Queen Margherita Pizza (Dundas West)
Queen Margherita Pizza has finally opened the doors to its Dundas West outpost after two years in the making. It's the third outpost for the fast-expanding brand of Neapolitan-style pizzerias that are already thriving in Leslieville and Bloor West Village .
The newest restaurant, from owners Rocco Mazzaferro, John Chetti, Tom Mediati and Roberto Scala, boasts 100 seats spread over two floors.
At street level, you'll find textured white stucco and patterned tiles reaching up towards lofty ceilings. The cozy second dining room is sunken and extends back towards the open kitchen featuring the heart of the operation, a Stefano Ferrara oven imported from Naples.
The menu opens with a list of snacks and starters like the fritto misto ($16), a plate of lightly battered and deep fried squid and plump prawns, doused in lemon and served with a side of warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Then there's salads like the crisp romaine ($14) tossed in a roasted garlic dressing, dusted in finely shredded parmigiano and finished with crunchy fried shallots and a thin sheet of speck.
A bowl of creamy polenta ($14) is served as a base for a saucy mix of sweet red peppers and sausage. The appetizer-sized dish that is offered at best value in part of the prix fixe for $29, which includes a choice of starter, any pizza and dessert.
The pizzas are the main event and there are a dozen to choose from, each built on a base of thin but firm dough encircled by a ring of puffy, blistered crust. Flash-fired in a 900-degree wood burning oven, these pies only take a minute and a half or so to cook and land on the table piping hot.
The menu at this new location is soon to be rolled out across the whole chain of pizzerias. The combination of toppings are, for the most part, very traditional. The La Scala ($20), with sweet pork belly, red onion and hot peppers, might be the most exotic.
The simple combination of salami, garlic, black pepper and parmigiano over sweet San Marzano tomatoes becomes the basis for the Calabrese ($18), a familiar and crowd pleasing pizza that is consumed in less time then it took to cook.
The Diavola ($17) with fior di latte, spicy sopressata, black olives and rings of hot red peppers is one fiery pizza - it's only relief comes from the sweet pomodoro sauce and crust. Alternating with slices of he Alla Campagnolo ($18) helps too. This white pizza is mellow and earthy topped with mixed mushrooms, asiago, crumbled goat cheese, and oregano.
The abbreviated bar menu features a half litre of house red or white for $20, while draught beers like Blanche de Chambly and Okanagan 1516 are poured in 20 oz. pints for $8. The cocktail list features classics like the Derby ($13), a bourbon sour shaken with sweet vermouth and triple sec, finished with a slapped mint leaf on top.
Queen Margherita Pizza is currently open daily from 5pm, though lunch service is expected to launch in the new year. Take-out orders are welcome, but if you want delivery the closest you can get is by ordering from sister operation FBI Pizza .
Photos by Jesse Milns