Zed and I spent this past New Year's Eve moving out of our downtown space to a more convenient Garneau location. A few friends from Folk Fest corralled to help us out, so we decided to treat them to pizza at Pharo's on 109th after our things were relocated.
We have been to Pharo's numerous times... after putting up tents on campus, moving other friends in the area or to have a meal in general. At any rate, I decided to check out the reviews at Restaurant Thing on Friday to see what others had thought of Pharo's pizza. I discovered in some of the reviews that Pharo's was planning on closing its doors after a lawyer who recently purchased the Garneau theatre property raised rent. The reviews claimed the neighbourhood landmark would be retiring some time in January of 2009, so we thought we'd stop one last time before the closure.
Walking into Pharo's is reminiscent of your grandparents 1970s, wood panelled basement that will never change. The paintings, jukebox and other "vintage" items provide a constant supply of nostalgia... my Edmontonian dad explained this to me the first time we ventured to "his old pizza hang out".
The restaurant was packed, but then it was New Year's Eve so this was expected. Unfortunately, the tiny pizza joint hadn't planned for the extra visits, and this left one staff member prepping pizza and one server taking care of each table.
Either way, we all ordered our drinks, as well as a Popeye Pizza (Spinach, Garlic and Feta) on whole wheat crust for me, a Pepperoni Pizza for two of our friends and two baked lasagnas with meat balls, one for Zed and one for another fellow diner.
Considering the staff-patron ratio, service was fairly prompt... our orders were taken quickly, the food arrived in good time with our drinks being refilled periodically throughout our meal. Although I have developed a love for thinly crusted pizza over the past couple years, I will always enjoy the slightly thicker slices at Pharo's. Thickly covered with a layer of spinach and cheese, the pizza was fantastic and the crust seemed to possess the perfect level of crispness. Zed also favoured his lasagna - baked in a shallow dish that looked as though it had been around since the restaurant's initiation, the lasagna featured a crispy, cheesy topping, with soft noodles, a tangy tomato sauce and plenty of meatballs beneath to satisfy any craving.
As I payed for our meals, I asked our server about the rumors I had seen on the review website earlier that day. Sadly, she had to confirm the rumors - after 30 some-odd years of creating pizza and spaghetti, the owner has decided to retire. And while the restaurant won't be closing as early as January, the official closing date has now been set for June.
Whether it's a bite to eat before a movie, or a pizza with friends, Pharo's will be greatly missed.
Pharo's Pizza and Spaghetti
8708 109 Street