The east side of Toronto is the new mecca for pizza in the city. An exciting landscape of old-school pizzerias compete with challenger brands that offer very different styles of pizzas.
East of the Don Valley in Leslieville might be one of the most pizza dense pockets in the city.
For local residents, this density is a happy dilemma to live in- offering a myriad of choices to pick from to fulfill their ‘za fantasies. However, for businesses this may pose a significant level of competition and stress to their operations.
Here’s a closer look at the space and the people who drive it.
Started by a true east side pizza alum boasting a resume that includes stints at Pizzeria Libretto and Danforth Pizza House, Christopher Getchell heads this ship.
Opened eight years ago near Queen and Jones, they’re known for their two-day proofed dough and generously sauced square pies.
General Manager Kye Andrews tells blogTO he doesn’t feel pressure “as the only ones doing Detroit-style pizza in the city we’re not driven by competition.”
“We’re focused on what we do here, we’re lucky we actually got busier during the pandemic.”
The most popular pies are Jaffna, a vegetarian option that features kothu roti, mango chutney and coconut sambol and Truff-guy, a rich garlic and bacon topped mushroom pie.
Born out of the pandemic, Slowhand Pizza’s co-owner Dan Ewing tells blogTO there were less pizza businesses in the area during lockdowns compared to now.
Ewing says the choice to use a unique sourdough starter at his Queen and Pape pizzeria was intentional, “When we thought about getting into the market we needed something different and really really good because at the end of the day this is a tough game- we need to make ends meet.”
It’s an old school sourdough crust placed in a pan to bake, topped to order and baked again.
While it is a competitive space, Ewing tells me there’s a close knit group of pizzeria owners and they often share advice and even sauce from each other when in a pinch.
Open for over 20 years, this Turkish pizza joint across from Gerrard Square Mall has been offering large Halal pies with generous toppings like the popular Kiymali Acik.
Leslieville is home to the original pink building Blondies location on Dundas East near Greenwood Park.
Using local high protein all-purpose Arva flour, Bella full fat mozzarella, and high quality Ezzo pepperoni on their most popular pies like the Cold Drink / Hot Girl.
The general manager told blogTO that they were “high performing during pandemic due to the takeout nature of pizza at home.”
They believe they stand out because “the overall brand is different from other people, we have a fun vibe.”
One Night Only
Another pandemic baby, owners Luke and Brianna Pollard started the business out of their back porch. The first brick and mortar opened in 2021 and are only open four days a week.
Featuring a 72-hour slow fermented organic dough, the 16-inch pies are known to have a great crust to topping ratio.
And these place are just scratching the surface when talking about pizza in Leslieville.
There’s also a location of Maker Pizza on Carlaw, Samaira’s Pizza near Queen and Pape, Nodo near Queen and Leslie, Vatican Gift Shop on Gerrard, Frankie’s Italian near Queen and Logan, Rorschach Brewing on Eastern Avenue and chains like Domino’s.
Fareen Karim at One Night Only