Pizza Olympics: Who does delivery the best?
Technique, artistry, speed and precision. All while wearing a smile.
No, I’m not talking about the Olympic figure skating competition in Vancouver.
These were the criteria in the Toronto Star’s Pizza Delivery Challenge, in which eight pizzerias were judged on compulsory elements and artistic interpretation, with courtesy key and speed a given.
Here’s how it worked: We asked readers to email their favourite pizza delivery recommendations in the Greater Toronto Area, no chains.
If a pizzeria got more than three nominations, it was included.
Next, I ordered from each a small pizza with two standard toppings: bacon and onion. (This is reflected in the prices.) Unlike sliced pepperoni or canned black olives, bacon and onion provide tremendous opportunity for variation – the artistic elements, as it were: real bacon vs. bacon bits, white vs. red onions, diced vs. sliced, etc.
Also, in my house, where some of the judging took place, it’s what my children like. The crusts were standard issue, no special requests.
Along with service and speed, pizzas were judged side-by-side on appearance, crust, sauce, cheese and toppings, for a total score out of 10.
Craig Agranoff, a Florida consultant who runs WorstPizza.com, rates pies using the same elements (except toppings). He hates bubbled crusts (a sign of inattentive baking) and chunky sauce (“who want to be picking tomato skins out of their teeth all night?”) Hear, hear.
Timing was harder to judge.
Did the pizzas arrive when promised? By dividing the competition between two locations, we stayed within the delivery area of five pizzerias. The remaining three were ordered for pickup and the criteria for those was: Was the pizza ready when promised?
The gold medal winner was Vesuvio’s Pizzeria & Spaghetti House, the Junction legend that claims to have introduced pizza to Toronto in 1957.
Vesuvio’s entry was the swiftest, the prettiest and the best reheated.
In a 2007 review, I described the golden crust as “yeasty with a distinct snap at the narrow rim, all due to a 24-hour rise and the inclusion of full-bodied Italian olive oil in the dough … Like the politician’s ideal wife, Vesuvio’s crust supports the toppings gracefully.” So it remains.
Silver went to Metro Pizza, a North York institution with the best crust and the nicest people, while Amadio’s in Mississauga took the bronze for its crisp bacon and efficient online ordering system (but lost points for its harsh red onions).
So, while we sit on the couch eating pizza and watching the Olympics, let’s raise a slice to the athletes.
If only we could burn off the calories as quickly as they do.