There’s a new pizza joint in town and it’s doing something a little different than the others. Bensonhurst Pizza Co. located on 17th Avenue and Ninth Street S.W. is offering not one but five different pizza styles.
From its huge wood-fired oven diners can choose from an array of Neapolitan and California-style pizzas and from its more traditional Baker’s Pride oven Bensonhurst is serving up pizzas in the New York New Jersey and Chicago styles. That’s right real-deal deep dish.
But first the room. Named after a predominantly Italian-American neighbourhood in Brooklyn it comes as no surprise that the space features brick interior walls and large loft style windows. The look is clean and rustic without going overboard on designer details.
The main feature of the space is the large open kitchen where both oven styles are on display against a backdrop of classic white subway tiles. On the Tuesday night my hubby and I visit we’re seated in the back area which is geared more towards conversation — the front area features numerous TVs and takes on more of a lounge feel.
It’s hopping for a Tuesday night but this comes as no surprise when the weather rises above zero on 17th Ave. Nonetheless we are seated and served for most of our experience by a fellow we assume is an owner or manager. He’s nice enough and offers many suggestions on how to order.
For couples he suggests going with a California or Neapolitan pizza so you have space for an appetizer and dessert but Calgary already has plenty of good options for these two styles — tonight we want New York-style and Chicago-style pizzas.
Ordering a round of blood orange San Pellegrino we meander through the drink list noting the local draughts mid-range wines and fun cocktails.
Based on our server’s comments we decide to skip appetizers and go straight for the ’za. Otherwise I would’ve been tempted to try the spicy clams ’n red sauce ($11) or the Bensonhurst Caesar salad with white anchovy ($9).
We decide on the 18-inch New York street pizza ($18) and from the Chicago style the 13-inch famous original ($26) but based on our server’s suggestion we scale down the Chicago-style to the personal nine-inch size. He also forewarns us that the New York pizza will come first as the Chicago style takes about 40 minutes. This is around 7:15 p.m.
At about 7:55 p.m. he comes back to apologize that our New York pizza went to a different table. Thankfully the deep dish arrives soon after this. It is delectable. Prepared in a deep baking pan the pie layers dough then cheese then the famous original’s Calabrese and ground fennel sausage “toppings.” More cheese follows and then a final layer of sauce.
I wish we’d ordered the 13-inch. The sauce is tangy with a pop of spice the fennel sausage offers a hint of heat without going overboard and the gooey stretchy cheese offers up that wonderful lifeline that pulls you right back into the slice. And what’s truly astonishing is that the crust really isn’t all that thick. It’s not like the dough overload you get from those “ deep deep deep” joints in town. This is an A-plus pizza.
The New York is tasty too but for different reasons. For one the crust is much thinner and puffier but it’s not a thin crust. Each slice is meant to be folded from crust to crust and is tough enough to withstand the fold without breaking. Featuring a greasy sheen tasty cheese and pops of oregano we like it but it’s still better in New York.
After getting our leftovers boxed up we’re asked if we’d like anything else. We ask for an order of Beignets ($8) a doughnut topped with icing sugar and served with a side of Nutella.
What comes instead is our bill. By this point it’s 8:45 and we’ve been here for nearly two hours so we pay up and go. It’s not a big deal. Bensonhurst has only been open for a month and it’s clear they are still working out the kinks. I say go and get that Chicago-style deep dish but maybe wait another month before you visit.