Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pizza Showdown

TERRONI vs LIBRETTO (Toronto, Canada)
There have been many debates about whether Terroni (1992) or newcomer Pizzeria Libretto (2008) has the best pizza. Reviews in Toronto publications naming Libretto the best pizza has prompted response from Terroni questioning the authenticity and quality of Libretto. There have been cheerleaders as well as nay-sayers for both restaurants. Furthermore people's Italian friends have weighed in on the authenticity of both establishments. I finally dragged my ass out to Ossington with some friends to try Pizzeria Libretto, after several years of Terroni. I am not Italian so I dare not attempt to comment on authenticity, but as a frequent pizza eater and lover, here is Couper//Coller's assessment on Toronto's favourite pizza joints:

Pizza Libretto (221 Ossington)

The atmosphere is busy but laid back. Fashionable regulars and newcomers crowd the communal tables and wait patiently in line. The servers are very friendly and you feel at ease dining here. You're allowed to substitute ingredients (a no-no at Terroni) and service is fairly fast. The pizzas themselves are tasty but don't always look that way (unlike Terroni). Their Italian sausage was a little underwhelming. The Quattro Staggione doesn't measure up in appearance to Terroni. The Mushroom is fine. The Duck Confit was well on the sweet side but still very good. The starter meat selection was impressive. Altogether the meal was quite reasonably priced with wine, starter, and pizza. An enjoyable experience and will definitely return to try more of the deliciously sounding menu.

Terroni (720 Queen St W, 1 Balmoral Ave, 57a Adelaide Street E)

The owners of Terroni have always stuck with their "it has to be a certain way" approach to the food, including the pizza. no substitution, no slicing. Neither of which annoy me at all the way it does some foodies. (They don't slice your pizzas in Italy...) As a Terroni regular (including take out for late nights at work), they have never once been a disappointment. The service can be very friendly or mediocre, but the food is too distracting most of the time for me to notice. Always looks good and tastes delicious. I can see why "it has to be a certain way". Never had I the urge to substitute anything. The only supplement to the food are the hot chilis you can ask for, which I much prefer to Libretto's Chili oil. The Mangiabun is so simple but hits the right spot (beats the Libretto sausage any day). C'T Mang is amazing. The Quattro Staggione beats Libretto's in appearance and ingredients. Terroni has never disappointed and will always be an easy choice until they prove otherwise (the recent price hike is a small kink).

It's great to have a new challenger in town, and as another choice. For more casual and non-restrictive (for some people) friendly dining, goto Libretto. For anal-retentive attention to food that never disappoints, goto Terroni. (photos via Flickr)

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