Bello Pizza is open for takeout. A maximum of 12 people are allowed at a time. Masks are mandatory. There are floor markers and hand sanitizer at the entrance and counter.
Bello Pizza is churning out 14-inch pies in the back of Halcyon Cafe in Bloor West Village.
Jimson Bienenstock brought together this triple threat after opening Hot Black Coffee with Kishi and working with pizzaiolo Andrew LeBlanc at Soho House for six years where Bienenstock was founder and manager and LeBlanc still works as head chef.
Jean-Paul Mallah, who's also been at Soho for two years now, makes the pizzas with LeBlanc.
LeBlanc and Mallah prepare the pizzas at an open counter, so the first thing you might spot when you walk in is one of them hand tossing the dough at the front-facing pizza station.
The dough is made from a high-protein content flour from Italy and is cold fermented for five days affecting both the flavour and stretchability.
Although some are also prepared with a lemon cream or truffle cream base, the tomato sauce is made with Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes from northern California and goes pretty unadulterated.
A trio of cheese (mozzarella, fior di latte and pecorino) goes on all of the pizzas while the veggies and meat toppings aren't cooked before going in the oven so that the flavours cook throughout.
The pizzas are baked in a gas oven from Napoli and cooked at a lower heat typical of Neapolitan pies, though LeBlanc and Mallah don't like to ascribe to one specific type of style. They just want to make a no-frills pizza that tastes good.
Despite LeBlanc saying going above 10 to 12 inches makes things more complicated in terms of baking them properly, the large 14-inch pizzas seem to come out nicely crispy every time.
The S&P ($22) has a tomato sauce base, fire-roasted peppers and spicy Italian sausage from Masellis, which is the best in the city as far as LeBlanc is concerned.
The super greens ($22) is one of the white cream-based options. It offers up both sweet and savoury flavours with black kale, pistachios and honey. The kale is marinated with dandelion before covering the pizza.
Another is the portobella ($22) and this one has a rich truffle cream base, garlic pesto, and beech and oyster mushrooms. Each pizza can come with Calabrian peppers or the Bello sauce on the side. Although the pizzas don't really need it, the garlic sauce is too good to pass up.
They also whip up a "daily vibe" every day where they deconstruct traditional Italian dishes and recreate it on a pizza.
The pizzas pair up nicely with one of the bottles which are picked out by professional sommeliers Bienenstock and Arika Haka. Either one of them is also usually around to offer recommendations and give in-depth backstories on each of the unique wines.
Refreshing cold drinks are also available alongside the well-loved coffee blends that come out of Hot Black. One of the latest additions is a unique take on apple juice fermented with hibiscus.
They also have an earl grey tea with apricot that was created when they were delivered 30 kilos of apricot jam from Niagara by mistake. A black cherry jam provides the added sweetness.
Most head to the red bench sitting right in front of the Bloor West storefront after paying Halcyon a visit, chowing down on pizza that's fresh out of the oven or enjoying a cold or hot drink with compliments to Hot Black.