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Carpe Diem! New pizza on King East

  • g

A new pizzeria/cafe called "Carpe Diem!" opened this week at 263 King St. East, just past Sherbourne. Popped in today and tried a slice to go and was very impressed. The pizza slices are square and very thick -- think 2 to 3 inches thick -- but with authentic Italian ingredients. The margherita was great, just sauce, good mozzarella and a few basil leaves. It looked plain but it was very flavourful all the way through. I really like the dough: it was a bit chewy and soft but the crispness of the toppings held it all together nicely.

It's a small menu, just four types of slices and a couple salads listed on a whiteboard, along with an espresso maker and the usual array of espresso coffees, which I didn't try. It's just a counter and two tables, though it was way too hot to consider eating inside today with the pizza ovens going. But on first impression this seems like a great new option for cheap quick takeout in an area that needs it.

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  1. Sounds great, Gary! As a true pizzahound I will be heading there ASAP.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    1. Had a couple of slices/squares for lunch today. Will go back for sure - nice to have a take-away pizza joint in the neighbourhood!

      1. Thanks, I too will be checking it out!

        1. Just adding a place link.

          Carpe Diem! Cafe
          263 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

          1. Thank God it's not one of these pizza places trying to be too good for take-out (cough, terroni. cough, libretto)

            Sounds great


            2 Replies
            1. re: duckdown

              i'm sorry, but what exactly is wrong with take-out at terroni? i've called my order in advance or just dropped in and it never takes more than 15 minutes to get a nice fresh meal out. they offer me a seat and even a glass of water (which i expect but don't always get at other places) and get my bill settled quickly. i much prefer it to eating in when the noise levels become ridiculous.

              1. re: duckdown

                Too good for take-out? What does that even mean? And what's the problem with a restaurant wanting to focus on being a dining in establishment? Besides, they both do take-out. They just don't have slices sitting on the counter for people to walk in and buy.

              2. Square, thick slices...sounds like Sicilian pizza to me. And a great concept to slide into this market as no one to my knowledge does Sicilian here. Besides, Toronto needs more slice places that aren't terrible chains.

                Will check this out soon. Maybe VERY soon.

                1. Sicilian isn't my favourite pizza style - the dough-to-toppings ratio is usually way too high for my liking. I tried a margherita slice and it was ok. There was a whole lotta dough which I thought overwhelmed the toppings, but at least the toppings were good and the crust was surprisingly light and tasty. I might go back and try something with more oomph - they had a slice with Italian salami, and another with (I think) tuna and olives.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: simplepieman

                    Stopped in today for lunch. Small place-only 2 tables inside for eat-in. I had the romagna (argula and proscuitto on top of cheese and sauce). While it's nice to see something different as in square slices, these were wayyy too doughy and not cooked through entirely so it wasn't pleasant to eat. They do have a variety of salads on offer for 4.50-4.95 range-that's a great deal. And I tried a walnut-cranberry-chocolate chip cookie which was very good. Soft, chewy and tasty. Pizza needs work though.

                  2. Two to 3 inches thick? I can't imagine any pizza, even Sicilian-style, being over an inch thick. Can anyone comment on this?

                    1. Made a return visit today. My enthusiasm has waned.

                      The slice was thinner... more around 1-2 inches (honest, Tatai, the first one I had was like a brick, thickest pizza I've ever seen!) But that wasn't the problem.

                      I tried a salami/pepperoni slice, and it was quite greasy. It was also loaded with too much cheese and the oiliness sogged the crust a bit. It wasn't at all fluffy and delicious like the first, and the toppings didn't crisp up.

                      My wife got the artichoke and mushroom slice, and I tried some. It was better, but still loaded with too much cheese and the liquid from the veg soaked into the crust and made the eating experience a bit gluey, too.

                      Oh, well. I'll try their margherita again one of these days and see if maybe that's the secret to success... or maybe my first visit was a fluke and they've adapted their style already. Overall on my second visit this pizza seemed more like typical "Toronto" pizza and a whole lot less exciting. Amazing the difference a week makes.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Gary

                        you're right Gary, they've changed their style since the first week they open... and to tell you the truth I made this notice to the guys working there and the response was that because not everybody appreciated the 2-3inches thickness and the "lack of sauce" on the pizzas of the first one they changed it a bit to please all the "thin crust lovers" and that people that are used to other places where they sauce up and grease up the pizzas... well, they should keep it original as they did it at first!

                        1. re: wow

                          Drat. I was looking forward to a new pizza experience.

                        2. re: Gary

                          I noticed that as well when I returned yesterday - the slices were thinner and soggy!

                          Also had the salami slice & margherita - same as my first visit last week.

                          1. re: Gary

                            Blaaargh. I was so excited about this place when it opened. Told everyone. And now I find that only a week in they have ruined their pizza. For what? They had a great unique product and now they sell the same soggy, greasy slices as all the other mediocre places around... you know, I'd rather hit the nearby Pizza Nova. At least their slices taste half decent. They should have stuck by their product for a few months at least until word spread and they built a following.

                            For hours after I posted yesterday I could still taste and feel the grease in my mouth, and realized that I had been too generous and optimistic with my comments. The slice was actually terrible. Having now learned that they intentionally changed their pizza to be like this depresses me... I doubt I'll bother giving them another try now.

                            This location has something of a "doomed" record with "Dinner and a DVD" going out of business, followed by a bakery that barely lasted 3 days. I predict the trend will continue.

                            1. re: Gary

                              Add to to that a previous pizza joint before the blink-and-miss-it bakery!

                            2. re: wow

                              Seriously? This place is starting to become a bit of a comedy. I'll give them a few weeks to figure out who they want to be, then I'll tiptoe in and peek at the slices. If they look like the original kind, I'll try 'em again... :)

                              1. re: Gary

                                You know it's not so much that I have something against thick slices, some of my favourite slices in NYC are sicilian or grandma style-artichoke or difara's comes to mind. However I like it when it's done right, good ample sauce, dough cooked through and good quality though not copious amounts of cheese. I really was looking forward to liking this place but it seems that their main product needs a bit more work.

                            3. As an update... I just visited Carpe Diem and it's clear this place is under new ownership.
                              With no real focus, it now seems half middle-eastern (shawarmas), and half Italian. The pepperoni pizza slice I had was, without exaggeration, the most bland and uninspired slice of pizza I'd ever eaten - thin, dry, and completely flavorless.
                              Very disappointing.

                              Carpe Diem! Cafe
                              263 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: TheTDot

                                Too bad. Business will take me in their neighbourhood soon, so I will peek in and mourn as appropriate.

                              2. Yup. They are now a shwarma place selling slices on the side. I did not try the slices, as I was too sad that the original owner/chef was gone.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Pincus

                                  Hmm, might as well keep this nearly 2-year-old thread going, huh.

                                  After a closure period of several weeks, this location re-opened this week with a new menu and sign. It is now called "Sindbad" with a Middle Eastern focus. I haven't gone in yet to notice whether there is still pizza on the menu at all, but I'd be surprised. Not sure what will distinguish it from the falafel/shawarma place a few doors west: I did see a few items posted on the window menu that didn't look immediately familiar to me.

                                  1. re: Gary

                                    Really? The place down the street is OK, nothing special. Next time I'm at Boletos filling a burrito craving, I will swing by this "Sindbad" place. I guess if you can have a Pizza Nova down the street from a Pizza Pizza, you can put two shawarma places side by side...

                                    1. re: Pincus

                                      The competition won't be there for long. The "Pita Land" is in a building that is slated for demolition as part of the new (recently approved) condo going up on the corner. Also, the Pita Land has some of the most incompetent staff of any fast food restaurant that I've ever been in.

                                      1. re: CarNut

                                        To update the ongoing saga of this cursed location: after about 1 week in business, "Sindbad" has been shuttered for the last three. Dark with a "closed" sign in the window but no other indication of failure or landlord notes or anything like that.

                                        1. re: Gary

                                          I still can't get over the bad luck (or bad management) of the restaurants that have occupied this location over the past eight years or so.