Cape Breton Pizza
Recently, I have become attuned to the chorus of transplanted Capers declaring that pizza is much better in Cape Breton than it is in Halifax. There is, apparently, a style of Cape Breton pizza.
There are a couple problems with this sentiment. First, it requires Halifax to have a homogeneous pizza style. Second, it requires Cape Breton to have a homogeneous pizza style. The last time I found myself immersed in such a story, I was living in Calgary (which sort of does have a style), and my Windsor friends were singing praise of the pizza in Windsor, Ontario (which also has a style).
Now, I know for a fact that Halifax is not pizza-consistent. You simply cannot reduce Halifax pizza to that awful slice you had at pizza corner.
But the statement: “Cape Breton pizza is better than pizza in Halifax” begged me to examine the quality and homogeneity of Cape Breton pizza. For my purposes, I assumed that by “Halifax pizza” we are talking about the hand-tossed, sweet sauced pizzas popular among starving students and drunk people (think Xtreme Pizza and Alexandra’s). I
fantasized hypothesized that Cape Breton has a unique pizza culture, with its own regional style of pizza. With this prospect of discovery on my mind, I went on a quest for Cape Breton pizza.
The first pie of this journey was from Tom’s Pizza in Baddeck. The “Tom’s Special” has a lot going on with pepperoni, onion, mushroom, tomatoes, green pepper, pineapple, hot peppers, and black and green olives. We ordered this pizza at the counter, which stood in front of the open kitchen. We couldn’t help but notice that everyone in the kitchen was female. My Mother somehow deduced from this that our pizza would be made properly, because “women don’t fart around”. The kitchen looked clean, and each woman seemed to be assigned a distinct role, whether tossing the dough, dressing the pizza or slicing the finished product. I’ve never seen such a sight, but it was pretty awesome.
We all felt that the toppings were fresh and of good quality. The crust was enjoyably edible. The pizza was not too greasy, but there was arguably too much cheese (if you are predisposed to making such an argument).
One unique thing about Cape Breton is “Combination Pizza”. If you order a combination pizza in Cape Breton, it will always mean pepperoni, mushrooms and green pepper. On the mainland, I have seen this combination referred to as a “Maritime Classic” (as distinct from “Canadian Classic” – pepperoni, bacon, mushroom), but it is also the magical combination found on Montreal-Style pizzas. It is only the nomenclature that makes each region unique in this respect.
Anyway, my research led me to believe that Kenny’s was the Sydney favourite, overtaking the more famous Napoli Pizza in overall quality. So we got a pizza from each place, which was easy enough as they are literally neighbours in downtown Sydney.
There was really no comparison between the Sydney pizzas and the Baddeck pizza, but there was some similarity between Kenny’s and Napoli. Mainly, I noticed that long strips of green pepper are placed on top of the cheese, while everything else lies underneath. The crust is slightly thinner than an average Halifax pizza, and the sauce isn’t as sweet.
My family preferred Napoli over Kenny’s, and Tom’s over Napoli. But my personal favourite was local legend, Napoli. The sauce had a nice basic tomato flavour, and I liked the overall composition and aesthetics. For me, Napoli was a pizza-eating experience, while the others were just pizza.
My dreams of discovering a homogeneous Cape Breton pizza style have been dampened, but Sydney, at least, does seem to have a sort of pizza culture marked by “Combination Pizzas”, thin hand-tossed crusts, unsweetened sauce, and long strips of green pepper decorating the cheese. If nothing else, I have discovered Napoli Pizza, which now sits on my list of memorable pizzas.
I wish I could have sampled more pizza, but I only had a weekend to
stuff my face conduct my research. I have also been told to try Caledonia and Jeffrey’s in Glace Bay, Fat Boys in New Waterford, Pizza Palace in Whitney Pier, Wabo’s Pizza in Cheticamp, and Cedar House in Boularderie. That’s a lot of pizza! Suffice to say this quest is incomplete. If any Capers want to set me straight, be my guest and comment below!
Bianchini’s Pizzeria (North Sydney)
I’m still not sure that I’ve identified a “Cape Breton-style”. If there are any consistent traits, they would be adequate cheesiness, long strips of green pepper on the top-side, buried pepperoni, and an old school crust. The sauce is more of a neutral tomato sauce, without an abundance of spice or sugar.
This isn’t so different from the old school pizzerias in Halifax.
But Capers will still tell you: “There just isn’t anything quite like Cape Breton pizza.”
Papa’s Pub (Fort Hawkesbury)
Someone sang unto me the virtues of Papa’s Pizza (I found out later they were family), and it was entirely run-of-the-mill bar pizza.
My quest continues…
Fat Boys (New Waterford)
I love the use of local Horyl’s pepperoni on this one. It’s got the old school crust and the not-sweet sauce, but now we’ve got diced green pepper and top-side mushrooms.
I am still unclear on what constitutes the Cape Breton style.
I strongly suggest that Bianchini’s pizza in north Sydney must be added to your study, as well as princess pizza in Sydney mines. A taste of the northside to balance out the Sydney/glace bay/new Waterford samples.
Awesome! Thanks for the suggestions!
Bianchini’s has nothing on it!
Napoli’s pizza is so well known, that I know they’ve actually shipped frozen pizzas across the country numerous times for Capers and those who have tasted its wonderful flavours. As well, friends and families first stop after arriving home from being away for many years (or as little as a few months) to grab a large combination pizza or their rich, meaty donair pizza. So I’m happy to hear you tasted and enjoyed a Napoli’s slice, I’ll be sure to let some of their family know.
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I was born and raised in New Waterford. I now live in Dartmouth. I have been on a have been on a quest for years (since moving here) to find pizza as good as Fat Boys in New Waterford. It is by far the best pizza I have ever easten. They use Horyl’s meats (also in New Waterford). No comparison to pizza here. I constantly crave for it and every time I go to visit my Mom in New Waterford you’ll see me at Fat Boys orderings a large Pep & Cheese, small Garlic Fingers and a Steak Sub!
Thanks for commenting. I really wanted to go to Fat Boys, but I only had time for so much pizza. It is basically first on my list for my next trip up there. I love that they use Horyl’s that’s awesome. I called Napoli to see where their pepperoni came from, and they told me somewhere in Halifax. I’m also getting the impression that steak subs are a bit of a Cape Breton thing…
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Oh yeah? What’s on it?
Next test in Sydney – order a pepperoni pizza, see how many come with cheese and how many don’t. My very first pizza experience in Sydney was an order for a pepperoni pizza. Imagine my surprise when it arrived with no cheese. When questioned about it, the staff said, “well you didn’t order cheese.” Most mainlanders don’t believe my story.
Interesting! Definitely something to add to my research.
As a transplanted Cape Bretoner, I’ve searched and searched for a comparable pizza in Halifax (Pizzadelic in Clayton Park is where we usually settle, with similar features but obviously no Napoli!) My suggestion, if you decide to conduct further research, is Papa’s Pub in Port Hawkesbury. Best part that is that you eat it and then have a nearly two hour drive ahead of you, so lots of time to prepare for your next face stuffing…err research.
That’s great advice, thanks!
Agree with Pizzadelic. It was the closest we found to home. Being a New Waterford girl, Fat Boy’s will always be my favourite. I have been known to drive past the turn off for my mom’s house and go straight to Fat Boy’s at the end of our 18 hour drive from Ottawa.
I like this article. I like where you were going with this. I really believe a book should be made on the history of pizza in Cape breton and the history of Donair in Cape breton as I believe both were invented in Cape breton and not halifax. Little unknown fact about cape breton. Most of the pizza shops and pizza cooks were trained by just a handful of original pizza makers. Let’s call it a cape breton pizza meme. A few I migrants cone to Cape breton, open a few pizza shops then teach others how to make a good pizza in turn they teach a few others and then so on ending up with numerous pizza shops throughout the island. This is one of the reasons why cape breton pizza is so similar. Because it’s the original recipe from only a few original makers. This is the same way the Cape breton Donair got started
Hi! Thanks for reading and commenting! I agree that Cape Breton has a unique pizza culture that should be examined in more detail and celebrated more widely. However I am pretty confident that the donair was invented in Halifax as I have been doing a lot of research on the subject and talking to the families who were involved. But if you have any information on the Cape Breton donair, please do e-mail me at email@example.com Cheers!
The reason the pizza in SHIT hole Halifax is sweet is because on the average 20 kg if flour bag. They put in 4x6ounce cups of sugar… And the pizza sauce usually had 8x 6 ounce cups of sugar…… Wake up idiots wake up!!??
Pizza World in North Sydney has the best pizza (depending on who is working that day, they aren’t consistent so it is a roll of the dice).
Jane’s in Bras d’Or will not disapoint and is where I get pizzas from the most when back home. Highly recommended.
What really makes Cape Breton pizza superior to all other pizzas really comes down to crust and sauce. Sauce being the most important factor.
Try Fat Boys in Dominion
I lived in Ontario for many years and I got used to “cardboard crust”assembly line pizza.
After moving back to the Cape some time ago I was fortunate to rediscover home (Cape Breton) pizza
I ordered from all the places in the article.
My favorite town for pizza is Glace Bay,whether it’s Caladonia,David’s,Jefferies or J&T pizza in my opinion you cant go wrong,all are similar to eachother and all have the old style pizza ovens,something tells me that that is part of the “secret” behind the lore of C.B. pizza, there is absolutely no comparison between this home style pizza and chain restaurants like pizza pizza,pizza hut, dominoes etc. If I had to narrow my options and just pick one I think it would be a tie between Calidonia and J&T so I recommend you make it Glace Bay next time you’re in the area and try one of those 2 places,you will not regret it!
The truth lies in the middle. Specifically: Pictou County. Who bothers to discuss pizza in Nova Scotia without bringing the champ into the conversation?
the big difference in cape breton style pizza is the cheese is on top. it makes a difference. the meats are under the cheese.
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This is also true of most pizza in Nova Scotia, as well as Montreal and Calgary.