Ricci's Pizzeria & Sandwich Shoppe in Woodbridge might look slick, but it's actually an old school joint with a pedigree and reputation earned over 25 years of serving sandwiches at the corner of Weston and Langstaff. Five months ago, the restaurant underwent a major facelift, swallowing up neighbouring storefronts and expanding to offer stylish cafeteria seating.
At the tail-end of lunch hour on a weekday, the place is still bustling. There's a lineup at the multi-cashier counter, but once your order is in, it's seat yourself or hang back for take-out. If I lived closer, I'd order delivery from these guys all the time.
There's seemingly something for everyone. One table with kids is elbows deep in spaghetti, while pairs of lunching office workers are each eating a salad and splitting a sandwich; a table of construction workers got ready-made slices when they walked in and had sandwiches delivered to the table before they'd eaten to the crust.
The menu has every Italian-American classic you could ask for; pastas, breaded cutlets and cold cut sandwiches, rice balls, pizzas, panzerotti and wings. The sheer variety of options is astounding, and portion sizes prove worth the slightly above average prices.
First up, the massive veal sandwich ($7.25), a thick stack of thinly pounded, perfectly seasoned, breaded meat layered between soft Italian buns with bright red sauce and exceptionally sweet sautĂŠed onions.
I've heard the panzos here are not to be missed, so obviously I need assess for myself. The basic with cheese and sauce priced at $9 seems steep initially, though the enormous golden half moon with extra crispy, crimped edges is worth every penny.
Pasta dishes start with a choice of noodles, lasagna or stuffed pastas topped with meat or tomato sauce ($8.75-$9.50), or can be upgraded for $3 to $4 more with chicken, sausage or meatballs, or sauces like carbonara, primavera or alla vodka. I try the spaghetti upgraded with Matrigiana sauce, a bowl of perfectly cooked noodles tossed in a sweet white wine and tomato sauce and punctuated by onions and chunks of salty bacon. I especially like how thoroughly coated the noodles are.
The pies come in four sizes ranging from 12" to party-sized, and are available with your standard variety of toppings plus delicacies like prosciutto, rapini and bocconcini. The crust is evenly baked, crunchy on the outside and soft and slightly chewy at its centre.
If you're headed up to Vaughan Mills or Wonderland already, I can assure that Ricci's merits a detour. I'd even go so far as to dub it destination-worthy.
Photos by Jesse Milns