FARO is the stylish new pizzeria at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria, inspired by the pizza traditions of Naples and local west coast ingredients.
(Cinda Chavich photos)
By CINDA CHAVICH
Opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic may be a risky proposition, but less so when you’re offering fresh artisan pizza for take-out and delivery.
With restaurants still closed in May, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel took a chance and opened FARO, a move that has proved popular and positive for all.
“People were getting really tired of cooking at home, and pizza is the ultimate comfort food, perfect to enjoy as a take-out meal, so the timing has been really good,” says marketing manager Anneke Feuermann. “The locals in Oak Bay love The Snug pub, and have really embraced FARO.”
The new restaurant takes over the space that was formerly Kate’s Café, expanded to include 54 seats inside and a sunny 60-seat patio.
This is a posh pizzeria, bright and airy with a white marble-topped tasting bar, moss green velvet banquettes, exposed brick and plenty of bling from contemporary lighting. Diners can watch chefs firing pies in the gas-fired Wood Stone oven, faced in smoky slate tiles, or gather outdoors around cosy new fire features.
FARO specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza, with a slightly charred but foldable crust, the edges rising to crisp bubbles around a smattering of high quality toppings. There are classic combinations — Margherita with tomato, fior di latte and basil, a fiery nduja salumi and broccolini pizza, and Hawaiian pies topped with prosciutto and fresh pineapple.
Hotel executive chef Kreg Graham says the COVID closure gave him time to perfect his pizza recipes and technique, with several iterations of dough and tomato sauces tested during the months of planning. He uses fine ‘00 flour’ milled in Manitoba for the soft, chewy crust, with cured meats sourced locally from The Whole Beast, Natural Pastures’ island-made Mozzarella di Bufala, and herbs from the hotel garden.
“The dough is the most important thing about a pizza,” Graham says, describing his two-day proofing process.
One unique specialty — inspired by a pizza created in Naples — is the creamy white Il Ghiaccio (Ice Pizza). The crust is fired with a topping of ice, cooking the edges while leaving a soft centre, then finished with a slurry of melted butter, Asiago, Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses, fresh oregano and flaky sea salt.
There are a few salads and desserts on offer, including an individual lemon tart, served in a tiny pizza box, and a house-made tiramisu for four.
FARO offers patio seating, with outdoor heating, plus a stylish cafe/bar and extended "garden" space next to the hotel lobby. The all-day menu includes morning coffee from their shiny new espresso machine, and a selection of cold appetizers to enjoy alongside cocktails and wine at the tasting bar.
FARO means “beacon” or “lighthouse”, calling all pizza lovers to this delicious new gathering place in Oak Bay.