Vivoli : Pizza : Toronto

First, the important information:  excellent pizza, worth a repeat (despite adverse circumstances [to be covered later]).

Here's a picture of their quaint little oven; is said to hold all of six (6) pizzas at a time - modest sized.

Other information: 665 College St, Toronto (@ Beatrice [downtown]) 416-536-7575 and across the street from The Standard (which I reported on recently) and in the midst of Little Italy (how very appropriate). The owner is reported to be from Naples (possibly an advantage for a pizza place [they serve other types of food too, by the way]).


Okay, the story is that it was the Italian Festival in Toronto and the city closed off a dozen blocks of one of the residential downtown main streets (College St.) for three days; no traffice, not streetcars, nothing but people. 

On the  first evening we took in the event and thought, idly, to try a wood-fired pizza.  Not having thought this one through... there were an estimated 5,000 others doing likewise.   But, as luck would have it, the line outside of Vivoli subsided for a moment while wandering past and we dashed for the entrance, where the maitre recommended the rooftop terrace as the less frantic portion of the restaurant (since the downstairs part had added an extra 160 seat sidewalk dining tent).  Got a great table adjacent to the railing up there; listening to the band performing down on the street corner, watching people stroll along the boulevard.  Ordered what turned out to be a phenomenal grilled squid and sipped a beer.  The squid was ordered to fill the time while the pizza came; having been warned that with the extra 160 seats down below it could take up to an hour to arrive (no problem, it's a lovely night and a great view)  All in all - good. No, the squid was great not just "good".

Here's a question... do you enjoy watching thunderstorms from rooftop terraces?  Ones with lightning in the distance? Ones growing ever closer until the flash/boom is but seconds apart?  Not I.  I don't like being closer to the lightning than strictly necessary.  Then, to join the lightning, the skies open to deposit a downpour on all the happy people.  The bands pack up, the streets clear, and the rooftop terrace patrons all head for the little eight seat bar where there a modicum of cover (alas, not entirely; not from the howling wind and the rain slanting in under the little plastic canopy at a 45 degree angle).

This is a restaurant with a sense of what to do in such disasters -- thus, they throw open the bar for a round on the house!  I already liked the place well enough because of the squid but a free drink or to will really put me on your side. 

Sip the wine, laugh about the rain (which, unfortunately, was washing out the street fair [really, it was torrential!]) and await the pizza... arrives (in well less than an hour).

Cuattro Stagioni:  [4 seasons]


Since the table was aflood and we had to eat the pizza with all of one elbow on the bar, standing, with the waitfolk passing glasses over our heads, the waiter decided, wisely, that another wine on the house was in order.  Nice people, all in all.

Oh, the pizza: olives, mushrooms, artichoke, prosciutto.  But, again, not in four distinct sections on the pizza but mixed up amongst one another!  Does no one do this properly? Perhaps having the ham laid over the whole pizza would be acceptable but not the other three ingredients, please.
None the less, a decent thin crust, good char underneath, something of an edge, nicely toasted but not burnt, tasty tomato sauce, not too much cheese.  The idea is that Vivoli does "Neapolitan" style pizza but the crust is not airy, bready, spongy enough to rate as "real" Neapolitan - - but I in fact usually prefer it like this over the authentic type. 

Summary, good pizza, good service even with an over 100% full restaurant and a rooftop terrace rainstorm.  I was more than pleased and will be back.

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