We can’t get enough of their crispy cheese-edged pizzas.
Gianna’s Patties and Pies is a casual pizza and burger restaurant from Toronto restaurateur Grant van Gameren. The new joint takes over the former Tennessee Tavern space in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood and continues to be run by van Gameren and his team.
The concept change-up is part of a series of COVID-related pivots the chef has recently made at his restaurants to focus on more takeout-friendly eats (although Gianna’s does offer dine-in on its patio). Similarly, van Gameren also transformed his fancy Mexican restaurant Quetzal into a low-key grilled chicken joint called Don Pollo.
Dine-in customers are seated on Gianna’s rear patio, which exudes an easy-going, secret garden vibe with its overhead wooden trellis, ample greenery, and strings of fairy lights. Wooden bench seating is arranged to allow generous distance between tables, and carefully-placed plants create a sense that each table is set in its own cozy corner. At the time of writing, Gianna’s was not offering indoor dining, with seating only available on the patio.
Rather than accessing the restaurant via the main entrance on Queen Street, diners need to loop around and walk down Fuller Ave. to access the patio entrance via a back parking lot.
Keep in mind that Gianna’s doesn’t take reservations, and the wait time for a spot on the small patio is typically between 1-2 hours on weekend evenings. We recommend grabbing a pre-dinner drink at neighbouring bar the Mezz, which has its own cute patio, while you wait for your table.
Gianna’s menu was developed with takeout in mind, so this restaurant is also an appealing option if you’re itching to try a new restaurant but are not completely comfortable dining out in the COVID era.
The Food and Drink
True to its name, the straightforward menu at Gianna’s Patties and Pies focuses on burgers and pizza. The Detroit-style pizzas ($26-$35) are rectangular, deep-dish pies with a light and slightly chewy texture. Pizzas are topped with a signature cheese blend, which caramelizes around the edges of the pan when baking to create addictive, crispy bits of cheese around the circumference of the pies.
Turophiles will also appreciate the frico cheeseburger ($12), which sees a ring of fried mozza encircling a ground chuck patty topped with banana peppers, tomato, pickles, and spicy mayo and served on a Martin’s potato roll. Apps like a roasted pepper stuffed with spiced mozza continue the everything-cheese fest.
The tomato and cucumber salad ($13) is a nice option for adding a little balance to your meal (if you want to, that is). Drinks include unfussy cocktails like a negroni and a booze-spiked housemade lemonade, as well as beers from Ontario breweries like Matron Fine Beer in Prince Edward County.
The Essential Order
The restaurant may be called Gianna’s Patties and Pies but we’re going to go ahead and say that it’s all about the pies for us — in part because there are plenty of top-notch burger joints in Toronto but few Detroit-style pizza spots.
Anchovies might be the most controversial of pizza toppings, but the Mediterranean pizza ($35) is our stand-out pick regardless. The briny tang of the boquerones (marinated anchovies) and olives is a lovely contrast with the slightly sweet, blistered cherry tomatoes.