Tasting gourmet pizza across the National Capital Region: Geneviève Brisson visits Tennessy Willems

Wild boar sausage wood-oven pizza from Tennessy Willems

Geneviève Brisson is a master’s student in communication at the University of Ottawa, working on a thesis on gastronomic tourism. An Ottawa native, she has an appetite for discovering everything the National Capital Region has to offer, especially its burgeoning food scene.

Pizza. A quintessential food of the Canadian diet – for better or for worse. I recently decided to embark on an exploration of gourmet/specialty pizza restaurants in the National Capital Region to discover pizzas that have character…and pizzazz!

I visited Tennessy Willems with my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago. This Hintonburg wood-oven pizza place just opened in December of last year.

When we came in from the cold on a Tuesday night of this month, the place was full, so we were offered a spot at the bar. Sitting at the bar turned out to be a really nice and casual way to spend dinner, not to mention that we had a good view of the mesmerizing pizza making techniques of the chef. Great entertainment!

The focus of the menu here is of course the pizzas, with about a dozen on offer ranging from $10 to 18$, but you will also find interesting appetizers, a few salads and other entrées, and three desserts. I also saw a soup being brought out of the kitchen during the evening, but none was listed on the menu (I questioned if the staff forgot to mention it to us).

We started our meal with a nice cheese plate of three Canadian cheeses, crostini, chutney, and caramelized nuts. My only complaint is that we could have used more crostini to finish the cheeses.

Cheese plate from Tennessy Willems

We then split the wild boar sausage pizza with caramelized apples, sage and old cheddar, which was brought with a bottle of chilli oil and a small bowl of chilli peppers to use at our pleasure. The pizza’s thin crust had slightly charred edges and a pleasant smokiness from the wood-burning oven. Delightful!

To accompany the pizza, I had a glass of full-bodied Italian red wine from the short but interesting wine list, which went beautifully with the pizza. My boyfriend, excited by the local beer offerings on tap, went with a Beau’s.

For dessert, I couldn’t resist ordering the lemon tart. It was fresh and tangy, and the crust had a good texture (not too crumbly). Simply fabulous.

Lemon tart from Tennessy Willems

The atmosphere of the restaurant is warm and cozy.

Light strands decorate the windows, colourful art adorns the white walls, and the wood planks serving as table tops give off a sleek but warm feel. And I just love the wood pile by the kitchen.

Service is perhaps the slight low point of the place; it’s familiar and friendly, but still working out some kinks.

Given that I was there on a Tuesday night and the place was packed from the time we got there to the time we left about two hours later, I would maybe suggest making a reservation, especially on the weekend. You can also get pizza to go, but I would recommend eating at the restaurant for the nice atmosphere.

So, in the coming months, I hope to visit and revisit some of the gourmet pizza restaurants in the National Capital Region. Don’t hesitate to give me your recommendations!

Do you have a pizza place suggestion for Geneviève? Leave a comment below!