Hicks' Weekly Dish: Urbano Pizza offers high quality, healthy fare BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, JULY 07, 2015
Urbano Pizza Co.
10220 103 St.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays
Food: 4 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns
Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns
Two 11-inch pizzas: $11.95 each
You are so busy, it doesn’t hit you until the aircraft lifts off. Yes! Your holiday is actually underway!
I had a similar realization, a chill down the spine as it were, sitting at one (of two) street-side patio tables outside the new Urbano Pizza Co.
The early evening July sun was easing off, yet the downtown 103 Street was still bathed in light and warmth.
Just a block north, in clear view, the new arena, girder by girder, is fast realizing its fabulous promise.
A couple of storefronts away, the cranes were hauling up the exterior wall panels for another new condo tower. Days later, Connor McDavid scored five goals in a scrimmage at the Oilers development camp.
It hit home. In just over a year, Rogers Place will be open for business, its skyscraper neighbours not far behind, the dingy bus terminal gone. One hundred and third Street outside Urbano and its sister Bodega Tapas and Sabor eateries will be abuzz with people. With the new high-rise towers, even weekday lunch times will have a New York hustle and bustle.
No wonder Christian Mena and Lino Olivera, proprietors of the fine-dining Sabor Restaurant and the Euro-casual Bodega Tapas Bar, have expanded next door to open a fast-but-healthy street-oriented pizza place.
“We were ready to do another project,” says chef Lino. “The space (formerly occupied by Herbal Magic) came up. It tied in with a long-term lease renewal for Sabor and Bodega. So away we went.”
Urbano is a cousin of contemporary pizzerias like Rosso, Leva and the ever-expanding Edmonton-based Famoso group. It offers individual-sized 11-inch pizzas, the dough fresh-pressed for each order, the ingredients quickly assembled and into the pizza oven to emerge minutes later piping-hot, beautifully cooked and as fresh as fresh can be.
Urbano is stylish and contemporary, full of open brick walls, solid colours, a small counter at the front, the outdoor tables, and several more solid wood tables at the back. But it’s not a space for lingering. There’s no beer or wine sales ... yet.
Urbano differentiates itself by both the high quality of ingredients (a lovely tomato sauce base is made in-house) and Chef Lino’s signature sprinkling of Portuguese flavours.
On the Pork & Pinapple pizza you’ll find porchetta, not salami. The popular Bacon & Eggs has real back bacon, plus Caciocavallo cheese — like mozzarella only with flavour. The chicken in the Piri Squared is marinated in a beautiful staple of Portuguese cooking, a gently spiced piri-piri pepper sauce. Plus the pizza has Portuguese chorizo sausage and Limiano cheese.
I can’t say enough about the Piri Squared pizza – a real and interesting cheese, topped with the spiced chicken and meaty chorizo. The veggies were toasted with just the right touch of char yet still crisp. The crust was thin, soft and crunchy at the same time: thin enough to fold into an impromptu panini for dainty eaters. The crowning touch atop the piri chicken pizza was a swirl of tiny shoestring potato curls.
The Bacon and Eggs is a perfect brunch — the big healthy fried eggs beaming away on top of a generous helping of back bacon, flavoured with a home-made onion jam. This is for eating on a late Saturday morning, before wandering over to the 104 Street Downtown Market.
I like the touches. hose on restricted diets can build their own pizzas if they like, Subway style. The soda pop includes pinapple and mango flavours. There’s gelato and sorbet for sweets.
The Mena/Olivera team – two north-end immigrant kids, one Chilean, one Portuguese, the best of friends from grade school on — are creating a brand unto themselves.
Sabor, Bodega and Urbano represent three very different dining styles — fine dining, casual tapas, and healthy thin-crust pizza — but are defined by signature flavours, freshness and a commitment to culinary excellence. Thank you Christian and Lino, for being leaders in this exciting and so-overdue rebirth of Edmonton’s downtown.