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.

Mediocre Pizza at Papa John’s

Papa John'sLocation: 1706 Dundas Street East, Mississauga
Websitehttp://www.papajohns.ca/

Papa John’s seems to be slowly but surely expanding around Toronto; I guess they must be doing okay, because they opened their first location a few years ago, and they’re still opening new ones.

I have fond memories of eating Papa John’s during my childhood trips to Florida, so I guess there’s always going to be a nostalgia-fueled spot in my heart for the place.  Because the pizza from Papa John’s was pretty bad, but I still kind of enjoyed it.

Papa John's

The crust is tasteless and vaguely gummy, the cheese is rubbery, and the toppings are mostly what you’d expect (except for the sausage — I can’t even sugar-coat that one, the sausage is flat-out gross).  But there’s still something inexplicably appealing about it.  It’s junk, and yet you find yourself compelled to take another slice.

There’s that old saying about how even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good.  That’s Papa John’s in a nutshell: it’s bad, but… it’s also kinda good?

Papa John's

This definitely also applies to the dipping sauce, which is basically just a tiny tub of garlic-powder-flavoured grease.  I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoyed the pizza: with a furrowed brow and a not-insubstantial hit to my self-respect.

Cheesy Fried Goodness at the Cracker Barrel in Buffalo

Location: 6643 Transit Road, Buffalo, NY
Websitehttps://www.crackerbarrel.com/

When I was a kid, my family and I used to go to Florida every summer.  We’d always drive there, and a stop at the Cracker Barrel was a must.  It’s not exactly gourmet, but if you’re craving greasy southern comfort food, it nicely fits the bill.

Their current special is something called Southern Bowls; I went with the Sausage, Grits Cakes n’ Green Tomato Gravy Bowl, which I couldn’t resist.  I mean, read this description from their menu and tell me you don’t immediately want to eat it:

Enjoy a fresh take on Southern flavors with two deep-fried stone ground pimento cheese grits cakes and our Sweet Pepper n’ Red Skin Hash topped with sausage patties, two scrambled eggs, and shredded Colby cheese all smothered in our green tomato gravy with a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Yeah.

Cracker Barrel

And it’s pretty much exactly what you’d think it would be from that description.  None of the individual components stand out as being particularly great, but they all kind of meld together into one cheesy, creamy, delicious mess.  In particular, the zingy green tomato gravy does a great job of adding a pop of vibrant flavour, and cutting through the richness of the eggs and the cheese and the grits.

Sausage Perfection at Wvrst

WvrstLocation: 609 King Street West, Toronto
Websitehttp://www.wvrst.com/

I tried Wvrst once, around when it first opened.  It was good, but nothing about it really jumped out at me, so I never felt particularly compelled to go back.

Well, I just found myself back there, and clearly I was wrong about the place, because the sausage I ate was probably one of the best that I’ve ever had.

Wvrst

They have an intimidatingly long list of sausages on their menu.  I got the Kaas: “pork/beef/parrano cheese/light smoke.”  You can either get it on a bun or as currywurst.  I went with a bun, and had it topped with sauteed onions and jalapenos.

Wvrst

Oh man, that sausage.  The texture was absolutely perfect.  To me, the meat in a sausage needs to retain some of its essential meatiness; it shouldn’t have been ground into oblivion.  It should still be sausagey, of course, but the texture should be more rustic than a hot dog.  Wvrst absolutely nails this.

And the flavour was great: meaty and smoky, not overly salty, and with surprisingly generous pockets of gooey, melty cheese.  I was actually pretty blown away by how good it was.

Wvrst

I got the duck fat fries on the side, and they were just as good.  You could pick from a bunch of dipping sauces; I went with the Wvrst sauce (rule of thumb: if something on the menu is named after the restaurant, you should probably be ordering that thing).  It was tangy and delicious, and complimented the fries perfectly.

Canuck Pizza Truck

Canuck Pizza Truck
Location: Check their Twitter
Website: http://www.canuckpizzatruck.ca/

The Canuck Pizza Truck is one of the more eye-catching food trucks out there — it’s a 1946 Chevy Stovebolt, and it features a real, no-foolin’ wood-burning pizza oven. At first I thought that they had perhaps made a gas or electric oven look like a wood-burning one — but nope, you can peek inside and see the logs burning, so it’s the real deal.

They have a few different options, but I went with the Meat-za, which comes topped with bacon, sausage, and pepperoni. They sell by the slice for six bucks (which is a quarter of a pizza) or the whole pie for $23.

The pizza basically tastes like a cross between the Neapolitan style you find at places like Queen Margherita Pizza and Pizzeria Libretto and the cheesier, more traditionally North American style found at pizza joints everywhere.

It’s good. The cheese, sauce, and toppings are all pretty solid, and the wood-burning oven gives the crust a satisfyingly crispy/chewy texture that you can only get from an oven that hot. It’s not exactly the best pizza I’ve ever had, but if I find myself in the vicinity of this truck again, I’ll probably get another slice.

When I went, they were a bit disorganized (putting it mildly) and didn’t seem to have a much of a system for taking and delivering orders; it was a mess, but given that they’re a fairly new truck, I’ll cut them some slack on that.

Canuck Pizza Truck Canuck Pizza Truck