe and made by the folks at Popular Bakery. Standard dough and gluten-free dough are available. The crust is thinner than most thin crusts and once topped and ready for the oven, gets a blast of high heat for 90 seconds in the Turbo Chef—a mini-industrial oven with the ability to heat up to 850 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kicking it up a notch – Many of the toppings are (thankfully) unusual: braised lamb, porchetta, sardine pate, eggs, a Portuguese cheese called Limiano, camembert, and grilled eggplant, to name a few. The usual suspects are there, as well: bacon, peppers, onion, mushrooms, Italian sausage, etc.
Three homemade sauces are yours for the choosing: tomato, red pepper, and nut-free pesto. The hard part is choosing from all the options but the one thing to keep in mind? Don’t go overboard because the crust is going have a hard time baking if you pile that pie a mile high.
Oh oh: Of the six pizzas I tried (on two visits), the crust was the consistent problem child. Every pizza refused to stand up to any combinations of toppings but the owners are working on getting that straightened out. On my first visit, 90 seconds in the Turbo Chef wasn’t enough time and too much sauce was used. The result was a pie that was crispy on the edges and wet in the centre. On my last visit at 5:30 on a weekday, the ovens had apparently been turned down, something the staff failed to realized despite the temperatures displayed front and centre on the ovens. The result was three limp pizzas with slices impossible to hold.
The staff will re-fire a pizza if you feel it hasn’t spent enough time in the oven, but then you run the risk of turning that pizza crust into a cracker. To be fair, after I mentioned to Chris Mena the issues of my latest visit, he assured me the problem was rectified and invited me to try again.
Urbano is going to have to step up their game; Blaze Pizza, a build-it-yourself pizza chain from the USA (a franchise child of Five Guys Burgers & Fries) has got the recipe down pat and, according to Market Wired, has plans to open in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto.
Flavour-wise, Urbano’s toppings get no complaints from me but you know what they say about establishing a good, successful pizza relationship: it’s all a matter of crust.
My CBC Edmonton AM radio review can be found here.