Toronto's Best Slice
So where can I get the best slice in TO??
Funnily enough, I had an amazing slice on Wednesday at the CNE. In the food building at Pizza Nova - extremely fresh, stringy cheese, great crust - really yummy considering it was the food building.
Anyway, I am still partial to Amato. I know that some locations are not as good as others - I have had good slices from the one at Yonge/Eg and also Queen West. I have not tried Pizzaiolo yet, so if anyone can give opinion on how it fares compared to Amato or other slice places, I'd be interested!
Here is the lowdown on pizza, from a seriously obsessed fan of it:
First, Pizza Nova - arguably the best quality and taste of the chains. But by no means the best pizza around. Also, as is the case for most places, the Pizza Nova slices are slightly inferior to their whole pizzas.
Now to your point about Amato. First off, the one at Yonge/Eg is no longer an Amato franchise - it's now called Madanto (they have a website if you want to see). There was some discussion on the board this week about why they splintered off from Amato (basically because Amato head office was involved with shady business practices, not paying their workers, etc...)
Anyway, here's the best-to-worst order of the three places that are VERY similar:
Truly great slices around Toronto:
Bitondo's (also outstanding calzone)
Massimo's (best is Margherita)
Big Slice (Gerrard and Yonge only, avoid St. Clair/Dufferin place with same name)
Cora Pizza (slice only, not whole pizza)
Louie's Classico (for those who like cornmeal crust)
Colombo's (also great calzone, tied with Bitondo's)
Mamma's Pizza (not outstanding, but above average for sure)
And if you're interested in whole pizza, not just slices, my faves are:
Colombo's Pizza (Danforth) - I think they are of the best in the city
Bitondo's (Clinton St.) - very close call between here and Colombo's
Dante's (somewhat overrated and expensive, but still very good)
A lot of people like Camarra's but I think it's overrated. It is very good when you're in the mood, but basically, it's comparable to Pizza Hut (greasy crust with a bit of cornmeal), but at an even higher price.
I'd also like to add a very important thing:
When you are dealing with quality pizza, whole or sliced, try it with just sauce and cheese - so many people put all kinds of toppings on it, and they forget just how good pizza is plain. As a pizza freak, the way I judge quality is on this basis mostly - how good does someone's pie taste just plain? Try it and see for yourself!
I have lived in New York City and in New Haven Conn, where places like Totonno's and Frank Pepe's and Sally's set a standard I've never encountered in Toronto. (No idea if these places are still good, but they were awesome when I was growing up.)
Real pizza, to my understanding, is more of a tomato topped thick foccacia--no cheese, much less any other toppings. I don't much like it, but I find that loading any pizza with a huge pile of stuff makes it something other than a pizza. I agree with the comment about trying it plain (sauce and cheese).
I think Mamma's is the best of the chains. Try their plain cheese pizza.
I admit to having had some good slices at Amato but, having learned about their documented business practices, I won't go near one any more.
I've been to Massimo's many times over many years. Some Margherita slices I've had there were as good as pizza gets; other times, the slices were blah.
I don't find Camarra's particularly special and have run into some attitude issues there.
I've never liked Cora's
I'll need to give more thought to the other independents. For "food in the form of a pizza", Magic Oven can be very nice. Some of the Thai-flavoured roast chicken pies are delicious (though not truly pizza). They have some weird crusts and toppings, but careful choices can be rewarding.
I'm embarassed to admit this, but I've had some pretty decent pizza (whole only-not the premade slices) from a few PizzaPizza locations. I'm not mentioning specific locations because, for all their attempts at standardization, it still comes down to the person making each individual pie. (The bad ones far outnumber the good ones.)
I used to frequent Amato, esp. the one that at Yonge and Eg over the past few years, but it just doesn't taste as good (to me, anyhow) as I remember it tasting at the Queen and Bathurst location about 10 years ago.
In the last year, I finally realized that I prefer Mamma's slices to Amatos...I kept returning to Amatos because of all the choices, but I often was getting stuck with a dried out piece of pizza that tasted like it had been sitting there a long time. Although there are less choices at Mamma's, I've enjoyed any of the slices I have ordered, esp the slices at Mamma's Yonge north of Lawrence location.
I've had a couple disappointing slices at Mamma's Bayview & Eg strip plaza location.
Guys, you're right - Mamma's is the best chain pizza slice, not Nova. I'd just forgotten that Mamma's is popping up everywhere and is considered a chain now. And yes, I agree, it's their basic cheese slice that is their best.
As for the Amato (now Madanto) at Yonge/Eg, it has not been there for 10 years. In fact, I think Amato has only existed for about 3 years or less. Is phoenikia thinking of another establishment at Yonge/Eg?
Embee: there is no New York pizza in Toronto to my knowledge. I'm interested to hear if someone knows otherwise. Oddly enough, when I'm in NY, I never have good pizza - I find it soggy and the sauce too sweet. I will try these places you suggest tho. Also I was recently told about some incredible pizza at the base of one of the bridges in Manhattan (I think it was the Brooklyn Bridge) - do you know the place I mean? I can't remember the name.
I didn't intend to suggest Amato had been operating at Yonge and Eg for 10 years- you're correct that an Amatos was only operating at Yonge and Eg for around 3 years.... I wasn't thinking of another establishment in the Yonge and Eg area ;)
I was just comparing my recent mediocre slices in the past few years (which have mostly been coming from the Yonge and Eg location) to the memory of great slices from Queen and Bathurst in 1998.
It has been years, so I can't vouch for how anything is today. I don't know about the one near the bridge. Totonno's is in Coney Island, I believe on Mermaid Av -- possibly on Neptune -- in what was a dreadful neighbourhood. The had the most amazing cheese. They would be open for a few hours, then run out of food and close at some random time. There is a Totonnos in Manhattan, but I don't believe it is the same.
Pepe's and Sally's are in New Haven. I haven't looked at the New England board, but I suspect you'll find much discussion about New Haven "apizz".
Terroni is pretty decent, but honestly, there is no good pizza in Toronto if your tastebuds have experienced the best in NY. Sad but true.
My personal top 5 are...
1) Difara's - Dom is a legend
2) Totonno's - Coney Island only, the one in Manhattan does not have a coal oven.
3) Patsy's - E Harlem
4) Grimaldi's - BK
5) Lombardi's - the originator, but has become somewhat of a tourist trap.
Beware of a long wait at Difara's, everything is made to order. This means toppings are cut, cheese freshly grated, herbs freshly chopped. So tasty, the square pie is devine, DO NOT overload it w/ toppings.
The pizzeria by the Brooklyn Bridge is Grimaldi's.
As previous posters have mentioned the quality of a good slice can best be measured in a plain cheese & sauce slice.
Kosher pizza places make an above average slice - as the kosher cheese used lends different characteristics to the slice. My top two favorites are My Zaidy's Pizza on Clark Ave in Thornhill (Sobey's Plaza) and Tov Li (bathurst south of steeles). Ask for well done and you'll think you've reached Pizza Nirvana.
OK - just realized there is a Mamma's pizza in the beaches where I live, so I am going to have to try very soon. I'm sure I had a slice of theirs many years ago at the CNE, but time for a more critical visit!