In the early 1970's Greek immigrant Peter Gamoulakos opened a small restaurant in Halifax featuring one of his native land's signature dishes; Gyros. Peter failed. Or, to put an Edison-ian spin on it, he learned what doesn't sell in Halifax. Not to be deterred, much like Edison, Peter returned to the drawing board and adapted the Gyro recipe to suit the local tastes. The lamb was swapped out with beef and the Tzatziki (which they detested) was replaced with a sweet, white, garlicky sauce (sometimes crudely known as Jizz Sauce). Haligonians (that's someone from Halifax for those of you scoring at home) loved it and a new food craze was born. Soon Donair stands were popping up all over "Canada's Ocean Playground." It's not a Gyro, it's not a Doner Kebab. It's a Donair.
Neil Dominey is from Waterville in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. (About an hour outside Halifax). He's also a Torontonian. Yep, Neil has made a habit of relocating from one city to another decennially. (That's every decade).
His current drivers license has him residing in Ontario but seems at least some of his heart and a good part of his stomach are still back in Nova Scotia. Longing for the donairs he survived on in Halifax and unable to get one 'round these parts he took matters into his own hands. In spring of 2012 he opened The Fuzz Box in Toronto and is cranking out Nova Scotian favourites to the large Maritime ex-pat community. Annapolis slaw (made with apples) deep fried pepperoni and garlic fingers join other East Coast Favourites on the menu.
Named after Neil's band The Fuzz, The Fuzz Box operates out of a store front on Danforth on the edge of Toronto's Greektown. It's a simple store front outside and a fairly minimalist space inside. Some guitars hang from the walls as do paintings of guitars. There's enough tables and chairs for about 14 people so it's pretty cozy. In the kitchen Neil assures me that it's exactly as it is back home. The minor exception of the pepperoni not being quite right. The right stuff is harder. He's working on getting the correct type but in the mean time what he's using will do. (As of September, 2012 TFB imports the real stuff, Brothers Pepperoni from “back home.”) The meat, the sauces, well, everything outside of the breads are made in house. So you know it's gonna be good.
How good?? A fellow customer and young Nanny gave a little piece of her sandwich to her 15 month old, ultra picky charge. He loved it and went back for more. High praise from a temperamental youngster.
The Donair was tasty but a little sweet for me. Nothing I couldn’t live with though. The meat has the same texture as a regular Gyro but more mildly spiced. There’s also a little heat component in there. The sauce is what really makes it. It provides the sweet component though not as garlicky as I’d like but that's just fine tuning things. Over all, this was very enjoyable.
The Fried Pepperoni is just plain addictive. For those who love to pick the nicely crisped up pepperoni off the top of pizza, this stuff is for you. It’s like pepperoni bacon. The crisp edges give it some nice texture and the heat brings out the oils and spice. The sweet mustard sauce that comes with it seemed odd but worked perfectly well. The sweetness balancing out the spice from the pepperoni. Honestly, it was like crack it was so hard to stop eating.
The Donair Pizza is rather interesting. Rather than donair meat, sauce and whatnot in a pita, it’s put on pizza dough and baked. Oddly enough, the sweetness didn’t stand out but the garlic did. I preferred this incarnation of the Donair.
Well there you have it folks, a taste of Nova Scotia in the heart of Toronto
You can find The Fuzz Box at 1246 Danforth Ave. in Toronto.
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You can also find them on the web, facebook and Twitter.
Well that’s all for now folks, see ya next time in the food court.