Café 22

Neighbourhoods: Corydon, Downtown, St. Boniface, North Kildonan
Address:
Corydon Ave, 336 Broadway, 130 Provencher Blvd, 1795 Henderson Hwy
Phone: (204) 222-2222
Entrees: $8-$18

Winnipeggers know the jingle well: “Two, two, two, twenty-two, twenty-two.” Pizza Hotline dominates the speed dial in many Winnipeg homes. The take-out/delivery chain is one of the city’s most recognized franchises with 11 locations in the city. The pies’ appeal pushes past the perimeter and provincial lines: Pizza Hotline also has three locations outside city limits in Manitoba and one in Calgary.

Café 22, the trendy dining room affiliated with the take-out chain, is an equally hot venture. The café serves up the popular Pizza Hotline pies for those seeking a dine-in experience. Three more franchised cafés opened in Winnipeg (managed by three different owners) in the last two years: Provencher Blvd, Henderson Hwy and the Broadway location.

Franchisee Antonio Anastasio opened the first Café 22 on Corydon Ave in 1999. Last October, he opened his second location on Broadway. The similarities between Anastasio’s two restaurants stop at the menu.

The decor of the two dining rooms reflects the distinct clientele. The Corydon location is popular for its whimsical bohemian vibe attributed by the artificial tree branching from the middle of the room and curtained booths. In contrast, the 78-seat Broadway location is all business, complementing the 9-to-5 execs who frequent it. A half-wall splits the expansive dining room. One side is populated with sleek, black leather loungers while white Italian leather sofas fill the other. Gleaming grey marble tabletops and white, glass-like chandeliers add sophistication to the contemporary space.

Many factors play into the success of Café 22. The menu is simple. The same ingredients offered for pizzas can be quickly transformed into an oven-baked sandwich, calzone or (soon to be added) pasta.

With more than 40 unlimited pizza toppings offered for one price, the only limit is imagination. Cautious and adventurous diners alike can custom-make their pies to suit any taste or craving.

Tuck into a Chicago-style crust because Café 22 is one of few pizza joints in the city to offer this deep- dish delight. Whatever the toppings, expect this style of ‘za to come with characteristic puddles of tomato sauce on top. No matter how many toppings, the swollen crust just barely holds together as you slide the gooeyness in your mouth. Word to the wise: choose the whole wheat crust. Café 22 uses extra grainy flour, giving the pizza a crispy surface with a chewy centre.

A creative option for the solo eater is the gourmet big slice—a personal-size pizza masquerading as a slice. Crispy crusts on all three sides are a gobble-worthy bonus.

Unlimited toppings are best executed in the calzones and their perfectly bronzed whole wheat (or white flour) crusts. No matter how much you stuff these large pizza pops, they don’t seem to burst.

Oven-baked sandwiches make up a quarter of the menu. Standouts include the veggie, which is stuffed with noodles of spicy marinated eggplant, cool spinach, mozzarella and tangy artichokes. The chicken bacon ranch sandwich—a mainstay at the Ready-Go counter—is also popular.

The Ready-Go menu also features four-to-five daily pizzas, which means Café 22 officially adds the pizza slice to the roster of street food found along Broadway. At $5 for two pieces, it is a great addition to the hotdog carts and chip trucks that dominate the boulevard in summer months.

Café 22’s Broadway location is open Sun-Thu 11 am-1 am; Fri & Sat 11 am-3 am. Hours vary by location.