Italy may have lost the qualifying game for the knockout stage of the World Cup, but it will always win when it comes to food. I have recently had a love affair with thin crust pizza, which all started after eating the finest specimen at La Bottega in Montreal in March (see article “Baguettes, butter and cheese…”). Now it has become a game of trying to find that pizza again. It is a familiar emotion for foodies everywhere – you sample something so delicious at a restaurant (this is usually coupled with a positive atmosphere and experience with friends), and yearn to relive that experience again. This is my dilemma and also my mission this summer: I am on the hunt for the perfect Italian pizza.
Attempt #1: Terrazza Restaurant, 372 Harbord St., Toronto (one block east of Ossington)
This restaurant is situated in an area of Toronto called Dufferin Grove, and the front patio of Terrazza (which literally means “terrace”) certainly lives up to the name, as it is bordered by trees both coniferous and deciduous. It is charming in its modest size and strings of white lights hung across red brick walls, and the staff is friendly and accommodating. We ordered a fabulous pitcher of Sangria for $20, a great deal, and enjoyed the complimentary bread, olives and olive oil. As most Friday nights call for, we opted for two pizzas; the first, a classic margharita pizza with bocconcini, and the second, a spicy salami pizza with gorgonzola and peppers. They were both thin crust, delicious, and hit the spot, and the whole meal was very affordable, so I would definitely recommend this restaurant.
Attempt #2: Marcello’s Pizzeria, 3175 Rutherford Rd., Vaughan
Marcello’s (pronounced with a “che” sound), was recommended by someone who knows Italian food well, as her family is from Agrigento, Sicily. A group of us shared delightful seafood appetizers of calamari, both grilled and fried, and mussels in a tomato-based sauce. The flavours married well with the fresh lemon slices, and it was hard to resist both the appetizers and the fresh bread with spicy olive oil. Of course, in my desire to recreate my thin crust pizza experience, I choose the “Diavola” pizza with spicy peppers, spicy salami, olives, onions and mozzarella, which turned out to be very good. Although the spiciness caused me to pause a few times to wipe my eyes, the pizza was flavourful and had a nice crust, cooked just right. The staff was also very kind, and even let us bring in our own birthday cake, a rare treat in the restaurant industry. If you are heading to Vaughan Mills and are looking for a good dinner place, this would be a good, affordable bet.
Despite my two very positive experiences at these restaurants, I still have not found the perfect Italian pizza. Is it out there? Who knows. I may need to return to Montreal, or even fly to Naples, to find out. But in the meantime, Toronto and the rest of the GTA will be my dinner plate as the hunt continues. Let me know if you have any restaurant suggestions for me to try out!