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Restaurants

North of Brooklyn Pizzeria

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on August 13, 2012 / review policy

North of Brooklyn PizzaNorth of Brooklyn Pizzeria opened relatively quietly last week on a quiet stretch of Palmerston just north of Queen (don't let the address fool you). A partnership between Halifax-native Josh Spatz, Alex Potter (formerly of Pizzeria Libretto) and New Yorker Frank Pinello of Wiliamsburg's Best Pizza (you try Googling that), the two have joined forces to bring Queen West Neapolitan-style pizza in a casual, takeout environment.

Toronto has acquired its fair share of upscale dine-in pizza joints over the last few years, and we've always had a wealth of chains that pump out cheap cardboard slices, but North of Brooklyn looks to bridge the gap between these two solitudes by offering high end pizza for takeout and delivery, not to mention by-the-slice.

North of Brooklyn PizzaSo what is Brooklyn-style pizza? "There isn't really such thing as a Brooklyn-style pizza," Spatz explains when I ask. "It's more of a love of pizza — they take it really seriously there. People from Brooklyn will know all the good spots and know what places are doing what. For us it's about really nice ingredients. We're not freezing anything and we're doing all the prep here. We're buying really nice cheese and meat we're making our own sauce and we're making our own dough. Brooklyn pizza for us is about how they appreciate and love pizza in New York."

North of Brooklyn PizzaSpatz and his partners are joined by Chris Getchell, who also did a turn at Libretto — a connection that, once revealed, seems obvious given the nature of the pizzas on offer here. It's a small menu, with some pre-made speciality pies and a variety of toppings that allow for some customization of your standard margherita. If there was a standout for me, it was the "white pizza," which features creamy ricotta topped with a heap of lemony arugula that keeps things light and refreshing (as far as pizza goes).

North of Brooklyn PizzaAlso on offer is a pie topped with seasonal vegetables, which currently features beets, kale and heirloom carrots with a dusting of poppy seeds. Word to the wise: this is a pizza best eaten with a knife and fork, as mine lost most of its toppings on route to my mouth.

North of Brooklyn PizzaSharing the spotlight with the pies are the garlic knots, which take leftover pizza dough, garlic, butter and a generous sprinkling of fresh thyme and grana padano to create a near-perfect little mouthful. For a lighter accompaniment to the pizza, there's an arugula salad with fresh Ontario peaches, goat cheese, sunflower seeds and a buttermilk dressing (which was unfortunately a bit over-applied on my version).

North of Brooklyn PizzaAll of the produce used is local, a philosophy that's embodied in the one dessert on offer, the so-called "Queen Street Cookie." The hope is that it will represent the neighbourhood in each bite. On my visit it included popcorn, toffee, potato chips and coffee grounds from R Squared (to name only a few of the ingredients).

North of Brooklyn PizzaNorth of Brooklyn hopes to offer delivery in a few weeks — until then, folks can visit the small and somewhat hidden restaurant — hint: it's just north of Hero Burger — for eat-in and takeout. When asked what drew him to this location, Spatz revealed that he liked it because it was just a bit hard to find. "We want people in the neighbourhood to feel like it's their place. Since we've opened I've seen the same people come in every day."

North of BrooklynNorth of BrooklynWriting by Erin Scholz / Photos by Derek Flack

Discussion

66 Comments

Jane / August 13, 2012 at 09:33 am
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Oh Yum!!
Jen / August 13, 2012 at 09:56 am
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Tried this place for the first time recently and was pleasantly surprised! Their arugula salad is DELICIOUS, be sure to get that. The pizza toppings are quite sparse...so I actually wound up putting most of the salad on my pizza (I ordered the deliciously simple white pizza so the flavour combo was great). If you have some hot peppers, olive oil, and a tomato at home they will definitely come in handy. Word to the owners - maybe throw some prosciutto on a few of your plainer slices :)
Cate / August 13, 2012 at 11:52 am
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The food looks great, but the name kills me. Too hipster, and lack of knowledge that New York ain't the best at everything. North of Brooklyn....it irritates me so much, I even dislike the signage.
Andrew / August 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm
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This was easily the best slice I've had in TO! Forget the others, finally a slice of gourmet pizza (sorry, Pizzaolo is not gourmet). I've tried the white, marg, and veggie and all were delicious. You can taste how fresh the ingredients are, nothing seems pre-made. They also have this garlic paste (where you get the forks/knives, etc) that you can put on your slice (no charge) it is UNREAL!

Looking forward to going back for another visit :)
Been There / August 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm
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Nothing here people. Well not yet...because I assume they will improve on the product and value.

If you count quarters for meals, stay away!
Andrew replying to a comment from Cate / August 13, 2012 at 01:06 pm
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haha Cate your soooo right. When I'm sitting in Pizza Pizza admiring their great signage and simple name it totally helps me forget that whats in my mouth is two days old. Nail on the head Cate.
oh well... / August 13, 2012 at 01:20 pm
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really too bad they weren't open for lunch the day of the write up on here...and ya...hate the name...hopefully the pizza speaks for itself.
Realist (mostly) replying to a comment from Cate / August 13, 2012 at 02:05 pm
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New York may not be the best at everything, but New York pizza is highly regarded in the pizza world. Any hipster cachet the name has is secondary.
Reality (not) replying to a comment from Realist (mostly) / August 13, 2012 at 02:14 pm
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This isn't New York pizza. It's "we care so much about our pizza we called it Brooklyn" pizza. BOGUS...
Reality (not) replying to a comment from Andrew / August 13, 2012 at 02:16 pm
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Have to love people like Andrew...when they don't actually know something, such as why Pizza Pizza pizza may be bad, they just make up a reason out of thin air like the concept that it is two days old. These people also tend to curse a lot as their reason for not agreeing. LOL
McRib / August 13, 2012 at 03:51 pm
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i believe Andrew was using hyperbole to prove a point about the disconnect between what a restaurant is named, and how good the food is. I might be wrong, but i dont think he actually believes that the pizza is two days old.

had you any sort of sense, you likely would have understood this.
Adam / August 13, 2012 at 04:19 pm
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Wasn't quite sure what to expect beyond thin crust. Was looking forward to trying this place and talked to the owners several times leading up to opening, as I walk by all the time. First impression was poor and don't expect to give the slice another go. Wasn't impressed by quality or value for money. The only chance of trying it again will be with a fresh whole pie but the jury is out on that.

Is gourmet pizza slices the new gourmet burger? I sure hope not.
poh replying to a comment from Adam / August 13, 2012 at 04:45 pm
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Just because something isn't mass produced or a part of a major regional chain, does not make it gourmet. These pizza places and the burger places you allude to are simply doing things the right way. It's not like this place is putting robiola or truffles on their pies.
jim / August 13, 2012 at 07:02 pm
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Great pizza! The name is fine, I mean they should have obviously called it Pizza Heaven or Orgasm Pie, but I will forgive and keep eating this beautiful stuff.
Reality (not) replying to a comment from McRib / August 13, 2012 at 07:31 pm
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McRib, I don't think that you are wrong about his lack of specifics but you are wrong when you thought my remark indicated I thought he believed it was 2 days old.

If you have someone read my post to you and explain it to you, you will realize that we are on page with his useless (don't have real thoughts) hyperbole.
Reality (not) replying to a comment from Adam / August 13, 2012 at 07:32 pm
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Agreed......but I am hoping it improves when their egos deflate.
Pat / August 13, 2012 at 08:09 pm
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I have been here once and the margherita was ok (way too flimsy/soggy but sauce very nice). The guy behind the cash apologized for how it turned out, but I ate it all anyway. I'm sure it will improve. But based on the above comments remind me not to talk to any of the other customers -- they seem very judgmental!
Pat / August 13, 2012 at 08:18 pm
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Ack, don't mean to add to the cattiness, but should point out the lede is wrong about one thing re 'Queen West Neapolitan pizza'. This may be good pizza, but it is nothing like Naples pizza. Naples is known for the thick crust - almost like naan bread. I have been to Da Michele in Naples and that is definitely thick doughy/chewy pizza! Libretto is totally different than this place
soso replying to a comment from Cate / August 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm
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+1
Helen 'Concern Trolling' Lovejoy replying to a comment from Reality (not) / August 14, 2012 at 02:01 am
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I agree you and hereby demand that everyone on earth who comments on websites cease and desist their usage of literary devices! If we permit hyperbole, who knows what could come next? Satire? Parody?? Irony??? Ugh, filthy, filthy things!

Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children!!
Ryan / August 14, 2012 at 08:19 am
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had a slice of pie this weekend and it kicked ass. Will definitely stop by the next time I'm in the area.
Andrew / August 14, 2012 at 08:42 am
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Haven't been. Planning on going. The name can not be reflective of the product. It doesn't matter what it's called. Some of the best food I've eaten has not been in a cool hipster environment. Good food is about celebrating it with people you like so it always tastes better. But... This part of downtown has gotten a little cliche with trying to make a very basic food item gourmet. I appreciate the locavore values but it's expected now. That's so common.

A different Andrew.
TG / August 14, 2012 at 07:38 pm
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Had the White/Pepperoni/Margherita. The Margherita was the best, good sauce, the pepperoni had 3 tiny slices of pepperoni on it and was very dry/crusty. The White was also very dry, it was like trying to eat a giant saltine. I think because the crust is so thin when they reheat your slice it becomes way too crispy/crunchy. I don't know why they didn't actually try making NY style pizza(Sal and Carmine) since no one really does it properly in TO, NY style slices reheat really well.
R / August 14, 2012 at 07:51 pm
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amazing pizza fair price ,white pizza is my Favorited so far.
you guys rock
Aiden / August 15, 2012 at 11:13 am
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The name is cool and funny in a way because I just named my housepainting company (actually 4 months old) Brooklyn Handlebar Painting. All my guys are college age guys and most are hipsters, I try to encourage them to have handlebar mustaches as well, to kind of fit in with the name. I've got nothing but praise for the name. It helps me stand out from the crowd. Plus it helps that we're the best value out there.
kp / August 16, 2012 at 06:17 pm
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I've had the arugula salad and the margherita pizza so far, both were excellent. I'll be going back for more, I can't wait to try the white pizza!
Andrew / August 16, 2012 at 06:29 pm
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I can't believe some of these people who write in. One of you criticized the place WITHOUT EVEN GOING. How about you just try the pie and keep the neighbourhood/sign judging critic out of you. I've enjoyed this place a few times already and really think it's an amazing slice. Plan to go again soon (Get the Garlic Knots!!)

Yet another Andrew
Question for Andrew 2 / August 17, 2012 at 10:24 am
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What was it that made it so amazing??

Question for owners / August 18, 2012 at 03:10 pm
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Will you deliver all over toronto?
urbanist / August 19, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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I'm tired of the judgey name debate. I find it really annoying to read sarcastic comments from people hiding behind a computer. If you open a restaurant, you can name it whatever you like. That is part of the fun of having your own business. It sounds like the food is amazing and I can't wait to try it.
Johnny Cash 2.0 / August 21, 2012 at 04:24 pm
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Looks great, I will be checking it out. What's with the name debate? Seems apt to me. Kinda like that sign too.
hotcoffee / August 22, 2012 at 12:47 am
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I'm with urbanist. Why is everyone so hung up about the name? If you'd Google the owner from New York you'd know his other pizzeria - Wiliamsburg's Best Pizza - is on the North side of Brooklyn. Seems like a suitable name.
Trollolololol / August 22, 2012 at 10:25 am
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Who the F would pay 4$ + for that shitty small slice of pizza.

get out of town.
Tim Owen replying to a comment from Andrew / September 3, 2012 at 09:00 pm
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Bravo Andrew!

You've changed and become different.

We're all striving to become better people, as the Hollywood scriptwriters insist...

Thanks for the comments. Are we all agreed: "West of Naples" would have been much better?

Keen to try it but either I never eat except at odd hours or they're never open.

Obtusely yours,

"James"

moony / September 24, 2012 at 12:16 am
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Tried this place out. Pizza was pretty good, but the service lives up to its hipster name. Too much attitude.
Cookie / October 5, 2012 at 10:55 am
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Pizza's are great! They really are. But the service is okay. The guys behind the counter moves like molasses. Nothing new - guys that can't multi-task.
Jon replying to a comment from Cate / November 2, 2012 at 09:04 pm
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You're obviously an idiot!!
Jose / December 10, 2012 at 06:17 pm
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Do owners of such Indie restaurants come to BlogTO and read these posts?

Just curious.

By the way, place sounds better than Pizza Pizza or Pizza Nova. Hoping to try it soon.
Ehshiney / December 10, 2012 at 08:59 pm
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Easily the best slice I've ever had in TO. Friendly staff, great food, and welcoming environment make for an amazing experience.
T / December 11, 2012 at 09:14 am
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I've gone a couple of times and the pizza IS really good. My only one negative experience is that I wanted to add extra toppings to their white pizza and apparently the toppings I wanted to add "wouldn't go" with the flavor of the pizza. They were pretty adamant in adding the toppings I wanted. I'm all for recommendations by the staff and I get that, but I had the white pizza before "as is" and I wanted to change it up to my liking. Even if they were right (they weren't, I enjoyed it), I didn't understand how it would've been a lose situation for them, as I would've been paying extra money on toppings. But besides that, I would recommend this place for sure.
Christine / January 15, 2013 at 10:18 am
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This pizza is really really tasty. I like the environment and I hope people support it and enjoy the pizza instead of complaining about the name. And if you like faster service go to a chain restaurant. I can't wait to go back...
adam / January 16, 2013 at 02:55 pm
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Or you could go to bitondos. Half the price, totally authentic, has been providing "by the slice" and "whole pie" for decades.
Mark / January 25, 2013 at 08:41 am
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ho hum! for the price i'd rather go to HERO next door and get meat instead of bread.
BillyO / February 13, 2013 at 04:32 pm
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Whole pies are excellent value as they are quite large. Quality ingredients and consistent every time.
Marco / March 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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The food is delicious and the owners are cute! Especially the shorter one with the weird laugh.
Corey / May 5, 2013 at 04:32 pm
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This pizza place is trying way too hard. Wanna-be hipsters, small seating area, awkward employees , basic pizza...oh and overpriced. Maybe it should have been called go back to brooklyn? Their sign has a lot of lights...that's cool I guess.
Tony P / May 5, 2013 at 10:43 pm
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Been there a few times and really enjoyed the pizza but terrible service and major attitude from the staff!
I wont go back again until they drop the tude!
Kelly / May 22, 2013 at 06:56 pm
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Pizza is nothing special . People who work here are weird and rude. Never going back.
DS / June 12, 2013 at 11:19 am
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Very rude service from the guys working there (who I presume are the owners). They outright mocked the customer before me after she left
The pizza wasn't bad, but how hard is it to screw up pizza. The attitude that comes with it makes me never want to go back.
Tiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmm / July 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm
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North of Calves. Meow
Len / July 29, 2013 at 03:07 pm
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Brutal location. Weak pizza. The guys working there have no personalities. Snobby as hell. Sorry I don't have tattoos all over my face and wear those flowery hats as that's the type of crowd they cater/talk too. The bike/delivery drivers are real beauts too...lol. What are they gonna do when the hipsters can't afford to live there anymore? Also, why on earth would anybody wanna portray they are a hipster? Thats like telling the world your a peasant! Had to vent, as places like this need to go....back to Brooklyn.
jake / August 2, 2013 at 08:38 pm
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I drive from don mills to eat here. Enough said. Haters gonna hate always.
Victor / August 9, 2013 at 08:58 pm
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Cool sign, pizza is weak. Won't go back unless to leave my empty beer can on top of one of the letters outside. So many better pizza places to choose from in the area
carmichael / August 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm
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The place caters mostly to the gay community which is cool. The owners have great calves. Pizza not so great
Grant / September 3, 2013 at 05:10 pm
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Not sure if serious? Are the slices really that small? Yikes
H8IE / October 7, 2013 at 11:15 pm
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whatever, this pizza place is actually pretty good. The owners DO have great calves and most of the employees that work here are pretty hot. They're really only rude if you're a dick or a kiss ass maybe but mostly cool people.

all the slices are pretty good and the delivery people are amazing and run their own little business, which is cool.

the blonde is hawt.

H8IE / October 7, 2013 at 11:16 pm
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OH, AND FUCK YOU LEN.
Coo1 / October 10, 2013 at 11:12 am
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I waited a while to post this but now I feel more comfortable seeing that it is not just me who has an issue with their service.

Yes they are rude. At first I was wondering if it was a race issue.... But I think they are just generally rude individuals BUT they are not consciously aware or simply don't care how it affects their business.

What gives their pizza it's signature taste is the pizza sauce. It is unique and well worth a try to experience the flavour.

Now with respect to the dough. In my opinion the dough taste the same as what sound people call 'cardboard' pizza which is served at Pizza Gigi.

Here is an experiment for you to try. Go to Pizza Gigi and try any of their non Sicilian slices. Pay attention to how the crust taste. They the day after try a slice from Brooklyn and remember what the crust taste like.
PizzaNut replying to a comment from Len / October 10, 2013 at 03:00 pm
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I have to agree with Len on the "snobby as hell" point. I really like this pizza, particularly the "White" slice and I've come in often because I like the pizza so much. But I've started to notice a lack of courtesy from staff. They are generally grumpy and just want to get your order over with. Not all the staff is like that but the majority. I hope they read these posts because I am actually considering not going any more because of this poor attitude.

A word of business advice to the owner(s): The pizza is good but it's easily replaceable, don't ruin a good product with bad service.

BTW, I haven't had delivery, only walk-in, but this is from eating their at least 10 times. Also, H8IE, that's not very constructive, you really aren't helping their cause.
Norman Chad / October 28, 2013 at 10:55 am
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Why no mention of Alex Livingston, part owner of this joint and 2013 WSOP contestant? He himself on tv admitted it's a pizza place for hipsters.
Salma / January 22, 2014 at 05:49 pm
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I have never had a slice of pizza there nor will I ever. There are plenty of places around Toronto that serve delicious pizza without trying to be something they're not. I'm sorry but when I passed by this place and read the name I was infuriated...Toronto is my city and I love it and I don't understand why we need to be associated by our geographical position to Brooklyn...who decided Brooklyn is the center of the universe?? I fucking hate these hipsters trying so damn hard to be everything but themselves...you're from Toronto, stop dressing like you're poor because obviously you're not if you buy 4$ tiny pieces of pizza and just fucking smile. If people are saying the service is bad it's probably true and has nothing to do with the customer..unless Len was like swearing and throwing shit (which she probably didn't) then they should make her feel welcome so matter was...and the truth is, every hipster wanna-be place has rude employees...that's why I hate half of these taco places in toronto...anyways sorry about the rant....and FUCK YOU H8IE
EC / April 5, 2014 at 05:39 pm
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I read "brooklyn-style pizza" and immediately hoped this would be akin to Grimaldi's amazing pies, alas, it looks like almost the exact opposite. I'll check out their new village location, but it looks like overpriced appetizers at first glance on here.
horizon / April 8, 2014 at 02:21 pm
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My pizza came on a paper plate. The margarita slice was ok. Nothing to brag about. The person serving me didnt seem like he wanted to be there. They up-charged the San Pelligrino an extra $2 than what it really should cost. For a slice and San pelli it was $10.95. Not sure if it was all worth it. Might go back to try the pepperoni. MIGHT. :P
lori replying to a comment from horizon / May 9, 2014 at 01:01 pm
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$10.95 for a slice and san pellegrino??!?!?! LOLOL! What a joke. I tried it out once, and like Len I got the same vibe. Location is poor, the gang members that hang out at the front on their bikes are a real treat to look at. What do these guys actually know about pizza? Whats with all the calve talk? Why would someone eat here, so many better options. They'll be gone in 6 months
En Sabah Nur / July 29, 2014 at 04:43 pm
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I only get my pizza from NOB out of principle!
Bryan / July 31, 2014 at 11:56 pm
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I saw Frank Pinello in a doc Vice News did on pizza in New York City and vowed to myself to try his pizza when I go out there next.. Imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled across a review for "North Of Brooklyn" claiming it was co-founded by the man himself! I decided that I would make the cross town mission right away to give this place a shot! I drove through maddening Toronto traffic and fought to get a parking spot, then struggled to find the place.. After I found the spot, I went in and ordered a Margherita Pie with Arugula on it.. The presentation looked great, but the pizza was too greasy.. The dough was.. Nothing special.. The thick tomato sauce had the texture of something that plopped out of a can after being beaten furiously to get out.. It was briny..Tasteless.. It was nothing special... The toppings were also sparse, barely any basil(I think I saw 2-3 measly pieces on the whole pie) and the arugula tasted like somebody splashed salt on it.. Half way through, I was not desiring to eat more.. This was NOT NY style pizza(I've been to some of the best original spots) this was NOT Neapolitan style pizza, nowhere even near Libretto or Pizza Pazzi... So what is it? I got home and gave it another whirl a few hours later and it's even worse the second time around. Won't be going back ever again.

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