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Restaurants

Vinny Massimo's Pizza & Pasta

Posted by Devon Scoble / Listed on October 12, 2009 / review policy

Vinny Massimo's Pizza & PastaMassimo's has been getting a lot of press lately. First, there was the whole sanitation and rats issue that forced the popular late night pizzeria to close temporarily. And then there was a large fire that effectively closed the place for good. But then last month we received word that co-owner Tony DeBartolo mas moving Massimo's south - to Queen and Dovercourt - and rechristening it Vinny Massimo's Pizza & Pasta. After a few weeks of renovations it's now open and once again serving the hot slices that made the original location famous.

Vinny Massimo's Pizza & PastaThe new location is bare bones, channeling classic take-out minimalism and a certain je ne sais I don't give a f***. I can appreciate the sentiment: pizza is one of those dishes that, if made well, requires no adornment. The slices in the takeout display certainly look good when I arrive, so I order a piece of margherita, plus a tiramisu and an Italian salad.

With its thin crust, snapping-crisp edges and brown-baked cheese top, my slice puts on a good show, promising flavour and texture tasty enough to put an end to the neighbourhood's skinny jeans phase. But, like a girl with Spanx under her pants, my pizza is hiding a secret: it's old. Sweet tomatoey sauce, thin crust and delectable clusters of parsley oil all indicate that this was once a masterfully crafted pie, but too much chew and un-stretchy cheese also tell a tale of display-case neglect.

Vinny Massimo's Pizza & PastaEven stale, the pizza is pretty good: I just lament that I didn't get to it earlier, when I'm sure it would've been sublime. Too bad I can't say the same about the tiramisu, which is dominated by two distinct flavours: espresso and refrigerator. Unlike my pizza, which tastes like it's been sitting around for hours, the tiramisu seems to have been stagnating for days. Lucky I have a crisp, fresh Italian salad to chase it down (yes, I ate my dessert first).

The thing about the salad is that it too is misrepresented: instead of the advertised artichokes, one of my favourite toppings, it's covered in black olives. Vinny Massimo's is pretty small, and I could actually hear how this happened. It went something along the lines of Hey, do you know where the artichokes are? followed by a No, just put olives on it. Now, in this era of rampant allergies, not to mention food preferences and consistency standards, substituting explicitly listed ingredients without customer consent is just not cool.

Vinny Massimo's Pizza & PastaTorontonians are pretty sophisticated when it comes to pizza, and Massimo's delivers enough flavour to show me that once again it could emerge to be among our city's top pizzerias. But if Massimo's is going to impress me, they're going to have to step up their game. I hope they will take advantage of this fresh start to clean up their act and concentrate on delivering what they clearly know how to make: super-tasty pizza pies.

Discussion

57 Comments

DS / October 13, 2009 at 10:18 am
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Torontonians are pretty sophisticated about pizza? Really? We're nowhere in comparison to New York City or Chicago when it comes to 'za.
Becca / October 13, 2009 at 10:31 am
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What time of day did you go??
jack / October 13, 2009 at 11:14 am
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Panago on Gerrard is the best
Poster / October 13, 2009 at 11:16 am
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Forget Chicago and New York. Toronto pizza isn't even as good as Halifax.
sunrised / October 13, 2009 at 11:44 am
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Torontonians - are not known for pizza!
Daniel Robb / October 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm
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I went at about 3pm on a Saturday and there were literally 2 slices available, each the same type (some sort of veggie slice with red pepper+tomato+mushroom+olive).

I would prefer a little more selection, but if this is the tradeoff to be made for freshness, I think I can deal. The pizza was excellent.
Richard / October 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm
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After being a loyal customer on College for years, I took a jaunt down to the newly-opened Queen St. location.

I was underwhelmed to say the least.
The margherita was good. But not *great* as it once was.
No oven in the front, which was one of their hallmarks.
I was a huge fan of their pepperoni slices as well - but one look at the sad slices and it was quite obvious it's not the same anymore... they're using pathetic tiny slices of pepperoni instead of their big slices that get that nice little crispy edge to it like they had on College Street.

They've got a LONNNNNNNNG way to go if they wish to reclaim their lost glory. :(
zach / October 13, 2009 at 02:44 pm
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I've been going to Massimos for 14 years. I'm glad they've re-opened but I found my slice a little cold.

Expert-tip: Always request garlic oil.
Loic / October 13, 2009 at 03:20 pm
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Massimo's has long been in the same league as Big Slice @ Yonge Gerrard, and it's no different today. Pizza, is quite easy to make but neither care about the quality, preparation and ingredients of their offerings, they just wanna make the cheapest possible pie and sell it. I mean, look at their "salad", what a miserable looking thing to eat. Head lettuce to make a salad? oh right, its because its 89cents a head. Just go to Pizzaiolo already.
Jive City / October 13, 2009 at 03:21 pm
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My wife and I went for a late night dinner here the other night and were not impressed.

We live around the corner and detest Pizza Pizza, so we were looking forward to Massimo's being our 'go to' za. Now, the pizza was the kind of tasty that only a long overdue dinner can be, but it was much too oily and the selection shallow: pepperoni and margherita. On a second occasion, this time around lunch, I peeked in the window to see if the offerings had improved and moved on when I realized they had not.

Also off-putting was the atmosphere of the place. A man, whom we took to be the owner, stood around loudly jawing with a business associate about a deal that had given them heartburn. While we waited to pay for our slices, the owner boomed admonishments at the other over and through us, treating the pizza shop like his living room. While he laundered private affairs in public, we felt like unwelcome house guests.

I have higher hopes for my neighbourhood pizza joint, but until Vinny deigns to offer more and different pies and saves his business affairs for the back office, I'll hop on my bike and head to Pizzaiola's at Queen and Markham instead.
Morga replying to a comment from Poster / October 13, 2009 at 04:32 pm
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Toronto has some of the worst pizza in the history of bad pizza and Canadians make some horrible, sub sandwich like pizza. Libretto and Terroni are the only places worth considering.
Something positive to consider though, Libretto has become hugely popular, so Torontonians know what real pizza is, we just can't buy it anywhere.
Steve Keys / October 13, 2009 at 06:20 pm
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I've been going to Massimos on College since I was a toddler. Unless I was out of the country I would have at least 1 or 2 slices a week, minimum. I went to this new location today and can now say my childhood is dead.

Papa Ceo is my master now.
Teena in Toronto / October 13, 2009 at 09:22 pm
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I had a pepperoni slice there on Thursday night. It was good but really really greasy :(
Teena in Toronto / October 13, 2009 at 09:31 pm
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The slice I had on Thursday was my third attempt.

The first time I went they had one nasty cold slice (I think it was pepperoni) ... so I left.

The second time I went I was ignored. There were two fellas in the kitchen and they did see me ... so I left.
Joey / October 14, 2009 at 12:58 am
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I just wanted to express my opinion of how disgusting the pizza and tiramisu look. At least the salad looks acceptable.
The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from Morga / October 14, 2009 at 01:11 am
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What a snobby thing to say, Morga.

Libretto and Terroni make fine pizza, but there is nothing wrong with many other pizza places around the city, including Pizzaiaola, Papa Ceo's and it's neighbour (whose name I always forget), Amato used to be good, etc., etc. Pizza, more than many other foods, is a creative experience to make and to eat. There's no one right way.
The One Who Is Not The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from The One Who Is Not Morga / October 14, 2009 at 08:24 am
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Canadian pizza is average at best and anybody who's had real pizza from a real pizzaria would agree.
The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from The One Who Is Not The One Who Is Not Morga / October 14, 2009 at 11:26 am
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Do you mean real as opposed to ephemeral pizza or vapourous pizza or fictitious pizza or Santa Claus pizza or Boogeyman pizza? Also, what is this pizzaria you speak of?
The One Who Is Not The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from The One Who Is Not Morga / October 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm
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The fact Pizza Pizza's the most successful chain of pizza joints in Canada speaks volumes about what we'll accept as "good pizza."
The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from The One Who Is Not The One Who Is Not Morga / October 14, 2009 at 12:30 pm
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What's this? Now we're talking about good pizza? What happened to real pizza? Was it ephemeral after all? I'm very confused.
yammy / October 14, 2009 at 01:02 pm
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i miss pizza in Toronto...I live in Japan now...Pizza is crap..I remember liking Cora's , Terroni, and sadly Pizzaiolo...lol..they always had fresh pizza..sometimes i would go to Capi's.
Upper North Side replying to a comment from yammy / October 14, 2009 at 01:50 pm
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Funny -- I live in New York now and the one thing I don't miss about Toronto is its sad excuse for pizza.
The One Who Is Not The One Who Is Not Morga / October 14, 2009 at 01:54 pm
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I'm sure you get confused about a lot of things, but don't worry -- I'm sure a slice of what you Torontonians call "pizza" ("real", "good" or otherwise) will fix you right up.
The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from Upper North Side / October 14, 2009 at 02:01 pm
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Dear Commenter from New York City, please specify which "Toronto pizza" you are referring to, as we make more than one kind.

Also, please clarify what aspect of Toronto pizza you find funny, as the subject does not seem prima facie humourous and your humour is lost on me.

Finally, is it true that your ex, who cheated on you so ignominously, was, in fact, a pizza delivery person employed by a Toronto 'pizzaria' and this may be the root cause of your loathing of the Toronto pizza scene?
The One Who Is Not Morga replying to a comment from The One Who Is Not The One Who Is Not Morga / October 14, 2009 at 02:16 pm
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It appears to me, sir (or madam, as the case may be), that you have misplaced your argument and have resorted to the that old Internet stand-by, the argumentum ad hominem. I expect to be fingered a Nazi, imminently.

In the meantime, all this talk of real, good pizza has made me hungry.
yo pizza / October 14, 2009 at 03:00 pm
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massimos, just before it closed on college, had slipped so far into mediocrity it wasn't even funny. tiny slices, weren't very good, it was a shameful decline from what had, only months before, been the best slice joint in the city. went to the one on queen a week or two back and i guess i must be alone in thinking it had finally got better. i didn't even have a slice, but i saw the ones in the case and they looked fresh, and we were assured that a fresh margherita was about to come out of the oven as well. regardless, we went for a party size marg and i'll be damned if it wasn't one of the best pizzas i've had in toronto, feeding 4 easily and coming in at around 15 dollars less than two pizzas, which fed 2, at libretto (obviously i understand the disparity). conclusion, just order a wheel you whimpering ninnies
stu / October 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm
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when your friggin pissed, a stumblin home from the hip strip it all tastes good... mmmm 2am pizza
MR JESUS / October 15, 2009 at 12:33 am
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Um are we really fighting over pizza? Let the war rage on !
Joe-E replying to a comment from sunrised / October 15, 2009 at 01:47 pm
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Hey, go to Windsor for good Pizza - Roma's or the Riverside Tavern - even my pals from New York and Montreal are impressed!
scott / October 15, 2009 at 05:18 pm
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Based upon the pictures above (that is really a sad excuse for a pizza slice), and the comments below, this place deserves to die quickly. Sorry.
sasha / October 15, 2009 at 11:02 pm
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Its pizza people, it comes in all different shapes sizes and tastes for everyone. Funny how people try some slices and write off a whole cities pizza.
tony replying to a comment from Steve Keys / October 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm
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i respect your opinion steve.And if you been eating our pizza since infancy. the only regret i have as the owner is i dont have a clue who you are.
Massimo4ever / October 27, 2009 at 10:56 pm
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Hey Scott keep eating those Pizza Pizza slices already! .....
How does anyone expect pizza to stay hot and fresh all day long? People please don't compare brick oven pizza (like Terroni and Libretto)to gas oven pizza. Two completely different products! Just trying having one of those types of 'za delivered and you'll see how crappy they turn out......Duh thats why those joints don't deliver!!!! Granted pizza is the best served when hot, but hell so is baked bread and I don't hear any complaints about bakeries not serving hot bread all day long. Massimo's pizza is made with natural ingredients, nothing is pre baked and is all from scratch. I think they are just having a rough start, though the place may be a little bare in the beginning, it's clean and it's nice to see Tony the owner there at all times. Welcome back Massimo!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tony / November 1, 2009 at 01:33 pm
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Welcome back Tony (and Massimo's). As someone who grew up on Robert St, I'm very sad to see you moved. That said, thank you for re-opening on Queen St. The area is vibrant and I'm sure you will be a success as always.

For my money, Massimo's continues to have the best tasting pizza in the city regardless if it's in a display case or not.

That said, if there is a way to get the oven to the store front, do it. That's the Massimo's way.
John / February 11, 2010 at 12:10 am
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Best pizza is Ferraro 502 on Eglington, between spadina and Avenue Rd.
Mark T replying to a comment from Steve Keys / February 16, 2010 at 07:04 pm
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Gotta say, Steve, as a loyal customer since around 1988, the new College Massimo's is BACK. I've gone around 10 times since December 2009, and have never been disappointed. Haven't tried the Queen location, so no comment, but these guys bend over backwards to continue to prove they are the best. I've even tried the Pasta! Great huge portions and made super fresh.

Keep it up, Tony!
steve hawrd / June 23, 2010 at 06:22 pm
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hello dear ,..... i have some suggetion for all of u
vinney massimo has worst pizza of alll
u know the coook who is alwys caughing and stuff on the pizzza while he is making it he coughs on it i have him video tape and the fat guy who is pizza maker aswell he is alwys sweating on pizza wipes his hand with his hairs then starts making pizza thats nasty ....... i would never ever eat thier pizza again ... if u need more info contact me by email i ll be happy to show u videos....
John replying to a comment from steve hawrd / June 26, 2010 at 02:42 am
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send me a link.
Neena / September 9, 2010 at 07:16 pm
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Hey Steve

You sound like a disgruntled employee to me, dude learn to spell
Brad / September 21, 2010 at 09:17 pm
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Toronto has the best pizza in Canada by far. Calgary has the worst pizza in the world by far. They cook pizza in Calgary with the meat first then the sauce and cheese on top. On top of that most of the items they put on pizza are pork based and not fully cooked.
Pete / November 23, 2010 at 06:53 am
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As a transplant to this great city, there are some delivery pizza pie challenges. There's some ok but nothing really amazing compared to other North American cities I've lived in. However Massimo's was my favourite until about a year before the fire.

Called to get a delivery. Guy who answered said two words then I could hear what sounded like a cell phone ringing. He said "hold please" and dropped phone on counter. Then for several minutes I heard him loudly screaming at someone who sounded like an employee that was calling in. Eventually I hung up. Ok no biggie they're entitled to an off night especially if there's staffing troubles.

So couple of weeks later I'm heading to see a band at the ElMo and stop in for a quick slice. Short line up, guy making pizza is snapping at two employees, one of whom looks like a very nervous older man. Nervous old man says something about change. Angry guy making pizza stops spreading out dough, reaches into his pocket and hands him a wass of $5s, then goes right back into the dough without any sort of hand wash happening. This was in full view of 6 strangers who audibly gasped and left. That was the end of Massimo's for me. This was after the initial shut down for sanitation issues...so they obviously could care less. Possibly that's why it tasted good? :)
margie / January 30, 2011 at 02:00 am
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FRIG I GOTTA SAY THIS OK! ok so heres the deal, you walk in expecting minimal everything, and you get BAD BODY ODOR. ok ok so you get your pizza, and it's so god damn old, you wish you were drunk! everything tastes better when you're drunk.
margie / January 30, 2011 at 02:01 am
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I MEAN LOOK AT THE FRIGGEN PICTURE OF THE GOD DANG SLICE IT"LL BREAK YER TOOTH OFF
Elton / February 4, 2011 at 03:34 pm
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go when the girl is working, she's always pushin quality pie and keeps place in good order, food's always awesome when she's there and nice service.
havent seen here for a bit, i turn around when she's not there and i see the rest of the pigpens in there..wtf...is that place even legal?
delton / February 9, 2011 at 07:27 pm
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ewwwwwwwwwwwww so nasty pizza i ever had i seen guy picking on his nose when i went in there and i threw up there .......
and left the placeee.. he was pickin ghis nose and making pizza with same hand ewwww nasty
mass / May 5, 2011 at 09:25 pm
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nice pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
massimo / May 5, 2011 at 09:26 pm
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i have the same name as you massimo
Teena / August 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm
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We've determined that if you order a pizza for delivery, it's delicious! The slices are hit and miss, usually a miss.
Racer416 / October 8, 2011 at 05:13 pm
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It's not a real pizza when it's made in a gas oven.
F / October 17, 2011 at 06:44 am
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they made the slices smaller... still tastes great, but, YES, WE NOTICE IT IS SMALLER.

CHANGE IT BACK
Tone / March 4, 2012 at 01:46 am
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I'm known for pizza! I eat only Pizza. I'm the first self proclaimed Pizzatarian. Massimo's is great. I get it all the time
James / March 4, 2012 at 02:03 am
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I've been to Massimo's on Queen for a 1-2am slice a few times. Always tastes great, always end up getting second slice.
Alex / March 4, 2012 at 02:18 am
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Ahhh man I could go for a Pepperoni Slice from Massimo's right now!!!
Tom / March 10, 2012 at 09:57 am
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Pizza - and food in general - in Toronto is terrible compared to most large cities. Not saying there aren't good restaurants. Just saying on average the cooking you do at home is far superior to most of the food you can order.

Why do we think we're so great?

Also, don't use your debit card here... I did once and the next day my account had been compromised and was missing a few hundred dollars.
Jeremy / August 17, 2012 at 05:10 pm
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Have to agree Toronto is horrible for pizza. Whats up with pizza pizza on every corner - dough with a side of sh** cheese. Massimo's is average pizza, which makes it one of the better places in this city. God help the ROC if Toronto has the best pizza in the nation. Same can be said for chicken wings (which make f-all sense since were one hour down the road from Buffalo), or any other greasy food in T.O. This city's easy food seems lost but for a few exceptions...well we always have street meat I guess.
Gay boy / December 10, 2012 at 07:29 pm
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I'm a gay guy and I love this pizza!
Alex / December 11, 2012 at 12:15 am
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Worst pizza in town! Super oily and dirty!

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