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Restaurants

Buddha Pie

Posted by Charlotte Johnstone / Reviewed on November 1, 2009 / review policy

buddha pie torontoBuddha Pie, formerly Lou's Coffee bar, opened about a month ago on the southwest fringe of The Junction.

A brief once-over of the menu upon arrival made it clear Buddha Pie's tiny, take-out oriented premises is attempting something altogether different. Owners Cyndy and John kept the coffee component of Lou's, but decided to take on an auspicious challenge, to make Toronto's most authentic Italian margherita.

Buddha Pie toronto

Buddha Pie Kitchen

Judging by the rambunctious debate over this city's non-reputation for producing decent pizza, this is currently a contest with few serious contenders.

As a starting point, John sought advice from Cosimo Mammoliti of Terroni on what, exactly, the ideal margerita would be comprised of. The advice?

Don't cheap out by using Canadian mozzarella (they test-sampled different types of Mozzarella di Bufalo to customers and opted for the Italian import). Buy the best tomatoes available (the homemade tomato sauce is also the product of Italian tomatoes). Be picky when it comes to the basil (Buddha Pie get theirs from Boncheff Herbs).

Buddha Pie Seating
After much fine-tuning, 6 types of pizza and 4 gourmet sandwiches that would comprise the menu were settled on. The spelt crust that I'd read about will be an option as of next week.

Buddha Pie Margerita
I formed an initial good impression of Buddha Pie before even setting a foot in the place.

Being a paranoid type after too many empty-bellied ATM traipses from cash-only eateries, I called ahead to check whether Buddha Pie accepted debit. "We take debit" the extremely cheerful male voice that answered informed me, "we take cash too, and..." here he paused, "if you bring a gun, it's free".

Buddha Pie MenuThat exchange pretty much exemplifies the immediate familiarity that you're greeted with at Buddha Pie.

On the night we eat there, I arrive earlier than my companion and seat myself. The place is so small that even alone I occupy 50% of the table seating. Locals, all of whom seem to be on joking terms with the owners, drift in and catch up while their pizzas are being prepared.

Buddha Pie CoffeeI order a very good coffee (from the local roaster that supplies primo grocer Pusateri's) and talk to the owners while I wait. Once my friend arrives we debate over what to order and are very kindly treated to samples of the pepperoni to help us narrow down the decision.

We take John's advice and modify our pepperoni & cheese to a half Zen margherita, half pepperoni pizza ($12.99).

Buddha Pie TableBeing a more-is-more kind of person when it comes to pizza toppings, I'm not convinced that I'm going to be satisfied by a basic margherita but, as it's the most popular item on the menu, it wouldn't be fair to overlook it.

Once the pizza arrives my skepticism dissolves. It's as far removed from the doughy sauce tray that often passes for pizza as the scent of a Glade plug-in is from anything remotely resembling an outdoor breeze.

The base is so deliciously thin, crisp and light that it seems like it should barely support the topping. After initially trying the potently spicy pepperoni side, I bite into the margherita and immediately wish that I'd ordered two of them.

Buddha Pie PizzaThe tomato tastes so fresh and flavourful that I start to wonder if I've ever eaten one so tasty before. Likewise, the basil is sweet and pungent without being remotely acidic, and the mozzarella is creamy and pronounced.

The whole pizza is so light and delicious that I realize why everyone coming in is making a point of ordering one per person.

Because we've shared the pizza, there is room left to try the baked dessert slices that are brought in from a local bakery every day.

Buddha Pie CakeApparently there is a daily choice of kind-of-healthy or indeed-less-healthy. On this particular day that means either a date slice or a white chocolate cranberry square generously drizzled with dark chocolate. Aesthetically, there is no competition - so I get the latter and we order more coffee.

The slice is pleasingly chocolate-laden and stodgy but is definitely too filling for a dessert so we pack it up for the journey home.

Buddha Pie has treated us well and we leave surprised and happy.

A lot of people may never visit Buddha Pie because of the location and the mostly take-out set-up but if all you are interested in is good pizza, no wine or atmosphere required, then it's worth a specific trip there.

Opening hours are 11 a.m-9 p.m Tuesday-Saturday. Sundays 3 p.m-8 p.m

All pizzas are between $12.99-$14.99

Photos by Anna Lisa Sang.

Discussion

64 Comments

LJ / November 2, 2009 at 09:09 am
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thanks for the head's up - looks yummy
cheers
MelS / November 2, 2009 at 10:08 am
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I know where i'm going for dinner! Looks yummy indeed.
VA / November 2, 2009 at 10:15 am
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I don't think spelt is gluten-free.

http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/faqs/f/Spelt.htm

Tim replying to a comment from VA / November 2, 2009 at 10:52 am
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You're right. It's not. Spelt if a good option for those with a wheat intolerance but it's not gluten free. This has been corrected.
Davis / November 2, 2009 at 11:29 am
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I tried this place last week and was amazed at the quality
so tasty, every bite was just incredible

does anyone know where the owner came from?
such a funny guy! something tells me he hasn't been in the pizza game all his life

Just curious
Eve / November 2, 2009 at 11:43 am
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Are they also the owners of Buddha Dog on Roncesvalles? If so, I'll def have to stop by. If their pizzas are as good as those dogs, I'm in for a treat!
Bahhhhh / November 2, 2009 at 01:29 pm
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BlogTO gave them a month before a review?

That ain't your style.

BlogTo usually burns 'em and spurns 'em.
Meera / November 2, 2009 at 02:21 pm
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A non-vegetarian place called 'Buddha [anything]'? Are they trying to follow in the footsteps of Toronto's non-veg 'Gandhi' restaurant? DO these places not understand that this is offensive to members of those cultural/faith communities, not to mention misleading -- as it's a reasonable assumption that a place named after the Buddha (or Gandhi) is going to be 'pure veg'?
davis / November 2, 2009 at 02:31 pm
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Meera.

relax. it's a pizza parlour for god sakes

lets worry about bigger problems in the world shall we?
Yes!! replying to a comment from Meera / November 2, 2009 at 03:19 pm
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I love Gandhi's!!
Their chicken roti is delishhhh!!!
Yumm. Love meat!
meatnveg replying to a comment from Meera / November 2, 2009 at 03:29 pm
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Some buddhist sects do eat meat (e.g. Bhutanese). They do not specifically kill a cow to eat meat, but if one dies (naturally or accidentally) they will eat it.
Info Here: http://bit.ly/3EgQE0

ALSO, I imagine there are plenty of people with the Gandhi 'surname' who do eat meat (notably, Sonia and family). Its a (fairly common) name...not a religion.
Phil replying to a comment from Davis / November 2, 2009 at 06:00 pm
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Hey Davis, I've know the owners for a few years now and I can tell you John does not originate from Earth he is defenitely just visiting! ;-)
Pizzabot / November 2, 2009 at 06:18 pm
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Declaration: I will ride my bike there.
Notification: Further bulletins as events warrant.
5andman / November 2, 2009 at 10:18 pm
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Nice to know. I'm going to check it out!
J-DAWG / November 2, 2009 at 11:28 pm
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I WOULD NOT CALL THIS THE JUNCTION.
piccola / November 3, 2009 at 07:50 am
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If they're aiming for authenticity, it would be nice if they spelled "margherita" properly.
Wad replying to a comment from piccola / November 3, 2009 at 08:09 am
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If you're aiming to be a douche, you succeeded.
Andrew / November 3, 2009 at 05:04 pm
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Fantastic Coffee too! I stopped by today and was greeted with the warmest service and delicious, fresh coffee. MMMmmm.
Mike / November 3, 2009 at 09:38 pm
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ok... This is a blog about a new pizza place that happens to have GREAT pizza!!! I tried it last week... LOVE IT!!!!

Lets not pick apart every little detail about the name or spelling...

friendly owners and fantastic pizza!!! I will be back for more..

MMmmmMMMmmMmmmmm...
Yum!! / November 4, 2009 at 08:13 am
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I Love Pie !!
dnr / November 4, 2009 at 08:31 pm
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I was just there tonight based on this blog. Delicious pizza, great service. Can't wait to go back and have an Eastern Tuna Sandwich.
Brendan / November 5, 2009 at 09:53 am
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I went there last night and the pizza's were as delicious as the owners were friendly. I got the pepperoni and the BBQ chicken - and neither disappointed.

I chatted with John and he actually doesn't have a restaurant background, instead a love for food and the understand that quality ingredients are of the utmost importance.
AC / November 5, 2009 at 02:49 pm
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Best pizza in town! Sends my palette to Nirvana!!! Cyndy is a fab cook with amazing sauces--- When's the Buddha Pie cookbook coming out?!!
AC / November 5, 2009 at 02:52 pm
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These are the best pizzas in Toronto. They are light, flavourful and absolutely delicious! Buddha Pie will send your palette to Nirvana!!!
AC / November 5, 2009 at 02:57 pm
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Cyndy and John of Buddha Pie are the two little Buddhas behind the counter. They are warm, welcoming, kind, compassionate, incredibly funny and GREAT COOKS!!
It's worth traveling across town for this culinary experience!!
disgruntled buddha / November 8, 2009 at 11:29 am
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You guys don't know pizza. I ordered to take out, spent $15 with tax on a small pizza, and I was less than impressed, with those so called "amazing" pizza. The cheese wasn't melted, the crust was thin, sure, but it also tasted like cardboard. It was not worth the money, at all. I could've made a better one at home, for less than what they are charging and I'm sure they could too. Go to vesuvio's in the real junction, go downtown to some pizzerias, taste real pizza, this, SUCKS.
John and Cyndy replying to a comment from disgruntled buddha / November 8, 2009 at 01:47 pm
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Hi disgruntled buddha,
We are sorry that you weren't happy - we'd be more than happy to refund your money. Come and see us.

John and Cyndy
Buddha Pie
DM / November 10, 2009 at 06:10 pm
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I went to this cafe today for food and coffee with a friend of mine today. I live in the neighbourhood, and am always on the lookout for a good place. I ordered a tuna sandwich and Americano, which were both good-- no complaints there. The service was quick. While sitting at a table with my friend, talking, I realized that the music was so loud that I was having trouble hearing my friend. I asked the server if she could please turn down the music, as I was having trouble hearing my friend, and she went off, to take care of it, I assumed. Wrongly! The other server came forward and said, "Sorry, ladies, I like it like that. You can move to one of the other tables, if you like." We moved to the counter at the front of the cafe, it was better, but still loud. I and my friend were shocked at this rudeness. We will not be returning, and I will be telling my neighbourhood friends to not bother with this cafe.
Zoe / November 11, 2009 at 06:02 pm
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This spot is literally around the corner from my house - everytime I pass by, I am drawn in by the ridiculously mouth watering aroma that emanate from within.
Alex / November 13, 2009 at 10:29 am
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My friend and I went to Buddha Pie last night for the first time and we were very impressed! The pizza was delicious and the friendly staff made it a top notch experience. We will definitely be back!
Bemused / November 14, 2009 at 04:32 pm
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Holy character assassination. Tween this and the other blogTO post about Crema, one would be inclined to think the Junction was populated with either vitrioloc, foaming at the mouth, wild-eyed myopics (cf. disgruntled buddha, J-DAWG) or fairly erudite and eloquent folks who don't mind saying something pleasant about fledgling businesses in the area. Christ!! If you don't have something positive to say, then at least offer something that the proprietors can work with. Does anyone at blogTO police--yep, I said it--these postings?

Thank you, Buddha Pie and Crema. Even if the service and products you folks provided were anywhere as meagre as the anonymous haranguers claim, I'm happy to have the choice. Keep at it. (I think I'll post this in the Crema thread too).
Phil replying to a comment from DM / November 17, 2009 at 08:29 am
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I am sure you will not be missed. Its a pizza place not a library!
Voice-of-Reason replying to a comment from Meera / November 21, 2009 at 05:07 pm
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First of all, the name itself is obviously meant to be taken with a grain of salt. I need you interpreting whether Siddhartha Gautama would enjoy some Prosciutto on his Pizza or not - - about as much as I need some right-wing Christian sect translating the words of the Bible for me related to a BBQ Restaurant in Alabama.

And since you brought it up,...Actually, according to the Pali texts — the Buddha and his followers did eat meat so long as certain conditions were met. These conditions were that a monk should not have seen, heard, nor have any reason to suspect, that the meat was from an animal killed specifically for him. If these three conditions were met then the meat was said to be ‘blameless’. There are some four references to the ‘blamelessness’ of eating meat-once in both the Majjhima and Anguttara Nikayas, and twice in the Vinaya.

Now play nice and smile like the Buddha.
Susie / November 21, 2009 at 08:47 pm
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I LOVE the food, the people (Cindy and John), the music... a great little place. YAYYYYY! And if you have a dog, you'll leave with biscuits!
Lisa replying to a comment from DM / December 10, 2009 at 12:59 am
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Oh come on, you´re like those old people that come into my retail store and tell me to turn down the music cause it's "too loud". I'm sure it was a decent volume and it's the owners right to keep it at that.

On another note, I loved the reviews and pics from this place. I'm definitley going!
Tony / January 4, 2010 at 01:32 pm
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I have known John and Cindy for over a decade and let me tell you that the complainers on this blog are out to lunch.
John is the most conscientious person I have met in years.
His original calling has been in the home theater business which, because of the recession is less attractive.
John loves his food and more importantly his customers. The Bhudda Pie is, and will be, a really successful entry by John into s business that cries out for personal service.
He gets my vote and I'm looking forward to watching his progress.
5andman / January 9, 2010 at 03:08 pm
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First time, and won't be the last.

The people there are great and conscientious.

Americano was excellent and Margherita was addictive.
Jamie / January 19, 2010 at 09:55 am
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Amazing pizza, and lovely people. Most four-cheese pizzas use a quarter as much of each cheese. Not these folks - WOW. And the pepperoni is bene, primo. Now if the police would act like grown-ups and allow people to actually stop (not park) their cars in front of the shop to pick up their take-out, they'd have a good shot at success...
Sarah / February 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm
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I just moved into the neighbourhood, a few blocks from this place. I'm thrilled to have such a delicious cafe right nearby...it brings added excitement to the new 'hood! Thanks to the ambitious owners for creating such a gem.
ed / February 28, 2010 at 08:44 am
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have enjoyed the music and the pizza many times but have now discovered that you can buy the tomatoes they use from them for only $7 a can,,I made pasta sauce and my wife and I have never had a better saucee,,cheers
Neene replying to a comment from Meera / May 1, 2010 at 03:35 pm
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Meera... (sigh). The image of a Buddha is one of a big round belly (which enough pizza will give you)... does this mean that all men with beer guts should be offended?!? The Theravada Pali Canon records instances of Buddha eating meat that was specifically purchased for him. This act was deliberately performed by the Buddha to demonstrate that, if need be, a Buddhist can bend the rules in times of emergency or inconvenience. So, if it's inconvenient to cook dinner, then apparently it's okay to eat at Buddha Pie... so, please try not to take life so seriously... lighten up and enjoy a cheesy Margherita without getting all "human rights" on it.
vgirl / May 8, 2010 at 06:05 pm
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I ordered two pizza's one night...it was a saturday, they were incredibly busy...
They forgot to make one of them, and John offered to bring it personally to my home...
He did so, even though it was such a busy night, and gave me too much change!!!!

The pizza is incredible. Fresh ingredients, made with love. You get a homestyle, warm fuzzy feeling when you walk in. I think this makes all the difference in the world. The coffee is incredible too.

Meera, maybe Gautama Buddha would recommend that you meditate a little more. He was anti-sectarian and agnostic, not dogmatic. If he wasn't an enlightened being, he would probably be offended by your preachiness...and mine...Gandhi went on a hunger strike, maybe that restaurant should have no food at all???

Anyway, John and Cyndy, awesome food, awesome vibe...I'm going to order one now...
DL / May 22, 2010 at 04:46 pm
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Dropped by with a friend on May 15th for coffee close to closing time, what a great place, great coffee, will try the Pizza next time.

John & Cindy thanks for the free coffee ;-) and letting us see the equipment behind he counter...

Jim / June 10, 2010 at 01:38 pm
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Just went today for the first time and WOW...the pizza was delicious!
EL / July 29, 2010 at 09:14 pm
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The 'Mediterranean' is so delicious. Their 'Pepperoni' is fantastic too. Extremely friendly and honest service. Go Budha Pie Go!
Pizza Love / August 6, 2010 at 08:30 pm
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Tried this place just the other day. Opted for the Margerita. Thin crust, looked fantastic, smeled great. This place doesn't weigh down their pizzas with fillers, like taste and flavour. Great value too, when I finished the product I consumed the box it came in. The two were completely indistinguishable.
L-Dot / August 6, 2010 at 08:53 pm
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Great sandwiches. I had a chicken sandwich with a lot of sauteed vegetables and delicious cheese. I will definitely be back to try the pizza soon!
Adrian / October 26, 2010 at 01:04 pm
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You can’t really sit down, and you’ll likely have to wait a few minutes to place an order, but the food is simple, authentic, fresh, and killer. This place is so small, local, and understated - I’m amazed sometimes it gets the attention it does. Though it is with good reason. I have eaten here a number of times now and am consistently blown away by the flavours. They still frequently run out of dough if you can believe it – as I’ve called and they had just sold out (telling me they just baked 65 pies in the last hour and a half and refuse to freeze dough) –so best to call first. Definitely its my favourite pizza in the city.
jano / March 29, 2011 at 08:33 pm
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simply amazing. wow...best pizza on the west side...maybe in the entire city.
B replying to a comment from Meera / May 24, 2011 at 01:56 pm
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Along with other people's responses... It has come out recently that Ghandi slept with many young women who he was surrounded by. Which, along with eating meat, he wasn't suposed to do. Just sayin'.
yt replying to a comment from B / May 24, 2011 at 02:59 pm
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"slept with" as in: in the same bed, or as in: "had intercourse with"?

the latter would be news to most, and you should share your source.
RonaldP / May 28, 2011 at 03:40 pm
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I feel very privileged to live a 10-min walk from Buddha Pie.
neil / September 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm
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today was the 3rd time in 2 months that i tried to order food and you were closed for some reason or another. i love your food, but i give up.
Julie / October 21, 2011 at 06:52 pm
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LOVE IT!!
Awesome pizza just as good as the ones I had in Italy. Great service too.
Bizzy Bunter / November 12, 2011 at 09:55 pm
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I ate here today for the first time with my wife and it's the most impressed I've ever been with a new restaurant. The pizza was amazing! I had the pear and prosciutto which was delicious.
Their Visa machine wasn't working and the owner told me I could have my order for free just because of that and since it was our first time there! It was the nicest gesture anyone has ever done for me at a restaurant but we loved the place too much and just paid with cash anyways.
I highly recommend this place and I think they just got themselves two new lifelong customers! :)
JAMIE FORROW / November 14, 2011 at 02:26 pm
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Hey Budda Pie is the real deal! I live in the hood and keep going back. John's attention to detail, service & quality is unmatched. He told me that they try no to cut the pizzas that go out for delivery and take out because of a complaint that the cutting made the crust soggy, and they leave the Basil off so it does't go black! The best part....I told john I had a hard time cutting the pizza at home, he asked if I had a wheel...I said no, he reached behind the counter and gave me his!!!!!

This place is a breath of fresh air in the exhaustive, frantic, neo-industrial retail food market.

P.S. Bring back the POMG!
BuddistTO / June 30, 2012 at 10:31 am
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The fact that you use the name "Buddha" in your name and serve meat is offensive to a multitude of people (of various faiths). I wouldn't go there out of principle.
Buddha Statue / July 22, 2012 at 10:16 am
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That Buddha Pie looks delicious to mee! I like many different kind of buddhas, also i have an own site where i show buddha statues i make: http://www.buddhistfinearts.com

Feel free to pass by. Wish everyone a pleasant time.
Buddhist in TO / July 29, 2012 at 06:02 am
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Ate from here today and was blown away by the 'good karma' pizza which I had minus the chicken. The crust was super thin, crispy without being overly charred and flavorful. The garlic béchamel mixed wonderfully with the mozzarella and the veggies were cooked perfectly (especially the spinach). I found the pizza was a little small to share but it would have been more than enough for just me. Also, I couldn't find parking, I think a common problem in a busy area.

The name had me expecting an all vegetarian place but Buddha Pie does seem to have a good vegetarian selection. Some of the above complaints about it really reek of sanctimoniousness.
Ben / August 10, 2012 at 04:24 pm
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Does anyone know if this place is any good? I'm looking for a decent pizza in the hood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6DA_WwO90c
Kat / October 7, 2012 at 10:40 am
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Came here on a Friday night. Great atmosphere. Nonstop people coming in and out for their food. Made me feel cool to know about it.
We ordered the four cheese and the margherita pizzas, but neither my boyfriend nor I were impressed. Might have something to do with the 15-20 min walk home. I will try it again and stay there to devour it while it's hot.
Chris / July 23, 2013 at 08:02 pm
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Best pizza I've ever had. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
I**** / August 15, 2013 at 10:15 am
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Mmmmm!Yum.
Henrybar / September 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm
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The best!! We love this place and John is wonderful :) We couldn't be happier to live just around the corner from this wonderful gem! ps. Get the pulled pork pizza with slaw - big time life changer :)

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