Mr. Ciao on Gerrard at Broadview is a pizza bar from Racquel Youtzy and Tiziano Pivetta, the same folks behind Triple A Bar . What sets this place apart from the flood of Neapolitan pizza joints in Toronto is that here you'll find your dough fried. Yes, worlds are colliding.
Inside, the bar is situated upfront, though there's also a family-friendly option to bypass it all together and head straight to the 75-seat dining room where a play area will keep little ones occupied.
The decor is salvaged-chic, the former interior now stripped of its drop ceilings, leaving behind exposed beams and raw brickwork. A collage of painted white shutters and mismatched embossed wallpapers add a necessary dose of charm.
The menu opens with antipasti offering selections of Italian bar foods like addictive crispy cubes of polenta ($8) served with bomba chili sauce, fried bruschetta ($8) and deep fried olives ($6). It's all very vino friendly fare, which is convenient considering wine on tap sells for $1 per ounce.
Lighter options are more limited but you'll find at least a couple of salads ($8-$12), grilled calamari ($12) and bowls of steamed mussels ($12) swimming in a tomato white wine sauce.
The fried Neapolitan street-style pizza is the star of the menu and starts with the same premium ingredients as its more famous highly-regulated wood-fired friend.
Here the hand-stretch dough takes a quick bath in the deep fryer before being sauced, topped and baked in a stone oven, and the results are awesomely tasty, kind of like a savoury Beavertail only not at all greasy.
The crust of the Margherita ($14) is organically shaped, firm and blistered on the outside like an egg roll - it's able to uphold a base of red sauce and buffalo mozzarella without a soggy centre.
From the selection of pasta I try the penne ($17), a hearty dish that's lightly tossed with smoked pork drippings courtesy of Triple A. It's complemented with spicy sausage, rapini and a generous dusting of parmesan cheese.
For dessert ask the kitchen to whip up some Dough Doughs ($8). Pizza dough fried to a golden brown then rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with a dollop of maple whipped cream for dipping.
Mr. Ciao keeps the kitchen open daily until midnight, opening Monday to Wednesday at 5pm and Thursday through Sunday from noon. Takeout orders are welcome but delivery is not in the cards.
Photos by Jesse Milns