New York-style slices, local beer and old-school charm are on the menu at a new pizza restaurant that served its first customers this week.
Shorty’s Pizza has put the finishing touches on its checkerboard floors and fresh kitchen in the space where the well-loved Bella Vista served up Italian fare for over 40 years before its closure in 2019.
Dan Hawkins, owner of Shorty’s Pizza, is honouring the location’s traditional charm by preserving some of the décor.
Hawkins and his crew refurbished wood fixtures like the bar top and railings and kept one hand-painted mural, which bears the previous tenant’s namesake, to pay homage to what came before.
This new location, 53 Maryland Ave., is the second Shorty’s Pizza in Canada. The first opened in Hamilton, Ont. in 2018.
After moving to Winnipeg to be closer to friends and family last summer, Hawkins said the city’s culinary community and neighbourly feel compelled him to hunt down restaurant real estate.
"I saw this iconic building become available, and it just worked out," he said. "Obviously, this being a pizzeria for so long, it was a natural transition."
Hawkins said the previous owners thought so too and liked the idea of "passing the torch" to a similar business with comparable values.
Shorty’s menu is "ingredient-driven," with an eye on simplicity and nailing the large, foldable slices that New York is famous for, Hawkins said.
"Really excellent pizza sauce, excellent cheese," he said. "All of the dough is hand-stretched. We rest it for three days. It’s really making those three elements stand out."
Spicy sauces and daily features, including a meatball pie, will balance out staples like Hawaiian ham and cheese and vegan options.
Once the restaurant settles into its new home and falls into a rhythm, it will run a full pasta menu as well.
Bella Vista was known, in part, for its live music—from jazz to alternative rock—and Shorty’s may bring back the tunes.
"We’ve left the old stage unoccupied," Hawkins said. "We would be so stoked. Winnipeg has such a great music scene already and being a part of that would be awesome for us."
Like many, Sara Atnikov, executive director of West Broadway Biz, was sad to see Bella Vista go but extended a warm welcome to its new occupants.
"We’re excited for what Shorty’s will bring to the neighbourhood and are happy they’ve chosen West
Broadway to open their second (and first in Manitoba) location," Atnikov said. "We can’t wait to grab a slice."
The restaurant will welcome customers five days per week to start and eventually plans to take orders every day from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For now, Shorty’s is offering carry-out, and when restrictions allow, guests will be able to sit down for a meal in the 20-table dining room.
"We’re looking forward to having guests in when we can," Hawkins said.
More information about Shorty’s Pizza’s hours and menu is available on Facebook and Instagram.
The Metro community journalist
Katlyn Streilein is the community journalist for The Metro.