The are many restaurants and coffee shops opening up on James Street North this year and one of them is Knead Pizza! You might have heard or seen them during the Supercrawl weekend where they tested out some flavours. The restaurant is take-out or dine-in, seating about 30 people. There is a chalkboard menu for dining-in and a service bar if you decide on take-out. The atmosphere and decor is pretty casual with brick walls and simple decor. The kitchen is slightly open where you can take a peak behind the scenes.
Sid organized a tasting and about 15 people showed up, ready to eat, and give constructive feedback. We started with 2 salads, Caesar and Caprese. The Caesar was tossed well where each leaf had a bit of dressing. I love garlic but there is a limit to my love. It was very pungent and too excessive in this salad. Hold back on some garlic and add more anchovies. The Caprese was perfect. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes made the dish visually captivating. There was a perfect balance of tomatoes, basil, cheese, seasoning, and vinegar. It’s a must-try.
Next came the pizzas: The Mushroom, Smoked Brisket, Classic Margherita, and Roasted Grape. The wild and chunky mushrooms were phenomenal. I usually love meat on my pizzas but this one has converted me. They didn’t skimp out on the mushrooms at all. Each slice and each bite had delicious meaty mushrooms along with a perfect salty cheese. Everyone appreciated that the mushrooms were quartered compared to any other traditional pizza. The Smoked Brisket was topped with caramelized onions, gorgonzola, and honey. Honey, weird right? But it wasn’t, it went wonderfully well with the caramelized onions. I wasn’t sure if I was tasting the sweetness from the onions or the honey but it complemented the smoky, meaty brisket and BBQ sauce. I’d order this one again. The Classica Margherita, yep, it was classic but lacking basil. Although there were flecks of basil in the sauce, it didn’t stand out from the fiore-de-latte covering the pizza. Margherita pizzas are one of my favourites but this one needed some work. The roasted Grape was unfamiliar to me. I’m the type of person who dislikes pineapples on my pizzas. So you could probably guess what my opinion on this pizza would be. The roasted grapes were warm and mushy, another texture I didn’t really enjoy. Other than that, the whipped ricotta and balsamic glaze were ok.
You wouldn’t find these toppings at your ordinary pizza shop and that’s what I liked about Knead. They are exciting, local, and innovative. The crust however, needed some work. Although they were really crunchy, most of the pizzas were under-cooked. Owner and chef, Shane, came out to reassure us that there was a hiccup in the kitchen and the crusts are thinner than what they served us tonight… Which is great because thin crusts are my favourite!
As our lovely waitress took the massive pizza board away, she non-nonchalantly slipped in, “There are four more pizzas on the way.” And walked away. Umm… what? But… I’m already kind of full… FOUR MORE? How was I going to get through this?! And around this time, Justin (from Eating Your Content) got Jon (@HamontFood) to take this picture. Yes, I was VERY worried.
The next four pizzas consisted of: Mango Tango, The Porto, Prosciutto, and Sweet Cheezus. I was determined to have a bite of all of them. I cut a slice from each pizza in half and left the other half to whoever had the stomach-capacity to take it. The Sweet Cheezus. A thousand points to whoever came up with the name. It’s cheesy but that’s the point, right? Goat cheese, buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola, and asiago melted all over the dough to make this pizza. They sat on a simple pesto instead of tomato sauce. If you love cheese and can handle strong cheese, you’d love this pizza. It’s a combination of stringy, light yet strong, and bold cheesy goodness. The gorgonzola might hit you like a backhand but the mild buffalo mozzarella will be there to diffuse the situation. It’s a great pizza for cheese-lovers and vegetarians. The next pizza was the Prosciutto; it had beautiful sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, telaggio, and slices of prosciutto scattered throughout. Unfortunately, the pizza was missing an important ingredient – the balsamic. Mark from @Restaunique mentioned that he had this pizza during Supercrawl and the balsamic tied everything together. Oh well, I still kind of enjoyed it. I was struggling by this point and had to slow it down. The Porto was also enjoyable. Charcoal chicken, chorizo, yukon potatoes, and arugula made a comforting pizza. I didn’t taste much chorizo though. The Mango Tango, another pizza with fruit BUT surprisingly, I enjoyed the fuck out of it! The subtle sweetness from the mango paired beautifully with the pork belly and pickled jalapenos. The diced mangoes were small enough to blend in with everything else, unlike the roasted whole grapes.
I made it through to the end of the tasting and didn’t burst. I was glad I had the opportunity to share this evening with a lot of familiar Hamiltonian faces. I’m excited to come back again to taste their improvements and check out their real thin crust pizza! With more and more local restaurants opening up in Hamilton, I’ve found myself drifting further away from chain restaurants. The main difference is how the chefs interact with the suppliers and the ingredients. They are able to experiment freely with the dishes and create exciting food. Anyways, Knead is worth checking out if you love unconventional topping combinations and super flavourful pizzas! They even have a delicious variety of subtle and strong cheeses that you can’t find at chain pizza restaurants!
This was a complimentary meal from Knead, opinions expressed are my own.