Salt & Tobacco
Salt & Tobacco is a pizza joint that got its name from a cool-looking Italian emblem that indicates which stores sell government controlled commodities - i.e. salt and tobacco,
It replaces the former Yogurty's in Cabbagetown next to Jet Fuel , and the casual spot offers take away along with a few communal countertops if you're looking to eat on site.
It's a very cool pizzeria. And I mean that in the most literal sense. It's a sweltering 33C outside when I visit, but the pizzeria, decked out with glossy white subway tiles, robins egg blue accents and portraits of the entire Wu-Tang Clan, is very well air conditioned. It's almost hard to believe there's a pizza oven at the heart of this place.
General manager Ben Clost works the front of house while Jesus "Chuss" Teruel Fernandez tosses dough in the background. Fernandez has made a career out of pizza. He first learned the craft in Italy and then perfected it at pizzerias across Europe, including extended stops in Amsterdam and Edinburgh.
Here in Cabbagetown, he's serving up circular Roman-style pies featuring a thin, pliable crust. The menu offers nine signature pizzas featuring local ingredients. Substitutions are not permitted, though omissions are okay and add-ons like spicy peppers, arugula, olives and anchovies are available for $2 to $3 extra.
The Margherita ($10 for a regular or $6 for an individual child-size) does not disappoint. A liberal application of sweet sauce blanketed under a bubbling layer of fior di latte is a very good example of this simple, but delicious classic.
Next up is a slice of the funghi ($16), a sauceless pizza that's almost like a cheesy garlic bread loaded with a medley of sautĂŠed mushrooms.
It's some time after my first slice of the funghi that I'm introduced to the unlabeled condiment on the counter. It's a chili honey and it is a revelation. Descendent on the east side offers chili honey as a topping too, but this is the first time I've ever seen a squeeze bottle of the stuff.
Finally, there's the Cabbage pizza ($18), an homage to the neighbourhood. The advertised cabbage is in fact a black Tuscan kale and it's layered over a base of tomato sauce with fior di latte, onions, n'juda and spicy peppers before being finished with freshly shaved pecorino.
This pizza is an A+ on its own, but again the hot honey works its magic. The bitter greens with salty, cured meat and sticky-sweet honey is a delightful combination of flavours.
Drinks-wise, there's free still and sparkling water on tap in addition to a foursome of local craft beers on draught ($7/16-ounce), wine by the glass ($8/5-ounce) and imported Italian soft drinks ($3). Batch cocktails like Negronis, Manhattans and Aperol Spritz are available too.
Photos by Jesse Milns