How three generations of women helped to turn Camarra Pizzeria into a local institution

The pizzeria turned 60 years old in 2018



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L–R: Elisa Camarra with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones

Three generations of women in the Camarra family have worked behind the kitchen counter of their eponymous restaurant since 1958, pounding dough, baking pastries and wedding cakes or delivering pizzas to the Italian-Canadian neighbourhood near Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West.

Much of the restaurant has gone unchanged in that time. The decor has never been flashy; instead, the focus has always been on good food.

This year marks the pizzeria’s 60th anniversary, and Emilia Valentini, daughter and granddaughter of Elisa and Domenica Camarra (respectively), shared their story.

What’s special about Camarra?
We’re the longest-running original family-owned-and-operated pizzeria in Toronto. We started in Italy in 1953 and came over to Toronto in 1958. It went from a pastry shop to a grocery store to a pizzeria within a five-year period. So it grew pretty quickly. In some cases, we’ve seen four generations of one family come to dine. We’re very blessed.

How has the neighbourhood changed over the years?
I think at first it was quite predominantly Italian. It made sense to open where we did. But as that community has progressively moved north and northwest, we’ve seen a real diversification of the neighbourhood. We’re fortunate that we can put this dining experience in front of a whole new group of cultures and still see an appreciation for it. The local BIA is also exploring bringing Green P and more street parking to the area. We’re told we should see some movement forward on that in the first half of 2018.

What notable people have walked through your doors?
Ed McMahon, to go back quite a number of years; Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, most recently, came one day to pay his respects to my mother. He was very sweet, gentle and appreciative of her years of service

Camarra Pizzeria and Restaurant, 2899 Dufferin Street, 416-789-3221

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