Is Montreal going through a pizza renaissance? No, but it is going through a major revelation: New York-style pizza is in right now, and the response to the opening of a new pizzeria in the Mile End is proof.
Since its opening last week in the Mile End, the popularity of Pizza Toni is less a matter of networking—even if it's from the successful upstart Falafel Yoni from Yoni Amir and Daniel Maislan of a few blocks away—and more of an indicator of Montreal's insatiable desire for something new in its pizzaverse, a desire that's undoubtedly compounded by how the current pandemic has altered how we go out to eat. What's easier than dropping in, grabbing a slice or two, and leaving with minimal contact?
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In the last decade, Montreal's gone through a few pizza phases. First it was Neapolitan pizza, highly-lauded small pies with soft crust, and then a resurgence of al taglio or Roman-style squares. Amongst all of this, it took little more than the addition of a Detroit-style pizza at Brigade downtown, with its pan-fried squares, to catch a bit of fire from local media.
The proof is in the pizza: In as little as seven days, Pizza Toni has already amassed more than 1,000 followers on its Instagram page, and that's no small feat for a small restaurant. Recently, the opening of La Main Folle—another New-York style pizzeria at the Plateau's highly frequented corner of Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Duluth—has also experienced a massive following in little over a month. It's a similar story for La New-Yorkaise (albeit a bit off the beaten path in Griffintown), and the same story for places like Adamo in Saint-Henri, Slice + Soda in Old Montreal, and the cult following of Pizza Bouquet near Little Italy, located in the back of the LGBTQ+ bar Notre-Dame-des-Quilles.
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But New York-style is far from a fad. It's meant to quick and cheap, eaten off of paper plates, with a thin crust that's a bit crisp and distinguished by its size (up to 28 inches in diameter). That's it, that's all, and the simplicity of it is a welcome shift from what locals have deemed 'Montreal pizza' where the crust tends to be thick, the toppings often under the cheese, and it's generally only consumed by anyone stumbling out of a bar at 3AM.
Pizza Toni's arrival settles it: New York-style pizza is on the rise, lest the city be flooded with too many places to count, or previously established Montreal pizzerias change their tone and style to match demand.
For anyone who's curious to go, Pizza Toni offers the classics: Marinara with arugula, margherita, and cheese and pepperoni, with a square margherita pizza, al taglio style. Slice go between $3.25 and $4.25, while the "full pie" costs between $22 and $28.