Restaurant Review: Famoso Country Hills

>> Friday, September 20, 2013

Calgarians have really embraced the new pizza and wine movement. All around the city there have been restaurants the offer pizza with wine, something the Italians known was a success many eons ago. Although we might be a bit late to the game but at least we’re here and I’m really happy to see all the new places that have been popping up around town. Restaurants are not only opening up in the core, but they’re also making it easier for those that live in the suburbs to access great pizza and great wine. Like Famoso, first opening their sister location in Mackenzie Towne and now the newest addition in Country Hills.
Atmosphere: A casual and relaxed dining room perfect for group gatherings or family dinners.
Price Range: Mid $10s
Food & Wine: After looking at their menu I was extremely excited to see the new fall / winter features, but it was hard to stray from other items that sounded amazing, so decided on trying a bit of both. To start we had the Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella Balls made with fresh fior-di-latte cheese and wrapped in prosciutto as advertised. The mozzarella balls are baked in tomato sauce and then served with fresh basil, pecorino romano cheese and flatbread. I really enjoyed the different flavour and texture combinations of this dish, the salty prosciutto combined with the lightness of the mozzarella and the sweetness of the tomatoes were a win.
Next up, we had the Tapenade Trio. I’m always a sucker for dips and spreads and this platter is a great option for those that are looking to sample a bit of everything. It comes with 3 different tapenades: Kalamata Olives, Roasted Artichoke, Bruschetta and a side of warm flatbread. The table favorite was the roasted artichoke. There was a pleasant blend of garlic and lemon flavours highlighting the artichoke itself. I enjoyed it both on the flatbread and even by itself.  I was also intrigued by the Mediterranean Flatbread, garlic and herb flatbread served with tzatiki and hummus! I’ll need to make a note to try that next time.
Our third appetizer we had were the Meatballs. You can order either 3 or 6 meatballs and when they arrive, they’re herb spiced meatballs served in their famous tomato sauce and topped with a creamy aioli with shaved pecorino romano cheese. The meatballs themselves were moist and juicy with a nice blend of herbs and spices.
I couldn’t wait to try the Cavoletti after reading the ingredients.  Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, prosciutto crisps, gorgonzola cheese, dates, walnuts and topped off with a drizzle of honey. Quite the blend of salty and sweet, it hit all the different taste buds. Plus the crunch of the prosciutto and walnuts made for a perfect texture contrast against the chewiness of the famoso dough. For those that see brussels sprouts and seem a bit thrown off, it’s not the full brussel sprout itself, but just leafs of it which crisps up very nicely in their fire oven. In the end it’s really no different than having arugula on your pizza, but a very ingenious way to sneak more veggies on the pie and give it that added flavour profile. It was one of my favorite pizzas to date!
On the opposite spectrum was the Spicy Thai. Featuring Asian flavours and ingredients such as peanut sauce, bean sprouts, cilantro, crushed peanuts alongside chicken, fior-di-latte and smoked mozzarella and carrots. It was tangy with a slightly spicy kick. I enjoyed the how inventive this pizza was and the flavours worked well together, it reminded me of eating a pad thai but with Italian undertones.
The fall / winter special white pizza was the Funghi Tartufo – with mushrooms, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and topped with truffle oil. My husband really enjoys truffle oil so it was no surprise that we had to order this pizza. I did find that the cheese was a bit overwhelming on this pizza and I couldn’t really taste the mushrooms too much compared to other mushroom pizzas I’ve had in the past. I didn’t mind it overall, but there was something to it that I just wasn’t that fond of, it was no Cavoletti in my opinion.

At this point we were all beyond full, but it was so hard not to order dessert when I saw what was on the menu. The Dolce & Banana has always been a Famoso favorite of mine. Who can refuse oen-roasted bananas coated in caramelized brown sugar and then topped with crushed pecans, caramel sauce, and a nice big scoop of vanilla bean gelato? If you can, please tell me your ways. The contrast between hot and cold, soft and crunchy is beyond amazing.

We also had the Authentic Tiramisu. I didn’t realize that it was imported from Milan, Italy. So when I first tried to scoop a spoonful, the tiramisu didn’t quite give way to my spoon. However, that didn’t deter me for long.  It was more mascarpone ice cream cake with lady fingers and espresso flavours then a true tiramisu, but the flavours were there. It probably just needed a bit more time to defrost, but still a good alternative if you’re craving the need for a tiramisu.

We got to sample various drinks that evening starting with the Red Sangria. Fruity and refreshing, it’s the perfect summer time drink made with wine spiked with blackcurrant liqueur and orange Italian soda. The Italian Spritz is perfect for those that are looking for something a bit less sweet. Made with mainly Prosecco, Aperol, and a splash of soda water, it’s got a pleasant bitter orange taste from the aperol. Our wine that evening was the Ricasoli Barone Chianti. You can never go wrong with Chianti’s. A perfect medium bodied wine with fruity aromas and light tannins. It’s both good as a sipping wine or with pizza.
My Picks: Mozzarella Balls, Cavoletti Pizza, Dolce & Banana
Overall: I consider myself extremely lucky that I’m not only close to the 4st street location, but now also the NW location. It’s always nice to have options, especially with their seasonal menu specials; going back every time is a treat. However, I’m glad to see that they’ve kept on some great signature dishes and hope that they remain on the menu for a long time to come, dolce & banana anyone?
Famoso Neapolitan Pizza
5149 Country Hills Blvd NW
Calgary, AB
(403) 452-5000

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Mallory Frayn October 3, 2013 at 11:19 AM  

I noticed that a Famoso was going in when I went to Superstore the other day but have yet to try this location. It's nice to see better restaurants making their way out to suburbia!

Bonnie Huang October 3, 2013 at 4:14 PM  

Agreed! It's nice to have options aside from Papa John's or Pizza 73! =)

Icemancalgary5 November 8, 2013 at 11:24 AM  

Well certainly fooled us - we had meal from there last night - the Pizza was;
Cold in the middle, Soggy and raw - see posted images. Would be generous giving 1 out of 10

Icemancalgary5 November 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM  

Have to disagree - had meal from there last night was a disgusting raw cold and soggy Pizza.. See posted images

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