These flatbreads from around the world are more than just international takes on pizza
North Americans have a knee-jerk tendency to label any roundish combination of bread, sauce and toppings as “pizza”. Call it brainwashing by Big Slice, but it’s a habit that overlooks the elemental nature of doughy rounds from around the world. Despite the differences between these globe-spanning flatbreads, they all have something in common: they’re definitely not pizza.
Where it’s from: Nice
Thin yet sturdy pastry crust serves as the base for black olives, anchovies, roasted roma tomatoes and a layer of caramelized onions so soft and creamy that it’s easy to forget this niçoise specialty is fromage-free. $9.25 for two slices. Bonjour Brioche, 812 Queen St. E., 416-406-1250, bonjourbrioche.com.
Where it’s from: Armenia and Turkey
While it appears cracker-light, lahmacun packs a deceptive heft thanks to a thin layer of sauce made craggy with ground lamb or beef. Popular throughout the Middle East, it’s served with pickled peppers, slices of raw onion and tomato, and fresh parsley. $8.99. Pizza Pide, 949 Gerrard St. E., 416-462-9666, pizzapide.ca.
Where it’s from: Lebanon and Syria
Humble manakeesh requires little more than a brushing of olive oil and a heavy dusting of za’atar, though creamy labneh, seasoned ground beef and mild accawi cheese are popular toppings. (Also good: dipping a piping-hot hunk in a side of hummus.) From $2.99. Paramount Fine Foods. Multiple locations in the GTA, paramountfinefoods.com.
Where it’s from: Turkey
Pide looks like a maritime vessel transporting a precious—and delicious—cargo. This one’s chock full of mozzarella and Turkish sausage, but pide can also be stuffed with pepperoni, roasted lamb, chicken, ground beef and egg. From $7.99. Mr. Pide, 800 Danforth Ave., 647-351-7433, mrpide.ca.
Where it’s from: Alsace
Also known (and more easily pronounced) as tarte flambée, Alsatian flammekueche seems uncannily pizza-like, until one examines the toppings: a traditional take usually features a creamy white sauce covered with caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms and lardons. From $12. 3 Brewers. Multiple locations in the GTA, les3brasseurs.ca.
Where it’s from: Georgia
With its wide body, tapered ends and hollowed-out middle, khachapuri is basically a cheese canoe. Since traditional sulguni cheese is hard to find in these parts, a salty-creamy blend of molten mozzarella and feta usually takes its place, topped with a shmear of butter and a runny egg. There’s no way to eat it without making a gloriously gooey mess, so ask for extra napkins. $10. Aragvi Restaurant, 2006 Hwy. 7 W., Vaughan, 905-597-5197, aragvi.com.