PANAGO (44 Gerrard West, at Bay, 416-310-0001) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pop. Average main $12. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 1 am. Unlicensed. Delivery. Access: barrier-free, no washrooms. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Before it launched its first salvo into Toronto's lucrative pizza market, BC-based Panago should have consulted a Perly's street guide.
According to the rapidly expanding chain's promotional material, its 159th franchise is located at 44 Gerrard. Since 44 East is home to Ryerson's theatre school, I eventually locate the aggressively marketed pizzeria on the first floor of a condo at the corner of Bay and Gerrard.
Toronto's best pie-slingers Terroni and Gerrard don't deliver. And why should they? Their product is so good, customers come to them. Panago, on the other hand, hopes to take on the likes of Pizza Pizza with speedy home delivery.
I pair Panago's signature pie steak and blue cheese with its thick "original hand-tossed" crust ($10.50/small). The results are a delicious mess, thick with multiple cheeses and thin strips of sirloin on a yeasty, almost-focaccia crust.
I option the primo vegetarian (also $10.50/small) with the house whole wheat crust, but any potential dietary benefits are lost when I get bored halfway through the second slice.
The chicken taco pizza ($10/small) surprises. On the house's crisp thin crust, it not only features grilled chicken, but a good whack of iceberg lettuce, chopped raw onion, shredded cheddar, salsa and a final squirt of sour cream. We like!
On a roll, I customize my own: thin crust, smooth passata tomato sauce, goat cheese, roasted garlic and smoked oysters (also $10/small). Obviously, at these price points the oysters come from a can, but their overpowering aroma think tinned sardines has even my cats turning up their collective noses at the leftovers.
Each pie also comes with a free dip Italian garlic ranch, balsamic vinaigrette for those who like salad dressing with their 'za.