Descendant: Still Some of the Best Pizza in the City

Descendant PizzaLocation: 1168 Queen Street East, Toronto
Website: http://descendantdsp.com/

Though I generally like to visit places I haven’t tried when I eat out, exceptions have to be made.  Especially in the case of a restaurant serving food as great as Descendant, which makes superb Detroit-style pizza.  It’s a strong contender for the best pizza in the city.

And yeah, it’s still great.

I tried a couple of pizzas — the Gatt-Daddy (“house made fennel sausage, Mama Lil’s Peppers, red onion, sauce, basil aioli, fresh parsley & basil”) and the Jaffna (“kothu roti, mango chutney, cilantro cream, green onion, Calabrian chilis, fresh cilantro, coconut sambol”).

Descendant Pizza

Orrdering a pizza as bizarrely topped as the Jaffna might be a dicey proposition at a lesser pizza joint — but Descendant is not a lesser pizza joint.  Aside from making technically superb pizzas, Descendant does an amazing job of taking seemingly bizarre flavour combos and doing something special with them.  The Jaffna is sweet, spicy, savoury, and tangy in all the best ways.

The Gatt-Daddy is more traditional, and of course, they knock it out of the park.

Descendant Pizza

It helps that the pizza itself is so good — the crust is delightfully crispy on the bottom, and dense enough to hold up to the voluminous toppings while still being delightfully fluffy and amazing.  It’s a balancing act, and one that Descendant pulls of beautifully.

And of course, there’s that Detroit-style pizza trademark — the ring of dark, crispy goodness around the pizza where the cheese has come into contact with the square pan.  It’s so good.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim HortonsLocation: 2960 South Sheridan Way, Oakville
Website: https://www.timhortons.com/ca/en/index.php

The fake meat gold rush continues; I think it’s safe to say that, before long, all of the fast food chains will have imitation meats from places like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods on their menus.

Tim Hortons is the latest, with three new breakfast sandwiches featuring sausage that looks and tastes like sausage — but isn’t.

I tried the Beyond Meat burger from A&W last summer, and I thought it vaguely approximated real meat, but wasn’t going to fool anyone.

The Beyond Sausage at Tim Hortons is much more convincing.

I got the Egg and Cheese, which features a Beyond Sausage patty, an omelette patty, and processed cheese on an English muffin.

Beyond Sausage Egg and Cheese from Tim Hortons

The sausage certainly isn’t great, but it convincingly tastes like an actual sausage — a mediocre sausage, mind you, but if I hadn’t known it was fake meat, I wouldn’t have guessed.  That’s impressive.

(Of course, emulating a lousy, ultra-processed sausage is much, much easier than emulating one that actually tastes good, but one step at a time, I guess?)

There was something about the spicing that I found vaguely unappealing, and the flavour was particularly aggressive, presumably to cover up the lack of a meaty flavour.  But for the most part, it’s decent enough.

The texture is dead-on.  Unlike the Beyond Meat burger I had at A&W, it’s not mushy at all.  It’s a bit dry, and no one’s going to confuse it for a decent quality sausage, but the texture is basically identical to the type of mediocre sausage you’ll find at a place like Tim Hortons.  I was surprised at how close it got.

Otherwise, the sandwich was typical Tim Hortons, which is to say it was pretty lousy — the cheese was barely melted, the omelette was rubbery, and the English muffin was dense and dry.

Quality Pasta (and Even Better Dessert) at Terroni

TerroniLocation: 1095 Yonge Street, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.terroni.com/

I didn’t think it was possible to be offended by a bread plate, but Terroni proved me wrong.

The bread plate at Terroni costs six dollars.  And fine — I understand that restaurant margins are dangerously thin, and that charging for bread is increasingly becoming a thing.

Terroni

The issue is that the plate comes with three tiny, dried-out slices of over-toasted white bread with a few drops of olive oil sprinkled on, four pieces of taralli (which is essentially an Italian breadstick), a small handful of olives, and… that’s it.  No butter, no olive oil, just mediocre bread and a few olives.  For six bucks.  Get the hell out of here with that.

Terroni

Thankfully, the rest of the meal was much better.

I had the Garganelli Geppetto, which is a pasta dish that comes with “dandelions, homemade spicy italian sausage, fontina, parmigiano, extra-virgin olive oil.”

Terroni

A dish like this is a bit of a tightrope walk — the “sauce” is essentially oil, so it’s going to be somewhat greasy by default.  But this one goes a bit too far, and feels oilier than it should be.

Still, it’s a tasty dish — the sausage is above average and has a mild spicy bite; the cheese adds a good amount of saltiness and a mild funk, not to mention some gooey meltiness; and the pasta itself is perfectly cooked and satisfying.  It’s good stuff.

Terroni

I can’t remember the name of the dessert and I can’t find it on the menu online, but it was essentially a croissant filled with Nutella, hazelnut gelato, and whipped cream.  It was easily the highlight of the meal.  It was shockingly delicious; the Nutella and the creamy gelato (which adds even more hazelnut flavour) go amazingly well together, and the tasty croissant is a perfect vehicle.

Ice cream cones are officially dead to me — I want all my ice cream in a croissant from now on.

A Different Noodle Experience at Dagu Rice Noodle

Dagu Rice NoodleLocation: 505 Highway 7, Thornhill
Websitehttp://daguricenoodle.ca/

There are a couple of things that make Dagu Rice Noodle stand out from the typical bowl of Chinese noodle soup that you’ll find in the city.

The first is right there in the name: they use rice noodles, which are quite different than the standard noodles made with regular flour.  They’re a bit softer, with a slightly gummy, chewy texture.  I think standard noodles are a bit more satisfying, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with what they’re serving here.

Dagu Rice Noodle

The other thing that sets it apart?  It comes in a Korean-style super-hot stone bowl; it’s a bubbling inferno.  Honestly, this kind of baffles me.  I’ll admit that I generally don’t like my food to be piping hot (if it’s so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, then it’s too hot.  No thanks), so I guess I’m not the target audience here.  But I just don’t understand what the benefit is to serving any food so hot you can’t safely eat it.

Dagu Rice Noodle

I suppose I should mention what the soup actually was.  I ordered their signature noodle soup, which comes with braised pork, various sausagey meats, as well as a bunch of vegetables.

The super tender pork was probably the highlight.  It was very similar to what you’ll find in a bowl of Korean pork bone soup, and it was full of meaty fall-off-the-bone goodness.

Dagu Rice Noodle

Everything else was fine.  The broth was kinda one-note salty, but was immeasurably improved with the chili oil they’ve got on the table.  The whole thing was enjoyable enough, but it’s probably not something I’d get again.

Tasty Pies at General Assembly Pizza

General Assembly PizzaLocation: 331 Adelaide Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.gapizza.com/

After my horrifying Pizzeria Libretto experience, I wondered: am I being too picky?  Was Libretto actually not that bad?  Are my expectations just way too high?

Thank you, General Assembly Pizza, for letting me know that I’m not crazy.  Pizzeria Libretto was indeed terrible.  I am still capable of enjoying pizza.

General Assembly Pizza

They’re certainly not the best I’ve ever had, but the pizzas they’re serving here are all-around solid.

The first thing you notice is the even char on the crust; clearly, the temperature/time in the oven is just right.  Remember the disturbing photo of the colourless bottom of the slice from my Libretto post?  Here’s what the bottom of a slice of pizza should look like:

General Assembly Pizza

That’s not to say that the crust here was perfect.  I liked the subtle crispiness on its exterior, but it didn’t quite have the chewiness that you’re looking for, and it was a bit bland.  It wasn’t quite at the Wonder Bread level of Libretto’s crust, but it was definitely lacking.

The toppings do a pretty great job of hiding the crust’s shortcomings, however.  I tried three pizzas: Sweet Heat (tomato, mozzarella, hot salami, chili, honey, basil), Falco Sausage (tomato, parmesan, sausage, red onion, bread crumb, garlic, black pepper, chili flake, basil), and Garden Smash (tomato, squash eggplant mash, red onion, spring onion, garlic, sesame, basil).

General Assembly Pizza

All three were quite tasty, with a great sweet/salty contrast on the Sweet Heat, and a nice savoury punch on the Falco Sausage.  Even the Garden Smash — a cheeseless pizza, which I was deeply skeptical about — was fairly satisfying (though I still missed the cheese).

You can also kick things up with a nicely potent chili oil they have on the side.  I strongly recommend that you do this; it’s great.