Making the thick pick: A Toronto Life deep-dish pizza investigation
When it comes to deep dish, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who think it’s a terrible excuse for pizza, and those who are terribly, terribly wrong.
Despite the uniform incorrectness of the former group—which we are not here to debate—it’s important to distinguish between the deep (as in, depth-related) divisions that exist within the deep-dish kingdom, a microcosm of which currently inhabits Toronto’s east side. We tried three different thick-crust styles to see how they stack up.
The place: Pizza Thick.
The style: Regina style, which Pizza Thick describes as “a hybrid between a Chicago-style pizza and a biscuit crust.”
The result: Hearty, but not gut-busting. The crust is much more reminiscent of its biscuit roots than the more buttery crusts of Chicago deep-dish. Sturdy, but with a definite brittleness. Much of the pizza’s overall depth comes from a serious application of toppings: the T-Chris is the top seller, with pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers and mushrooms barely concealed by the top cheese layer. I did not require a nap afterward. 1026 Queen St. E., 416-778-1101, pizzathick.com
The place: Descendant Pizza.
The style: Detroit style.
The result: A rectangular, foccacia-like dough with a layer ring of melted cheese fused all crispy-like around the perimeter of the crust. It’s an imposing shape, but due to the unexpectedly airy (and addictive) nature of the pie, it’s possible to put away more slices than one might initially think possible–or advisable. The pies are topped with cheese and thoughtfully selected toppings: who else in town is putting slow-roasted garlic cremini mushrooms, double smoked bacon, lemon zest and truffle sauce on pizzas, as Descendant does with the Truff-Ghi? They taste as good as they look, but a post-pizza lie-down will seem like a good idea. 1168 Queen St. E, 647-347-1168, descendantdsp.com
The place: Double D’s.
The style: Chicago style.
The result: Mercy. Modelled after the pizzas at Giordano’s, Gino’s East and other Windy City icons, it’s a realistic facsimile of the real thing–and the thickest pizza that we’ve come across in Toronto. (It’s catching on: after debuting in January, a second location is already up and running on Dundas West.) There are challenges to making pizzas this vertical: they take ages (up to 45 minutes) to cook, and with the toppings buried under thick layers of sauce and cheese, it’s not easy to get everything harmoniously bronzed, melted and hot from crust to core. This is knife-and-fork pizza, and anything more than a slice or two must be followed by a good, long spell on the couch. 1020 Gerrard St. E, 416-727-5411, doubledspizzas.com
The thick pick
Descendant. Detroit-style pizza is enjoying a surge in popularity, and it’s easy to see why. The crust is undeniably deep, but not so deep that you’ll pause to question your life choices after inhaling more than you originally intended.