BRAMOSO PIZZERIA - Healthy, Local Pies On Quinpool Road
Pizza: it is one of the most common and widespread indulgences of the modern diet. Birds will fly. Spring will turn to summer. People will eat pizza. And people deserve to have access to healthy pizza at their convenience. Bramoso Gourmet Pizzeria hides out among the vast offering of pizza-type options in Halifax but if you look just a little closer, you’ll discover they’re doing something very different with your pizza. They’re making it … good for you.
Bramoso has been open for five years on one of Halifax’s busiest arteries, Quinpool Road, sandwiched between banking and tax services inside a strip mall. Walk through the doors, though, and you’ll find a quaint forty-seat restaurant, warm from the genuine brick pizza oven, offering a menu that is anything but boring or predictable.
Owner and operator Pat Ryan is another engineer who stumbled into the hospitality industry. He has become engrossed in the idea of spreading the word of healthy living, delivering a product that everyone will enjoy but is executed on a more sustainable level—for both the body and the environment. The idea spawned from Ryan’s own extensive travels while operating his other business. “When you go through a drive through at 11:30 at night, you start to realize, this really isn’t helping my health,” he says. Which led to him wondering: how do we make something as quick, convenient and delicious as pizza as healthy as it can be?
The answer was actually pretty simple: make as many items from scratch as possible, take the time to infuse flavour into everything, use local suppliers who are doing it right and of course believe in what you’re doing. “Great tasting doesn’t have to be a vice,” says Ryan, who believes that if you use enough local and healthy products, the taste will improve. In the case of Bramoso’s pizza, he is right.
Bramoso sources all of their meats from Nova Scotia suppliers, such as Getaway Farms, Meadowbrook Meat Market and Sweet William’s Country Sausage. And they use as much organic produce that’s in season as possible. Along with making their own pizza sauces, all eleven different cheeses on the menu are produced locally and are real cheese (no modified milk solids or mystery ingredients to wonder about). “We make our own crust here, we make our own gluten-free crust as well,” explains Ryan. The paninis on the menu feature Stone Hearth Bakery’s focaccia bread. Their desserts come from hard-working small businesses, such as Little Red Kitsch’n and Schoolhouse Gluten-Free Gourmet.
Ryan is committed to being informed about his suppliers and makes regular visits to the farms. “Although local sounds right, if you buy from someone who’s not doing it properly, it’s still not so good,” he says. He believes that the farmers are his business partners and treats them as such. “We’re working with Getaway on our new meatball pizza and panini,” he says. They will use Getaway’s meatballs, which are already available at the Seaport Market storefront, and infuse them with flavour by way of their own marinade and broth, slow cooking them for about six hours. You just can’t get that kind of care and preparation at corporate pizza chains.
After five years of operating in Halifax, Ryan now plans to really spread awareness of both the Bramoso name and why they do what they do. It’s easy to drive past the small restaurant on Quinpool Road, among glowing beacons of fast food, and not even realize it exists. Walk inside and you’ll see a list of local and international craft beers by the bottle, a well thought-out wine offering, and a chalkboard full of the names of the farmers they buy from. “At the end of the day it really comes down to three things,” says Ryan of his brand. “Great taste, healthier fare and supporting local.” Every pizza on the menu has been vetted by a nutritionist. Their stall at the Seaport Farmers’ Market has helped with exposure, where every weekend hundreds of hungry shoppers buy a slice of their well-received breakfast pizza. But it’s still not enough. As Ryan explains, “we’re trying to get the average person who likes the comfort of pizza to realize that, for a premium, you can support the local farms, you can have a better product.”
“People follow you because of why you do things, not what you do,” believes Ryan. “We participate in the community and buy from local farmers because it’s the right thing to do.” The pizzeria works hard to accommodate dietary restrictions, not excluding gluten-free, dairy intolerant or vegan customers. He hopes to spark curiosity and foster awareness in customers about healthier living through Bramoso.
“Food matters,” he says, “and everyone deserves to have a healthy pizza.”