Pride in Pizza Pide
Laura AikenFeatures Profiles
Authentic Turkish pides have been turning heads in Toronto
Global appeal is one of the greatest things about pizza.
Global appeal is one of the greatest things about pizza. A pizza means different things to different cultures, but the elements of crust and toppings remain the same. Pizza is, without a doubt, one of the most recognizable foods on earth.
|Canoe-shaped pides are made with a thin crust and never use tomato sauce or pork products.|
Turkish pizzas, known as pides, have been getting their share of buzz in recent years. Pizza Pide, a Turkish pizzeria in east-end Toronto, caught the eye of Joanne Kates, well-known former food critic for the Globe and Mail. She sang Pizza Pide’s praises in a 2011 article and also placed it at 94 on this year’s Kates Top 100 list published by www.postcity.com, taking up residence alongside several of the city’s restaurant heavyweights.
I took a trip down to Pizza Pide one toasty spring afternoon. The little store is outdated and entirely unpretentious, but clean and welcoming nonetheless. There are five tables for dine-in customers, but the majority of the business is takeout (no delivery) and there is plenty of parking. Mustafa Ozkan, owner of Pizza Pide, is looking pretty relaxed despite a hot day that’s seen his pop cooler and cash register crash. Ozkan immigrated to Brampton from the U.K. in 2006 and took over Pizza Pide four years ago. He puts 80 to 90 hours a week into his labour of love, except for two to three weeks in August when he shuts his doors. He also sells traditional pizzas and slices, but the bulk of his orders are for his pides. In between customers popping in and out, Ozkan explained to me what makes Turkish pizza unique.
The pizzas are canoe shaped and feature a very thin crust. He reduces the amount of yeast for the white flour pide dough, which, he says, also helps make it more digestible. Ozkan uses a dough sheeter and then just opens it up a little more with his hands. There is no tomato sauce or pork product on pides. He uses beef sausage, chicken, ground beef or lamb as meat toppings. His minced mixtures are baked in large batches and then portioned and frozen. Typically mozzarella or feta cheese is used. He features 20 different pides on his menu. No. 1, a Lahmacun, which is dressed with ground beef blended with peppers, onions, tomatoes, parsley and herbs, is a very famous pide in Turkey. His bestseller is No. 18, a Karisik, which contains a variety of slices in one pide. He sells the pides for $6.99 to $9.99.
His pizzas are stone baked in a gas oven, then finished with a light brushing of butter and a sprinkling of parsley. The flavours are intense yet balanced, and like a lot of pizza, it’s very hard to stop eating once you start.
At the time of my research, Ozkan’s pizzeria had an 88 per cent rating on Urban Spoon, 4/5 stars on Yelp (which also noted a few comments specifically about how nice the owner is) and 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor. This kind of kind word of mouth has helped fuel the business alongside a lot of positive press. It just goes to show, one need not be fancy to be famous.
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