Neighbourhood: River Heights
400-1580 Taylor Ave
Phone: 488-2554
Entrées: $8-$19

In the battle for pizza supremacy in Winnipeg, it takes more than just outside-the-box ingredients to bring hungry crowds.

For one of the newest kids on the block, it’s all in the oven.

A coal-fired pizza and panini oven, the first of its kind in Canada, sets Carbone apart.

The massive brick oven in the middle of the industrial-chic, 92-seat restaurant is Carbone’s star.

Unlike wood-fired ovens which are found in many local pizza places, Carbone’s oven is fueled with anthacite, a dense, high-carbon content coal that burns without smoke.

Instead of low and slow, think hot and fast.

That combination of high-heat (about 850˚F) and no smoke produces crisp, yet chewy and slightly charred pies.

Without a stove or deep fryer, Carbone relies entirely on its oven for all its heat in the kitchen. Gently spiced chicken wings, which are served with caramelized onions, are also baked.

Pizzas (which come in 12 and 16 inches) and paninis are the centrepiece of the menu.

Pizza dough and sauces, including the bold roasted garlic paste used as sauce on the white pizza, are all house made. Dough is made using organic all-purpose flour. Gluten-free and “nude” (no cheese) pizzas are also available.

Carbone’s eight signature pizzas offer choice ingredients in adventurous combinations. The white pizza, named for its white-only ingredients, yields yummy results. The aforementioned roasted garlic is the base below smooth and creamy ricotta, ribbons of shredded fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil, cracked black pepper and slivers of sharp Parmigiano cheese.

For bolder palates, dig into a Capa with its spiced all-beef salami, tangy artichokes, sweet roasted red peppers and generous dots of gutsy Gorgonzola.

Paninis deserve special mention. Made using pizza dough folded in half like a giant slice of bread, the sandwiches are baked behemoths.

The Rowan is ’buttered’ with a smear of white-bean hummus, then loaded with sliced turkey breast, mixed spring greens and sweet roasted red peppers. Melted mozzarella oozes with every bite.

A small selection of salads, including a competent caprese with thick slices of benign fiore de latte (cow’s milk) mozzarella, vibrant vine-ripe tomatoes, bites of fresh basil, olive oil and sea salt, are also served.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza is open Sun to Wed 11:30 am-10 pm; Thu to Sat 11:30 am-11 pm.