David and Nina Rocco with the winning pizza
“Bang. This is Naples,” says David. “The cheese is not uniform; it’s in lumps, which is exactly right. In Italy, the pizzaiolo would break the cheese with his hands. And underneath, it’s got that crepe texture, and you can smell the charred wood.” Nina is big on the uneven, bubbly crust: “The dough is the pillar of a great pizza. You could eat this one on its own,” she says. To attempt an authentic Margherita in Toronto takes daring, says David, since the North American custom is generally wall-to-wall cheese and mounds of toppings. “Yes, a real confidence here,” agrees Nina with a nod. “Someone visited Italy.”
Queen Margherita Pizza -- 1402 Queen St. E.
The gap between Libretto’s winning pie and this one from QMP is as thin as a basil leaf. “It’s got all the qualities — airiness, charred crust, chewy mozzarella,” says David. “Damn good pizza.” But they prefer the dough from Libretto.
Fabbrica -- 49 Karl Fraser Rd.
All the elements of a terrific authentic Margherita — a bubbly, uneven crust and a subtle charred flavour — but more basil and cheese than is necessary, which suggests a lack of confidence in the “kick- ass” dough, says David.
Marcello’s Pizzeria -- 1163 St. Clair Ave. W.
“This is typical anywhere in Toronto,” says David. “It’s got a thick texture, almost chewy.” Despite the ho-hum appearance, Nina likes the authentic flavour but wishes there were bigger pieces of basil instead of flecks. A “good” Margherita.
BEAUTY IS CRUST DEEP
Terroni -- 57a Adelaide St. E.
“I never understand it when people peel off the basil. It’s there to be eaten,” says Nina. A good attempt at authenticity and a beautiful presentation, but a dry crust and not enough flavour in the cheese or sauce.