I think we can assume we’re all familiar with at least one regional style of pizza. If you’re from the Big Apple, there’s only one REAL kind, and that’s thin crust cheese. Folded. But other locales also have their own trademark Pizza styles…
Here we are just after Christmas, and our minds are on only one thing: How to use up the leftovers from the big Family Feast? But this is also a time when folks welcome a change from the traditional now and then. And it’s a perfect time for Pizza!
Pizza is where you make it
Sister Erin was scouring the more-obscure corners of the Web the other day when she came upon one of those ‘list’ posts. You know the kind. Bored or navel-gazing bloggers will compile lists of just about anything you could imagine. But the one she forwarded me dealt with distinct pizza variants from specific urban cultures.
The post listed US faves such as California, Chicago (Deep Dish), Detroit, Newhaven (Mystic Pizza style?), St. Louis Style, New Jersey Tomato Pie – and, of course, Classic New York.
That got me thinking. And I decided some additional digging needed to be done. I’ve compiled what may be the Ultimate Internet List of Canadian Pizza Styles.
What’s your regional Pie?
Let’s start in the West and sweep across Canada cataloguing our fave regional pies..
A Redditor muses… “[It’s a] style of pizza that is quite unique. I think it’s ‘Indian’ style pizza. Invented here? The crust is heavy and crispy, almost fried with how much oil. The cheese is also very interesting, unlike that of [the big chains]or any of the others. Not overly greasy. Their sauce is well spiced.”
“I believe ‘Greek-Style’ is the most representative of Calgary’s unique pizza culture,” asserts the EAT THIS TOWN review blog. “Greek-style pizza has a pan-style crust, [which requires] a deeper pan so that the dough can be pressed up the edges, making for a deeper pie and a thicker crust. A good Greek-style pizza should have a nice thick crust with golden, baked-on spillover cheese. […] Smothered ion cheese […] …with layers and layers of toppings piled underneath.”
Quasi Greek… “The crust is crispy on the outside, chewy and tender on the inside, and a touch sweet. It has a bite similar to a bagel,” according to Regina native Anna Pulga, “Homemade pizza sauce is generously applied, meat is stacked high and there is an obscene amount of cheese on top, baked at high heat and browned like the top of a crème brûlée.” Regina pizzas are often cut in squares or rectangles rather than wedges.
“I don’t think we really have a pizza style unique to or originating from Winnipeg, but we do have Pizza Pops.” reveals Redditor @FlashyAdvantage3. Devotées insist the Pop was, in fact, invented there. As for a unique pie style? “Not strictly a ‘Winnipeg Style’ pizza, but the absolutely best pizzas I’ve ever had in Winnipeg have been Desi/Indian style pizzas!” suggests Redditor @okaymaybenotok.
“It consists of thin-crust pizza brushed with garlic oil. Many of the restaurants that offer this type of pizza have a brush on the counter to allow customers to brush the garlic oil on their slice of pizzas themselves.” Wikipedia records. “This style of pizza was invented by Vietnamese immigrants who learned pizza-making from the former Italian owners that they worked for in Toronto. These immigrants were originally from the city of Hue in Vietnam, a city renowned for its culinary heritage.”
Just across the St. Clair River from Detroit. But so different! “Pizza in the southwestern Ontario city of Windsor is identified by its use of shredded pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese from the local Galati Cheese Company. Although fresh mushrooms are the norm for most pizza makers in the city, the style was originally known for using canned mushrooms.
“The distinct qualities of Windsor-area pizza are believed to have originated with the now-closed Volcano Pizza in Windsor’s downtown core. As employees of Volcano eventually left and founded their own pizzerias, they took the recipe with them.” (~Wikipedia)
There are several contenders for Montreal’s fave. One is the ‘all dressed’, which starts with a tomato sauce base and adds pepperoni, green pepper and mushrooms. Poutine Pizza is topped with french fries, Old Fashioned Brown Gravy and fresh Cheddar cheese curds. Then, there’s the Pizza Rustica, a close relative of Tomato Pie. Described as ‘a thick crust that covered in a thick plain sweet tomato sauce’. No cheese. But a hands-down fave of many Italo-Montrèalers.
None other than the famed Donair Pizza (see photo, top of page): Mozzarella cheese, donair meat, tomatoes, onions, and a sweetened condensed milk-based donair sauce. Elsewhere Garlic Fingers are hailed as the pie to try. They’re thick crust, brushed with melted butter, garlic, cheese, and sometimes bacon crumbles. Sliced in rectangular ‘fingers’. A little like the garlic-cheese breads offered by some of the big chains. Garlic Fingers made top the Top 10 Canadian dishes category in the recent Taste Atlas 2023 Top 100 dining countries list!
Hawaiian Pizza! Invented over 50 years ago in London, Ontario. Perhaps the iconic, pioneering ‘fusion’ dish. And inventor Sam Panopoulos (photo, upper left) was neither Italian nor Hawaiian. It’s essentially Ham and Pineapple. Cheese under the Pineapple and Ham, over the sauce. If you like, more cheese on top.
According to Gozney: “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, a man who is not to be messed with, wrote in an Instagram caption, ‘As for my pizza toppings – keep in mind, I’m the guy who likes to put tequila and brown sugar in my oatmeal, so pineapple on pizza is MY JAM — with ham’.”
There you have it. We all love our Pizza our way. Here in my south-Ottawa enclave, we have a number of one-off, family pizzerias each with its own style. But they all headline the same thick-crust pie with whatever toppings you want and their own (secret) tomato sauce. We’ll soon be reviewing what, for my money, is the best of the independent South-West Ottawa pizza joints. Stay tuned!
~ Maggie J.