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Restaurants

Pizzeria Via Mercanti

Posted by Emily Burke / Reviewed on February 13, 2012 / review policy

Pizzeria Via MercantiPizzeria Via Mercanti is the latest addition to Toronto's Neapolitan-style pizza scene, and in many ways holds its own with some of the other major players in this city like Pizza Libretto, Terroni and Queen Margherita Pizza. The menu is pared down compared to these other options and the decor a little less sophisticated, but the servers are friendly and the ingredients are fresh. Their fior di latte is from Woodbridge and the waitress tells my friend and I that other ingredients are sourced via neighbouring shops in Kensington Market.

They've also got a pair of seasoned pizza makers to ensure a fine product. Romolo Salvati and Massimo Di Lascio both left the Queen Margherita only two months ago to open up this new spot. And before that, they made pizzas in Italy. They opened up Via Mercanti in the recently shuttered Back Alley Woodfire BBQ and Grill, and put together a clean, basic and bright space. The space is what first really separates Via Mercanti from its pizzeria peers.

Pizzeria Via MercantiThe other big name pizza shops in this town have carefully designed, rustic-chic interiors, which are more polished than a pizzeria needs to be. Oh, and don't forget that you're probably gong to be waiting a while for a table (ahem, Libretto). Via Mercanti's no frills vibe is a welcome alternative, if perhaps a little surprising given how competitive this segment of the local restaurant scene has become.

Pizzeria Via MercantiWe begin with the appetizer Bocconcini Di Pizza ($1/each) — think bite-sized mini calzones — stuffed with ricotta, fior di latte and prosciutto. They're served with homemade spicy chili oil that's perfect for dipping. They arrive at our table, piping hot and stuffed with gooey cheese. We're a bit surprised at how filling they are so we refrain from devouring more than a couple despite how good they are. We need to save room for our mains.

Pizzeria Via MercantiI order the Margheritona pizza (pictured at top), topped with fior di latte, prosciutto crudo, basil and fresh parmesan ($13). It's simple, hot and has all the qualities of a good Neapolitan pizza, but I must say it's not the best I've had in this city. The crust is not quite as light and airy, and the sauce doesn't strike that same great balance between salty, sweet and acidic, but it's still really good. Also, the chef tells me they've ordered a new oven from Naples, the secret weapon of any Neopolitan pizzeria, which should arrive shortly and could be significantly better than their current, non-Italian wood-burning oven.

Pizzeria Via MercantiThough they serve a good pizza, Via Mercanti's pasta dishes should not be overlooked, each featuring fresh, housemade pasta with a few classic Italian pairings. The waitress assures us that in the couple weeks they've been open, no one's ever left so much as a stray noodle on their plate at the end of the meal. After trying my friend's Fagottino Di Parma ($15), I believe it. The rosebud-shaped noodles are cooked al dente and tossed in a parmesan cream sauce, wrapped with slices of prosciutto and garnished with parmesan shavings and fresh herbs. Simple but just right.

Pizzeria Via MercantiThe elegant presentation of this dish is at odds with the unpretentious and even sterile d├ęcor of the restaurant. Perhaps they reserve their aesthetic flare for the food rather than the ambience, but they certainly won't hear any complaints on that front from our table.

And yes, we did order three dishes of essentially just prosciutto with cheese. And no, we did not regret it.

Pizzeria Via Mercanti

Discussion

30 Comments

Baldwin St / February 13, 2012 at 11:21 am
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I live and work in the area, for the overwhelming majority of us, we need better jobs to afford the food with those prices.

Yeah, its true, but most: young people begining to work, recent grads, freelancers etc don't earn the kind of money to eat there. For us, its Neu+ral, Sneaky's and Planet Pizza after!

Where service/retail/food industry wage earners should eat without spending a few days worth of "going out" money on one meal. Welcome to Kensington Mercanti!

xoxo
Grid / February 13, 2012 at 11:56 am
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I work and live in the Market as well, and am grateful this opened. There's enough cheap, cheery, studenty food available already, so having something that makes me feel like an adult is welcome.
Bobby / February 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm
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Food looks tasty! I dunno about that sign though, big fail
Ron / February 13, 2012 at 12:15 pm
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I ate here a couple nights ago and loved it. The Via Mercanti pizza is a double decker!! Two pizzas in one! Everything was delicious and we met Romolo who was fantastic. A bit pricey for my normal budget, but I'll definitely be back.
Jordan / February 13, 2012 at 03:54 pm
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Agree about the sign - it could use some sprucing up. Actually the whole exterior looks a little shotty.
Fat Guy! / February 13, 2012 at 04:07 pm
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Pizza Pizza FTW! I'm sticking with my gluten-filled $5.99 LARGE pickup at the franchise. This neo-pizza trend only suits hipsters. Give me frozen cheese, extra sugary tomato sauce and white crust with mounds of creamy garlic and I'm fine. The pinko hipster doofus crowd in Kensington Market can have their trendy thin crust whatevers. It's not good 'za unless the belly busts and you feel slightly disgusted afterwards. Pinko commie BlogTo readers can stick it!
Lee / February 13, 2012 at 07:22 pm
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OK FINALLY GOD WAS GOOD TO TORONTO...AND GAVE US VIA MERCANTI....YOU COULDN'T ASK FOR ANY BETTER ITALIAN PIZZERIA AND PASTA RESTAURANT TO COME TO TOWN....GET YOUR TASTE BUDS READY FOR HEAVEN! UNTOUCHABLE TALENT IN EVERY AREA! :)love it!!!
Adam / February 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm
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Sign sucks, but food was great. Have been twice - margarita pizza is awesome.

There is also a good selection of beers (with a few on tap). Pizza and a beer can be had for 20 bucks and I was totally stuffed.
SANDMAN replying to a comment from Fat Guy! / February 14, 2012 at 01:57 pm
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I believe the posters name is self explanatory ...
copy ed / February 14, 2012 at 05:38 pm
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flair
moe / February 17, 2012 at 12:57 pm
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Don't let the sign fool you. I had a non-sauce pizza with shredded potatoes and ham, and it was unique and tasty. I will be there again, by the by I am not a hipster or a yuppie.
Alley Kat / February 19, 2012 at 10:31 am
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Have only been once and loved it: great food, wonderful peeps. I'll be back for sure. BTW I asked and the new oven(s) from Naples will be wood fired and apparently quite an improvement on those that came with the property. Personally, I liked the decor: not pretentious... just like Kensington Market.
Edward / February 21, 2012 at 12:17 am
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BEST. PIZZERIA. IN. TORONTO. HANDS DOWN!!

Look...for all you Libretto lovers - get over it. It sucks. It was a good start to the Neapolitan scene in Toronto but for the real thing, you have to eat at Via Mercanti. Everything about this place is authentic.
Hm / March 17, 2012 at 02:04 pm
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Tried it once, the pizza was underwhelming and soggy after a long wait. However the table beside us ordered the same pizza and theirs looked great. Will have to go back and try a second time.
helen / March 23, 2012 at 12:12 am
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fatguy: neo-pizza? this is the type of pizza that they serve in italy. you know, where pizza actually comes from originally?
mayor dodge replying to a comment from Fat Guy! / March 23, 2012 at 09:36 am
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Hey, FAT A$$, crawl back under your grease coated rock. Keep out of they way of people who enjoy GOOD PIZZA.
ugh / March 27, 2012 at 02:06 am
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Take it easy, people...Pizza Pizza is not too bad when it's straight out of the oven. All you "connoisseurs" half the time don't know what you're talking about with your idea of 'authentic this' and 'authentic that'. Keep an open mind, anyone who disses franchises I find is so pretentious. I'm not supporting the Boston Pizzas here, nor the Mandarins so relax. I'd be curious to know how many of you know-it-alls have had a range of pizza and pizza styles and don't just run wild with whatever TOronto Life or this site dictates. I've been all over Italy and the best pizza I had was in Milan-- not Naples, so it's really a matter of personal taste, but it doesn't mean I can't like that of Nino d'Aversa or some other place in Woodbridge or Mount Pleasant (Viva Napoli is pretty good too). To hell with Libretto, never understood what the hype was all about besides that we had more choices, though their choices were nothing that warranted those insane lineups. Terroni's is still pretty good for Toronto too.
gill replying to a comment from Edward / April 21, 2012 at 08:00 pm
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You dick fuck!
anona / April 25, 2012 at 03:22 pm
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pizza pizza doesnt even deserve to be mentioned on a website about good food.
antonio / May 20, 2012 at 12:01 am
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i was in via mercanti.it s decent pizza,and i know it s kensigton market,but it s too dirty.i saw cockroach...came on...
martin / May 22, 2012 at 10:28 am
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We went to eat there for the second time on sunday. I was excited to see that Romalo got his new oven. but when we got there my girl friend pointed out that the new oven was not wood burning but gas. very disappointed. and the pizza not so good the spinach salad with walnuts and gorganzola not so good.
Ved / June 21, 2012 at 02:01 am
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I went to Via Mercanti today and had a pizza marinara. The crushed tomatoes they used were good and tasted just right. However, the crust was not a properly executed Neapolitan crust. It was crispy very soon after the pizza arrived and rather chewy. Had it not been for the rather thick edges, I would have thought I was having a Roman pizza.

If you want to have properly made Neapolitan pizza in Toronto, do go to Libretto. There's a reason for the hype.

Via Mercanti - friendly servers, comfortable space, but, honestly, mediocre pizza.
Ornella Ielo / September 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm
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Pizzeria Via Mercanti is a FANTASTIC AUTHENTIC ITALIAN RESTAURANT! Food is FRESH, and DELICIOUS. I tried their Pizza, Ricotta and Spinach Canaloni and the Melingiana a la Parmingana. Everthing I tried was amazing! I found their prices were affordable and fair. Nice to dine in or take out.
Coming soon with my girlfriend, she loves Italian food and I know she is going to love this place! Thank you, Pizzeria Via Mercanti for opening up. It is very popular busy place with repeat customers who know great Italian food. "When the Moon Hits the Sky like a big Pizza Pie, its AMORE"!
lauren / September 26, 2012 at 01:10 pm
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this place was great! loved the margarita pizza, and the chili oil that comes on the table. and of course, the wine. we'll be back very soon!
HonestCritic / May 10, 2013 at 04:41 pm
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They're very good, but they're not as good as TERRONI.

For me it goes:
TERRONI
VIA MERCANTI/QUEEN MARGERITA (same quality)
BUDDHA PIE
LIBRETTO

For slices it's EASILY North of Brooklyn
Christers / September 1, 2013 at 11:46 am
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A friend and I had the opportunity to visit Pizzeria Via Mercanti yesterday for supper. I've also been to Naples, Italy for pizza. While similar and extremely tasty, the pizza at Via Mercanti lacked particular tell tail signs of a true Napoli style pizza. I'm not sure if it wasn't cooked long enough but there was not a single leopard spot of burn marks, no bubble puffs on top of micro bubble puffs, and they cut the pizza for you before bringing it to the table; something never, ever done in Italy, as it would just cause the the crust and ingredients to become a soupy mess. Because Napoli style pizza is normally quite soft in the middle most Italians from that region eat it with a knife and fork. However, I have seen it eaten a a fold when bought on the street. They would take a fairly pliably piece of cardboard, place the whole pizza on it, fold it in half, then you'd fold it again with the cardboard, very similar to a french crepe. Sure the ingredients fall to the botton, but that's the whole fun of eating these pizza's, you can eat as much crust to topping as you like. If you decide to eat at this place, which I do recommend, please ask then not to cut in so you have the choice how you want to eat it; either with a knife and fork or folded and eaten with your fingers
Sarah Sahagian / December 9, 2013 at 06:57 pm
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This, in my opinion, is one of the best pizza places in the city. The pizzas are delicious and done to perfection each time. The service is also pleasantly quirky.
Dwi / January 5, 2014 at 05:03 am
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The waiter was very rude, not only when taking our order but also when we were paying.
We wanted to try this place because the reviews were pretty good and went as a group of 8. It was our first visit, so we asked for some suggestions like how big the pizza was in order to share with everyone. He basically looked down at us and couldn't believe that we haven't tried "the famous pizza" before. Arrogant!! Doesn't matter how tasty or authentic the pizza was, the waiter was so bitter and the service was well below standard! We also had to grab our own chilli sauce, flakes, cheese, etc. while he was just standing right there by the bar!
And when we wanted to pay separately, he complained and just threw (yep! threw!) a calculator to my face and told me to calculate my own bill and tax. In retrospect, yes we should have asked for separate bills, OR he should have asked if we wanted separate bills like, you know, any waiter with common sense when a group of 8 came in! Nevertheless, we had to remind him that he better watch out with his disgusting attitude! I tip him with this blogto review!
Maesa / January 5, 2014 at 02:18 pm
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TOTALLY DISGUSTED BY THE WAITER WHO SERVED US!
HE WAS SUPER RUDE AND GAVE US SO MUCH ATTITUDE.
LIKE HONESTLY, PIZZA WAS NOT EVEN GOOD.
AS A FIRST TIME CUSTOMER, THIS WAITER SHOUD HAVE SERVED OR GIVEN US GOOD OR EVEN BEST IMPRESSION SO WE COULD COME BACK, BUT, HE DID THE OPPOSITE AND JUST MAKE THE RESTAURANT LOSING CUSTOMER.

AND IT WAS ONE OF HIS JOB TO HELP CX TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO PAY OR WE WANT TO DO SEPARATE BILLS INSTEAD HE TOLD US TO CALCULATE OUR OWN FOOD AND STILL EXPECTED A TIP. SERIOUSLY THOUGH.

NOT EVEN A SINGLE SORRY WAS GIVEN! NEVER COME BACK TO THIS PLACE EVER AGAIN!
RC / May 14, 2014 at 07:29 pm
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The worst experience I've ever had. It was our first time- had heard the place was worth checking out....no.

After we put our in order- I got up to wash my hands and I cop kisses from my boo while she tells me how pretty Iooked that day- nothing raunchy. This sour homophobic troll of an owner interrupts our moment and proceeds to tell us we could not make out there and that restaurants were for eating only- in an extremely rude and patronizing tone. I have never been talked to so rudely by a server in my life. I was so shocked that I had no words to say and promptly left.

This establishment is in no way queer friendly- be warned. They should really move out of Kensington.

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