PIOLA (1165 Queen West, at Northcote, 416-477-4652, piola.it) Open Sunday to Wednesday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11:30 am to 1 am. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
No mom 'n' pop pizzeria, Piola is one very slick operation, from the in-house magazine extolling the virtues of extra virgin olive oil to the $30 branded T-shirts.
If it were located on the corner of St. Clair and Dufferin, feathers would definitely be ruffled. But here on the ground floor of a condo called the Bohemian Embassy on what's left of west Queen West, Piola seems perfectly in place.
Pies are mostly of the Roman variety, thin-crusted and edge-free, their toppings spread evenly across the surface, an exception a Neapolitan dressed with sweet tomato sauce, fluffy buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil ($18).
We upgrade the 13-inch Ortomisto topped with grilled peppers 'n' zucchini, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes ($14) with a crisp whole wheat crust for an extra buck and a half. However, we would prefer that the full leaves of wilted endive on the Contadina ($16) be cut smaller so we can taste the flavours of the pizza as a whole and not as a mouthful of bitter greens that slide off the top at first bite, followed by a virtually topping-free slice.
Big pasta eaters should note that the Treviso-based chain offers all-you-can-eat gnocchi on the 29th of each month, though we find one $13 bowl of slightly gummy dumplings in plain tomato sauce more than enough.