Good ideas come to those who wait (for the right location).
Parcel Pizza, a new restaurant from the owners of the Roost and Oxbow, is a case of food inspired by its surroundings. The pizzeria, located on the main floor of a new residential building on Stradbrook Avenue — although it’s equidistant from Osborne Village, downtown and The Forks — is one of the only eateries in the neighbourhood. Choosing a cuisine that would draw people in was the first order of business.
"We thought that something that is universally beloved, like pizza, would be really beneficial for the area," says co-owner Elsa Taylor. "Another reason, what with the plague and all, is that we wanted something that would be conducive to takeout and delivery."
In addition to the location, Parcel represents several firsts for Taylor and business partners Caiden Bircham and Isaac Hedenstierna, who make up the Oddlot Collective restaurant group.
It’s their first time catering to a lunch crowd, their first time serving well-known fare (as opposed to avant-garde cocktails and comfort food) and their first time working with outside investors. The owners of the apartment block in which the restaurant resides are helping fund the venture — a development that has allowed the managing partners to delegate for once.
"We’ve (always) done all the designing and building and everything like that ourselves," Taylor says. "This was the first time… we didn’t have to do all the work; we were able to consult with a graphic designer and an interior designer."
Parcel has been doing takeout for less than a month and the "gritzy" — gritty and glitzy — dining room created by Winnipeg’s Fireside Design is set to open shortly. The moody room features a main-floor bar and upper-level mezzanine with hand-painted murals, cosy booths and art deco accents. Subtle nods to old-school pizza joints in stained glass pendant lights and vintage kitchenware can be found throughout the space.
"We wanted an overall fun, vaguely psychedelic ‘70s vibe," Taylor says. "One of our staff put it so well — the other day they said, ‘It’s like a grand ballroom shrunken down into a dollhouse.’"
The menu is split between pizza and not-pizza items, with the latter section of salads and sides expected to expand with eat-in dining. All pizzas are 16 inches on a thin, New York-style crust. Parcel has five standard pies and a weekly "rotating disc" special inspired by seasonal and surplus ingredients.
"I wanted to stay away from generic pizzas," says chef Jessica Champion-Taylor. "I wanted to do something a little more creative."
Her favourite creations are the Magpie, a white sauce pizza with Gorgonzola, mushrooms and lemon greens, and the Cheeseburger, with fennel sausage and dill pickles. "I’ve always loved the idea of pickles on a pizza," she says.
Parcel is a full-circle opportunity for Champion-Taylor, who started her kitchen career making pizzas at Santa Lucia before moving on to places like Nuburger and the Roost.
"When I came back to (pizza), it was like riding a bike," she says.
Once the business’s liquor licence is in order, Taylor will be able to debut some of the new cocktails she’s been working on for Parcel. Like the food, the bar menu will feature familiar ingredients with a whimsical twist.
"The cocktails and wines and food, we wanted all of it to be just as exciting as the Roost and the Oxbow," Taylor says. "But in a slightly more familiar framework."
The Oddlot team is looking forward to welcoming diners in for a bite. Until then, staff are focused on filling takeout boxes and leaning into the restaurant’s moniker.
"We ended up going with Parcel because we liked the idea of it being like a present," Taylor says. "Something that gets packaged and delivered to you."
Parcel Pizza, located at 221-A Stradbrook Ave., is currently open seven days a week for evening takeout, with plans to add lunch hours in the future. Visit parcelpizza.com for a full menu and hours.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.