New thin crust pizzeria has great value and delicious pies
Seems to me when I was younger most pizza was terrible. Weeping tears of grease from its carapace of cheese, laden with sordid cold cuts and splayed across a soggy shell that failed under the welter of cheap toppings, it was the pie that taught my generation to never eat the crust.
While terrible examples still abound, Edmonton has actually been named a great pizza city by Conde Nast Traveler (We’re #8! We’re #8!). Places like Tony’s, Ragazzi, Famoso, Rosebowl, Packrat Louie, LovePizza and your favourite that you’re annoyed I’m not mentioning here put us on the pizza map.
Which must make it daunting to try to break into the pizza biz in Edmonton. Some places, like the recently remarked Vaticano Cucina, kind of sneak up on it by offering a full range of entrees alongside the pies. Then there are places like Buono Pizzeria and Grill in the Jasper Park vicinity that put pizza right there in the name and let the chips fall where they may.
Tucked in a newly reno’ed strip mall in Lynnwood, Buono is a pretty cozy nook seating-wise and Saturday night found the dining room—bearing that attractively austere new restaurant vibe—full up with families splitting a pizza or two and maybe a salad. Good thing we called ahead.
In point of fact, pizza is most of the menu, the rosse (with tomato sauce) and bianche (with olive oil) varieties, alongside one each of lamb and chicken entrees, some antipasti and salad. Co-diner were eager for pizza and quickly picked out a house special and Parma pizzas ($16 ea.), along with a Caesar salad ($7) and a glass of the reasonably priced house merlot.
A lifetime of disappointing Caesar salads has cured me of optimism, but Buono’s was totally solid, starting with really fresh Romaine, house-made croutons, shards of good Parmesan and a creamy, nicely integrated dressing. One order was plenty to split.
Just as we dug in, we had the fortune of being joined by the World’s Youngest Restaurant Critic and his chaperone. “How’s the food so far?” he fairly crowed as he hopped onto the bench beside me. His mom applied an iPad to keep him from blowing our cover. She ordered a margherita pizza ($12) and two of the lamb skewers ($2.50 ea.) the menu invites you to add to any order.
Our pizzas soon arrived and we were pretty impressed with what $16 buys you at Buono. Co-diner’s Parma was a white pizza, baked with EVOO and mozza, topped with prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, parmesan cheese and a drizzle of pomegranate reduction. It was huge. My Buono from the red side of the menu carried tomato sauce, mozza, artichokes hearts, kalamata olives, mushrooms and ham on its perfectly baked soft-chewy-crispy thin crust that exhibited the toppings to great advantage.
One of the proprietors, eager to please, excitedly offered me a side of the house chili oil, spiked with garlic, along with the requested chili flakes. His excitement over this condiment was entirely apt.
The World’s Youngest Restaurant Critic was quickly provided with his margherita. The tomato sauce, cheese and basil leaves made a lovely tricolore and our young pundit’s approval was written all over his face—lips, cheeks, chin—and fingers. Indeed it was a fine example of the form. He was less taken with the lamb skewers: “Too chewy!” he declared.
I had an ill-advised but delicious evening Americano while co-diner and her counterpart perused dessert. The creme brulee ($7) was more creme than brulee—which is to say it wasn’t scorched—and the vanilla confection was smooth and sweet. The tira misu ($7) was rather cake-like but still served in a stemmed glass on two cushions of whipped cream that alleviated its slight dryness, and my young colleague preferred it to creme brulee, perhaps for its whiff of booze.
Buono certainly passes muster as an arriviste in Pizza City (Edmonton’s new moniker, if anyone asks), at great value to boot. I’d like to see a bit more variety in the menu one day, but there’s plenty to draw you in if you’re looking for thin-crust pizza in Lynnwood.
Buono Pizzeria and Grill
8764 149 St.