Toronto has a gourmet pizza chain with an LA location and another recognised as authentic by the folks from Naples who do the recognising, but, with the addition of Piola we now have an outpost of this global operation that stretches from New York to Honduras to Turkey.
Thanks to an invitation from rock-it promotions I had a chance this week to attend a media event for the opening, see the space, and sample the food.
From the parade of antipasti and pasta that we tried the insalati di polipo (tender octopus, nicely firm potatoes, and tart capers) and fagioli e pancetta (on-target beans, crispy croutons and salty pork) stood out.
Obviously, the pizza is the main event. They’re cooked on a stone hearth oven powered by gas. That means they don’t pick up the subtle smoke or slightly charred blisters that wood-fired ovens give but they still are quite delicious. Most of the pies we tasted were golden on the bottom with the right of dark-brown spots near the edge.
When at its best Piola’s thin crust combines crispness and a tender chew and sits near the top of Toronto’s pizza pile.
Toppings are more of a mug’s game; too many and pizza authenticists are offended, too few and the famished are left hungry. With 24 varieties selection is taken care of at Piola. I’ve always been a fan of Margherita’s and our table also enjoyed the Siciliana (mozzarella, anchovies, and capers) and the Contadina (mozzarella, spicy sausage, grilled endive, and smoked cheese).
A variety of mozzarella (and other cheeses) are featured that range from Ontario fior di latte to Italian bufala mozzarella.
The atmosphere of Piola is enthusiastically West Queen West to the point that it feels like the Drake has opened a pizza joint across the street. The back part of the 95-seat room is divided by an exhibit by a local photographer that will be rotated to feature other Toronto talent. Continuing the theme the chairs are made from recycled t-shirts and jeans.
The full menu for the Toronto location is posted online here. Starters and salads range from $6.50 to $14; pastas from $13 to $18; and pizzas go for between $13 and $19. They do the same for each of their locations. I wonder if we’ll be seeing a global pizza price index similar to what The Economist does for the Big Mac?