1489 Sainte-Catherine E.
Metro: Beaudry, Papineau
Bus: STM 10, 14, 15, 34, 45, 150, 410, 430, 769, RTL 170
Visit: April 25, 2013
If I weren’t searching for burgers in the Greater Montreal Area, I would definitely be looking high and low for pizza. In the past few years, pizza has been on the mind of many Montrealers and we wouldn’t have it any other way. While it is quite the debate, pizza will unite us and at the same time, divide us. My visit to F+F Pizza will hopefully unite me with some of the suggestions given to me by my faithful supporters.
Pizza is a very polarizing subject. Everyone has their different tastes and they are willing to go to bat for their favorite places. In the city of Montreal alone, there is a countless amount of places that offer their take on one of the most classic dishes around, the pizza. If I really think about it, there are times where I would call the pizza my favorite dish, even over my bread and butter, the burger.
In 2012, the first of four F+F locations opened up on Notre-Dame. Since that time, success was not far behind. On this nice April evening, I found myself in the village at the Sainte-Catherine location. Now, for any of you who are not familiar with this stretch of Sainte-Catherine, between the Beaudry and Papineau metro, one should really check it out. I have never seen so many restaurants in one small area than I have on my walk to and from F+F Pizza. So, the competition is hectic as some of the bigger names are also moving into the area.
Once you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice right away that it isn’t very big. There are a number of large tables by the front, with a few smaller ones lining up the walls all the way to the back. The place was pretty busy as there weren’t very many tables open at my arrival.
Whenever I’m in a new place, I always try to make a good survey of what things look like. The first main observation I made was of the ceiling. Here, you could see these wires all around. While some people might be turned off by this, others might find this to be charming. It adds a touch that no other place might ever think of.
The character of this restaurant is also punched up by the artistic representations you could see on the walls. Other places have literally nothing happening, while F+F actually put some thought into making sure the walls were all-dressed. Details like this only help to make the restaurant belong to the neighborhood.
The service in the restaurant was actually quite interesting. From the second I entered, until the very last moments of my visit, I felt like I was in good hands. The server, who also tended the front counter, doesn’t look like someone you would see in an average restaurant, but they do their job well enough to make you forget about that. Let’s just say that you don’t judge a book by its cover, as this server was always very polite to everyone, including me.
During my visit, the owner of the chain was actually in the location. I confirmed this fact by reading an article that appeared in La Press. For the hour I was there, he was actually entertaining a very important party. While some might think this might put the staff at a disadvantage, what comes next will more than explain why the owner could keep his eyes elsewhere.
The most unique aspect of the restaurant is the fact that the kitchen is in plain view. From my vantage point, I could see just enough to really get an impression of how things work. Aside from the server and the owner, there was only one other person working in the restaurant, one lone cook. Wearing a hat with the logo of the restaurant, this individual was charged with making everything. My first thoughts about the matter were that of doubt. But, through observation and actually tasting the food, I was convinced.
The place was quite busy the entire time. The fact that one person was handling all the orders was just impressive and I was in awe. Not only did this “chef” have to take care of the diners, but there were also takeout and delivery orders to handle as well. It was non-stop for the entire time I was here and there was only one person handling it all. Then again, watching someone work is one thing, trying the food is a whole other ball game.
The thing that drew me into choosing F+F Pizza over other places was this table d’hote. For 22 dollars, you’ll get a pizza, salad, dessert, and drink. For me, that sounds like a pretty good bargain.
This salad contains lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, and croutons.
The salad was more or less the appetizer that would tide me over until the pizza arrived. I managed to finish a good deal of it before I got my pizza.
The first thing I notice was just how fresh it tasted. There wasn’t anything that felt like it’s been there for ages. It actually was quite nice. All of the components were well thought out and belonged. The highlights for me were the tomatoes and the olives. Normally, I’m not big on olives, but here, they blended in quite well. Even though I was reminded a lot of having a Subway sandwich here, I think that’s a positive thing in my book.
There was also this wedge of bread that was included with the salad. It really didn’t add much, as I could’ve done without it.
This pizza contains fresh cream, tomato sauce, onions, mozzarella, parmesan, ground onions, and bacon.
F+F Pizza has a great deal of pizza choices to make. There are at least 24 choices you can make and making them is not an easy task. For me, the safest route to go in was to go with the Carbonara, mostly because of the bacon.
During my visit, I had a pretty good glimpse of how various pizza orders were made. Each one was actually made my hand. The dough was tossed around and shaped with the chef’s own hands before being placed in the oven.
When the pizza was ready, it was placed on this shelf. At first, I was wondering why it wasn’t getting shipped off to my table, but that was when logic came back to me. I’ve been burnt so many times diving head first into a fresh slice of pizza. That sensation ruins the rest of your meal. So, with the pizza sitting for a few key moments, you don’t risk burning the top of your mouth and I was grateful that didn’t happen.
On first inspection, this pizza is quite easy on the eyes. I took a quick look to see how the bacon was done and I was really happy with the way it turned out. That was the moment where I knew that the odds of me being happy with this pizza went sky high. Other places just dice the bacon, while here, they are in tiny slices, which makes the best use of the cured meat.
The first bite of the pizza just confirmed what I was hoping. I could see that the pizza was built properly and nothing just fell apart like something was rushed. The distribution of the sauce and cheese was just right. Even the bottom of the pizza wasn’t overdone and looked just right.
The other ingredients that I was worried about didn’t turn out to be a factor in my enjoyment of this pizza. Normally, my preference goes towards bacon, sauce, and cheese. Anything outside of those three things were too much for me. With things like onions and fresh cream on this pizza, you’d think that the taste would be radically different, but it wasn’t. All the ingredients worked well together and nothing overpowered the other.
That last aspect of the pizza that I had to judge was the crust. For me, an ideal crust is crispy, but doesn’t require cranes to break through. Here, the crust found the perfect balance and there was no struggling with this at all.
In all, I was quite happy with my first pizza experience at F+F Pizza. I went in expecting a whole lot, due to the suggestions I received, and the pizza delivered. I can honestly see myself having this again, just based on how the bacon was presented alone.
Chocolate Fondant Cake
The final piece of the puzzle was the dessert. This was a chocolate fondant cake presented with a strawberry jam side.
When I ordered the cake, one of the things I was wondering was where this cake would come from. The kitchen area in the restaurant is quite small and with the fact that it was a one person operation back there, the cake’s entry into the game was looming heavy on my mind. The cake came from a compartment hidden from my view and out of a white container. This was interesting because I wondered how it would taste.
Regardless of its size, you have to say that the cake itself looks quite interesting. When you place your fork into the mass, it comes apart quite easily, which makes things quite easy to eat. Each bite is warm, as if you were eating a cupcake right out of the oven. In combination with the strawberry, you had something that would put that accent on a nice meal.
F+F Pizza seems like a simplish take-out counter in the middle of a heavily populated restaurant district, but it is so much more than that. The pizza speaks for itself and the service that goes along with it make it a worthwhile experience.