Pizza Perfection at Descendant

Descendant Detroit Style PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttp://descendantdsp.com/

Is the pizza at Descendant the best in the city?  I don’t know.  It’s not not the best pizza in the city.  It’s a contender, that’s for sure.

It’s so different from the Neopolitan-style pies that you’ll find throughout the GTA that it almost tastes like a completely separate dish.

Descendant serves Detroit-style pizza, which is cooked in a square pan and features a thick, substantial crust that’s delightfully crispy and greasy on the bottom.  It’s kinda like the pan pizza from Pizza Hut, but a million times better.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

This was my second time at Descendant; I liked it a lot on my first visit, but I liked it even better this time.  It’s just so satisfying.

The thing that’s so impressive about this place is that the pizza itself is so good that they could easily phone it in with the toppings and just offer the usual suspects.  But a lot of the flavours here are surprisingly bold and interesting, and it all works so well.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

Take, for example, the Electric Avenue: “jerk chicken, fresh pineapple, curried lime aioli, green onion, Mama Lil’s Peppers, Diablo’s Fuego hot sauce.”  It’s sweet and spicy, with flavours that are about as far from a traditional pizza as you can get.  But it’s so good.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

We also tried the special, which on this visit was the Mexican: “chorizo, pickled peppers, lime-pickled red onion, sour cream, tomato sauce, fresh cilantro.”  This was probably my favourite pizza of the day — but they were all delicious.  The flavours were so well balanced, with the brightness of the pickles balancing out the rich sausage and cheese.

Descendant Detroit Style Pizza

The last pizza was the pepperoni, which was more traditional, but no less delicious.

One of the great things about this style of pizza is that you get such a great contrast between the crispy exterior and the soft interior of the crust.  Plus, there’s a ring of cheese on the edges of the pizza that’s dark and crispy and amazing, and it’s just the best.

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Wacky Flavours at Death in Venice Gelato Co.

Death in Venice Gelato Co.Location: 536 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.deathinvenice.ca/

If you’re looking for an off-kilter scoop of gelato, Death in Venice is the place to go.  With their various flavours featuring ingredients like parsnip, kaffir lime, and lavender, you’d be advised to look elsewhere if you’re hoping for a scoop of plain chocolate or vanilla.

Of course, it’s easy enough to serve oddball flavours as a novelty; it’s not-so-easy to make them actually taste good.

Death in Venice Gelato Co.

I can happily say that Death in Venice absolutely nails the whole “tasting really good” thing.

On this particular visit I tried the pistachio yogurt and baklava, which was outstanding.  It features crispy bits of phyllo pastry, pistachio chunks, and honey, which really nails the baklava flavour.  The yogurt adds a very subtle tartness.  There clearly isn’t enough yogurt here to qualify this as frozen yogurt; there’s just enough to add that flavour without being overly sour.

Death in Venice Gelato Co.

That’s not to mention the lemon zest, which works perfectly with the other elements here.  I think there might have also been ricotta?  I’m not sure.

But you know what I am sure about?  That this was great.  Because it was great.  Aside from the really interesting combination of flavours, the gelato itself was creamy and luxurious.  It’s good stuff.

Quality Ice Cream at Ed’s Real Scoop

Ed's Real ScoopLocation: 920 Queen Street East, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.edsrealscoop.com/

I like Ed’s a lot, though it tends to be a bit hit-and-miss.  Still, it’s one of the better places for ice cream in the city, and as you can see from the picture above, it’s popular.

And while the quality is a bit inconsistent, their sweet cream is always delicious.  It’s about as simple as a flavour can get; as the name implies, it’s basically just sweetened cream.  It’s proof that if you’re starting with good quality stuff, you don’t need elaborate flavourings and chunks mixed in.

Ed's Real Scoop

My second scoop was chocolate, and remember when I said this place is hit-and-miss?  Yeah, it was pretty middling.

I also checked out the Roncesvalles location recently; I got one scoop of sweet cream, and one of chocolate peanut butter.  Again, the sweet cream was amazing, and the other flavour was just okay.

Ed's Real Scoop

I should probably just stick with sweet cream.

Decent Macarons from Butter Avenue

Butter AvenueLocation: 477 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.butteravenue.com/

I guess those stupid overpriced macarons from Ladurée in Yorkdale have ruined other ones for me.  Because I just ate a couple from Butter Avenue, and they were pretty good, but I couldn’t help but compare them to Ladurée — and they came up short.

Butter Avenue

I tried the pistachio and the raspberry white chocolate, and there certainly wasn’t anything wrong with either.  The pistachio had a really enjoyable nutty flavour, and the raspberry white chocolate featured a delicious raspberry jam centre surrounded by creamy white chocolate.  They were both quite tasty.

But the flavours just couldn’t compare to what they were serving at Ladurée, and the texture was overly dense and chewy, in stark contrast to the almost ethereal lightness of Ladurée’s version.

Butter Avenue

They were three bucks each, which is certainly less than the almost four that they’re charging at Ladurée, but not exactly cheap.  If you’re already spending three bucks on a tiny macaron, you may as well spend the extra dollar and get the superior version.

Me Va Me

Me Va Me - Jerusalem Mix Laffa
Location240 Queen Street West, Toronto
Website: http://www.mevame.com/

I have to say, I wasn’t expecting a heck of a lot from Me Va Me, and so its level of quality was actually a pretty delightful surprise.

They have a decent amount of stuff on their menu, but I homed in on their laffa wraps.  I had a pretty great experience at Dr. Laffa a few months ago, so I was hoping for more of the same.

(For the initiated, a laffa is thicker and more substantial than a pita; it’s somewhere between traditional pita bread and naan.  It’s delicious.)

They have a few different wraps on the menu, including the mysterious Jerusalem Mix.  There’s no mention of what this is anywhere on the menu, so I asked: it’s a mixture of chicken liver, heart, thigh, and sauteed onions.

it’s hard to tell from my shoddy picture, but this thing is crammed to the gills with stuff.  They give you a very, very generous amount of meat, and cram a ton of other stuff in there as well (the usual assortment of pickles, veggies, and sauces).  I asked for everything except for onions, because raw onions are the worst and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise.

Again, you can’t tell from my terrible picture, but this thing has heft.  It’s about the size and weight of a newborn baby: those with smaller appetites are advised to share.

I was getting worried that it was going to turn out to be overstuffed, but somehow, all the various flavours worked perfectly together.

Foremost were the various chicken bits that make up the Jerusalem Mix.  Seriously good. It was perfectly cooked, with the juicy thigh pieces working perfectly with the liver.  I like liver, but even if you don’t, the flavour is mellowed out by the sauteed onions and all the the other stuff.   I’m not entirely sure that the heart was necessary — there were a few vaguely rubbery pieces that I’m assuming were heart.  Still, tasty stuff.

I don’t think the laffa itself was quite as good as the one from Dr. Laffa, which was amazingly fresh and close to perfection.  But taking the whole package into account, I’ve gotta give the edge to Me Va Me.  All the stuff they mix in there worked really well, and the chicken itself was above average.