Ottawa’s pizza renaissance is in full swing, with pie lovers going gaga over the opening of Farinella in Little Italy last summer, lining up well before noon for Italian-style pizzas. Now it’s Heartbreakers’ turn to hit the ground running, with restaurant veterans Juliana Graf and Andrew Chatham teaming up with Andrew’s sister, Lizzie Chatham, to elevate the New York-style slice.
Within minutes of them posting their pizza-joint plans, the Heartbreakers’ Instagram feed was flooded with congrats from a who’s who of the local food scene — from bakers to restaurateurs, the sentiment was the same: Excited! Hurry up and open!
Little wonder that Juliana and Andrew received such warm encouragement and genuine excitement for their new venture. The duo have strong connections in Ottawa’s tight-knit restaurant community, having worked for years in various positions on the local scene, including at The Whalesbone, before moving to Perth in 2014 to open their very successful Fieldhouse Café.
But after five years they were itching to get back to the city. When a customer asked if they’d consider selling Fieldhouse, they took her up on her offer and started looking for a new project. By happenstance, floral designer Kat Klosk of Blumenstudio was moving out of her floral studio and coffee shop on Parkdale Avenue and Juliana, Andrew, and Lizzie jumped at the chance to open up their dream 30-seat pizza joint.
Andrew and Lizzie Chatham grew up in Hintonburg and remembered when Blumenstudio was home to Jaguar Groceries convenience store. It seemed only fitting that they reference the long-abandoned corner store with their logo. Heartbreakers pizza features a funky pizza-eating, wine-swilling jaguar, his spots replaced by hearts.
While they bandied about a number of names for their new restaurant, the moniker “heartbreakers” was the one that stuck. “Depending on their age and musical tastes, friends would hear the name and immediately start singing — sometimes it was Tom Petty, sometimes Pat Benatar or Mariah Carey,” says Juliana.
The wine-and-pizza pairing
Juliana says Heartbreakers will only have natural wines on their wine list, describing the pairing as “natty wine with natty pie.”
Andrew, the baker in the partnership, approaches his pizza dough from a bread baker’s perspective, using naturally leavened yeast and organic flour to produce a dough that is tender, natural, and alive. Natural wine matches the pizzas’ vibe — zingy, fun, and bold.
The kitchen is equipped with a Garland oven, known in the industry as the “workhorse oven” beloved by pizzeria owners everywhere. Andrew’s goal? Up to 12 pizzas at a time, cooked to perfection using a dry heat.
It’s in the details
The cozy open-kitchen eatery is a true family affair, with Andrew building the curved bar, tables, and booths, with Juliana and Lizzie helping out. Plus, Andrew and Lizzie’s mother sewed the striped awning out front and the cushions for the booths.
Regulars of Blumenstudio will appreciate that, though the rest of the space has been transformed, the new owners have left her signature wood floor just as it was.
Appetizers: Burrata with oil cured olives and herb salad; chicken wings with spice and honey
Big Salad: Kale Caesar with parsley dressing
Pizzas: Cheese pizza with basil (add-ons include pepperoni, jalapeno, roasted mushrooms, kale, and Calabrian chili); roasted mushroom, cream, chive; goat’s cheese, cream, winter squash, pickled onion, pesto
Dessert: Chocolate budino with candied walnuts and Sicilian olive oil
Hot Tip: Watch for the launch of a takeout menu! The trio are starting off with the eat-in restaurant, but plan to start cooking up pizzas to go once staff settle into a rhythm.
Hot Tip #2: Do check out the drinks list. Succinct but thoughtful, it’s going to highlight natural wines, craft beers, and a few curated cocktails.
Hot Tip #3: Turn the corner! Heartbreakers has three parking spots in the back and there are usually spots to be nabbed along Foster Avenue.
Find It: 465 Parkdale Ave.
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.