After visiting the new Alberta Avenue farmers’ market, and prior to the artsScene Edmonton launch party, we stopped in at Tony’s Pizza Palace for dinner. One of my coworkers raved about Tony’s after lunch there some time ago, primarily because she could see the chefs hand-toss the dough like in the movies. As a result, I was most looking forward to this aspect of our dining experience.
Based on our initial assessment of the older stucco building, Tony’s seemed to be a family-friendly, neighbourhood pizza place. When we walked in, the décor seemed to match our judgment – dated, but comfortable, with wooden fixtures, clunky chairs and at the back, an open window into the kitchen, where we saw six busy hands and a huge oven behind them.
With the laid-back interior, we were surprised to find that the servers were dressed to the nines. The waiters all had crisp white shirts, black vests, and ties – a major disconnect with their surroundings and the patrons, who for the most part were rocking jeans or casual slacks. Though their service was friendly and efficient, I had to wonder if management confused the desired atmosphere of Tony’s with that of an upscale French bistro.
At any rate, once settled with our drinks, we perused the menu. We ignored the entrees and pasta dishes and headed straight for their namesake dishes. The “specials” (topping combinations pre-selected without room for substitution) were quite expensive (ranging from $14.25-$21.50), at least when compared with the price to customize our own pizza.
We asked our server how large the medium was, and at 12’’, decided that Mack was hungry enough to warrant ordering two of them, knowing that any leftovers would make a welcome brown bag lunch. I decided on the classic margherita pizza ($14.25 for medium), though tomatoes were absent, while Mack customized a medium pizza with Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms ($15.25 for three toppings). Unfortunately, basil wasn’t a topping option, so I could not have customized my own margherita.
While awaiting our meal, I anxiously watched the kitchen window and waited for the dough-tossing to begin. Unfortunately, my patience went unrewarded, and we did not see a single toss over the course of our evening. We should have asked if they had changed their policy, but our food was delivered shortly and I neglected to do so.
The pizzas were indeed generously-sized, molded perfectly to fit circular pan underneath. Mack noted the crust – not at all greasy and thin but sturdy – he was able to pick up a slice to be eaten without utensils. He much preferred this to its Neapolitan sibling – the chewy, and airy type propagated by Famoso, while I disagreed. The margherita, with its very basic cheese and basil topping, let the crust shine. Mack’s custom pizza, on the other hand, was loaded with meat and mushrooms, and despite the less-than-crispy pepperoni, he enjoyed it. I should also note that the sauce was not overpowering – sometimes a heavy hand is used to distribute the base, but these pizzas had just the right amount of sauce.
Three-topping PIzza with Sausage, Pepperoni and Mushrooms
The isolated location of Tony’s would prevent it from becoming a regular haunt for me, particularly when the downtown location of Famoso, with their lovely charred and chewy crust, is so much more central. But I was happy to have tried it, even without the free pizza tossing entertainment.
Tony’s Pizza Palace
9605 111 Avenue NW
Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30am-2:30pm; Dinner: Monday-Thursday 4:30-10pm, Friday 4:30pm-midnight, Saturday 2:30pm-midnight, Sunday 4:30-10:30pm