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Restaurants

Queen Margherita Pizza

Posted by Frank / Reviewed on June 24, 2010 / review policy

Queen Margherita PizzaQueen Margherita Pizza recently opened in Leslieville and already it's being positioned as the east end's answer to Pizzeria Libretto. Yes, they too serve napoletana pizza baked in a prized wood-burning oven but as we know, even places that make the same type of food can offer drastically different takes on the same dish. And as much as I profess my LOVE for certain places and dishes, I can accept, for instance, there are those who think my favourite bowl of pho uses dishwater for broth.

Once in a rare while though, you find establishments playing by the same rules-- sorta. That seems to be the case here. They're both all about VPN FTW! The fact that I wrote this site's doting Libretto profile last year, kinda qualified me for this particular gig and I was definitely curious to see how this two-month-old contender for the undisputed Toronto "vera pizza napoletana" crown measured up against, in your humble narrator's opinion, one of the best pies in the city.

There are selfish motives for my visit as well: the prospect of some craft pizza a short walk from my front door! So, mindful that in order to get the VPN seal of approval you need to follow a certain standard, I was prepared to put aside my opinion and be objective for once. Sorta.

QMP has been getting some decent press so I was expecting a crowd the Sunday afternoon I made my way over to the converted auto parts shop's eclectic space but to my surprise the Queen is dead with people opting for patio brunches and beach blankets this sunny midday. Proprietor John Chetti assures me the place is packed every weeknight and weekend evening but admits a patio would probably be as big of a draw as the pizza on a sunny day like this. "We're working on getting permission to put one out back" he admits, though he also acknowledges it probably won't be ready this summer.

Unfazed, we settle into a seat on the brightly lit second floor with a full view of the imported Neapolitan oven manned by imported Neapolitan pizzaolos at the back, the ttc's Russellyard out front, and the menu under our noses. Since this is a pizza mission it's not a question of what so much as which one.

The pizza options aren't as "flashy" as the ones at Libretto--no duck breast prosciutto on these pies--skewing more towards "traditional" combinations instead.

After brief deliberation we settle on the Napolitana and the Diavola ($16.95 each a la carte) and literally 2 minutes after we place our order the pies arrive at our table hot on the heals of the two glasses of excellent chianti ($9.50 each) we order to wash our meals down. We should've expected nothing less since there are no other covers and the wood burning oven can turn raw dough into smoky blistered goodness in around 90 seconds flat.

The crust on both are chiaroscuro charred to black and golden blonde perfection with a hit of smoke and a crunch that gives way to the signature Neapolitan chew. So far, so good.

Queen Margherita PizzaThe Napolitana is text book anchovy pizza with plump, savory morsels of fish joined on a bed of bright, rich tomato sauce with a sprinkling of briny capers, and fantastic waxy black olives. I like the fact that since this is a seafood pizza the traditional layer of cheese is omitted for the sake of authenticity. It's hardly missed as the brightness and contrast are both cranked way beyond visible limits offering a full spectrum of salty, tangy, sweet. If you put your ear close enough to it I'm sure you could hear the ocean.

In contrast, the Diavola (pictured at top) was a tasty juxtaposition of fiery, peppery heat from the salumi, pepperoncini and hot peppers; and soothing from the mellow milky buffalo moz oozing from each bite. Once again the cured black olives added a pleasant saline note to the mix for another winner.

I know that the ownership at QMP are probably really tired of the comparisons to their west end counterparts and the good thing is their pizza offerings more than stand on their own. I know whenever I'm craving pizza and don't feel like the trek to Ossington, I'll definitely hit up Queen Margherita Pizza for a bite.

You'll notice I've been very dipolmatico about this pizza taste-off. I know you're wondering: "But seriously, who's the winner?" Well that'd be whoever finds themselves lucky enough to snag a table at either of these fine pie joints, natch!

Photos courtesy:  Paul Kay

Queen Margherita Pizzag

Discussion

61 Comments

MK / June 24, 2010 at 11:06 am
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Lil'Baci...still one of the best.
positivity / June 24, 2010 at 11:25 am
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Very fair review! I think it's ridiculous that people are constantly comparing "who's better" in terms of pizza, burgers, coffee, etc in our city. Can't we be proud to say that we have a great options for all of the above? Our city is so big that it doesn't hurt to have a couple of Neapolitan pizzerias in different areas. Of course people are going to prefer one over the other- that's personal opinion, but at the end of the day it seems that both Libretto and QM are good at doing what they do and that's fine with me.

kyliep / June 24, 2010 at 11:32 am
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the 'who's better' seems to be a hook for whomever is writing the review. the reality is, if you live or work closer to one, you'll probably frequent that resto. haven't been to libretto but QM was fantastic and great value, imo.
Syncros / June 24, 2010 at 11:32 am
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2 minutes from ordering to delivery?!? I dined at QMP last night and it took almost an hour between ordering and pizza arriving at our table. Had to ask for bread midway through due to starvation. The pizza was OK but the service was sub-par. We had to move plates off our table ourselves and 30 minutes later the plates were still on the bench beside us there as we left. It was packed last night, probably due to the Star's glowing review on the weekend. Hope they get the kinks worked out soon, i'd consider going again when I have a few hours for a meal.
Ryan L. / June 24, 2010 at 11:54 am
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There's also another wood oven pizza place just opened east of Woodbine called Viccinos. They haven't been opened long and are taking their time at getting some of the kinks worked out, but I think once they do it could easily be considered one of the best in the city.
TheWord / June 24, 2010 at 03:49 pm
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At the end of the day Libretto and QMP are ultimately reincarnations of Terroni. The proof is in the staff (particularly of Libretto) which is comprised largely of former Terroni staff.
loper replying to a comment from TheWord / June 24, 2010 at 04:15 pm
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Oh, I didn't know Terroni invented pizza.
TheWord replying to a comment from loper / June 24, 2010 at 06:51 pm
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@Loper: You might want to look again at my comment. Nowhere does it say that Terroni invented pizza. It doesn't even say that Terroni makes better pizza than Libretto or QMP.

What it does say is that these restaurants have largely - and obviously - followed in the footsteps of Terroni (a fact ignored in many of these articles). Their attempt to copy the Terroni model goes as far as snagging their pizza guys and other staff.

Thanks though for putting words in my mouth.
mondayjane replying to a comment from TheWord / June 24, 2010 at 09:31 pm
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Well said. And, true.
Andy replying to a comment from TheWord / June 25, 2010 at 02:59 am
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I second loper,

No one really compares Terroni to Pizza Libretto. Even if we put taste aside, Libretto's dedication to the finest ingredients, traditional styles and contemporary methods really propel Libretto to th spotlight. Libretto made Pizza in Toronto a truly unique experience.

Hiring a few servers from Terroni does not make them copy-cats.

Wouldn't you hire people who had worked in a similar line of business before?

Duh, right?
Elizabeth replying to a comment from TheWord / June 25, 2010 at 08:45 am
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Except that Terroni pizza sucks compared to Libretto!
Rachel / June 25, 2010 at 08:57 pm
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Good review but two things:

1. Ossington is "west end"?
2. You make it seem as though the pizzeria, not the review, is in response to the creation of Libretto. QMP sounds very much like a second choice when you say "I know whenever I'm craving pizza and don't feel like the trek to Ossington, I'll definitely hit up Queen Margherita Pizza for a bite." But perhaps that is true.

Either way, I love gourmet pizza and I appreciate the nice write-up. I'll swing by here if I can.
Jessica replying to a comment from TheWord / June 26, 2010 at 10:01 am
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Hiring ex-Terroni staffs can me the restaurant Terroni-like? Who's running the business? The staffs or the non-Terrnoni owners?
TheWord replying to a comment from Jessica / June 26, 2010 at 10:10 am
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@Jessica: First of all, your opening sentence makes no sense. Second, there's nothing less convincing than someone who makes questions instead of statements; say what you want to say instead of asking it.

The owners aren't making the pizza or serving the food. Some, not all, ex-terroni staff are.

All I was saying is that Terroni has had a clear and undeniable influence on these two restaurants. An observation validated by Libretto's hiring of Terroni staff (particularly pizza cooks). I'm not sure why everyone on this blog has a hard time accepting that. Maybe we're all just too hip to appreciate Terroni now - their jeans are skinny enough and their restaurants are west enough.
PizzaPal replying to a comment from TheWord / June 28, 2010 at 01:56 pm
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TheWord: i think Terroni's pizza's are amazing, yet I also love Libretto and QMP.
The latter two are different breeds of pizza and we are very fortunate to be able to choose from so many Italian epicurean delights in our wonderful city...!
Jana / June 29, 2010 at 06:45 pm
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I got a take-out pizza last week- took 20 minutes (and they were FULL busy), but the total came to $18! The pizza was good, but nothing close to $18 worthiness! I won't be returning again.
Betty Martini / July 3, 2010 at 09:19 am
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We stopped in as we live in the neighbourhood and were quite disappointed. Unfortunately we didnt have a good experience at all. The pizza was limp and soggy and the salad was non existent .... really how much does some lettuce cost.
George Smitherman / August 22, 2010 at 04:41 pm
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They don't have a menu on their website. That's pretty amateur

Also the pizza chef wouldn't sell me any meth
mr. replying to a comment from TheWord / September 2, 2010 at 11:45 pm
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just to make it clear the folks who opened up Libretto have been in the italian restaurant biz longer then terroni. Do you research "TheWord" and check out Ferro.

Also, if you go to Italy food is about high quality, fresh, simple ingredients so really all these restaurants are just going back to the roots of italian cuisine.

Anne V. replying to a comment from Ryan L. / September 10, 2010 at 02:05 pm
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Tried the oven-baked pizza at Viccino Pizzeria (1923 Queen St East) last night, and it was fabulous. They're still waiting for their L.L.B.O. license, but we were quite impressed with the food and service! The thin and crispy dough was like a taste of heaven, and we got real bacon bits right off the skillet with our Cesar salad (instead of the usual atrocious fake stuff). I hope they survive, because they'll definitely be our go-to spot for pizza!
Carrera / September 14, 2010 at 07:41 pm
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I consider myself a pizza lover. I have been to libretto, queen margherita, terroni and two places north of the city for pizza this September alone. I have to say that Queen Margherita is definitely the best of the bunch. Not that the others were slouches (libretto gets my vote for second best), but the beautifully blistered dough and high quality sauce and cheese at Queen Margherita make it the definitive best in my book. I should note that I am a fan of Napolitana pizza and Queen Margherita and Libretto are specifically geared to that style. They are just on another playing field than other "American" pizzerias.
Carrera / September 14, 2010 at 07:43 pm
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They are just on another playing field than other "American *STYLE*" pizzerias.
emme / October 24, 2010 at 08:36 pm
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QMP & Libtretto are both GREAT! Anyone, who feels that these two places don't make great pizza has no idea what authentic Napoletan Pizza is! As for the complaint about an $18 dollar pizza, GET OVER IT!... These days you a get a burger that is 10 bucks and not even real meat and you feel crappy right after! And, if you are on a budget get a MARGHERITA for 13!

joe / November 20, 2010 at 07:48 am
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I'm glad I went into this establishment last night. for some pizza. I now know the true meaning of SHIT!! while I was sitting at the bar eating my pizza I noticed the bar sever cleaning the bar counter with a dirty rag then using the same rag to wipe wine glasses with. so I mentioned it to the owner and he offered to buy me an ice cream. hew!!! I then had to use the toilet and while standing doing my business a cockroach comes crawling along side of me so I pissed on it. but unfortunately it did not die. oh well. dinners beware!!there may be piss next to the sink in the mens room. But the pizza was ok
joe replying to a comment from Carrera / November 20, 2010 at 07:55 am
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American Pizza???????? I think the whole Idea is Neapolitan pizza?! what the hell do the ignorant americans know about pizza ???? The only thing they gave the world was and did well was McDonnell's. Burger King, KFC, and allot allot of over wight stupid people!!!!
American PIzza? Please stop!
James replying to a comment from joe / January 7, 2011 at 03:26 pm
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Joe are you seriously talking about ignorant Americans? You do know that people weigh your opinion with the knowledge that you're the guy who pisses on a bathroom floors. In other words, no one is listening to you
Bill / January 14, 2011 at 10:17 pm
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Just went. was really looking forward to it. mediocre at very best. we ordered 4 pies and 3 were seriously under baked to the point where the cheese wasn't even fully melted. so amateur. doesn't come close to Libtretto in any way shape or form.
jack replying to a comment from Bill / January 15, 2011 at 08:00 am
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I tyred the pizza again the other day because a Friend insisted we go so I did we stood at the door for 10 min before we were even asked to be seated. when we sat down after 15 min some big fat guy I think the owner came up and asked us "how was everything ? " hahaha funny !! I responded "GREAT" and he responded with GOOD and left. Did we get served ? NO!!! finally when we did get served the pizza came cold and there was a twist tie in my friends Margaretta pizza. I thought Margaretta's only had tomato, cheese, and basil ? Hmmmm? When I asked the big fat owner about it he looked at me like I was nuts. then stared at the twist tie. and walked away. I'm pretty sure he was high. anyways if you want a good laugh go to Queen Margherita Pizza.
louise / January 15, 2011 at 06:41 pm
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Went here over the Christmas holidays and was VERY disappointed -tomato sauce tasted like Heinz tomato soup and agree with Betty Martini review..SOGGY crust ..that being said salad was good..all in all won't go back ..
Bill / January 15, 2011 at 07:22 pm
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Obviously success does not agree with this place. Come on guys, it's PIZZA!!! Not rocket science. It's really not that tricky to get it right.
Anita / January 16, 2011 at 08:28 pm
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Went to QMP this Friday and the appetizers & pizza were AMAZING! The tomato sauce was fresh and resembled nothing of HEINZ tomato soup. As a matter of fact, it was a beautiful red sauce and had no bitterness. The pizza was cooked perfectly and my pear salad was so fresh. I actually enojoyed the simplicity of my meal, something people don't appreciate these days. As for the service it was good, no complaints.
I could definetly see myself going for pizza at QMP regularly!
Shally Mae / January 24, 2011 at 06:21 am
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Base on the comments above, It's getting me curious to try their pizza.I am looking forward to have my first pizza in Toronto at QMP. I can't wait to that day.
Amy P. / January 25, 2011 at 12:33 am
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I tried the pizza @ QMP after a friend recommended it to us and we had an amazing experience. My husband and I were there Sunday night with no reservations but the host who was so kind and friendly found us a table upstairs and the place was happening. The beautiful windows and rustic floors made us feel like we were in Naples all over again. The appetizers were fabulous and the "Dioavola" and "Roberto" were excellent choices. Overall we were so happy for the recommendation!!!
JD / February 16, 2011 at 03:43 pm
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Could very well be the worst pizza i ever had....tastes like the Big Slice did at 4am after a night out....not sure how anyone could find crust soggy in the middle as a good thing....6 of us all had the same experience!!! salads were o.k and dessert also o.k, but if a pizza place cannot cook a pizza properly then why bother....
stefano / February 17, 2011 at 05:23 pm
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Hey JD, just because you wake up day after day pissed off at life it doesnt mean you have to write a bullshit blog about one of the best pizzeria's in Toronto. My family and I eat here almost once a week and everytime the place is packed and more and more people keep mentioning this restaurant at work. Canadian's dont appreciate the true meaning of real pizza, enjoy your pizza pizza at 1AM and its better you dont come back!
Bill / February 18, 2011 at 08:38 am
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Hey stephano, it's called "free speech." One could see your comment as bullshit too. I know I do. JD's assessment is spot on. I had almost the exact same experience and commented here back on Jan 14. Our pizzas were soggy and shockingly poorly cooked. It was truly "amateur hour" that night at QM. And just because a place is packed doesn't mean they know how to make a pizza. Pizza Pizza does a pretty brisk business too last time i checked.
fancyfran / February 18, 2011 at 03:41 pm
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does Toronto know that in Naples the pizza is soggy in the middle and chewy. Bill its true that people are entitled to freedom of speech, howerver neither you nor JD should comment on pizza when your getting exactly what you went for. Its apparent you truly do not know anything about naples pizza. JD and Bill sometimes you seem smarter if you say nothing at all. Just because you have a right dosent mean you should exercise your right. BRAVO QMP!!!KEEP UP THE GREAT PIZZA!!!
Bill / February 20, 2011 at 09:00 am
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fancyfran, PROPERLY made Neapolitan pizza should yes, have a chewy crust but should also be crispy on the outside perhaps even sporting the odd rustic charred bubble. It should also be cooked enough to actually melt the cheese. And NO pizza made anywhere should ever be described over and over again as soggy! You've exposed yourself as just another pinhead wannabe T.O. (I'm guessing Greater T.O) foodie.
Bill / February 20, 2011 at 09:02 am
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fancyfran, PROPERLY made Neapolitan pizza should yes, have a chewy crust but should also be crispy on the outside perhaps even sporting the odd rustic charred bubble. It should also be cooked enough to actually melt the cheese. And NO pizza made anywhere should ever be described over and over again as soggy! You've exposed yourself as just another pinhead wannabe T.O. (I'm guessing Greater T.O) foodie.
louise / February 24, 2011 at 05:00 pm
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So further to the raging battle over pizza and pizza crust...I was interested to read Food and Wine 'recipe for making "perfect" pizza margherita- the recipe referenced in the instructions

"Bake until the bottom is charred and the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes."

so much for the view that a soggy crust is normal...,
Mark / February 28, 2011 at 07:11 pm
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I've been to QMP a few times and have never been disappointed. I have absolutely NO idea what the other comments are about - I've found their pizzas delicious and perfectly cooked. There's a reason why so many people continue to pay $18 for a pizza, otherwise QMP would definitely not be as crowded as I have seen it on some nights.

and I really doubt there was a fucking cockroach in the washroom.
McQueen / March 6, 2011 at 09:49 am
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The odd cockroach in the can I'm ok with. It's a big city. It's the lousy pizza I have a problem with.
Moe / April 18, 2011 at 01:15 pm
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I have been there before, and I would say I like the place better than Libertto. Food is as good, service also, it takes a bit longer cuz I have a feeling that they beging working on the dough when ordered so it is more personalized. But most importantly it does not have a line up every-time you visit which makes it more pleasant, since the air you breathe for ny hour is fresher and the seat assignment are not as congested as Libertto, for sure I would take it anytime over Terroni though. I am going to have their pizza today as well. Let see if they have been consistent. I am hungry, but I do not mind wait for good food.
Moe / April 18, 2011 at 11:32 pm
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Referring to my own post just before, I must say it's hard to beat QPM.
jabronee / May 14, 2011 at 06:09 pm
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QPM Sucks shit its BAD BAD BAD don't eat there I got Listeria and almost died. I spent a week in the hospital and I'm seeing a lawyer about a law suit and closing them down. I'M lucky to be alive.
rob / June 4, 2011 at 10:55 pm
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Hey jebronee funny how nothing has been done about your BS listeria, listen up you stupid bloggers, just because QMP has started something in this boring place called leslieville and it has been a great success...all you stupid people keep coming back and back cause you know you love the pizza, your all just mad that the owners are making $$$$ while you and ur spouses are their arguing about the office whore, nice try listeria!!!
Bill / June 27, 2011 at 11:16 am
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Wow. it's getting very difficult to have an even halfway intelligent conversation about anything on this site. And jabronee and rob? You both sound like a couple of crazy people.
Ellie / August 3, 2011 at 08:45 am
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Wow, I'm surprised to see negative reviews about QMP! I've been here 4 times this year (found out about it in the winter) and I've been impressed every time. I love the prix fixe menu - it's great to see rotating antipasti and desserts. I haven't tried a lot of the pizzas, due to being vegetarian, but I think the true test of many pizzerias is how good a plain and simple margherita pizza is. QMP knocks it out of the park. So delicious and chewy, perfectly charred in places. San Marzano tomatoes complement the cheese and crust perfectly. I also love drizzling it with a little chili oil. Yum!! My only complaint is that I find there is never enough basil (maybe I just love basil) but I always ask for extra and they are happy to add more for me. Delicious! Way to go QMP! I think people who don't like the food here just simply don't like Napoli pizza!!
benny / November 16, 2011 at 06:35 pm
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spero di venire al piu presto benny pizzeria al grottino possiamo fare di meglio ma molto meglio



Jack Augh / December 4, 2011 at 02:42 pm
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I long for a NYC STYLE pizza with a thin crust cooked in a coal oven. Too bad Torontonians only thinks that the best pizza is Neapolitan style.
jabronee / February 10, 2012 at 03:25 pm
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I just heard that you guys lost your pizzaiola. BOTH OF THEM! GOOD!!!!!!! NOW GO BYE BYE!!
joey pazzuli / February 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm
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You guys have to be kidding me? Complaining about the price? $30 for a pizza at libretto is cheap! A burger will run you $25 anywhere else so how can you complain about a pizza. When my wife and I go out for dinner we usually drop between 500-800 so how can you complain about $30 for a pie?? It doesn't get any cheaper! I go to Libretto for a quick lunch, get a pie, some antipasto, and a couple glasses of wine and never runs me more than $80 bucks. This place caters to the average working class so please people don't complain about price.
Ben / August 10, 2012 at 04:27 pm
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I've never seen a $25 burger. Are you from the future?
greendaze replying to a comment from Jack Augh / August 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm
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Then go to NYC. I personally love Neapolitan pizza and am delighted that Toronto has a dearth of Neapolitan pizza joints to choose from.
b replying to a comment from joey pazzuli / September 14, 2012 at 09:50 am
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@Joey Pazzuli. Sorry Bud, the most expensive pizza at libretto is 17 bucks. the average cost is around $15. I have no idea where you are getting your information from. Are you ordering from a special menu for yuppies?
Cj replying to a comment from Jana / January 9, 2013 at 03:16 am
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Just wondering how much you usually pay for pizza? 18$ doesn't seem like much to me.
Bernard / March 23, 2013 at 08:24 pm
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Ordered a takeout pizza earlier this evening from the new Jane / Annette location. It was no better than ordinary. The crust was doughy and there was no more than one stick of cut-up asparagus. Also far too much pepper (at least for my taste). Better than PizzaPizza, but I won't be rushing back.
jimmy / January 8, 2014 at 02:36 pm
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went to Queen Margherita Pizza last night. let me tell you guys something. DO NOT GO THERE!! THE PIZZA IS horrible!!! the server was scratching his ass. I saw him just before he came out of the kitchen carrying my app. Please save yourself do not go.
Carmelo / April 2, 2014 at 06:32 pm
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Can anybody tell me if the QMP on jane and Annette is just as good?
Janey / June 20, 2014 at 09:05 pm
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I've eaten here twice and both times the pizza was soggy and undercooked. I didn't enjoy it at all.
Sean replying to a comment from jimmy / September 6, 2014 at 07:28 pm
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The pizza here is great!! Comment boards are always full of idiots who have some personal axe to grind. Jimmy are you sure it wasn't that you were scratching your ass before you grabbed your own appetizer? Probably eh? I can understand that you made that mistake. Truth is the pizza at Queen Margherita's is quite good and worth the extra cost.

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