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What happened to Massimo's Pizza ??

killerkroc Jun 3, 2009 12:15 PM

We used to order from Massimo's Pizza on College at least once a week. The Margarita Pizza was always consistently awesome.
Around three months ago things started to change.
The pizza was noticeably inferior , and the other things like the House Salad were no longer as good.
Giving them the benefit of the doubt, we kept trying...
Same outcome. Definitely not the same awesome-ness as in the past.
So we stopped ordering, until recently when we gave it one last shot.
Upon receiving the same inferior results, we called to question what had happened.
The person on the phone said that the owner had fired the chefs/pizza makers that had been working there for years.

Bad idea....

Oh well, it was great while it lasted....

  1. a
    abigllama Oct 21, 2009 05:39 PM

    Has anyone tried the new location on Queen west near Drake? Saw this was open a couple weeks back, looks very different from the old College St. location.

    5 Replies
    1. re: abigllama
      LaRubia Oct 21, 2009 07:21 PM

      There is a new Massimo Pizza opening up on College very near to the old location, just a bit west. The store that burned down was being run by the son of the original owner, so I don't understand the lack in quality as of late. Maybe the grand opening will be able to revive some of the damaged reputation.

      1. re: abigllama
        ylsf Oct 22, 2009 06:10 AM

        I had a slice from there during Nuit Blanche a few weeks ago. It tasted about the same as the one I had from the old College street location.

        The thing is, they were really SLOW to make the pizzas to fill the slice orders. I think they must have only one or two ovens there. So, if you go on a busy day or late after a night of drinking I wouldn't expect quick service!

        1. re: ylsf
          deabot Oct 22, 2009 06:26 AM

          My friends and I ordered a couple of large pies a week ago. Decent pie maybe a few notches above pizza pizza. I really liked the basil oil on the marg and our vinny massimo's special had lots of bacon on it but was not that greasy. Some service issues for sure-we were told it was a half hour wait but when we got there they hadn't even started on it yet. yeesh.

          1. re: deabot
            Pantz Oct 22, 2009 03:17 PM

            We tried them last weekend. Ordered the special veggie pizza with olives, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes.

            PRO - Delivered in under an hour, a huge achievement for a place within a 10 minute walk from my house.
            CON - We had to help driver with directions, as he went to wrong street

            PRO - No one at my place has a death allergy to red peppers
            CON - They have a pretty relaxed attitude about ingredient substitution; red peppers for sundried tomatoes wasn't horrible but they did make the pie a little wetter and sloppier.

            PRO - Pizza was quite large
            CON - It was mainly about old school dough as delivery platform for cheese, with the ingredients scattered sparsely.

            PRO - Ingredients were of a good quality, sauce was good, not too sweet, had some depth and garlic bite.
            CON - The olives where whole and jutted out of the pizza in a bizarre way, like a boulder. For a brief second we thought they might not be pitted, but they were.

            PRO - They thoughtfully cut the pie into slices.
            CON - A portion challenged individual managed to cut a series of 1 inch slivers and 5 inch monster slices. Like they thought they had to cut 32 slices and then realized after a few pieces that was not the case and then over compensated.

            All in all, despite the snark, I'd try them again to see how they do with the plain margherita or a meat based pie.
            I would rate them a little higher than the last couple of years at the old location, and definitely higher than any chain pizza.
            The half assed attitude (authentically transported from the old place) amuses me, though that may change.
            And seriously, please cut the olives. Even in half would be an improvement.

            1. re: Pantz
              abigllama Oct 23, 2009 07:09 PM

              Had a pizza delivered from the "new" Massimos tonight.. Guy on the phone was nice and friendly. (yay!) Pizza took a bit longer than normal because it was coming from Queen. Well worth the wait as it was delish and just like the old Massimo's we love.

              There's probably new staff involved but very glad that all seems well for the time being!

      2. s
        shillmon Sep 6, 2009 08:12 PM

        A place is opening on queen west near the Drake which claims (in a window sign) to be "formerly Massimo's Pizza on College".

        1. f
          football.H Aug 25, 2009 11:59 AM

          I've eaten at Massimo's for 25 years and the last time I was there was Sept 08 just after they refurbished. I was extremely upset to learn of the chaos of the last few months resulting in the gutting (intentional or otherwise) of this once fine establishment. I have to say the writing was somewhat on the wall when the decor changed but I certainly didn't think it would result in something this bizarre.

          As far as I'm concerned Massimo's had the best pizza (when fresh) of any place I've ever eaten including cities such New York, Chicago and many places I've tried in Italy. Taste is obviously subjective but when you got a margherita slice freash out of the oven all other pizza shops became pretenders.

          As for some of the psuedo racist comments about 'asian's running the shop, Sam and the boys worked there FOREVER...even when Tony was still running the place it was always Sam and the other Vietnamese who did the cooking and they were masterful. You only have to look at the comments from the last few months when those decent chaps were let go to see that they were the special ingrediants in the cooking....

          It was a great place that for some reason was destroyed by a bunch of fools who took over. A sad time for pizza in Toronto.

          3 Replies
          1. re: football.H
            Pincus Aug 25, 2009 12:10 PM

            I have had pizzas made by every race under the sun and it is the passion and skill of the pizza maker that determined what pleasure I got out of the experience.

            Having said that, something behind the scenes affected the food there, because I ate there once (maybe eight months ago?) and swore I would never return.

            1. re: Pincus
              FrankD Aug 25, 2009 05:33 PM

              The good news is Zane Caplansky is opening a block down on College, so you don't have to make the trip all the way to Clinton. I heard rumours they were going to open in early September, but I walked by a few days ago, and it seemed like they still a had lot of work to do. Then again, having watched "Restaurant Makeover" a few times, I'm always amazed at what they can do in seven days, so maybe it will happen!

            2. re: football.H
              killerkroc Oct 21, 2009 04:28 PM

              Well said....! football.H

            3. z
              ziggystardust Aug 3, 2009 05:03 PM

              Over the past couple of months I've had similar experiences as others; very hit and miss slices, seemingly endless staff turnover and strange, angry exchanges between staff, as well as between staff and people on the phone. Walked by yesterday, saw the fire damage as well as the old pizza in the carousel as well as pizzas on the counter ready to be delivered. It almost looks like the place got hit with napalm and the staff had only nanoseconds to get out.
              There's something very fishy about all this.

              1. s
                simplepieman Jul 29, 2009 03:35 PM

                Looks like Massimo's is gone, no? Massive fire and smoke damage, dried-up slices moldering in the carousel and behind the counter. It doesn't look like anyone's set foot in there since the fire.

                I had been going there a lot less often than I used to; I'm glad the last slice I got was a really good one.

                3 Replies
                1. re: simplepieman
                  duckdown Jul 29, 2009 09:30 PM

                  Hrm, really? I drove by it somewhat recently and it didn't look closed

                  1. re: duckdown
                    Sevi Jul 30, 2009 05:30 AM

                    I walked by on Saturday or Sunday (think it was Sunday) on my way to the computer store. It was still a little smoky and had a huge crowd around it. It's definitely gone. At least until they renovate?

                    1. re: Sevi
                      duckdown Jul 30, 2009 10:55 AM

                      Ahh, okay thanks

                      Not really a major loss though considering it's been a long time since I've had anything good from there.

                      Picking up a slice there is like eating reheated cardboard now

                2. a
                  abigllama Jul 1, 2009 06:27 PM

                  I tried to order a pizza from Massimo's tonight. Called, guy answers and I asked to order a pizza to be delivered. I hear a goofy cell phone ring, he asks me to hold and puts the phone down on the counter. He answers his cell phone and starts screaming "where the f- are you, this is bull-". This went on and on for way too long and I eventually just hung up and got a pizza someplace else. There's something going on there that's not good at all.

                  1. j
                    jkmanosque Jun 6, 2009 04:02 PM

                    Went back today for a second slice this week and I take back everything I said in my earlier post - the slice i bought today (arrabiatta) was disgusting; sort of reminded me of pizza toppings on wonder bread - the crust was soggy, seemed almost unbaked. Didn't recognize any of the workers from previous years. It ranked up there with the worst pizza I've ever had - too bad I once really enjoy their slices - what happened since the Makeover show????

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jkmanosque
                      Everythingtarian Jun 7, 2009 09:31 AM

                      Since the makeover show, their slices got smaller to fit into the carousel food warmer (gross!), in addition to some design changes that, in my opinion, robbed some of the disputable charm the joint had previously.

                      It still serves as the post-drunk walk home slice...it is just pizza after all.

                    2. duckdown Jun 5, 2009 04:06 AM

                      been asian since as long as i can remember.... and never very good

                      neither is bitondos!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: duckdown
                        ziggystardust Jun 5, 2009 05:11 AM

                        I agree about Bitondo's, .... overrated

                        1. re: ziggystardust
                          duckdown Jun 5, 2009 12:51 PM

                          thank god someone agrees, lol... i never understood the hype on this place and usually get flamed every time i say it's not good

                          1. re: duckdown
                            Pincus Jun 5, 2009 01:52 PM

                            You remind me I have to try this place out. Maybe I will get a slice and then go to Caplansky's for a backup meal just in case. :)

                            As for Massimo's, been there once, solidly mediocre experience, can't see making a special trip there ever again unless there are a LOT of rave reviews here.

                            1. re: Pincus
                              Muffin__Top Jun 5, 2009 04:07 PM

                              I have never liked Massimo's.. then again I went after R. Makeover

                            2. re: duckdown
                              simplepieman Jun 5, 2009 04:57 PM

                              It's partly a matter of taste, but also what you grew up with. Bitondo reminds me the most of the pizzas I had growing up when we would visit relatives in NYC (Brooklyn) and Boston every summer. On the flipside, I've tried John's around the corner, which a lot of people here have raved about, and it's just about the worst pizza I've ever had in Toronto. Maybe I've just had bad luck there.

                              1. re: simplepieman
                                robgm Jun 5, 2009 06:24 PM

                                massimo's was brilliant about 15 years ago, the shine faded with time and restaurant makeover was the final nail in the coffin

                              2. re: duckdown
                                ziggystardust Jun 7, 2009 09:14 AM

                                To me, it's like the emporer who wears no clothes. Everyone thinks they're supposed to like it, so they do. I'm not saying it's bad, it's just not as incredible-to-die-for as many people say it is. I agree with simplepieman, John's around the corner is much worse.

                          2. a
                            abigllama Jun 3, 2009 10:25 PM

                            My last pizza from about a month ago was a decline too. Also ordered over the phone and they were out of a couple of the regular toppings we get which was weird. The person on the phone didn't seem to understand when I ordered beef (which is actually tasty sliced up meatballs) and then said "the chef says we don't have that now". I asked if it was off the menu or just out..and they didn't seem to understand what I was talking about.

                            I hope this is temporary because it's my favourite delivery pie in the city.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: abigllama
                              jkmanosque Jun 4, 2009 11:17 AM

                              Had a slice of the arriabiatta this afternoon - not bad, seems to be returning to the original stuff. For the past year (ever since the Restaurant Makeover) the pizza has been pretty crappy until today - thankfully.

                              1. re: jkmanosque
                                simplepieman Jun 4, 2009 06:31 PM

                                I had a pepperoni slice from there a couple days ago and it was great - it was super-fresh, right out of the oven (bubbling hot! yow!), so that may have had something to do with it. For a slice on the run, Bitondo is my favourite followed by Massimo.

                                1. re: jkmanosque
                                  Everythingtarian Jun 5, 2009 06:16 AM

                                  Same boat- they got Restaurant Makeover'd, and the quality and quantity went down. I needed a quick fix the other day and it was actually decent. In no way am I back to the slice-a-week habit, but it was nice to see.

                                  And Im pretty sure the original family is still there, spawn of Massimo and his brother.

                              2. z
                                ziggystardust Jun 3, 2009 07:17 PM

                                It seems to be completely staffed/run by Asians now. No, I'm not racist against Asians, but it's just not the same. If I went to a Chinese restaurant and found all the staff to be Polish, I'd be put off as well.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: ziggystardust
                                  jayt90 Jun 3, 2009 10:11 PM

                                  I saw Asians there 20 years ago, and their pizzas were very good, and remained so over the years.

                                  1. re: ziggystardust
                                    ChalkBoy Jun 4, 2009 12:53 PM

                                    I'm sure there will be some who say Massimo's hasn't been good since 1974.

                                    1. re: ziggystardust
                                      killerkroc Jun 4, 2009 01:47 PM

                                      I actually asked the current operator, what had happened to the Asian gentlemen who worked there. He told me that the owner had recently fired them.
                                      Bad move! They made the best pizza...

                                      1. re: ziggystardust
                                        befuggled Jun 5, 2009 03:10 PM

                                        I have to confess that I've had way too many bad or mediocre pizzas made by Italians to buy this.

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