New documentary aims to prove Ontario has one of the best pizza cities in the world
Pizza has always been a constant in Windsor documentary filmmaker George Kalivas' life.
“It's been a part of many events in our lives, good or bad,” Kalivas told us. “Your birthday. Your sister’s birthday. After a soccer game. After school. A Wednesday for no reason. pizza was always there.
“If it was a hard day and your mom didn’t have the energy to cook, she ordered a pizza. If the company spontaneously dropped by for a visit, you ordered a pizza. It was a huge part of our lives, and the owners of everyone’s neighbourhood spot were true pillars of the community.”
The self-described food culture-obsessed hip-hop head is spreading the word about his hometown’s pizza scene in his first film, The Pizza City You’ve Never Heard Of, which was released on September 16 on CBC Gem and made its national premiere on CBC on September 17.
According to Kalivas, The Pizza City You’ve Never Heard Of is a road-trip documentary that aims to prove to the world that Windsor is one of the greatest pizza cities around.
“The idea was formulated years ago back when I was 18,” explained Kalivas. “After high school, I moved to New York for school and was quickly introduced to their legendary pizzerias. Every time I would visit one, and I was a regular, it would remind me of the pizzerias back home. Not just the quality of pizza, but the overall feeling you would get when you walked into the shop.
“That old-school, family-over-everything vibe was exactly what the pizza places in Windsor stood for, and it just stuck with me. I just figured someone like Guy Fieri would make the film before I did.”
Kalivas, who is also a Director of A&R at Warner Music, began working in earnest on The Pizza City You’ve Never Heard Of with friend and director Tristan Laughton near the start of the pandemic.
“Sometime in May of 2020, we met in a Home Depot parking lot for one of those secret parking lot coffee hangouts, and we discussed how we were going stir-crazy,” shared Kalivas. “I told him that I had an idea that he was going to think was insane. I pitched it. Two months later we were driving from Toronto to Windsor.”
The pizza-loving duo polled hundreds of Windsorites about their favourite local pizzerias and would end up spotlighting seven mouth-watering restaurants in their documentary.
“One of the things that everyone is surprised about is the fact that Windsor, a city with a population under 300,000 people, has the most pizzerias per capita in all of Canada,” said Kalivas. “Windsorites are obsessed with their pizza. Ask anybody you know that’s from here about it and they’ll talk your ear off.
“A lot of people also don’t know that we have our own style that originated in the 50s. Many corporate pizza brands don’t last in Windsor because the locals won’t eat them. It truly is Pizza City, Ontario.”
The Pizza City You’ve Never Heard Of, which was soundtracked by acclaimed Toronto music producer Dom Dias, enjoyed a successful film festival run throughout North America. This includes its world premiere at The Portland Film Festival and winning Best Documentary Feature at The Silver Wave Film Festival in Fredericton.
“The reception has been incredible. It’s honestly wild to see where this project ended up after that meeting in the Home Depot parking lot,” shared Kalivas. “To have CBC Gem reach out to us was a massive moment, and then to partner with Tastemade in the US was crazy as well. We’re so happy with how everything turned out, but knowing that the Windsor community has been behind us since the beginning was everything to us.
“As I say in the film, sometimes to find the most meaningful and deeply rooted cultural gems, you have to look in the places nobody looks. I hope this film inspires new projects that tell more stories from places nobody knows much about.”
For more information on The Pizza City You’ve Never Heard Of, visit pizzadocumentary.com.
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