I always find it easier to write a restaurant review when a restaurant is awful or when a restaurant is outstanding because there is so much to say. It’s much more challenging to write about an establishment when it does not leave a lasting impression. There may not be any standout dish or exceptional service that is viewed positively or negatively, making it harder to write a compelling review. Of course, my personal taste and dining experience are highly subjective and may not be representative of the restaurant’s overall performance. After all, I am only basing this on a singular visit. But for me, my visit to Piccolo Piano Pizzeria was not memorable. Located at 89 Harbord Street in Toronto, across from their larger sister restaurant Piano Piano. They share the same executive chef Victor Barry, alongside owners Nikki Leigh McKean and Brendan Piunno. Chef de cuisine is Francis Nitoral.
One memorable thing was the gaudy, schmaltzy decor, a cross between a bordello, a speakeasy, and Moulin Rouge. Full of vintage flea market nic naks and vibes, animal-printed chairs, bright red walls, ceiling, and bar. A red neon sign behind the bar that says Pizza is Life and a couple of Venetian masks. There is also a very casual backyard patio. The music turned up even early in the evening, playing only reggae that began to grate on my nerves after a while. The pizza is supposed to be the star of the show here, using 100% naturally leavened sourdough (usually my favourite type of pizza) cooked in a wood-fired oven at a flaming hot 1000 degrees. Let’s just say I was underwhelmed.
First, let me begin with the small shareables and this section was more interesting for us. The Octo-Dawg, an octopus in a potato bun with pickled jalapeño, although a touch chewy was still delicious and enjoyable. The Cacio e carne, served with a gnocco fritto rendition was pleasurable. Dinner began to go downhill when they served us the pizza. Maybe it was an off night, but the pizza was soggy in the middle and could not hold the ingredients. I didn’t like the tomato and cheese pizza at all. A great sourdough pizza is characterized by its unique crust, flavour, and texture. The crust should be light and airy and crispy, which it was not, however, it was chewy which is one of the components it should have. I am used to a tomato sauce being red, not pink, typically using San Marzano tomatoes. I found the sauce very strange and it did not enhance the overall flavour of the pizza. I found the outside of the crust to be extra thick and the middle of the pizza to be soggy. The white mushroom pizza fared better. I understand that pizza preferences can vary widely, but if you’re a pizza restaurant, your pizzas should be perfect.
The wine list, cocktails, and beer choices were small, and I had a passable spritz. Desserts were also unremarkable.
For me Piccolo Piano was very average and did not leave a lasting impression.