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Windsor-style pizza in Toronto?

First of all, for those who haven't had the pleasure of tasting Windsor-style pizza, I'll describe it as best I can. Maybe it's known by another name I'm unaware of.

Windsor-style is usually a heavy dough crust, baked in a wood-burning stove (or at the very least on a stone tablet). The crust need not be "thick", but it's more substantial than your typical thin-crust pizzas. Although it rises a little and the bottom chars from the heat, it is not generally crisp. Instead, it's quite chewy and stays that way, even after refrigeration. Actually, come to think of it, the crust they use at places like Cora or Amato's used to be fairly close, from what I remember.

The sauce is tangy, so generally it's applied modestly. The cheeses, if only I knew what cheeses they use... my guess is that it's a blend of mozzarella, asiago and parmesan.

What makes it truly great is the liberal application of cheese and toppings. Not quite deep dish style stacked toppings, but just a healthy layer of cheese and toppings, all mixed together. The pepperoni isn't in round slices, rather it's in small strips. The cheese diffuses through everything. Every bite is a juicy flavour explosion.

It's even delicious cold. The cheese keeps it from hardening too much and it remains chewy and tasty.

For comparison purposes, I have yet to find anything that comes close. The closest I've found on flavour is maybe Mamma's pizza when you get asiago cheese, but it's just a pale imitation and the crust is too different, to boot.

I've attached a (tiny) picture from the website of one of the better Windsor places, to give a better idea.

So does anything like this exist in Toronto? I live downtown, but I'd be willing to make the trip once in a while for something like this.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Picture didn't go through the first time... hopefully it will this time.

    1. I don't know where you are located, but I am going to suggest Danforth Pizza House at 920 Danforth, east of Pape. This is an old school pizza with a heavy, chewy crust that is baked until it chars on the bottom. The toppings are very standard, but the combination of them with the crust, sauce and cheeses is a beautiful, simple pie - similar in my experience to NY style pizza. Note: this is a hole-in-the-wall place with no delivery, they only serve pizza and pop (brio too) and, though you can eat there, it is more of a take out place. The owner is very nice, sometimes his son works there too.

      1. Fellow Windsorite:
        You can't get Windsor pizza in Toronto, sad to say. That said, I have been pleasantly surprised by the afore-mentioned Danforth Pizza House, as well as by Gerrard Spaghetti and Pizza. Point of reference: I hold all pizza up to Rivera (on Ottawa St.). Armando's is a solid second.
        Good luck, and do let us know what you come up with.

        1. I will try to get out to Danforth Pizza House in the near future. Over the weekend, I tried Pizzaiolo (specifically the "Gianni Ola" gourmet pizza) and was pleasantly surprised with it. On a first bite, you could be forgiven for thinking it was Windsor pizza. Sadly, the toppings at the outer edges of the pizza were a little more sparse, which detracted from the flavour explosion of a first bite. Also the crust is slightly crispy underneath and fairly light. The sauce seemed mild, didn't really do much for me. Bonus points for the healthy sprinkling of oregano, however.

          But I'm being fairly critical here. It's still very good. Delicious, even. The staff were very friendly.

          Just not Windsor pizza. :)

          (Rivera is very good... honestly, I think any of the non-chain restaurants in Windsor is great: Armando's, Capri, Arcata, Franco's, Koolini's, Sam's... who am I missing?)

          1 Reply
          1. re: horbal

            Naples, Windsor pizza, and the biggest hidden gem.. Sarduccis

          2. Hey guys,

            Danforth Pizza House, they serve slices?


            1 Reply
            1. re: LikeTheWolf

              You might also wanna try Abruzzo in Richmond Hill.
              But i've heard Danforth Pizza is better.
              Even so... nothing compares to Windsor style pizza.

            2. I lived in Windsor for 2 years and never knew there was a "Windsor-style" pizza. Interesting.

              1. Nobody in Toronto can match pizza from Windsor. The best, by far, that I've had in T.O. is from the Danforth Pizza House - which has more than a few mentions here. It's totally old school, and delicious. It's the closest thing to Windsor pizza I've found up th is way.

                As for great pizza in Windsor, nobody beats Torino's - which is in Tecumseh. Trevi used to be pretty good, but they went out of business years ago.

                2 Replies
                1. re: torinofan

                  Torinofan: I'm pretty sure Trevi is still around...

                  1. re: pouletsecret

                    Pouletsecret: Ooops. They might be. I was thinking of Trevi's location in Tecumseh. That closed some time ago. Not sure about the other locations, since I don't get home all that often.

                2. I make it to Windsor a few times a year and would be interested to know where in the city serves the best examples of Windsor-style pizza?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Tout Garni

                    Pescatarian: Legend has it that a guy at a place called Vesuvio's was the original Windsor pizza guy. He acted as a sort of mentor to all of the junior pizza guys in town, and his genius (and delicious pizza) got around. I don't know how much of this is truth, but it certainly would explain why a relatively small city like Windsor has a generally consistent, unique and delicious pizza style all its own.

                    Tout garni: Franco's is the classic, but I stand by Riviera pizza and spaghetti house on Ottawa St. It's small, but they do have a couple of tables, and if you're lucky, the couple that owns the joint will be watching soccer on tv and arguing to the death. The aforementioned Sarducci's is also decent, if you're in the West end. Armando's (Walker Rd. location) is another solid choice.
                    Riverside Tavern, while not great pizza, is (mysteriously) served with bbq sauce. As for the rest (Trevi, Capri, Ferrary, etc. etc. etc. etc.), it's been so long, I couldn't say and wouldn't want to steer you wrong.
                    One note: Whereas, traditionally, most cities' yellow pages had a "restaurants" section, but no pizza-specific section (this has now changed somewhat), Windsor has ALWAYS had a pizza section, and at last count, it was 15 pages long. For a city with a stable population base of 200,000. We're serious about our pizza.

                    1. re: pouletsecret

                      Windsor pizza reminds me of what I like to call "Italo-Greco-Franco" pizza back in my home town of Montreal. Gotta have one every time I go back.

                      1. re: mrbozo

                        ??? What on earth are you talking about? Colour me confused. I lived in Montreal for more than ten years, and the only edible pizza I ever found was Pendeli's. And what's up with their pepperoni? And why don't they have Italian sausage? I can't think of anything further from Windsor pizza than Montreal-style pizza. Whew. I'm sorry. I feel a bit worked up!
                        I'm seriously confused. Please fill me in. I'd also love to hear about decent pizza to try next time I'm in MTL...

                        1. re: mrbozo

                          My God... I grew up in Windsor, and never even thought about Windsor Pizza til now... It really WAS good... I LIVED at Franco's growing up... Might have to go home and visit the family some time to try it again...

                    2. As a fellow former Windsorite, who always orders Pizza when home in Windsor, I can tell you that you can get really yummy pizza by Windsor standards at Regina's on College Street. The Regina's Special is second only to my favourite Windsor Pizza (Sam's). I think there's a discussion about Regina's in anther Pizza-related topic on here.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wodeam

                        Sams pizzeria is still good but i think they were even better under the original owner

                      2. Any new developments on the "Windsor style pizza in Toronto" front? I still say anyone who'd open a pizza place in T.O. serving Franco's/Trevi/Naples/Sam's style pizza would have a potential moneymaker on their hands. Although maybe you have to grow up with Windsor pizza to appreciate it like we former Windsorites do? God I miss the little cut-up strips of pepperoni on pizza...

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: MacD

                          i hate this thread. now, i will be thinking of windsor pizza all weekend!
                          windsorites: can anyone tell me if the resto in the parking lot of the AMbassador Plaza (Huron Chrch and Tecumseh?...just south of the bridge) is still there? it was a random italian restaurant.....they had amazing pizza.

                          AND, because of my years living in Windsor, when i make pizza at home i always cut my pepperoni into strips. it tastes better. ;o)

                          1. re: perogy

                            i do not recall a resto at ambassador plaza
                            .. i just remember ... zellers... mr. sub... wendys...a fish n chip joint, some viet / thai resto.... liquor store and a dollar store... and one of the banks...

                            1. re: plug

                              it was freestanding -- on the east side of the parking lot....a little bit east of the tim hortons. it started with a 'P' i think.

                              darn! it's been about 8 years....too long to recall it to my memory.

                          2. re: plug

                            I live in Windsor right now and I have to say that the gourmet thin crust pizzas that Armando's turns out are pretty damn good. They do not qualify as "Windsor" style, which is too thick for my tastes, but we think they're putting crack in the pizza because it is so addictive. A newcomer is Vito's on Wyandotte in Walkerville and the wood oven pizza is very nice. La Zingara does a decent job too. I've never had the Windsor style pizza in Toronto, but on my next visit, I hope to hit up one of Trio, Pizza Libretto or Mangia e Bevi for some wood oven thin crust pies.

                          3. I'm another former Windsorite who now lives in Brantford. It's not T.O but if you ever happen in to Brantford there's a small place called Pizza Spot, on Colbourne Street (close to the 403) and it is pretty close to Windsor style pizza.

                            Even better though, I have heard that you can get Armando's pizza frozen to take back if you ask at the pizza shop!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: thehollers

                              I'm moving to Brantford on July 1st from Hamilton... I noticed "Pizza Spot" last time I was in town. I will definately give it a try. I tried Maria's Pizza last time I was in town and it was pretty good.

                            2. Could also try Columbo's. It is similar to your description and photo, but the taste would be up to you to compare.

                              1794 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C1H8, CA

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Pincus

                                Another windsorite in the GTA suffering Pizza withdrawls. We have tried a few different places. So far our favorite (though not windsor style by any stretch of the imagination) is Bluestone bistro on Hwy 7, where they make a thin crust wood oven pizza, sorta like terra cotta in downtown windsor. We are off to try Dante's in Vaughn tonight, it's been recommended to us. (FYI, Torino's in Tecumseh will make you pizzas and sell them uncooked to bake at home)

                                1. re: southpaw_1979

                                  I think Capri does a semi bake as well and will line it w/ foil on the underside
                                  so its a quick transition to your oven to finish.
                                  btw. Dante's 2 thumbs.. 2 hands and 2 feet down.
                                  i'd rather have delisio

                                  1. re: plug

                                    Another ex-Windsorite chiming in .... for our family, it was always Capri. I had some this this past weekend in fact. They do sell uncooked or parcooked pizzas to take home. Never had any pizza anywhere that's like Windsor pizza. That being said, I ate at Pizza Libretto on Ossington last night, and I think that was the best pizza I've ever had in my life.

                                    1. re: burningrome

                                      One more ex-Windsorite in Toronto who's frustrated that she can't find good pizza. (And don't even get me started on the pizza in Ottawa. Ick.) I have no idea if it's still there, but there used to be a place at Tecumseh Rd. E. and Jefferson called Gino's. Best pizza in the east end. But we're going back 20-ish years since I lived around there, so even if it's still there, I don't know if it's any good or not. Whenever I go home to visit the fam, they order from either Naples or Armando's, I don't remember which. But it's good. Capri also gets a thumbs up from me, and it's the preferred pizza joint of some of my relatives when they go back there for visits.

                                      1. re: Whisperia

                                        There's good pizza in both Ottawa and Toronto - it's just probably not Windsor-style. But aren't we supposed to appreciate the regional differences in food? If you could find the same dishes everywhere, it wouldn't be as special when you get the real thing.

                              2. "Windsor style" pizza may be extremely hard to find in the GTA, but to give you an idea of what it actually is, it's a composite of larger regionally specified pizza's created by Windsor unique equidistance to various major cities, the crust, which is in my opinion the single best part, is found in Columbus Ohio, the liberal application of toppings and shredded pepperoni comes from the, also semi local, Detroit style pizza, and their are hints here and there of the same pizza found in Toronto, Buffalo style pizza. I always thought it was a bit of a shame that Toronto never actually developed a unique pizza like most cities with a large population of Italian descendants. Either way, that shows why WIndsor pizza is so special, three vastly different types of pizza, melded together in an amazing symphony of flavor and texture, I too suffered much pizza envy when living in Toronto for school, so much so that I have, multiple times, contemplated dropping out and opening a "real" pizzeria serving the local favorites, Windsor, Detroit, and Chicago style pizza.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: UTSGWindsor

                                  Toronto's too self-deprecating to have its own style of anything. I've never seen a city so critical of itself.
                                  Anyways, as mentioned, Danforth Pizza House is still the best bet when in the mood for SW-Ontario's finest.

                                  Danforth Pizza
                                  920 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L9, CA

                                  1. re: pakmode

                                    perogy, someone resurrected this from the dead.. but i know what pizzeria you speak of now... piccolo's pizzeria.

                                    1. re: pakmode

                                      Yes -- after much searching, Danforth Pizza House is the best bet in Toronto. But good luck getting through. When they get busy, they take the phone off the hook. Gotta love that place, though.

                                      Unfortunately the best bet for Windsor pizza in Toronto is in your own kitchen... get a pizza stone, a good dough recipe and start grating, shredding or slicing the pepperoni.

                                      Danforth Pizza
                                      920 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J1L9, CA

                                      1. re: torinofan

                                        torinofan that is by far the best option, and yeah I clicked it by accident and had to resurrect it.

                                        1. re: UTSGWindsor

                                          like i said earlier (a few years ago..LOL)... abruzzo pizzeria aint' bad either if you live uptown.

                                  2. Toronto seriously needs a Windsor Pizza Truck. Grew up eating Franco's but love Capri as well. Especially fond memories of the square shaped party size.

                                    1. Not in Toronto but if you ever find yourself in Burlington Halifax Donair (3300 Fairview St, Burlington) makes a Montreal style pizza that is 80% of the way to a good Windsor pie. The dough and sauce are pretty close. They don't shred the pepperoni although its cut up. And they don't use canned mushrooms (which people think is a cheat but don't grasp it's just part of the complex interplay of ingredients that make Windsor pizza Windsor pizza).

                                      1. Beyond the shredded pepperoni - the true secret to Windsor-style pizza is the near-universal use of mozzarella from Galati Cheese, a local Windsor cheese maker.

                                        Most non-Windsor pizza places use "pizza mozzarella," which contains a large amount of milk / whey power, aka, modified milk ingredients. Galati is just fluid milk: http://www.galaticheese.com/

                                        CBC Radio did a segment on Galati cheese a little while ago: http://www.cbc.ca/windsormorning/food...