Tasty Pizza at Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza

Goodfellas Wood Oven PizzaLocation: 209 Queen Street South, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.goodfellaspizza.ca/

I mentioned, in my review of Pi Co., that I think a Margherita pizza is one of the world’s few perfect foods.  I’m at the point now where if I see a Margherita pizza on a menu, I pretty much have to order it.

Aside from the fact that it’s great (don’t even argue about that unless you want me to challenge you to a old-fashioned duel), it’s the easiest way to gauge the quality of a pizza joint.

Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza

There’s no hiding behind fancy toppings or sauces; it’s just crust, plain tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil, and basil.  You have to know your way around a pizza (and a pizza oven), or you’re probably going to mess it up.

And Goodfellas definitely passes the Margherita test, though I will admit that I got very concerned when I saw the waiter bringing a neighbouring table a pizza with a crust that looked flat, colourless, and horrible.  I was ready to dive out the nearest window and then run until my legs gave out from under me — but then I heard a reference to gluten-free, and all was right again.

Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza

If you can’t (or won’t) eat gluten, maybe don’t eat pizza?  Don’t ruin something great for yourself by eating whatever the hell that was.  It looked truly dire.

Thankfully, the actual, non-gluten-free pizza is pretty great.  The proportion of cheese and sauce is just right, and the crust is top notch (ah, sweet sweet gluten).  It was slightly over-charred in spots and maybe a touch too dense, but it was still very tasty.

It had just the right amount of crispiness without being too crunchy, and a satisfying chewiness that contrasts very nicely with the sauce and the cheese.  Like all Margherita pizzas, it’s simple, but hard to resist.

Great Margherita Pizza at Pi Co.

Pi Co.Location: 1200 Bay Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.pi-co.ca/

Fact: a margherita pizza, done well, is the best pizza.  It’s just crust, sauce, cheese, basil, and olive oil, but when it’s done well, it all comes together in a way that feels magical.  It’s one of the world’s few perfect foods.

Pi Co. does it well.

Pi Co.

The restaurant itself is actually pretty interesting — it’s mostly a take-out joint, and aside from the margherita, they don’t have any pre-topped pizzas.

The restaurant is set up almost like a Subway, with a variety of toppings behind glass that you can choose from on the spot.  And the Neopolitan-style pies bake fast, so you can be in and out surprisingly quickly, despite the fact that they’re starting every pizza from scratch.

Pi Co.

It’s quite good.  A pizza like this lives and dies by its crust; the crust here was solid, with a satisfying chew, a decent amount of flavour, and a nice blistery exterior.  The external crisp factor could have been slightly higher, but that’s a very minor complaint.

Everything else was great, with a nice balance of sauce and cheese.  It’s not the best margherita I’ve ever had, but it’s pretty damn satisfying (again: it’s a perfect food).

Hit-or-Miss Pizza at Nonna’s Oven

Nonna's OvenLocation: 1285 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill
Websitehttp://www.nonnasoven.com/

Nonna’s Oven is an Italian joint specializing in pizza (they also have pasta and sandwiches, though the pizza seems to be the main attraction) with locations in Richmond Hill and Oakville.  It’s not bad, but it’s probably not worth going out of your way for.

Nonna's Oven

We started with the frittura mista — a plate piled high with deep fried chunks of calamari, cuttlefish, shrimp, scallops, and whitefish.  This was mostly pretty good, though the squid was rubbery (everything was a bit overcooked) and the cuttlefish had an unpleasantly fishy funk.

Still, it’s hard to go wrong with anything that’s battered and deep fried, especially when the batter is as light and crispy as it is here.

Nonna's Oven

The pizzas were a bit of a mixed bag.  The first was the Margherita Italiana (“homemade tomato sauce, topped with fior di late cheese, fresh basil and light drizzled olive oil”).  The thing about a margherita pizza is that it’s so incredibly simple that if all the elements aren’t on point (the crust in particular), then it’s not going to be particularly good.

And the crust is definitely an issue here; it’s ultra thin and crispy, with absolutely no substance outside of a crispy crunch.  It’s basically like eating tomato sauce and cheese on a really bland cracker.  It’s not great.

Nonna's Oven

The Hawaiian Inferno pizza (“pineapple, bacon, onion and hot banana peppers”) was definitely the better of the two.  The more cheese- and topping-heavy pizza helped to compensate for the bland, crackery crust, and the toppings all worked pretty well together.

In the case of both pizzas, the real MVP was the jar of fiery chili oil they had on the table.  It had little bits of hot peppers, and if you got a heaping spoonful of the peppers and the oil, it really kicked things up and helped to make everything a bit more interesting.

Pizzeria Libretto, or: The Inventor of Pizza is Rolling in His Grave

Pizzeria Libretto
Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://pizzerialibretto.com/

So, here’s a not-so-delightful tidbit: apparently I’ve ruined Neapolitan-style pizza for myself by eating my way through Naples for a week, because I just got a margherita pizza from Pizzeria Libretto, and it was hot garbage.

I didn’t think the gulf in quality would be so severe, but absolutely everything about this pizza was wrong.  The proportion of sauce was off, but in a really baffling way — the pizza was simultaneously too dry, and too soft.  It was weird.  The flavour of the sauce was about right (the sauce in this style of pizza is just plain tomatoes, so it’s hard to mess up), but I don’t think there was enough of it.

Pizzeria Libretto

The cheese was okay, but again, the texture was off.  It was too dry.  It’s hard for me to put my finger on what exactly was wrong, because I’m not a pizza expert, but something was clearly wrong.  None of the pizzas in Naples developed brown spots on the cheese like this one, and the texture was slightly rubbery.

The worst offender was the crust.  It was somehow over-charred around the edges — it was unpleasantly bitter in spots — and under-charred on the bottom.  I mean, look at the almost entirely colourless bottom of this slice:

Pizzeria Libretto

That’s not right.  It was insanely bland, and had barely a fraction of the amazing chew that the pizzas in Naples had.  It was like Wonder Bread; there’s no there there.

Everything else was quite good, at least.  The buttermilk fried calamari featured a perfectly crispy, tasty exterior encasing squid with a great balance of tenderness and bite.  It came with some really tasty romesco sauce that accompanied it perfectly.

Pizzeria Libretto

I also tried the Prosciutto di Parma, and like the calamari, it was quite delicious.  Granted, all the restaurant had to do was slice it, but it was very tasty nonetheless.

Pizzeria Libretto

But that pizza, though.  What was that??  It was disastrously bad.  It was like the Neapolitan pizza equivalent of Pizza Pizza.  Actually, it was worse than Pizza Pizza, because at least Pizza Pizza knows what it is and doesn’t have any delusions of grandeur.