by Andrew Coppolino | October 2023
It’s been a pizza eternity since pepperoni, mushrooms and onions were the norm when it comes to toppings for your favourite pie. But increasingly, the “blank slate” that is a hand-stretched pizza dough has been welcoming a smorgasbord of international ingredients and undergone a delicious evolution of how pizza-makers envision this supremely popular food. For pizza, it seems, the world is now its oyster (though I don’t think we’ve yet found oysters on pizza, though clams and a white sauce are close).
Here are a few samples of the some of many unique and sometimes challenging toppings that currently grace pizza in Waterloo Region.
Those Pizza Guys
On the menu in this small St. Jacobs hand-stretched, wood-fired pizzeria are 3 Pig, Hoser, Pep in Your Step, Greek Freak and Sriracha Gotcha among others. On occasion, you might find that white sauce and clams pizza, but surely among the Guys most popular creation is a nod to the famous fast-food burger: hamburger, American cheese, lettuce, pickles and a Mac sauce top the “Return of the Mac” with its sesame seed crust.
Saucy Cravings Pizza & Wings
While many, if not most, pizza outlets often provide side containers of dipping sauces, Saucy Cravings, a relatively new delivery and take-out entrant to the race for delicious pizza, swirls them in a spiral on your thinner-crust pie.
Start at the bottom and select your base sauce – that could be traditional tomato, Buffalo, Alfredo or BBQ. Add your toppings (which could include Halal pepperoni, pickles, eggplant and/or pineapple). Then, “sauce it up” with home-made garlic, barbecue, ranch, blue cheese, buffalo and others. NOTE: The “felo de se” is a very, very hot sauce.
There’s the usual pizza topping suspects at Culture Crust, but then there’s Canadian, Mexican with salsa base and U.S. cheese burger, Caribbean jerk chicken and Middle Eastern with falafel, hummus and pickled turnip.
The largest portion of the menu includes butter masala chicken (or paneer), samosa chat, pav bhaji and achari with traditional Indian pickle.
Pizzaiolo Emiliano Fabbrizi’s creations are well within the confines of proper Neapolitan-style pizzas which use ingredients such as luscious fior di latte and Mozzarella di bufala, San Marzano tomatoes, rapini, porcini mushrooms, hot soppressata and carciofi Sometimes – amazingly – heady tartufi find their way into the restaurant.
And sometimes Fabbrizi is inspired and hand-stretching outside the box and will create a Mortadella pizza with fresh, peppery arugula and drop a burrata into the centre of your pizza. A unique and delicious experience.
With two locations in Kitchener, Papa John fills pies with garlic and then stuffs the crust with the aromatic allium. Other varieties include fresh spinach and tomato alfredo, barbecue chicken bacon, six-cheese Tuscan, and their famous Philly cheesesteak pizza – a meaty, cheesy tribute to the “City of Brotherly Love.”
Famoso Italina Pizzeria and Bar
Also Neapolitan pizza with Campania sauce, Famoso hand stretches its traditional Italian pies that could feature a pistachio-pesto sauce base and a wide range of toppings, traditional and unique – the latter of which includes fior-di-latte, seasoned Ricotta, garlic citrus prawns, roasted garlic, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, pistachio pesto and lemon wedge from their “New World” menu. The cavoletti is topped with fior-di-latte, oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, prosciutto crisps, Gorgonzola, dates, walnuts and honey.
Olympic Pizza & Subs
Canadian, Greek, Hawaiian and Mexican pizzas are on the menu at Olympic but so too is a chicken Caesar that promises a rich and savoury creamy Caesar dressing base for chicken and Parmesan on top.
Andy’s Legendary Pizza
Located in Plattsville and Elmira, Andy’s Legendary is pizza with a long history and also prepares a chicken Caesar pizza along with a BBQ specialty with a BBQ base, grilled chicken and a BBQ sauce drizzle.
Aside from a host of Italian-named pies – including Pacino, Bellissima, Stromboli – this Laurentian Hills pizza maker fuses tradition with imagination. Their hand-tossed pizzas are baked in a stone oven to perfection: choose from their adventurous specialty pizzas, or create your own gourmet masterpiece.
They also offer wheat-free/gluten-free crusts, and there’s a robust vegetarian menu. And they offer dessert pizzas too: Chocolate Diva is chockful of ground nuts, dried cranberries, raisins and white chocolate and chocolate sauce.
McMullan’s Canadian Pub & Pizzeria
The debate about pineapple on pizza is always a contentious one – and the tropical fruit can indeed be found at just about every pizzeria in the region – but so too is dill pickle pizza. Found at a number of pizza joints, it’s a big seller at McMullan’s.
The pizza has a creamy dill-ranch base (no one wants tomato sauce and pickles! Or do they?) with Mozzarella cheese, some chicken and smokey bacon. The kitchen adds some red chili pepper flakes for good measure and to round out the flavours. Dill-icious!
Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino.
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