850 degrees has been open for about a month in the city's west end near Lakeshore and Thirtieth. Owner and Chef Chris Beard recently moved here from the UK to open this homage to everything Canadian, using only locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Chris and co-owners Siobhan and Wayne are on a mission to make pizza distinctly Canadian, with an Ontario only beer and wine menu and some creative pizzas, these former Brits are forging a distinctly different pizzeria.
After working as a Pizzaiolo in Naples, Chris perfected his technique and decided Toronto was a good market to open a new restaurant that combines our favourite Italian obsession and our unique Canadian palate. With a modern and minimalistic interior this new spot is cozy enough with the banquettes for a dinner date, or, if you're into solo gorging, grab a stool and people watch.
Sleek wooden table tops fit nicely with the exposed pipe table legs and the stone fired pizza oven gives the room a show stopping focal point. Gerber daisies on each of the tables offer a girlish vibe. An autographed photo of Dave Bolland matches well with the deep navy blue wall.
A few starters sated us until the pizzas arrived. Staple Italian classics like meatballs - Polpette al Forno ($8.95) come blistering hot in a small baking dish, with pizza bread (garlic bread but in a half pizza shape) on the side for dipping. The tomato sauce is pure and you can tell they're not using locally grown tomatoes on this one, and frankly that's a good thing (thanks Martha). San Marzano tomatoes are the heart of the dish, and the slightly dry meatballs benefit greatly from a good long soak in the sauce.
The Antipasto plate ($8.95) is a smattering of the traditional meats and cheeses including some olives and artichokes. Not bad if you're there for some wine and nibbles, but nothing ground-breaking.
Pizzas come in two sizes, twelve or eight inches. We tried the David Bolland , aptly named after our boy in blue who hails from Mimico. The DB ($8.50 for small size) comes dressed to impress with Calabrese salami, fior di latte cheese and tomato sauce.
Chef makes his dough daily, with a recipe straight from Italy using only Caputo 00 flour. The result is a pretty thick crust with a texture almost like sourdough. Cooked at a scorching (and obvious) 850 degrees, pizzas pop out in mere minutes. The DB has some nice heat from the salami, and the fior di latte cheese tames the spiciness.
The Oh Canada ($8.50 for small size) is the real deal. A perfectly soft egg is the crown achievement on this pizza, with maple bacon subtly stealing the show. The runny egg is the clincher, the yolk oozes out and mingles with the tomato sauce and cheese ensuring a knife and fork are all but mandatory.
Desserts defect from Canadian territory and are replaced with Italian classics like tiramisu or fruit with mascarpone cheese. The in house made cheesecake ($4.50) came out entirely purple, although I couldn't distinguish what fruit specifically had given it its colour. The graham crust was dense and buttery making the accompanying cappuccino ($3.00) the perfect partner.
With pizza names like Group of 7, Shinny, and Lord Stanley, t850 Degrees may be pouring on the maple syrup a bit thick - or maybe they're just doing good market research. Either way, Mimico peeps rejoice, a new pizza spot awaits.
850 Degrees is open 11:30 to 10pm 7 days a week, 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and also accept reservations and takeout orders.