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Best NON-CHAIN pizza, downtown toronto.

I am only looking for the best non-chain pizza in downtown Toronto, specificly downtown west...but anywhere downtown will do. Im looking for best taste, thin or thick crust.....the details dont really matter, i like all types of pizza. The 2 main points would be take out, and taste.....thank you all for your suggestions!!!

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  1. Terroni on queen west

    Vesuvio's Dundas way west

      1. re: stephen

        Does not Terroni have several locations? Is it not a chain then? Especially when they are opening a new one in the old CourtHouse..

        1. re: OnDaGo

          Terroni does not suffer from the "chain effect". And hopefully never will.

      2. Oh please...stop already! Terroni is probably Toronto's worst attempt at 'real' pizza.

        Bar Mercurio is the hands down winner.

        Put them side by side...and then tell me which is the better pizza!

        28 Replies
        1. re: The Macallan 18

          Oh thank you! I love contrarians.

          The raves for Terroni have always baffled me.

          Their crust is too cracker-y for my taste, I find the service charmless, and I can't understand why they refuse to slice the freaking pizza. And the curt no-substitutions policy.. for some reason, that really irks me...

          1. re: spigot

            so i see on terroni's menu they mention they dont do substitutions, but is that just for pizza or has anyone been successful at getting them to substitute a tomato sauce for the cream sauce on a pasta dish?

            1. re: hungryabbey

              Pretty much no subs on anything there. It has been that way since day one and I know they have lost some customers over it. So my guess is no. I havent personally asked. Cheers!

              1. re: deelicious

                hm thats really too bad. i know its sometimes best to leave things the way they are, but for some of us lactose intolerant ones, thats maybe not such a good idea.
                oh well

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  There website is down right now so I couldn't check their menu, but I am sure they have tomato sauce options that aren't cheesy.

                  1. re: deelicious

                    yah they do I think, Its just that I have a craving for gnocchi this weekend and they only have one on their menu and its in a cream sauce :(
                    too bad for me. any other ideas where I could get a good inexpensive gnocchi dish this weekend (not winterlicious)

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      i really enjoyed via oliveto's gnocchi.. while a bit overly salty the tomato based proscuitto shallot sauce was rich and delicious. i haven't been in over a year though. it's around $15 i believe which is incredible value. they're just fluffy and light enough that the texture is great but not the lightest that i've ever had.

                      as for terroni... i agree, the more i think about it the more i would say the crust is like a cracker... but that's what i love about it. it's the only crust in the city that i'll eat happily no matter how stuffed i am from the pizza itself.

                      bona, just ordered it in for the first time and while i enjoyed the toppings (lots of cheese and other) the whole flavour balance was pretty good too. yet, still no crust that i really wanted to just chow down on.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        Maybe somebody else here has had luck substituting at Terroni due to allergies/sensitivities.

                        Have to get One of a Kind Pasta to add it to the menu!

                        Cinqocente on King W serves great Italian. They have gnocchi for about 11 or 12 bucks. I am certain they will make any kind of sauce for you.

                        1. re: deelicious

                          I know!! whyyyy hasnt one of a kind added gnocchi to their menu? they have literally everything else one can think of in terms of pasta.if i could make a perfect pasta dish at one of a kind it would be gnocchi in their incrrrrrredible meat wine sauce. ohh god i would just die
                          now that I think of it, ive never seen gnocchi on a menu with a meat sauce or any type of meat in the dish.. has anyone?

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            rosebud- they had one with oxtail, you'll have to check if it's still there...

                2. re: hungryabbey

                  A friend once asked Terroni -humorously, charmingly, I thought- if they were serious about the no-subs rule, and he got a pretty cold yes. I've never understood it; it just seems mean.

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    I looked on the terroni site and it seems the gnocchi is in a tomato sauce with fresh riccota. I am sure you could tell them no ricotta because of allergy - although I am sure they wont be open to a substitution.

                    1. re: deelicious

                      haha yeah thats what it was riccota, not cream sauce, my mistake. but still, an allergy issue. Any other similar priced restaurants anyone can think of serving gnocchi?

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        Have you been to Cinqocente? It is on King W near techumseth. They serve great Italian everything. They have gnocchi for about 11 or 12 bucks and I am certain they will make any kind of sauce for you.

                        1. re: deelicious

                          no Ive never been, I tried to find some info on the internet and I cant even find an address or anything at all. Do you know if they have a website?

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            Oh how exciting, I just drove by Michealangelos Steak and Italian cuisine in the east end and read their menu and alas, they have gnocchi many different ways (inclduing meat sauce). I have never been, but it looks kind of cozy and old school so I think I'll give that one a try- yay, I guess I can have my gnocchi without the lactose reaction for a good price after all!

                            1. re: hungryabbey

                              Hey, Hungry let me know how you like it. I enjoy the place when in the mood for Italian in the east end. There are more modern restos with longer lists of ingredients, but I prefer simple homestyle Italian.
                              If it's out of your way to go there, do remember that any real Italian resto will let you substitute and/or combine to your heart's content. I've never heard anything but "as long as we have the ingredients we'll make it" any place I go.

                              1. re: Googs

                                yah I'll let you know. I live in the east and pass by every weekend on my way to grocery shopping. Its a funny looking place on the outside, but I live simple homestyle when it comes to italian

                                1. re: Googs

                                  So I went to Michelangelos, and I overall enjoyed my meal. I had the gnocchi with meat sauce, which I must say, was not as meat-y as I liked, it was very subtle but still tasty, and the gnocchi itself was good. They garlic bread we ordered was some the best Ive had lately and the service was excellent, very quick and attentive. Great prices too. My only issue was that the food tasted warm enough when we got it, but I am not a slow eater and within a couple minutes it had done cold. I'd probably go again though b/c its close by , has excellent prices and a huge menu I really would like to explore (alot of the veal dishes were very tempting)

                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                    sounds like a good experience overall - IMO, sauces that go with gnocchi should be "subtle" so as not to overpower the gnocchi

                                1. re: deelicious

                                  thanks deelicious, the menu does sound good, and excellent prices!! next time i'm in the west i'll try it

                                  1. re: hungryabbey

                                    Youre welcome. Pricing and value as we all know are two different animals. Dont expect One of a Kind Pasta sized servings, but still the value is good. Expect very well prepared dishes with great sharp flavours just the way they are supposed to be.

                            2. re: hungryabbey

                              I regularly order the gnocchi without the ricotta- with no issue. I also have ordered salads without certain ingredients (cheese or meat - as the case may be). I have never tried to substitute sauces- just asked them to hold certain items- perhaps that is the difference. I wish they would cut their pizza though- or at least provide a proper pizza cutter though! it's hard work with the knife they provide....

                              1. re: alltummy

                                hm well its good to know they maybe leave ingredients OFF, just dont add any, bc also there are a few pizzas on the menu which sound great, but I really dont like gorgonzola cheese, so eliminating that one thing would make it so much more desirable to me

                        2. re: spigot

                          The no substitutions policy at Terroni bothered me initially but after trying many things on the menu I have to agree - they are all great combinations to which some thought has obviously been put into so don't mess with it. And I think the staff at the Queen West location are great.

                          1. re: crawfish

                            Part of the rationale is that substitutions and changes leads to mistakes and [in their minds] undue stress in the kitchen. I have heard that reason as well as the "superior combination" reason.

                      2. Ferro on St.Clair West is my favourite! I still make the trek up there even though I live steps away from Terroni.

                        1. Bona Pizza (east end) is delicious! And, it's been a long time, but I used to really enjoy John's Classic on the west end.

                          1. Once upon a time there was a place called Cavoto's out in Scarborough. The very best pizza I ever had. Bill made this beautiful potato flour crust which made a significant difference. I haven't had a great pizza since, chain or indie.

                            1. Bitondo, on Clinton below College, makes a tasty pie: heart-attack panzerotti as well.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: mrbozo

                                Bitondo's panzerotti is a thing of beauty. Here's a tip: order it 'special' - like, with pepperoni or something. Then they will for sure make it fresh for you. Takes 15-20 minutes depending how busy they are.

                                Like all panzerotti, Bitondo's are best eaten within 10 or so minutes. After about five, the cheese starts to turn rubbery and -worst of all- the casing gets soft and dull. Fresh from the fryer it's crackling and crisp, but that doesn't last.

                                1. re: spigot

                                  Haven't tried the panzerotti but I found the pizza to be truly terrible. I ordered mushrooms on my pizza. They obviously forgot to add them, then remembered, so threw a can of mushrooms on top of the pizza after it had already cooked and then put it back in the pizza oven for a few minutes. Slimy canned mushrooms. Mmm mmm good.

                                    1. re: mickeyj

                                      Sorry to hear that. Can't say that in 10 years I've had or seen such an incident. Every pizza I've had, or friends have had, has been a nice treat for the tastebuds.

                                2. Pizza Rustica on Blue Jay Way is pretty good as well!

                                  1. I tried Danforth Pizza House (between Pape and Donlands) last week based on a recent reccomendation on this board and it was excellent. Search on it and you will probably find the original reviews, but it was thicker crust, good and cheesy and cooked to nicely brown on top. The place is a bit of a hole in the wall, but in authentic sort of way.

                                    1. Pizza is mood-food, that's the only time I eat it. So depending on my mood I will go to whichever for a different pizza. There are several places near where I live at Bathurst & Harbord:

                                      Pizza Gigi (Harbord Bathurst) - when I want it heavy, sweaty and Rubenesque. Whether you like it that way or not once you've had one you definitely won't forget it.

                                      Mama B's (right next door to Pizza Gigi) - when I want it quick and ordinary, because sometimes I do not want the spectacular, I'd rather have something predictable, reliable. Also the couple who own MB's are the warmest and friendliest people that you could meet, down to earth and always willing to have a chat with you.

                                      Massimo's (College Spadina) - when I want it greasy and salty and so nasty it is good.

                                      Amato's (College Bathurst) - when I don't feel like going to the above 3 or when a cute cashier happens to be standing at the window as I'm walking by. Instead of standing on the sidewalk and staring at her I'll go in buy a slice, doesn't matter which slice you get for they've been sitting on the counter for hours and all taste like beef jerky. I swear, for slices I'd rather go to 967...

                                      Pizza Pizza - when I'm really hungry and on the go, but lately I've been detouring to Ghazale for their veggie plate instead

                                      And I should also mention Pizza Memo that no longer exists, it used to be across from Bloor Cinema where the all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant is now, just because *that* had been my 1st choice for 2 years for my weekly pizza fix. They made an excellent pizza, not heavy, not too light, kind of ordinary like Mama B's but a couple of notches more delicious, richer flavour, texture, better cohesion - this was the perfect pizza for me, as if tailor-fitted for my tastebuds. I felt as if I'd finally "arrived". They cooked other things too, sometimes I had their falafels instead. Damn, I remember it like it was yesterday, and I miss the people who worked there too who were from Turkey. I remember saying goodbye to them and wishing them the best of luck on the last week that they were there. Sigh.

                                      1. All of those sound terrible:) Let me know when you are in the 'mood' for a real pizza!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: The Macallan 18

                                          I haven't found a good pizza in Toronto in decades. The craft was lost to the chains. Now I just can't be bothered to try and find a place with the stainless steel alter of 'za that hits your table along side the half litre of Chianti.

                                          Just how good is this Bar Mercurio, TM18? Is there any pizza in particular that you'd recommend? I'm assuming they have your standard quatro whatevers, napoli's, etc.

                                        2. My preference is pizza with a potato flour crust from a wood-fired oven. See my problem? Doesn't exist anymore. As for the craftsman aspect, if I could only find the real thing again...

                                          Really what I was asking since you rec this place so often is, is there a standardized 'za on the menu you particularly enjoy? I prefer to play 'dealer's choice' the 1st time I try a place. You get a better feel for what they're about, I find.

                                          1. i dig papa ceo's and have eaten it for a very long time almost exclusively, why fix what isn't broken i guess....
                                            also lately though, from the board recommendation i've tried out pizzaiolo a few times and really really like their bianca...
                                            rustica on wellington is next on the hit list, and now that their is a new magic oven nearby at spadina and dupont i'm gonna have to try that out as well

                                            1. Anybody familiar with the wares of La Grotta on Pape? It seems they did a flyer dump in our neighbourhood. The menu looks like your standard trying-to-be-all-things-to-all-people pizza house (over a dozen 'gourmet pizzas', same number of pastas, italian sandwiches...and then random stuff like fries and chicken wings). I like the pies from Peter's Cajun Creole, but we branch out to try new places from time to time - is this one worth it?

                                              1. Olympic Pizza on Gloucester, east of Yonge. Crave it often. Perfect distribution of toppings. Very old school, no real ambiance, but a great pie with beer or a glass of red. Consistently worth it.