Address: 221-A Stradbrook Avenue
Entrees: $9 – $30
Pizza is the one food everyone wants; it sparks pleasure when life lacks. A wave of new pie pushers contributing to the global pivot have emerged everywhere, one-of-a-kind shops powered by obsessively passionate people putting their life into a place where magic happens.
Such is the case with Winnipeg’s Parcel Pizza, a creation that opened in July at the base of a new apartment building as a convenient to-go spot for its residents and surrounding area. The space is shiny and new, yet a simple collection of displayed kitchen curios nods to nostalgia. Hand-painted murals accent cozy booths giving the two-level space artsy appeal. It became an instant sensation by blending masterful red and white sauces with a crust that is both crispy and doughy.
Its’ star magicians, Elsa Taylor, Caiden Bircham and Isaac Hedenstierna, also owners of Roost and the Oxbow respectively, are applying their local-centric ideals creating clever combinations of prairie ingredients topping the sauce.
Veggies and herbs farm to table chefs go for, come together like alchemy. Chef Jessica Campion-Taylor uses dough to deliver garden fresh bitter leafy greens, exotic mushrooms, and fancy meats. Fennel flecked sausage is house-made and bacon comes from Berkshire pork.
Reading the list of avant garde pizzas may raise a few eyebrows but the kitchen delivers pies that are a perfect balance of edginess and elegance.
The Magpie, topped with white sauce, chanterelles and lemon greens bears little resemblance to meat heavy classics. The contrasting textures mingle with gorgonzola, mozzarella and trace truffle oil creating a sensational wave of flavours.
The ever changing ‘rotating disc’ attracts experimental types with sage seasoned acorn squash, miso and maple kissed candied bacon and herbs. Locally produced mozzarella, goat cheese and asiago sharpen the luscious bechamel base and crispy fried curls of rosemary add lemony pine accents.
Ingenious presentations appear off pizza too. Seasonal greens star in fleeting specials celebrating the local bounty. Buttery judion beans soaking in herby olive oil are an unctuous side dish, tempting crust dipping. A salt sprinkled tangle of roasted garlic scapes are splendid paired with asiago, lemon and horseradish infused mayo. Prawns sitting atop an insanely airy beurre blanc flecked with pepperoni is bucket list revelatory.
Precision continues through the last course. Desserts are divine, most notably the vegan ice cream cake, topped with strawberry compote. It lacks nothing for its dairy-free status.
Pizza culture spent the last twenty years retooling, remaking itself to give more options than ever before. Today, a great pizza is less about manipulating ingredients and more about finding the best ones and combining them in clever ways. It turns out, ingenuity may be the exact place where magic is found.