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looking for nyc-like pizza

I just got back from New York City, where I had some amazing pizza. And now, I'm craving some. But where to find it in T.O.?

Here's my description:
I went Patsy's Pizza on Upper West Side (74th between Columbus and Central Park West). The pizza had crispy thin-crust to the point that when you pick up a slice, you had to be careful to balance the slice because the toppings may be a little too heavy for the crust, weighing it down so that they might fall off.
I saw these huge ovens, but I don't know if they're coal or wood burning ovens (not the kind at Pizza Pizza).
All the toppings were fresh. Cheese, sauce, and fresh basil were a given.

Does anyone know where I can find this kind of pizza in Toronto?


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  1. I think the answer is that you won't be able to find it in T.O. Certainly nothing near as good as Patsy's. But, I'll be listening in for replies in case I'm wrong.

    1. Never had real NYC pizza, but from what you describe, a slice I had at Rainbow Mall fast food area in Niagara Falls, NY sounds similar. Loved the cheezy flavour!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Wiley

        this is so bizarre... I grew up in Lewiston NY (just outside Niagara Falls) and since moving to Toronto, I have never had pizza taste they way the slices did from Rainbow Mall!! Did you go there recently? I can't even remember what the place was called, but they had the BEST slices.

      2. In a word, fat chance. Moved here from NYC in July and have determined there is nothing quite the same or close, for that matter. I'm not a pizza snob or anything but I've eaten my weight in NYC pizza for many years so I have a little bit of a background to draw on. That being said, I have found pizza I liked in Hogtown, my favourite being Terroni. It's not Grimaldi's or John's or Patsy's but it's great in its own way.

        1. Not a chance! There's another big thread on Toronto pizza that provides many opinions and much detail.

          In my experience, the closest you'll come in Toronto is a Margherita at Massimo's or a plain cheese at Mamma's. They aren't what you are looking for, but they are good in their own way.

          1 Reply
          1. re: embee


            Just wanted to let you know that I went back to Colombo's recently - after not having it for a long time, it did seem a little blander than I remember. And so I might have to agree with your statements in the other pizza thread... but I can say that Colombo's was better after a night in the fridge. I think the best thing to do with their pie is let it sit for 30 minutes for the flavours to meld. Anyway, so now I don't know what to call the best pizza anymore. To be honest, I'm craving that old place Frank Vetere's that was around in the 70s/early 80s. I'm sure though if I had it now, it wouldn't be that tasty... just a craving is all.

            As for this new request for NY pizza, I did try some tasty but undercooked cheese slice at a place called By-The-Slice (York Mills/Leslie) - I'd have preferred it more well-done, but it may resemble (somewhat) a New York style slice.

          2. I am well aware it wont compare to NYC pizza, but at the Magic Oven on Broadview at Danforth, I often have to 'balance' the toppings on my thin crust pizza... Maybe because I order a lot of toppings, but its always really fresh and organic and delicious, probably nothing as good as what you're used to however.

            1. NYC pizza to me is Rays pizza and the like. It was not customary for New York pizzarias to cook with wood, and often the toppings were added on top of a plain cheese pizza. Now it has been years for me and it sounds by your posting that NYC now has a more sophisticated zah (wood burning oven).

              For me, terroni is my favorite, but it is nothing like NY. I think a place called New York Pizza is the closest match, they have atleast two locations (king just west of bathurst, and bay just n of dundas) - I don't like that style - pale looking and toppings sitting on top...authentic to my years of eating zah in NY. If you want a Toronto rendition of NYC pizza that is very good, I recommend The Big Slice which is on Yonge south of Wellesley; sometimes their dough is exceptional and fabulous.

              As far as Massimos is concerned, I find it to be so inconsistent that I just don't bother anymore. That being said, it is pretty close to my memories of NYC pizza.

              As far as the new age of the authentic NYC zah, sorry I cannot comment...

              1. While Ray's is ubiquitous, the style of pizza it represents is, in fact, the "new age" of NY pizza. Cooking NY Pizza in wood- or coal-fired brick ovens is not only customary, but predates by at least four decades the use of electric and gas-fired deck and conveyor ovens, which became common in the '60s, when the pizza evolved into a staple of the fast food industry.

                Ray's is nothing more than fast food pizza—"street pizza," in the local parlance. While street pizza is a legitimate genre in its own right, it has little in common with the pizza prototype for which NY is famous (which, incidentally, is baked in either a coal- or wood-fired brick oven, in keeping with the tradition established by Gennaro Lombardi, the pizzaiolo credited with opening the first pizza restaurant in the US and under whose tutelage most of the renowned NY pizzaiolos, including Patsy Lancieri, Tony Pero, Jerry Totonno and John Sasso, learned the craft of pizzamaking, is baked in either a coal- or wood-fired brick oven). Pizza restaurants in that tradition include, inter alia, Totonno's, John's of Bleeker St, Arturo's, Lobmardi's, Grimaldi's, Sal & Carmine's.

                While there are pizza restaurants in TO that have wood-fired brick ovens (and Il Fornello is NOT one of them: they use Earthstone ovens, which are ceramic-clad steel), there are, to my knowledge, none making NY-style pizza.

                1. Ya I didn't think John's of Bleeker was all that great really. I mean, don't get me wrong - it was pretty good, but I've certainly had better in Toronto. I thought my friend's meatball sandwich there was the real story, surprisingly. I’ve never been to Lombardi’s but my sister said it was exceptional. Totonno's was closed for the day I sadly discovered only after wandering around for hours lost and looking very touristy in that shady part of Brooklyn. My friend was so miffed with me. ANYHOO. I think George's on Eglinton, formerly called Monte Carlo, has the best pizza in the city (that I’ve had at least) and has since I was a kid. And although not NYC style per se does have some similarities - its thin (and gorgeous) crust, top notch cheese, and artisanal integrity. Check it out, it is wonderful and compared with, and in most cases bested, anything I had in NYC.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: magic

                    Mmmm...Lombardi's. Sure could drive all the way to NYC right now. I've been to Lombardi's twice and even though I haven't yet tried other NYC pizza parlours, it converted me forever!

                    Just had a disappointing pizza from Mamma's delivery on Danforth. Probably my fault for ordering too many toppings (allegro plus chicken), but the crust wasn't exciting or crispy and the saltiness got to me. Terroni (Yonge & St. Clair) is so much better (but skimpy on their toppings)!