BY LINDA LUONG
A bit of dough, some tomato sauce, cheese and an assortment of meats and vegetables may be all it takes to make a classic pizza, but that doesn’t mean just anyone can make a delicious one. There’s an art to making this dish that originated in Naples, Italy; these establishments—our choices for the five best pizzerias in Toronto—consistently serve up culinary masterpieces on thin crust.
This upscale King West restaurant is a local hot spot, which means that reservations are a must. But it’ll be well worth the advance planning when you take that first bite of the gourmet Roman-style pizzas here, crafted by chef Rob Gentile and his team. Find braised octopus and Yukon potatoes on the decadent Polpo; rock shrimp and soft cured duck yolk on the Gamberi; and green asparagus, mushrooms, stinging nettles and whipped goat cheese atop the Cicoria.
• Buca, 604 King St. W., 416-865-1600; buca.ca
This neighbourhood eatery is a favourite of families in the High Park ‘hood, who can choose from more than a dozen pizza options. The wood-fired oven turns out traditional offerings like the margherita, Napoletana and caprese, but also the creatively dressed likes of The Butcher—a carnivore’s dream of pancetta, sopressata, sausage and prosciutto di Parma—or The Pumba, garnished with wild boar meatballs. Vegetarians are well fed by The Popeye, a spinach, confit garlic and roasted pine nuts combination.
• Pizzeria Defina, 321 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-534-4414; pizzeriadefina.com
There are three locations for this popular mini-chain helmed by chef Rocco Agostino, a true believer in simple, unfussy food. Hence Agostino’s beloved pizzas are made with two vital ingredients, flown in fresh daily from Italy: San Marzano tomatoes and Fior di Latte mozzarella. Though additional toppings are modest, they’re authentic: house-made sausage, Buffalo mozzarella, arugula, prosciutto, grilled eggplant and white anchovies, to name a few. Each pizza is baked in a 900-degree wood-burning oven for 90 seconds to ensure a perfectly charred and blistered crust.
• Pizzeria Libretto, 221 Ossington Ave., 416-532-8000 & 550 Danforth Ave., 416-466-0400 & 155 University Ave., 416-551-0433; pizzerialibretto.com
Queen Margherita Pizza
It should be no surprise that a place named for royalty would make a pizza that reigns supreme in the city. As the story goes, the consort of King Umberto I was presented with three different pizzas during a visit to Naples in 1889, including one topped simply with basil, mozzarella and tomato sauce in honour of the colours of the Italian flag, which the Queen deemed her favourite. Trying this signature savoury pie is a must, but other offerings include La Scala with sweet pork belly, hot peppers, arugula, mozzarella and Asiago cheese, and the Roberto Scallopini with kale, parmigiano, garlic aioli, dried tomatoes and toasted sunflower seeds.
• Queen Margherita Pizza, 1402 Queen St. E., 416-466-6555 & 772 Dundas St. W., 647-748-4666 & 785 Annette St., 647-345-4466; qmpizza.com
Expect a bustling and boisterous atmosphere at each of Terroni’s three main locations. You’ll find the original on Queen Street, where they don’t take reservations, so expect a lineup if you arrive at peak dining hours. There’s a thorough pizza menu at each establishment, with more than two dozen choices. Terroni’s margherita is one of the most famous, but other mouth-watering pies are worth a try, like the white pizza made with house-smoked salmon or the C’t mang, which is a white pizza with gorgonzola, pears, walnuts, smoked prosciutto and honey.
• Terroni, 720 Queen St. W., 416-504-0320 & 57A Adelaide St. E., 416-203-3093 & 1095 Yonge St., 416-925-4020; terroni.com