Thursday, October 3, 2013

FCO di Fiumicino: Bet You Can't Eat Just One Meter

Fig.1. Yes, it tastes as good as it looks. 

I have always held the position that finding a pizza outside of Italy that tastes like it does in Italy is impossible.  Bottega was the first pizza joint to make me reconsider my opinion. While the pizza at Bottega came pretty close to una vera pizza Napolitana vis a vis the crust, the flavor of the tomatoes and the freshness of the cheese still lacked compared to the red and white stuff grown and pulled in Italy. Enter FCO di Fiumicino, the pizzeria that makes it easy for me to imagine a dolce vita with every bite.

Fig.2. Actually, it tastes better than it looks.

FCO di Fiumicino is the brain-child of Dino Palmieri, and his idea was as brilliant as it was logically obvious: If you want pizza to taste like it does in Italy, get an Italian to make it; and not an immigrant-spawned, Montreal-Quebec-Canadian-Italian like myself or Dino, but a real bona fide Italiano. The Mediterranean species who take great pizza for granted because they can buy pizza at a gas station in Italy that’s better than most of the pies we have here in Montreal. The bona fide Italians in this case are Filomena and Sacha, (both of who hail from the province of Frosinone) and to say they make great pizza is an understatement.  
The pizza style served up at FCO di Fiumicino is known in Italy as Pizza Al Metro-which translates to, pizza by the meter. And while you don’t have to eat a meter in one sitting, you might just want to when you taste it.  “There’s more to Italian pizza than pizza Napolitana” says Palmieri. Indeed, pizza styles in Italy vary from region to region: pizza in Rome and pizza in Sicily are both different and equally delicious.  Palmieri was inspired on his many trips to Italy, especially with the pizza al metro made in and around Rome.  Lucky for us all, he brought this pizza formula back with him.

Fig.3. Lots to choose from.
On my last visit to FCO, I ate a pizza topped with mozzarella and tomatoes that was so freggin good, I thought I was in Italy. It was only when I finished eating the pizza, that I remembered I was in Montreal.  (In case you’re wondering what the name of the restaurant means, F.C.O is the designated airport code and Fiumicino is the city in which you’ll find the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, Rome’s major international airport.)
But what about the, ‘ingredients here not being as good as in Italy' argument?  Palmieri's way around this quandary is equally as simple: use Italian ingredients that travel well—such as 00 flour—and top the pizzas with seasonal and local ingredients, such as cherry tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. As for the cooking vehicle, FCO’s oven hails straight from Italy—Les Marches to be exact. “It’s all stone on the inside” says Palmieri “The stone maintains a consistent heat, it’s the only one of its kind in Quebec.

Fig.4. Entrance to pizza heaven.
Fig.5. Don't know whether to eat it or frame it.

Seeing and tasting the pizza at FCO di Fiumicino, you can’t help but notice something that transcends taste: It’s a visual cacophony of color and design, an exactitude enacted upon each slice of pizza in which one can’t help but notice a beautiful symmetry of ingredients.  It doesn’t matter if the pizza is sparse or laden, all it takes is one look to know that Signore Palmieri is proud of his pizza, and rightly so.

Fig.6. Best gelato in Montreal, hands down.

I also want to point out that I could have written the same article about FCO’s gelato. Replace the word ‘Pizza’ with the word ‘Gelato’ in the above article and you have yet another reason to stay in Montreal. (Also, gelato doesn’t go in the oven so remove the oven paragraph.) In my opinion it’s the best gelato in Montreal hands down.

Also, this month is pizza month according to some, but, if you're like me, every month is pizza month.

FCO di Fiumicino:
451 Viger Ave W  Montreal, QC H2Z 1G6
(514) 861-3636
Fig.7. pizza with fresh local veg.

Fig.8. It's never too cold for gelato.

Fig.9. More pizza

Fig.10. Still more pizza.

1 comment:

Liliana said...

Pizza and gelato are two of my favourite things to eat. Finding them both in one place and authentically Italian - you got me sold. I still have visions of eating them Italy.
I like your phrase - an immigrant-spawned, Montreal-Quebec-Canadian-Italian like myself. I will have to remember that next time I am asked, "What nationality are you?".