Abruzzo Pizza has been one of Richmond Hill's top pizza producers since opening back in 1981. A solid 34 years of tossing pies means owners Sergio and Vince run a well-oiled machine near the corner of Yonge and 16th. A recent renovation extended the dining room and added in a bar, but most of their business comes from delivery and takeout orders.
If you're from the 905 area, Abruzzo Pizza likely supplied your lunches back in the day or sponsored your local soccer team. When asked why they've never expanded south into the city, Vince offers a dismissive "my customers are up here; we like it up here."
Hands on in every aspect of the business, Vince was curt during our little Q and A. Clearly his interest lies elsewhere, like the boast-worthy 600kg of dough he was preoccupied with making. Sourcing ingredients, making the sauce, these are all part of the daily grind at Abruzzo, and he shares these obligations with a massive staff of 116 people - all tucked away in their underground kitchen.
Pretty much everything is made in house, pastas, sauces, doughs and dressings. The only thing outsourced is the cured meats that complete their panzos and pies.
The fully licensed bar offers more than just Brios, with a hefty list of red and whites at every price point, including a heavyweight Tignanello for a wallet crushing $158 (though the markup on that is really quite modest). San Pellegrino ($2.50) and a few Coronas ($6) prove too tempting and likely a better match with our lower brow menu choices.
While they do offer plated meals like Veal Milanese and Chicken Parmigiana, our search was for more gluttonous purposes, like the colossal Deep Fried Panzerotto ($8 plus $1.25 per topping). While baked is technically an option, it certainly won't qualify as diet food either way. We stuffed ours with white onions, bacon and pepperoni, and instantly regretted our choices.
The bacon appeared to be raw, or perhaps it just soaked up all the onion sweat and became sweaty and limp. The pepperoni suffered a similar result. The side of meat sauce ($1.50) is all but mandatory and added a beefy layer that mellowed out the sweet doughnut like crust.
Sharing the same base, the Margherita Pizza ($10 for small) has the same slightly bubbly crust. While a little on the thick side, it handles the tomato sauce and cheese well, ensuring a perfectly crispy crust throughout. While nothing is groundbreaking here, the simple ingredients do the job and make for a reliably tasty pizza.
Pizza and wings go together like chicken and waffles and Abruzzo's Wings ($8.50 for 1lb) are top notch and not to be missed. We sauced ours up medium and noticed a few red hot chilli pepper flakes thrown into the mix. While the side of blue cheese sauce never materialized, it didn't much matter, the wings were coated nicely; no dipping required.
Service was attentive and friendly, but expect it to slide a little when the house is packed, which is pretty much every weekend night. And while they may be firm in their suburban roots, they share one trick with their city affiliates: a strict no reservation policy is in effect, so come early or be relegated to the parking lot to wait for your table.
Abruzzo Pizza does delivery and takeout, and sometimes deliver to northern 416 parts if the money is right.