Ah, Vesuvio.  For many who’ve lived in Toronto’s West end, pizza and Vesuvio are synonymous.  I remember eating it as a kid.  My mom remembers eating it as a kid.  My old man remembers eating it as a kid.  Vesuvio (almost universally called “Vesuvio’s” by it’s regulars) was opened in 1957 by the Pugliese family.  After learning how to make pie in New York brothers Dominic and Ettore moved to the city to open Toronto’s first pizzeria.  They’ve been major players in the Junction community and fought hard to repeal the “dry” designation in the area.  Do you know how long the Junction was dry?  Until 1997!  I’m going to date myself right now but I was in grade school when this happened so I couldn’t have cared less.  But the idea of the Junction being dry, and Vesuvio’s not being able to sell beer or wine blows my face off.  Anyway, that sad, sad time is behind us now and we can enjoy some of the best pizza in the city with my good friend beer.

While I’ve eaten at Vesuvio a handful of times I know it mostly as a place for amazing takeout.  I’ve always been a fan of the party size as it’s done in a square pan and I’m all about the square pan.  But this night it was just Carrie and I so I couldn’t justify that for just the two of us.  We ordered a large with mushroom, sausage, fresh garlic and onion.  It was a Sunday night and likely incredibly busy but we still got our pie in about an hour.  It was, as usual, awesome.  Nobody stays open for 50+ years without doing what they do really well.  They have also long since found a rhythm and churn our really consistent pies.

The pizzas are cooked in pans glazed in olive oil.  The pies come out thin but chewy with a very crispy end crust.  As the pies sit on top of a glaze of olive oil the undercarriage never really gets charred but rather almost fries.  The end crust which rests against the side of the pan ends up incredibly crisp but never burnt.  I’m not usually one for crispy crust but after inhaling a slice of semi fried, chewy dough a nice crispy crust is certainly welcomed.  Sometimes, this night included, Carrie and I bust out the sriracha for the crust.  Authentic?  No.  Tasty?  Hellz yes.

The toppings are always fresh and are added with with real thought.  People want to think they’re getting a bang for their buck.  People love the more is more ethos.  But with certain things in life, pizza very much included, too much is just too much.  You need to understand what your pizza can handle.  Otherwise what you have is a thin piece of bread with a mountain of toppings it can’t hold up.  Vesuvio’s slices are always light and delicate while still being able to hold onto their toppings.  One of my favourite things about the pie is their sparing use of sauce.  Sauce, at least for me, is easily overpowering.  I like a good sauce but I don’t want it to be a main attraction.  Vesuvio’s uses just enough to keep everything together and provide a little acidity.  Cheese is shredded and scattered over the whole pie providing cheese with every bite.  Again, the name of the game with these pies is sparing (but not stingy) use of toppings.  Not too much, not to little, just enough.  Salty, a little sweet, unique texture, these pies are just... ugh, I’m getting hungry.

There’s really nothing to criticize.  It blows my mind that this place doesn’t make many top 10 lists for pizza in this city.  It’s just crazy.  Consistent, delicious, affordable pies.  Take out or dine in you’ll have a truly unique Toronto pizza.  
Vesuvio Pizzeria & Spaghetti House on Urbanspoon

View comments