Falsaca SPQR – Roman Pizza done the authentic way
Alfiero Falasca started washing dishes in a pizza restaurant in Rome at the age of 11. He worked his way up through the ranks until he was making pizzas on his own at 16.
He went onto open 7 pizzerias in Rome and won two world-championships for his skills - World Pizza Championships held in Italy (Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza) and the Italian Championships of Pizza (Campionato Italiano assoluto di Pizza).
Three-and-a-half years ago, he arrived in Toronto, after dreaming of bringing his authentic fare to North America and opened Falsaca SPQR on Yonge Street between Eglinton and Davisville.
Why this man and his pizza are so important:
- no one else in Toronto is doing authentic Roman pizza
- Roman pizza is not at all like Canadian or Neapolitan – quite thin and doesn’t have a crust
- he has brought not just one style, but two, with him from Rome – Pizza Al Taglio (square) and Rotonda (round)
- he created his own award-winning dough, completely unique to anyone else’s
- he makes all the dough himself, ensuring it is always how it should be
- both Al Taglio and Rotonda doughs have been made to be lighter to eat, easier to digest, so you never come away with that heavy, bloated feeling you get with other pizzas.
His Pizza Al Taglio, a street snack food in Rome, is available at lunch, and is sold by weight ("Pizza al taglio", means"pizza by the cut"). Baked in rectangular pans it has a crisp crust and it’s chewier and thicker than the dinner Rotonda (round) pies. There are 40 varieties in total, with about seven freshly made at a time. When the next round is made, seven completely different ones are made, so the selection is always changing, from the simple Marinara or Margherita, to the more adventurous Gamberi (Shrimps, iceberg lettuce, cocktail sauce), Zucca e Porcini (Pumpkin pureé, porcini mushrooms, radicchio, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano) and Pizzabuona (Homemade walnut cream, smoked prosciutto, brie, walnuts).
There is a Roman treat called Bianca, which is plain pizza dough cut in half and served like a little sandwich. You can get various fillings (e.g. Spicy salami and smoked provola), and while it might look very basic, it is delicacy that you’ll think about long after you’ve taken your last bite.
The Rotonda pizzas served at dinner, are thinner and fold like New York pizza. “It should not stand up,” chef says. Customers who have been to Rome always express delightat having discovered the authentic Roman methods and flavours here in Toronto. The delicate thin crust still has chew and can be topped in a variety of ways. Chef Falasca uses pomodori tomatoes and porcini mushrooms imported from Rome to give it the authentic flavour. He also uses fresh fior de latte covering the crust, so the taste is unlike other pizzas in the city.
The dinner menu at Falasca also includes expertly made arancini and suppli, lightly floured calamari (using only fresh, never frozen squid), daily soups made without cream or milk, daily pizza and pasta specials, and a superb wine list of Italian wines not available at the LCBO, at prices you can actually afford.
This is stand-up-and-take-notice pizza. The kind where you simply can’t stop saying “wow,” because the tastes and textures are so unlike anything you’ve experienced up until now. Because you don't feel heavy and tired afterwards.
Pizza has become such a casual food. It should be, needs to be, celebrated. Especially when in the hands of Alfiero Falasca.