Photo by luxsaber from Flickr.
Loved by students, stoners, Torontoist’s mum and artistically named deviant reptiles alike, pizza was inevitably going to grace at least one edition of the Great Torontoist Challenge. While Torontoist truly enjoys going for the sit-down shmancy pizza or the late-night slice, we decided that for this challenge we needed to explore one of the paradigmatic aspects of this flat-breaded delight—the delivery. With this, in our endeavor of keeping a level playing field, we decided upon the most clichéed of pizzas—pepperoni and cheese. A stack of twenties, four medium pizza boxes and a whole lot of napkins later, we had our results.
- Magic Oven. Opened with “the goal of providing the most healthy pizza and pasta,” Magic Oven (pictured below, bottom left) has locations across Toronto and can boast that it offers something for the pizza loving vegan, celiac, spelt-lover and organic meat buff.
- Gino’s Pizza. With sixty locations in Ontario and low prices, the Gino’s (pictured below, bottom right) website claims that it is now one of the most popular pizzas in our province, and to be honest, Torontoist doesn’t feel a need to argue with this claim.
- Pizza Pizza. Founded in 1967 with its first location at the corner of Wellesley and Parliament, Pizza Pizza (pictured below, top right) is known for its catchy phone number jingle and for being #1 in Ontario.
- Massimo. Already mentioned on Torontoist as a best slice contender, Massimo (pictured below, top left) is a College Street fixture.
- Toppings. Placement—good coverage or all in one corner? Quantity—good amount of both cheese and topping to create the perfect balance? Quality.
- Sauce. Good amount without being overwhelming? Not enough? Quality—does it taste like it came from a jar or made in-house?
- Crust. Good thickness in proportion to the toppings and sauce? Well cooked? Too squishy, starchy, tough, hard?
- Greasiness. The napkin factor—if you put a napkin on top of the slice, does the napkin go see-through? Significant pooling?
- Overall yumminess.
Our five person panel decided that you can’t rate the best delivery without timing how long they take to show up. Luckily, none of the delivery guys arrived at the same time and embarrassing explanations were avoided. *phew*
Magic Oven (17 minutes); Pizza Pizza (28 minutes); Gino’s (32 minutes); Massimo (1 hour).
Cost, as per usual, was a factor. It was interesting to note that in some instances we were forced to top up our order with some garlic bread or drinks so as to make the total high enough to warrant delivery. On the flip side, some outlets were so insanely expensive that we could have gotten almost thrice as much ‘za from one of the other contestants for the same price.
Gino’s ($6.99); Pizza Pizza ($8); Massimo ($13); Magic Oven ($20).
- Toppings. TIE: Magic Oven and Massimo—21/25. Both contestants had a proper amount of consistently placed pepperoni and cheese that looked and tasted like quality.
- Sauce. Massimo—18/25. What set Massimo apart in the sauce department was that it was a proper tomato sauce, with real “tomato bits”—there’s just no way this stuff came out of a jar or a can.
- Crust. Massimo—19/25. This thin crust, which found the sweet spot between firm and soft, was described by our judges as being light and fluffy.
- Greasiness. Gino’s—17/25. Gino’s won out on the napkin test and had minimal pooling in the lower levels of the slice’s topography.
- Overall Yumminess. Massimo—20.5/25. With a homestyle taste, Massimo evoked such exclamanations as “excellent,” “tasty,” and “appealing!”
You may be number one in Ontario, Pizza Pizza, but you certainly aren’t number one with Torontoist. Though this contestant didn’t lose dismally, it just couldn’t live up to the offerings from the smaller establishments. On the plus side, this pizza was described as aesthetically pleasing by one judge, and the signature caraway seed pepperoni won it some extra points. Pizza Pizza isn’t shy with the toppings, but they were haphazardly scattered around and left a massive gap at the edge, raising suspicions that this is how they push the necessity for purchasing dipping sauce. Pizza Pizza’s crust was chewy, aptly described by one panel member as the Wonder Bread of pizza doughs, and the napkin test was an unequivocal failure.
Gino’s Pizza attained the third place spot based on what the judging panel described as its sheer mediocrity. It won out in the greasiness category, but in turn suffered from dryness due to lack of sauce and possible over-cooking, which also induced one of our panel to note that this pizza would not be suitable for those with delicate jaws. That having been said, more than one judge liked the browner look of the pizza and found the sauce and pepperoni to have a pleasant spiciness.
Magic Oven got to our apartment first, which definitely gave it an edge in terms of it being warm and fresh. The toppings were good quality and well placed, with a distinct layering effect. The pizza was undeniably quite salty, but as several of our panel pointed out, this is one of the reasons why one orders pepperoni in the first place. The crust was nice and thin, but was floppy like a bunny’s ears and napkins were an immediate necessity. It wasn’t just flaccid crust and high sodium levels that knocked Magic Oven down to second—for what it is, it’s a rip off. Torontoist is sorry to offend, but with an initial cost of $20, a delivery charge of $2.95, tax and tip, we ended us spending almost $30 on a medium pizza! It’s yummy, but for thirty bucks, that pepperoni should be sourced from Naples and somehow grant us three wishes.
The winner of our challenge, with a B+, was Massimo. Now before we all get our knickers in a knot that Massimo was not rewarded an A, Torontoist must state the following—the only thing that really was a set back for this great pizza was that it took an hour to get to our apartment, by which point it was bordering on cool. That being said, what a fantastical ‘za! It had a real homemade taste, an authentic tomato sauce, and a pepperoni that can only be described as something special. While there was not quite enough sauce, the pizza still resisted dryness and the toppings were abundant. If you can’t bear the wait, put on your pizza pants and head over to College for a slice straight out of the oven—from what we hear from our only mustachioed, and thereby trustworthy, friend, it’s simply the best.
Photos of our contestants by Julie Reitsma.