Many cities around the world claim to have their unique style of pizza. Detroit and Chicago are home to deep-dish pizza, while New York prides itself on its large Neo Neapolitan style pie. Did you know that Windsor, Ontario also lays claim to a particular style of pizza? It is best described as a medium-thick, Neo Neapolitan. Popularly known as the automotive hub of the country, Canada’s most southern city also claims to be the pizza capital of Canada. 

Today, Windsor is home to many family-owned, wood-fired pizza shops that have been around for decades. Many of which are also award-winning. Although it is difficult to trace the roots of the Windsor pizza scene, Volcano Pizzeria, which opened in 1957, is thought to be the creator. They were hard to miss, making deliveries by zipping around the city in iconic Volkswagen Beetles. Volcano Pizzeria was also the first Italian restaurant in the Downtown Windsor area. Their menu items, including the pizza, brought along so much popularity that the restaurant went from 60 seats to 400

Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for former Windsor residents to order a pizza from their local pizzeria, freeze it, and bring it to their new cities, when moving. They may even deliver it as a gift for family and friends. The pizza is just that good. Whether you live there or plan to visit, we have some recommendations on the best pizza in Windsor.

What Makes Windsor Style Pizza Unique? 

Windsor style pizza is unique in a few ways. Though it is the ingredients used that often make it stand out from traditional styles in other places. 

Pepperoni: If you have been to a pizza shop before, round pepperoni slices are hard to miss and usually readily available as a topping. In Windsor, pepperoni is shredded into match sticks to allow for crispier edges when it emerges from the oven. 

Mushrooms: Windsor style pizza opts for canned mushrooms instead of fresh mushrooms. You might be confused by this choice, but canned mushrooms have more moisture, which means they hold up better to the high heat of a pizza oven. Fresh mushrooms often shrivel up and go dry when they hit that type of heat. 

Cheese: Many pizzerias in Windsor opt for locally made mozzarella from the Galati Cheese Company. This company has been making mozzarella for 21 years and counting. They are also the only cheese manufacturer located in the southern part of Oxford County.

Armando’s Pizza

Armando’s is one of the original pizzerias in the Windsor area. Founded in 1967, it has helped to define what is today known as Windsor style pizza. If you’ve tried their pizza, it should come as no surprise that their trophy cabinet is full of awards. They have recently won the awards for Best Pizza in Windsor/​Essex County in 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016. Their Corporate Chef, Dean Litster, also won the Canadian Pizza Chef of the Year award (Open Division) at the 2018 Canadian Pizza Summit in Toronto. It doesn’t stop there! Armando’s is also recognized on the world stage, placing third at the World Open International Pizza Competition in Las Vegas, NV.

Though Windsor style pizza is a great choice at Armando’s, they like to offer a wider variety for their patrons. They also have options that include hand-tossed thin-crust and deep dish. Vegan cheese and other alternate toppings ensure that there is something on the menu for those with dietary restrictions. Armando’s Pizza has continued to grow over the years with several locations in Windsor and across Essex County.

Antonino’s Original Pizza

Antonino Ciaravino opened his first pizzeria, located in South Windsor in 1959. In addition to fine-cut pepperoni, the pizza was known for having a distinct sauce that exploded with flavor. Today, there are at least thirty local pizza shops that can trace items on their menu back to Antonino’s original recipe. There is no doubt that Mr. Ciaravino had a profound impact on the Windsor area pizza scene.

As a tribute to his father, Antonino’s son, Joe, opened the first Antonino’s Original Pizza location in Windsor in 1999. Having now grown to two locations, one thing has never changed. Antonino’s original pizza recipe is still used and complemented by the best quality ingredients, many of which are locally sourced. Among other items, Antonino’s Original Pizza uses fresh-packed vine-ripened tomatoes to make their signature sauce and 100% whole milk, Uniondale mozzarella from the Galati Cheese Company. All the pizza here is hand-made from dough that goes through a multi-stage proofing process. It is then baked to perfection on cornmeal, directly on a stone hearth to ensure that every bite is as flavorful as can be.

Capri Pizzeria

Mr. Kalaydjian purchased the original Capri Pizzeria location from its former owner in 1975. Although the original Capri was already serving great pizza, there were plans to take things to another level under new ownership. Years later, in 1987, the restaurant next door was put up for sale. The Kalaydjian family saw this as an opportunity to execute on the growth they had imagined. Without hesitation, they purchased the additional space, completed renovations, and re-opened in 1989. Now sporting a larger kitchen, the new space meant that it was possible to open a fully functional restaurant where patrons could sit and enjoy the phenomenal pizza in a casual dining environment. 

Through word of mouth, Capri Pizzeria was gaining popularity. To meet the demand, they began expanding, opening their second location in Windsor’s east end. Today, there are ten Capri Pizzeria locations in Windsor and across Essex County. For prospective visitors, be prepared to choose from a variety of fresh and gourmet toppings. Create your own or pick one of their several themed pizzas, like The Greek” or the California Fusion” which includes mozzarella, red onions, roasted red peppers, broccoli, feta, and even BBQ chicken.

Arcata Pizzeria

Founded in the 1950s, Arcata Pizzeria has been family-owned and operated for three generations. Still going strong today, they have stuck to their traditional values, which include creating menu items with ingredients that are locally sourced and even homemade. 

As one of the top Windsor pizza places, their menu is extensive, catering to any craving, even those who are health conscious. Popular pizza menu items include chicken shawarma and veggie lovers. Keto-friendly crust is also available for those with more specific dietary restrictions. Don’t see any menu items that catch your attention? Don’t worry. The staff is always happy to customize a pizza to suit your exact specifications.

Caboto Club Pizza

The Giovanni Caboto Club is a large event facility, hosting celebrations and corporate functions for those across Windsor and the Essex County region. It originally opened its doors in 1925, moving to its current location on Parent Avenue in 1950. In 2002, the main bar was renovated to include a wood-fired pizza oven. From here, the wood-burning pizzeria at the Caboto Club was born. Open Wednesday through Sunday, this pizzeria is considered to be a hidden gem. 

The menu offers pizzas with several topping combinations. Choose something basic like a Margherita or grab a pizza that is a little more elaborate, such as the Quattro Stagioni, which is topped with ham, artichokes, black olives, and mushrooms. At Caboto Club, you can also get pizza for dessert. They offer up a delectable Nutella chocolate dessert pizza.

In addition to indulging in the delicious creations found in the pizza capital of Canada, be sure to support local restaurants across Southwest Ontario as well. 

Special thanks to the staff at the Comfort Inn, in Windsor, ON for their suggestions.

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