Celebrate National Pizza Month With Windsor’s Best Pizza Joints

Saturday October 9th, 2021

Posted at 10:55am

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Original blog by Roxana Rangel, My Travelling Backpack | September 2021

If you’ve heard of Windsor before, it’s probably due to at least one of three things: the automotive industry, the ambassador bridge, or pizza. I can understand if the latter left you a bit perplexed how an automotive border city has anything to do with pizza but believe it or not due to our geographical location, Windsor was set up to leave it’s mark in the Pizza world.

Whether you’re local to the Windsor area, or you’re researching for your next trip to Windsor, I’m about to take you on an adventure! Through this blog post you’ll learn three things: what is ‘Windsor-style pizza’, how it came to be, and what club you can join to discover more ‘za’. As a bonus, I will share a tasty guide for you to follow completely or ‘à la carte’ for your pizza adventures around the city.

What is ‘Windsor-style pizza’ and how did it come to be? 

I’m a local to Windsor and I had thought I knew everything there was to know about ‘Windsor pizza’. As I began my research for this blog post, I chatted with Dean Lister, Professor Zaaa, owner of Armando’s Pizzeria in Amherstburg, and I quickly realized I was completely off the mark!

The uniqueness of Windsor-style pizza comes from four cornerstone ingredients: Shredded pepperoni, canned mushrooms, Mozzarella cheese from the Galati Cheese Company, and a cornmeal sprinkled bottom! When I asked Dean to explain why canned mushrooms were the default, it was basically one of those “location, location, location” answers. He shared that the Windsor-style pizza pioneers used canned mushrooms because — contrary to now — Windsor did not have any mushroom farms close by to get fresh produce. They solved that by using canned mushrooms! The ‘they’ in this scenario is Volcano Pizzeria.

Pizza History

The use of these ingredients started out at Volcano Pizzeria, which is understood to have been the first pizza outlet in Windsor that opened in 1957. According to the Windsor Public Library, it was the first Italian restaurant in the Downtown Windsor area opened by Frank Gualtieri and Gino Manza (located at 157 Wyandotte Street East). Dean also helped shed some light on why they intentionally used shredded pepperoni at Volcano’s. It was so the oils from the pepperoni would melt and spread even flavour in every bite. Frank and Gino created something so delicious that after 35 years since they closed their pizzeria in 1986, their recipe still lives on to this day and we enjoy it today when we have Windsor style pizza.

What is the Windsor Pizza Club?

Now that you have learned about Windsor style pizza, I bet you’re wondering “where can I go to experience this?” The answer is easy! Eat at one (or all) of the members at the Windsor Pizza Club!

The Windsor Pizza Club is founded by eight pizzeria’s in Windsor that uphold the definition of Windsor-style pizza: Sam’s Pizzeria & Cantina, Oven 360, Caboto Club Pizza, Franco’s Restaurant, Capri Pizzeria, Arcata Pizzeria, Antonino’s Original Pizza, Armando’s Pizza. These pizzerias not only carry the essential ingredients that make Windsor style pizza but also have created other unique combinations that should be experienced!

Whether you’re from the area or not, you can become a member by:

  1. Picking up a membership card for free at any of the 8 participating locations.
  2. Get your card stamped when you pick up your pizza at all 8 locations.
  3. Redeem your stamped card for a free limited edition Windsor Pizza Club tee!

With the help of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, I was able to experience the unique combinations these 8 founding members have created into a pizza guide for you to explore. The guide below will help you get a sense of what you should look forward to next time you order a pizza in Windsor!

Windsor Pizza Club Picks

Day One – ‘Bianco’ from Sam’s Pizzeria & Cantina + Antonino’s Original Pizza – South Windsor – Angry Hawaiian 

Day Two  – ‘California Fusion’ from Capri Pizzeria + ‘Chicken Shawarma’ from Arcata Pizzeria

Day Three – ‘Rustico’ from Armando’s Pizza – Cabana + ‘Miranda’ from Oven 360 Grand Marais

Day Four – ‘Lombarda’ from Caboto Club + ‘Sicilian’ from Franco’s Restaurant

If you’re looking to understand how I organized the itinerary (a.k.a the method to my madness of eating 8 pizzas in 4 days) I grouped two contrasting or similar pizzas so I can share: what toppings are on the pizza, what makes it unique, and what are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria. 

Warning: If you’re adventurous like myself and want to try these pizza combinations, get your comfy pants on and pace yourself!

Let’s Get Eating!

‘Bianco’

Sam’s Pizzeria & Cantina

2215 Wyandotte St W.
Windsor, ON N9B 1K2

What are the toppings? It’s a thin sauceless ‘pizza’ drizzled with olive oil, fresh aromatic herbs, and a touch of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

What makes it unique? The crunch! Bianco is not your typical pizza with sauce and melted cheese. It’s more of a crispy crostini. A perfect ‘amuse bouche’ to get your appetite ready!

What are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria? 

 ‘Angry Hawaiian’

Antonino’s Original Pizza – South Windsor 

What are the toppings? This pizza is loaded with Galati Mozzarella cheese, ham, pineapple, hot peppers, and DOUBLE BACON!

What makes it unique? This pizza is loaded with toppings, it has a great flavour contrast — sweetness from the pineapple and savoriness from the double bacon, plus there is the perfect  amount of kick with the hot peppers.

What are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria? 

  • Shop till you drop at Windsor Crossing Premium Outlet Mall  (5 min drive away from Antonino’s Original Pizza – South Windsor location)
  • Taste some of Wolfhead Distillery premium spirits by having a tasting at the table! (11 min drive away from Antonino’s Original Pizza – South Windsor location)
  • After some pizza, enjoy a nice latte or affogato at 14th Coffee Co (12 min drive away from Antonino’s Original Pizza – South Windsor location)

‘California Fusion’

Capri Pizzeria 

What are the toppings? This pizza has Galati Mozzarella, red onions, roasted red peppers, broccoli, feta, and BBQ chicken.

What makes it unique? The fusion of broccoli and red onions, roasted red peppers, + feta were an interesting meld of flavours. If you’ve never tried broccoli on pizza, this would be a good pizza to try!

‘Chicken Shawarma’

Arcata Pizzeria 

What are the toppings? When you open up the box, the aroma of the toppings hit your nose buds instantly! This pizza has Galati Mozzarella, a garlic base, marinated chicken, red onion tomato and a drizzle of pesto sauce in a spiral.

What makes it unique? Everything about this pizza is unique. You get a taste of the garlic buttered crust due to the garlic base in every bite. If you’re a fan of Shawarma, then you need to try this! The fully loaded toppings on the pizza makes it feel like you’re getting a bite out of a shawarma wrap each time.

What are some things you could do or visit around Capri Pizzeria and Arcata Pizzeria? If you’re going to try these two pizza’s you won’t have to go far. They are located on Dougall avenue right across from each other. Some activities you could do in the area:

  • Have an impromptu picnic at Jackson Park (5 min drive away from Capri and Arcata)
  • Fuel up on pizza to go to Bad Axe Throwing with your friends (4 min drive away from Capri and Arcata)
  • Interested in some history? Check out the Canadian Aviation Museum (7 min drive away from Capri and Arcata)

‘Rustico’

Armando’s Pizza – Cabana 

What are the toppings? Chicken, sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, mozzarella, asiago, and garlic olive oil sauce

What makes it unique? The ‘Rustico’ is a buttery wood fired thin crust pizza that has a good crunch. Additionally the sun dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers give this pizza different layers of texture and lots of flavour that I can appreciate. Note: As this pizza is a ‘wood fire pizza’ it comes in their personal size only. If you want to order it in bigger sizes like (Queen, King) you can do so but it would be made in their regular Armando’s crust.

What are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria? 

  • Take your swing at an hole-in-one at Roseland Golf and Curling Club. (2 min drive away from Armando’s Pizza – Cabana)
  • Grab a pint at John Max’s Patio! (3 min drive away from Armando’s Pizza – Cabana)
  • Race at Warp Drive Race Park, one of the largest outdoor, concrete go-kart tracks in Canada! (4 min drive away from Armando’s Pizza – Cabana)

‘Miranda’

Oven 360 – Grand Marais 

What are the toppings? Spinach, ricotta, and prosciutto

What makes it unique? The crust on this pizza is like no other pizza I tried on this itinerary! I would also recommend getting their Delux Salad that comes in the same crust as the pizza with a great balsamic dressing, tomatoes, red onions, and bocconcini!

What are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria? 

  • Take a picture at the vintage Yorktown Square sign! (1 min walk from Oven 360 – Grand Marais)
  • Grab a slice and take a walk through Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve! (6 min drive away from Oven 360 – Grand Marais)
  • Drive to the Windsor Riverfront and enjoy your pizza with the Detroit skyline! (12 min drive away from Oven 360 – Grand Marais)

‘Lombarda’

Caboto Club 

What are the toppings? Galati Mozzarella, zucchini, Milanese Salami

What makes it unique? The Milanese Salami was definitely the unique element to this pizza. It was different from the shredded pizza I got accustomed to through this eating adventure.

What are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria? 

Luckily Caboto Club is only a 4 minute drive away from Ottawa Street! You can find there so many great local shops to explore:

  • aggregate. – sustainable home and family lifestyle store
  • Café Amor + Art – local coffee shop that sells specialty coffee, fresh food, paintings, books, artisanal pottery and jewellery
  • Windsor Tea Emporium – make and sell premium loose leaf tea

Check out the Ottawa Street BIA for more information.

‘Sicilian’

Franco’s Restaurant 

What are the toppings? Artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, eggplant and sundried tomatoes

What makes it unique? Hands down the combination of artichoke hearts and eggplant took me by surprise. I really enjoyed them on the pizza, the sun dried tomatoes added the salty element and lifted the flavour of the toppings.

What are some things you could do or visit around the pizzeria? 

Only a 5 min drive away you’ll find another neighbourhood – Ford City – where you’re able to explore local shops and try some tasty beverages

  • Wolf And Rebel —  self-care shop for fun and unique items to treat yourself!
  • Bunch — Hand picked goods from past and present soaked in nostalgia in one cozy space.
  • Pressure Drop — the coolest beer bar you’ll go to!
  • Soda Pop Bros — Not only do they carry their own soda line but they carry domestic and international sodas from all over the world!
  • Chance Coffee — Newest member on the block, this coffee shop has just recently opened and it’s a must visit!

Check out the Ford City BIA for more information.

Whether you’re local to the Windsor area, or you’re coming to Windsor for a visit, I hope that through this blog post you learned about ‘Windsor-style pizza’ and are ready to try a slice of za’ from members of Windsor’s Pizza Club! When you do, don’t forget to tag your adventures with #windsorpizzaclub! If you enjoyed this blog post and guide, check out My Travelling Backpack for more resources to explore Southwestern Ontario and follow me on Instagram to keep up with my adventures! Until next time 👋

Sponsored story by Tourism Windsor Essex. For more details on Tourism Windsor Essex click their website, or visit them on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

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