Hey friends, grab yourself a hot Cup of Joe, sit back and let’s talk about the newest eatery opening on Ouellette Avenue – the Downtown Pizza Co.
On Thursday night, the lyrics of the 1970s hit show, Welcome Back Kotter, were bouncing around in my head, “well the names have changed since you hung around, but those dreams have remained and they’ve turned turnaround”. And it was a certainly a long anticipated ‘Welcome Back’ for Windsor entrepreneur, Mark Boscariol, and his Chef extraordinaire, James Renaud, to Windsor’s downtown and Ouellette Avenue.
Many Windsorites were saddened back in March 2016 when Chanoso’s closed their doors at 255 Ouellette Avenue after an amazing 20-year run as one of the first restaurants to introduce cutting-edge, fusion-inspired cuisine in the city core. It would become the first of a series of ventures by Boscariol into the mainstream food industry with concepts that were anything but mainstream. Along the way, Boscariol opened the Tecumseh Roadhouse (county Road 42) and Walkermole (1842 Wyandotte East). These two establishments folded before Boscariol eventually joined together ten years ago with Chef James Renaud and opened The Willistead at 1840 Wyandotte Street East, and followed that up a few years later with SnackBar-B-Q at 39 Chatham Street East.
And now the trilogy is complete with the opening of the Downtown Pizza Co. in the old Chanosos’s space. The storefront has the coolest retro sign emblazoned high above the windows. One could be forgiven for thinking they were standing in front of one of the trendy spaces on Monroe Street in Detroit’s Greektown. What a great addition this place is making to the downtown core. And this, just in time, for thousands of university students who soon will be attending classes just within a few short blocks. You got to hand it to Boscariol; he knows his trade. But more importantly, few other Windsorites possess his love for their city and its downtown and back it up time and again with the kind of financial investments he’s made.
The interior of this 1917 building has maintained the original gorgeous brick walls, including the secret door bookcase providing access to adjoining space. As soon as you step inside, one feels transported back in time to the days when the Old Kresge Five and Dime Store anchored this block. Respecting and celebrating our heritage is important for Boscariol. In order to achieve this, he has been assisted by the talents of interior designer, Meaghyn Gelinas, the fiancé of the much-heralded Chef Michael Steven Hughes who has joined the Boscariol-Renaud team. The couple have relocated to Windsor from Ottawa to be part of this new and exciting venture. The couple are a much welcome addition to our community.
Boscariol and Renaud are keeping their fare simple and limited – salads, pizza, and sandwiches, and homemade (real dairy) ice cream.
A variety of fountain-style soda pops and an impressive selection of locally brewed craft beers – including a few of their own signature brews brewed onsite – complement the gastronomic delicacies awaiting you. For non-beer drinkers, full bar service is also an option.
But, the spotlight at the Downtown Pizza Co. is the PIZZA. To ensure that their pizza would be at a different level than what Windsorites know pizza to be, Renaud hired the renowned Windsor born Chef Joseph Petrinac as a consultant. He has been of enormous help in getting the establishment up and running. The business has invested in a high-end, state of the art conveyor belt style pizza oven that can heat up to 550 degrees and turn out personal sized pizzas in five minutes. They use highest quality imported Caputo flour for their crust, which they embed with sesame seed. Mmmmm….
Downtown Pizza Co. currently has 11 uniquely named Pizza selections in two categories – white and red – reflecting the type of sauce used as the base. Patrons can also choose to build their own a-la-carte red sauce pizza from a selection of classic toppings and fancy toppings.
From Thursday night’s special opening, my personal favourite pizzas were:
- Walk In The Woods (honeyed mushrooms, roasted garlic, fior de latte, mozza, parmesan, thyme);
- Rosemary’s Baby (Portobello, caramelized onion, goat cheese, mozza, parmesan, rosemary, truffle oil, arugula;
- Hey Neighbour (snack bar b-q texas smoked pulled pork, red onion, fior de latt, mozza, cilantro);
- All Grown Up (prosciutto, mozza, black pepper, goat cheese, Campari reduction, arugula).
I cannot wait to try the remaining seven pizza selections and locally brewed craft beers. And, in my return visits, I hope I am lucky enough to get our wonderful server, Heather. She was terrific in her service. But even more impressively, was how excited she genuinely was to be part of this new and exciting venture.
Downtown Pizza Co. also offers vegan and gluten free selections. Though pizzas take little time to bake, lunch time orders by downtown workers and students can be placed and paid for through the online application Chow Now.
So, folks, make it a point to treat yourself to some of the finest pizza and beer in this area – right in the heart of our downtown core (plenty of parking garages nearby 😊). I guarantee, you will not be disappointed!
Downtown Pizza Co. officially opens for the public, Tuesday October 3rd. at 255 Ouellette Avenue. Check them out on Facebook.