Red Ember Common
Neighbourhood: The Forks
Address: 1 Forks Market Rd
Hailing from a European tradition and quickly gaining popularity in Canadian cities, food halls are a unique dining experience that merges the convenience of a food court with the upscale, artisanal quality of a local farmers’ market. Already thriving in the food truck scene with Winnipeg’s first wood-fired pizza truck, Red Ember has set up a brick and mortar location at The Forks food hall, allowing fans to enjoy its much-loved pizza throughout the year.
For owners Steffen Zinn and Quin Ferguson, using local, ethically raised ingredients is key. Organic Manitoba-milled flour is the foundation of their pizza, and local suppliers such as Zinn Farms, run by Steffen’s mom and brother, provide the high-quality meats that top the pies. Their pizza is neo-Neapolitan style, taking inspiration from authentic Neapolitan pizza without having to follow its strict traditions. Boundary pushing ingredients give modern spin.
Nestled in the corner of the hall, Red Ember’s massive copper-faced stone oven–imported from Naples, Italy–is on full display. Marbled bar-top style seating allows diners to observe each pizza as it is tossed into the piping hot 750° oven by Chef Quin himself, wielding his wooden paddle. The heavy exposed brick arches enclosing the restaurant give it a cozy train station feel without shutting out the lively party atmosphere in the hall.
Before digging into the pizza, start off with the must-try cucumber salad. At first glance, the classic combination of cucumbers and dill anticipates familiar flavours, but the first bite proves otherwise. Buttery Castelvetrano olives, pickles and piles of fresh dill add flavours as vibrant as they look. The green medley meets middle eastern influences with a velvety Baharat spiced crème smeared thickly underneath.
The pies are perfection, with a char-blistered crust and dough retaining ideal elasticity. Options include classics like the Margherita with tangy San Marzano tomato sauce, but for a more inventive rendition, try the “Twist and Sprout” pizza, a combination of generous heaps of shredded Brussels sprouts, salty pancetta, crème fraiche and creamy blue cheese with a hint of roasted garlicky goodness. In the Super Bird pie, the Manitoba chicken sausage is the star ingredient, packing a mouth-watering punch alongside piquillo peppers, red onion, and melty feta cheese atop a walnut-basil pesto. There are no wrong choices among the many creations, but another standout is the Hot ‘n Honey, a twist on the classic pepperoni slice balanced by sweet local honey.
Though you can sink your teeth in just 2 minutes after the pizza flies into the oven, the experience far exceeds fast food standards. If you’re lucky, you might even be serenaded by a cellist playing Hallelujah, making your visit to The Forks rival a romantic evening in Italy.