Shove it, Neapoli­tan

In­tro­duc­ing a pa­rade of five spring piz­zas that will rock your world

Richmond Hill Post - - Food - by Caro­line Ak­sich

We can no longer de­fine the Six’s love af­fair with Ital­ian as a trend. At this point, our re­la­tion­ship with trat­to­rias is more mar­riage than a fling. And, like any healthy re­la­tion­ship, evo­lu­tion is key to keep­ing things zesty. Toronto’s ob­ses­sion with floppy, wood-fired Neapoli­tan piz­zas has been re­placed by a new pa­rade of pies. Black crust, thick crust and sour dough have be­come the new or­ders du jour. Here’s a look at five top pizza places that are ditch­ing the pizza rule book.


“Pizza is like sex, when it’s good it’s good, when it’s bad it’s still pretty good be­cause all pizza is good, in my opin­ion,” says Pi­ano Pi­ano owner Vic­tor Barry. Even when he’s run­ning an Ital­ian joint that has a kids’ menu, Barry can’t help but bring some Splen­dido — his now-shut­tered fine din­ing in­sti­tu­tion — into the kitchen. At Pi­ano Pi­ano, even pizza is laboured over: it takes 60 hours just to make the dough. The tomato sauce is top se­cret. Barry gets On­tario-grown black San Marzano toma­toes canned ex­clu­sively for Pi­ano Pi­ano and re­fuses to di­vulge an ounce more on the sub­ject.

“There are a lot of rules with Neapoli­tan,” ex­plains Barry, who has tweaked the south­ern Ital­ian pie with Cana­dian in­gre­di­ents. To make a true Neapoli­tan pizza (the As­so­ci­azione Vera Pizza Napo­le­tana ac­tu­ally cer­ti­fies the authentici­ty of these pies) ev­ery­thing is strictly man­dated.

“For Neapoli­tan, the toma­toes have to be grown in the smoke of Mount Ve­su­vius. Well, we grow great toma­toes here, so we don’t care about that. You have to use the proper pizza flour from Italy. Well, Italy im­ports the grain from Canada, grinds it and gives it back to us, so we’ll use a lo­cal kick-ass flour, in­stead,” says Barry.

His wood oven-scorched piz­zas come out with just the right amount of char, sturdy enough to make it from plate to mouth but only just — each bite is heav­ily loaded with fior di latte and haute top­pings like ’nduja and dan­de­lions. 88 Har­bord St., 416-929-7788


Oretta is a place of food wor­ship — or so the decor would say. The in­spired in­te­ri­ors (25-foot vaulted ceil­ings and heaps of mar­ble with gem­stone ac­cents) make it seem like you’ve stepped into a his­tory-steeped basil­ica, in­stead of a brand new restau­rant. Here, Ro­man piz­zas — more sub­stan­tial than their south­ern, Neapoli­tan cousins — are topped with out-of-the-pizza-box com­bos.

The white piz­zas are par­tic­u­larly in­spired. Oretta’s sbozzo, for in­stance, piles mor­tadella slices atop fior di latte and mas­car­pone. Slices of pre­served or­ange and a smat­ter­ing of pis­ta­chios com­plete this white pizza. Al­though the tomato sauce–topped piz­zas tread fa­mil­iar take­out ground, the acid­ity of the San Marzano tomato sauce on the Car­di­nale pizza per­fectly cuts through the fat and spice of the salami. 633 King St. W., 416-944-1932


A stone’s throw east on King Street is Masseria, which of­fers up­scale-ca­sual Ital­ian nosh for those lack­ing an oretta (that’s “hour” in Ital­ian) to sit down. This is Pizza Nova owner Domenic Primucci’s pas­sion project. He’s us­ing top-notch in­gre­di­ents like croc­can­tini: dried, EVOO-pre­served red pep­pers made ex­clu­sively in Palazzo San Ger­va­sio, the town Primucci’s fam­ily’s im­mi­grated from. A hand–driven pro­sciutto slicer has even been flown in to keep things au­then­tico. There are a few items on the menu — like the car­bone pizza — that would raise eye­brows in the home coun­try.

A piz­zaiolo would blush with shame pulling a pizza this black from the oven. But these aren’t burnt pies. Their black hue comes from veg­etable car­bon, which im­bues the dough with a light airi­ness. Car­bone piz­zas will ap­peal to pizza-han­ker­ing yo­gis, as they pur­port­edly are eas­ier on the di­ges­tive sys­tem than their tra­di­tional coun­ter­parts.

“Ac­ti­vated char­coal in health prod­ucts is a grow­ing trend; we de­vel­oped the car­bone dough as a way to in­te­grate that into our menu,” says Primucci. 577 King St. W., 416-263-9999


With a name like Superpoint, this irreverent Ossington spot is ob­vi­ously not feign­ing authentici­ty. The menu’s a mix of red sauce Ital­ian (cheesy gar­lic bread, br­uschetta, cheese burg­ers) and true paisan fare. A bowl of lamb ca­vatelli in a white wine–rap­ini sauce, for in­stance, could pass for Nonna’s.

The piz­zas, how­ever, are 100 per cent New York. Pizza dough sits in the fridge fer­ment­ing for up to three days be­fore it’s stretched and baked in a dou­ble-decker Vul­can pizza oven. The re­sult­ing pies are sub­stan­tial, chewy slices. Go tra­di­tional with cheese, pep­per­oni or chili-an­chovy. Al­ter­na­tively, get slightly fancier with top­pings like capi­cola or pep­pers with Gor­gonzola. 184 Ossington Ave., 416-519-6996


Adam­son Bar­be­cue’s just-opened sis­ter spot, Con­spir­acy Pizza, is al­ready a cult favourite with the line­ups to prove it.

“If you tell any­body about us, we’ll kill you,” jokes co-owner Adam Skelly in ref­er­ence to their name.

Skelly is an avowed pizza junkie, so it was only a mat­ter of time be­fore he opened up his own pie shop. Us­ing a Piz­za­Master oven that churns out N.Y.-Neapoli­tan hy­brids in four min­utes flat, Con­spir­acy’s dish­ing up pies that will mostly ap­peal to meat­heads. Chal­lenge your Scov­ille tol­er­ance with a made-for-car­ni­vores Steel Beams, which tops a triplet of pep­pers (poblano, ba­nana and bird’s eye chilies) with jalapeno-ched­dar sausage plucked from Adam­son. For those hound­ing af­ter veg: The Grassy Knoll is a go-to (it boasts three types of mush­rooms and two va­ri­eties of kale). So far, Con­spir­acy only awak­ens come the week­end; be sure to check their In­sta­gram for de­tails on how to get your mitts on a slice come TGIF. 176 Wick­steed Ave., 647-694-3327

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