Discover - Napoli Centrale - Annex - Toronto
Tuesday Mar 08th, 2022
Discover: Napoli Centrale – Annex – Toronto
Written by Wayne Bibby
Neapolitan Pizza Right Here in Seaton Village (Follis and Bathurst)
As we are slowly returning to in-restaurant dining and hopefully getting back to a somewhat more normal existence, I thought I would let you know about one of Toronto’s gems. I began this blog post prior to Covid and am finally posting it. Napoli Centrale is a restaurant that makes authentic Naples style pizza (Neapolitan pizza), and it is located right here in Seaton Village at 964 Bathurst St., just south of Follis Ave.
Alessandro and Wayne (picture taken prior to Covid)
Alessandro Tarallo, founder of Napoli Centrale grew up in Naples, Italy. He has an incredible understanding of food through his experience working with the family businesses. His family owned a few restaurants and stores that sold food. Alessandro knew the smell of fresh tomatoes and basil like a cabinet maker knows the type of wood being used just by the smell. Food surrounded him as a child and young man growing up in Naples, and he gained an incredible knowledge of food, ingredients and making foods, especially pizza.
In 2005 Alessandro took a trip to Cuba that would change his life. While there, he met Misty, a Canadian, who was also on vacation. It seemed that it did not take very long for Misty and Alessandro to figure out that they belonged together and after the vacation they exchanged many emails and then Misty came over to live in Italy. In 2010, they decided to get married and move to Canada, as it seemed a great place to raise a family.
Bringing Naples to Toronto
Alessandro always knew that one day he would open a pizza shop. While in Canada and craving a good pizza, he searched for an authentic Neapolitan pizza, and although he found great pizzas with excellent quality, he couldn’t find the true authentic Naples style pizza; Alessandro knew it was time to open his own place. He searched all over the city, but eventually settled on the location at 964 Bathurst St. just south of Follis Ave. Alessandro liked that the location was part of a community and in a less built- up part of the city, as he didn’t like the idea of being in amongst skyscrapers. He also liked the physical characteristics of the building itself, which had reasonable space and a charming feel to it. The Annex / Seaton Village seemed a perfect location.
Alessandro and Misty did start their family and today they have a daughter, Sarah who is just 1 ½ years old and a son, Andrea who is 7. I have often seen his wife and son dining at the restaurant and Alessandro's son watching his dad demonstrate mastery of his craft. Alessandro has had many friends and family work at the restaurant and Napoli Centrale certainly has a family feel to it.
Making a classic Neapolitan Margherita pizza.
The REAL Pizza Debate
Since December 5, 2012, Napoli Centrale has been open and producing authentic Neapolitan pizza. Debate has long raged about who makes the best pizza New York or Chicago. But that follows the even older debate over pizza Neapolitan and pizza Romana. Pizza Neapolitan is thinner and softer in the center with an airier crust than Pizza Romana.
My best suggestion is to try for yourself.
Fresh out of the oven
At Napoli Centrale
If you do venture over to Napoli Centrale, you will find a fully stocked bar with 8 or 9 beers on tap, and classic Italian wines. The list of pizzas is classically Neapolitan, but there are a couple of house specials like the Napoli Centrale calzone and the Amalfi smoked salmon pizza. The building itself is beautiful. It has a casual relaxed feeling to it, with exposed brick, wood and the large Neapolitan pizza oven in the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. The pizzas are made with fresh ingredients right before your eyes. During the warmer months, the large opening windows at the front of the restaurant allow a nice breeze in and provide a wonderful atmosphere for dining.
What makes the pizza at Napoli Centrale so good? Without giving away the whole secret recipe for Alessandro’s Neapolitan pizza, it has to do with authentic fresh toppings, a very hydrated dough and having the right oven. Alessandro’s oven gets extremely hot, and its dome shape allows for a very even heat. The high heat is needed with Neapolitan pizzas since they use such a moist dough. The pizza is cooked quickly and leaves the outer crust airy and a little crunchy, but the centre is a little soft. This is the texture of the classic Neapolitan pizza, and in my opinion …. is so very good.
Naelton at the bar
Just prior to Covid, I was a regular at the restaurant, and if you ventured in you would often see me with my kids sitting at the bar and chatting with Naelton (bartender and server), who was incredibly friendly and was treated like family. I always order a Margherita pizza (basil on half) for my kids. I like variety and try different pizzas each time. I have become quite fond of the Diavola which has smoked provolone, hot soppressata salami and classic tomato sauce. Delicious. While the pizza is amazing, I think the highlight for my kids was the bread that came fresh from the oven with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. So incredibly good.
My university roommate and great friend, Craig came into town, and we went to Napoli Centrale for pizza and beer. He always raves about it, calling it the best pizza he has ever had. I think he is right. Craig is not alone. There are people who regularly make the trek from Vaughn and Woodbridge to experience Alessandro’s pizza – it’s that good.
He always raves about it, calling it the best pizza he has ever had.
Napoli Centrale is proud to call Seaton Village home, and I feel proud to have Alessandro and this great restaurant in Seaton Village.