The super special
1. Pizza Gigi
189 Harbord, at Borden, 416-535-4444, pizzagigi.ca
Long before this venerable pizzeria went viral two years ago after it was busted for selling more than just 'za, Gigi was already a legendary après-club ritual. Who else delivers till 4 am every day of the year?
We've been devotees since back in the 70s, when a Gigi Super Special ($15.50) dressed with pepperoni, bacon, fresh tomato, green peppers and 'shrooms in lotsa mozza' and sauce sided with a double-cheese Hawaiian ($13.50) with canned pineapple and diced ham was our standing Saturday night order. We've since discovered the joys of the deep-dish Sicilian ($16), a thick-crusted wonder amply topped with family-recipe tomato sauce, mozzarella and extra garlic, fresh basil and chili peppers.
Don't forget to ask for extra oregano.
Daily 4 pm to 4 am.
Unlicensed. Cash only.
2. Gelato Pizza
1316 Queen W, at Elm Grove, 416-516-4000, gelatopizza.com
As the name suggests, this latest addition to Parkdale dishes up artisanal Italian ice cream alongside not-so-traditional pies, many of the latter available by the slice (all $4.40).
And while you won't get gelato on a pizza - or pizza-flavoured gelato, for that matter - you can find such intriguingly named pies as the Angelina Wholee (baby spinach, roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes with sauce and cheese on a thin whole-wheat crust) and its meaty attendant Bradd Pitt (pepperoni, house-made sausage and heavy on the ham). The next time we're in the nabe, we'll stop by for the Lynn Z Low N piled with health-conscious eggplant and dehydrated black olives (all $12.95). Think of it as rehab by the slice.
Sunday to Thursday 10 am to midnight, Friday and Saturday 10 am to 4 am. Closed some holidays. Unlicensed.
The veggie magic
3. Bona Pizza & Pasta
431 Donlands, at O'Connor, 416-406-5000, bonapizzapasta.ca
Sure, you can order them with a thin whole-wheat base, but these defiantly retro pies are best experienced with a thick 60s-style doughy crust. They don't come any more traditional than the Canadian, dressed with pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, tomato sauce and both mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, while the Donlands pays tribute to the nabe with Greek ground beef, kalamata olives and diced tomato.
The downtown crowd prefers the garlicky Milan with crumbled sausage, sliced mushrooms and a whole lotta mozza, whereas those looking for a healthier alternative go with the all-veggie Magic with grilled onions, peppers and sun-dried tomatoes and as little grated Romano cheese as possible (all $14.95). Order $22 worth of food and they'll throw in a Caesar salad on the house.
Tuesday to Thursday 11 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday noon to 10 pm. Closed Monday, holidays. Unlicensed.
The uber Sustenance
4. Magic Oven
798 Danforth, at Woodycrest, 416-462-0333; 6 Wellesley W, at Yonge, 416-929-7888; 360 Queen E, at Parliament, 416-703-3555; 270 Dupont, at Spadina, 416-928-1555; 127 Jefferson, at King W, 416-539-0555, magicoven.com
Equally loved and loathed, no other pizzeria in town causes as much controversy as the Oven. We're somewhere in between, loving the eco-conscious and health-minded concept but sometimes despairing at what shows up at the door.
For best results, stick with the pie that put Tony and Abby Sabherwal on the map 15 years ago - their Indo-inspired Tandoori Chicken Magic with green chilies and coriander ($13/all 10-inch) - but steer clear of the Vegan Magic ($12) with pesto, zucchini, artichoke and sweet peppers on a gluten-free crust unless you're on a restricted diet and really jonesing for a pizza fix. Your guests, however, can't fail to be impressed by the Oven's signature Uber Sustenance ($29), a thin spelt crust extravagantly dressed with chicken breast, beef salami, grilled veggies and goat cheese, much of it organic, including the garnish of edible gold leaf.
Just be thankful they no longer put blueberries on pizza.
Monday to Wednesday 11 am to 10 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am to 11 pm, Sunday and holidays noon to 10 pm. Closed some holidays. Licensed.
The strawberry dessert pizza
5. Pizza Rustica
232 Wellington W, at John, 416-260-2200, pizzarustica.ca
We'd think higher of this downtown pizzeria's pies if they weren't fluorescent yellow. For some reason, the kitchen thinks its a good idea to put yellow food dye in the pizza dough, not that it affects the taste.
Expect sauce-free pies like the Philly Cheesesteak ($16) with tenderized steak, mushrooms and al dente peppers, or a more traditionally sauced 'za like the eponymous Rustica ($14) with shaved prosciutto, sun-dried tomato and chèvre. But why bother putting vanilla ice cream on a strawberry 'n' blackberry dessert pizza drizzled with chocolate sauce ($8) if it only shows up melted?
Monday to Thursday 11 am to midnight, Saturday noon to 1 am, Sunday and holidays noon to 11 pm. Closed some holidays. Licensed.
Photos by Steven Davey