The onslaught of new Montreal pizza players intent on shaking up a scene otherwise dominated by Neapolitan- and Greek diner-style pies carries on this month, with one more addition: Hang Time Pizza.
“It’s incredible what the city has seen in the last two years with all the pizza places opening up,” Jordan Biberkraut, Hang Time owner and pizza maker, told Eater ahead of the shop’s opening in Downtown Montreal last week. He isn’t one to balk at a thick-crust all-dressed from a neighbourhood haunt (in fact, he admits to actively seeking them out), but he’s glad to see the range of pizza permutations widening across town. “We were never really a pizza city — until now,” he says.
Now the owner of a week-old pizza spot selling New York and Detroit styles, Biberkraut was, less than two years ago, a home cook who’d “fallen into a black hole of Bon Appétit videos all about pizza.” When the pandemic forced Biberkraut to work from home, he says, he was afforded the time to undertake a series of pan pizza experiments that eventually led to a makeshift weekend takeout operation. “It had gotten to the point that I had spent so much money on random pizza equipment and ingredients — like $5,000 — that I was like, ‘Okay, let me just start selling the pizza out of my apartment.’”
He eventually formalized the project into Fungool, a quick hit Detroit pizza project temporarily based out of the kitchen of Monkland Avenue’s Café Pigeon, whose owners are now also partners in this latest venture. This time though, Biberkraut finds himself working next door to Café Pigeon’s other outpost, having taken over the De Maisonneuve West locale that once housed fish and chips restaurant Brit & Chips.
Though Biberkraut found his groove with the thick, crisp-edged, sauce-topped squares of Detroit pizza, Hang Time isn’t dedicated exclusively to the genre. “I don’t think Montreal is quite ready for [a place offering just] that, or maybe it’s something they don’t know they totally want yet,” Biberkraut remarks.
As a result, his approach is purposefully two-pronged, with a menu split between two beloved American pizza traditions — and cheesily named after some of the country’s favourite TV shows from the ‘90s. On the New York end, there are 20-inch rounds dubbed “Friends Love Cheese,” “Boy Meets Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomato,” and “Fresh Prince of Spicy Pineapple,” among others. And, revisiting the squares of Fungool, there are options like “Everybody Loves Raymond’s Hot Italian Sausage,” “Mad About Mushroom,” and the “Full House Reuben.”
The last of these is garnished with smoked meat, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, and mustard and is a reiteration of a menu item that Biberkraut says did “very well” at Fungool. Otherwise, this time, Biberkraut is keeping his pizza offering fairly simple, with old-school, low-ingredient-count toppings. “As much as people love extreme pizzas with fun different toppings, what I’ve come to realize is that people just really love your classic pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, or mushroom pizza.”
The pizzeria also serves up garlic bread, crinkle-cut fries, ice cream sandwiches, and plenty more ‘90s nostalgia beyond the menu nomenclature. “Hang Time” is itself an allusion to an American teen sitcom about varsity basketball that ran Saturday mornings from 1995 to 2000. Meanwhile, the pizzeria’s space features splashy neon-bright pastels (including pink floors, blue ceilings, and green and yellow chairs) and that iconic ‘90s vector pattern of recurring squiggles, triangles, and squares that adorned everything from bus seating upholstery to the Taco Bell outposts of the time.
If all things go to plan, quirky geometric graphics won’t be the only thing repeating in the Hang Time universe, Biberkraut spills: “Hopefully, we’ll be able to open up some more of these across the city soon.”
Hang Time is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 1390 Boulevard de Maisonneuve West.