Introducing: Via Mercanti, Kensington’s new Neapolitan-style pizza parlour from a pair of Queen Margherita exiles
Massimo Di Lascio making a pizza (Image: Caroline Aksich)
For those tired of
Terroni’s traditionalism, Libretto’s lineups and the long ride on the 501 out to Queen Margherita, there’s a new, laid-back Neapolitan-style pizza operation in town: Via Mercanti. The latest addition to Kensington Market is helmed by two Sicilian expats, Romolo Salvati and Massimo Di Lascio , who both have some serious pizza pedigree—they left the Queen Margherita only two months ago to set up shop in the recently shuttered Back Alley Woodfire BBQ and Grill, where Salvati was once the chef. Their new venture reflects both of their passions: pizza and coffee.
The duo met back in Salerno over 10 years ago. Salvati ran an espresso bar adjacent to Di Lascio’s pizzeria on Mercanti Street (Di Lascio has more than a quarter century of pizzaioloing behind him). “Mercanti” being Italian for
“market,” “merchants,” the pair decided the name was perfect to represent their Italian past and their Kensington present. This unassuming pizzeria may not have the now-standard haute-rustic feel of so many new restaurants in Toronto, but it’s not without its charms. The window display consists of an Italian flag–bedecked soccer ball, cans of Italian-imported tomatoes and bags of flour. Inside, there’s a concrete wraparound bar, simple oak tables, recessed pot lighting and a selection of espresso-based paintings by Toronto artist Francesco Gallé. Oh, and staying true to the owners’ Italian roots, there’s also a 50-inch TV for football matches.
Tubs of freshly made campanelle (a type of pasta named after little bells) sit on the counter, ready to be used in scarpariello: a simple dish of campanelle, a Salerno-style tomato sauce and a tuft of finely chopped basil ($14). Of course, the main attraction is the pies. Behind the glass display of fresh pizza-ready ingredients, it seems like the entire ex–Queen Margherita staff is busy cooking. Dough is quickly pulled and then dressed with a simple tomato sauce base, fior di latte (sourced from Woodbridge) and toppings like ham, mushrooms and sun-dried Italian black olives (which together make a capricciosa, $13). Next, the pizzaiolo slides the whole thing onto a pizza shovel and into one of the two brick ovens for 60 to 85 seconds. The eponymous house pizza ($16) is a (probably unholy) mashup of a calzone and a traditional pizza. This Frankenstein of a pie starts with a white pizza base (buffalo ricotta, ham, salami and a mushroom medley) that’s topped with an entire margherita pizza—we’re assuming those without caveman appetites need not apply.
116661 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti_intro-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti_intro.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti_intro.jpg 656 448  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti_intro/ feb12mercanti_intro 0 0
116682 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti19-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti19.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti19.jpg 380 590  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti19/ feb12mercanti19 0 0
116680 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Three homestyle desserts: cubana ($7), ricotta e pera ($7) and tiramisu ($8) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti17-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti17.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti17.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti17/ feb12mercanti17 0 0
Three homestyle desserts: cubana ($7), ricotta e pera ($7) and tiramisu ($8)
116681 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Hot chilies Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti18-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti18.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti18.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti18/ feb12mercanti18 0 0
116679 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Scarpariello: a simple dish of campanelle, a Salerno-style tomato sauce and a tuft of finely chopped basil ($14) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti16-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti16.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti16.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti16/ feb12mercanti16 0 0
Scarpariello: a simple dish of campanelle, a Salerno-style tomato sauce and a tuft of finely chopped basil ($14)
116678 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Fresh campanelle Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti15-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti15.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti15.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti15/ feb12mercanti15 0 0
116675 (Image: Caroline Aksich) The Via Mercanti ($16) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti12-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti12.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti12.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti12/ feb12mercanti12 0 0
The Via Mercanti ($16)
116662 (Image: Caroline Aksich) The Via Mercanti, a sort of Frankenstein creation: a white pizza is topped with a margherita ($16) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti_steps-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti_steps.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti_steps.jpg 624 600  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti_steps/ feb12mercanti_steps 0 0
The Via Mercanti, a sort of Frankenstein creation: a white pizza is topped with a margherita ($16)
116673 (Image: Caroline Aksich) A custom pizza Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti10-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti10.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti10.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti10/ feb12mercanti10 0 0
A custom pizza
116671 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Salvati working the oven Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti8-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti8.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti8.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti8/ feb12mercanti8 0 0
Salvati working the oven
116670 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Salvati making a pie Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti6-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti6.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti6.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti6/ feb12mercanti6 0 0
Salvati making a pie
116672 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti9-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti9.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti9.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti9/ feb12mercanti9 0 0
116685 (Image: Caroline Aksich) The wood-fired oven was inherited from Back Alley. The owners have ordered a replacement from Naples, made with volcanic stone from Mount Vesuvius Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti7-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti7.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti7.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti7/ feb12mercanti7 0 0
The wood-fired oven was inherited from Back Alley. The owners have ordered a replacement from Naples, made with volcanic stone from Mount Vesuvius
116669 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti5-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti5.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti5.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti5/ feb12mercanti5 0 0
116668 (Image: Caroline Aksich) The paintings are by Toronto artist Francesco Gallé Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4c-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4c.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4c.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti4c/ feb12mercanti4c 0 0
The paintings are by Toronto artist Francesco Gallé
116667 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4b-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4b.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4b.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti4b/ feb12mercanti4b 0 0
116689 (Image: Caroline Aksich) The dining room Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti4.jpg 624 392  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti4/ feb12mercanti4 0 0
The dining room
116665 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Sicilian expats Romolo Salvati and Massimo Di Lascio Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti3-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti3.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti3.jpg 380 590  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti3/ feb12mercanti3 0 0
Sicilian expats Romolo Salvati and Massimo Di Lascio
116664 (Image: Caroline Aksich) In the window: an Italian flag soccer ball, bags of flour and cans of tomatoes Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti2-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti2.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti2.jpg 380 590  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti2/ feb12mercanti2 0 0
In the window: an Italian flag soccer ball, bags of flour and cans of tomatoes
116663 (Image: Caroline Aksich) Via Mercanti took over the space previously occupied by Back Alley Woodfire BBQ and Grill Introducing: Via Mercanti https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti1-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti1.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/feb12mercanti1.jpg 624 416  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-via-mercanti/slide/feb12mercanti1/ feb12mercanti1 0 0
Via Mercanti took over the space previously occupied by Back Alley Woodfire BBQ and Grill
Pizzeria Via Mercanti, 188 Augusta Ave., 647-34306647
9 thoughts on “Introducing: Via Mercanti, Kensington’s new Neapolitan-style pizza parlour from a pair of Queen Margherita exiles”
This is good news indeed!
But Mercanti means Merchants… not market!
Remember “The Merchant of Venice”?
….Salerno NOT Sicily ( Sicilia ) !!!
Went there a few weeks ago. Good food, horrendous service. They seemed swamped though, they must have been down servers that night. Unfortunately, it ruined the night a bit. You can’t plop down pizzas and run off, never to return and check on your table! Literally, one of my fellow diners lost his knife when the appetizers were taken away and never got a new one, despite trying desperately to flag someone down. I really do hope they improve their service though – the pizza is good.
I believe the owners are from Naples, not Sicily.
naples,naples…….everybody keep goin to say,came from naples……….you can do that,because in canada nobody understand anything about pizza……dear ROMUALDO or romolo you gonna decide your real name,you lie a lot,and as you said everybody is PIZZAMAKER in toronto….even you???
I was there yesterday,you can t compare your roman stile pizza with pizza pazzi..over there you can eat the best pizza in town..
We visited Via Mercanti for dinner a couple of days ago. There were four of us. We were very disappointed with the pasta dishes. First of all, the pasta was way too SALTY and the noodles were either UNDERCOOKED or OVERCOOKED. In addition, our dishes were served at different times! First one came, then two more maybe five minutes later and finally the last one came long afterwards. When we complained to the chef he displayed an extremely rude and discourteous attitude. What a complete lack of professionalism! This experience was really unfortunate and we cannot recommend this restaurant unless they change the chef or he decides to be professional.
Best thin crust pizza in Toronto. Tiramisu to die for. Reasonably priced. Feels like in a great family pizzeria somewhere in Italy. Finally!!!!
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