But first, I’m actually going to use my university degree and give you a little information about coal.
There are lots of different types of coal, but Carbone uses anthracite in their ovens. This isn’t the dirty, frissable coal that you might picture when you first think “coal.” Instead, a chunk of anthracite would remind you more of a giant piece of graphite from a pencil.
Anthracite burns hotter than any other type of coal or wood. It also burns nearly as clean as natural gas. Because the anthracite allows the oven to get incredibly hot, pizza crusts baked in it have a lovely char on the outside with soft, chewy centres.
But enough about the coal. Let me tell you about the wings.
Wings! I love wings. (Side note: my personal Mecca, Quaker Steak and Lube, has finally opened a location within driving distance. As soon as I get a spare weekend, we are totally driving to Fargo for some wings.) I have found a few places that serve passable wings in Winnipeg, although I wonder if my wing snobbery is just misplaced nostalgia for the wings I had back in Ohio that I can’t get here.
However, the first time we visited Carbone, we got an order of their wings as a starter. The wings arrived at our table smothered in caramelized onions. One bite and I was hooked. I could keep going back to Carbone just for these wings. The onions melt in your mouth, and whatever they used to spice the wings complemented the onions perfectly.
(Psst! Try the wings!)
But they are a pizza place, not a wing joint, so I guess I should talk about the pizzas. On our first visit we tried the classic Italian pie, the Margherita. This is a classic, one that we make ourselves on our grill. And it tasted classic, exactly as promised. The crust had a nice crunchy char (which I’ve heard some people describe as “burnt,” but we like this style of pizza), but with a tender interior. They also didn’t make the common error of drowning the pizza in toppings, but let the simple ingredients speak for themselves.
On another visit, we tried the Peppino, topped with arugula, prosciutto and parmesan. I wasn’t as crazy about this one, but I admit that it grew on me. I think my husband enjoyed it more than I did. There was a lot of arugula on the pizza, but after folding each piece in half, sandwiching the greens in the middle, the bitter greens weren’t as overpowering. So apparently the preferred eating technique should be explained when the pizza arrives at your table.
And on that same thread, under Lessons Learned, the Ferrero is designated as a “personal size dessert pizza.” Lies! It may only be 6 inches across or so, but it’s drenched in rich melted Nutella and bananas. It was amazingly delicious, but it can easily serve four people who have just had wings and pizza.
The interior of Carbone is casual, and there are big screen TVs (tuned to sports, of course – yawn) in every corner. It can, however, get noisy as the place fills up. (Maybe I’m getting old, but yelling at your dinner companions across the table just isn’t fun.) I’m interested to see what kind of vibe their downtown location will have. They have a full bar, with weekly drink specials, and a nice selection of wines.
Carbone is located on Taylor in a strip mall, just past the tracks to the east as you turn off Keneston. They open at 11:30am on weekdays and 1pm on weekends. On Sunday to Wednesday they close at 10pm, and Thursday to Saturday they close at 11pm.