In the search for Ottawa's tastiest and most tantalizing home-grown pizza, things can get downright crusty. The city teems with quality pizza joints, from upscale Italian eateries with their razor-thin gourmet platters, to more traditional, grease-on-the-pants restos perfumed with tomato and basil. Ottawa At Home features editor Jim Donnelly, an admitted pizza enthusiast, details his gastronomical reasonings for these five picks of Ottawa's most diverse and delicious - and non-franchised - pizza spots. La Favorita Ristorante
Primarily an eat-in restaurant, La Favorita's wood-fired pizza is so good it offers delivery and take-out as well. The brick-lain, warehouse-style bistro at 356 Preston St. has been around since 1986 - though it recently moved to its current locale - and exposes ample duct work to diners as they tuck into a full Italian menu. The Verona (hazelnut pesto, basil, four cheeses, and tomato) topped my list, and put simply it's the best pizza I've ever had. The dryness of the fresh parmesan mixed with the other cheeses perfectly, and the pesto was sharp but not overpowering. The dish's light and airy crust was sheer heaven. La Favorita's pizza menu is brilliant and huge, plus it also features fresh seafood pizzas available year-round.Johnny Farina
I'd heard good things about the wood-fired pizza at this low-lit, casual gem, so I ordered a portobello and chicken (homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, grilled portobello mushrooms, grilled chicken, and sun-dried tomatoes, topped with goat cheese). At Farina, located at 216 Elgin St., the kitchen is almost completely exposed to diners, an element that - along with the wood-burning oven - adds to the warmth of the place. The pizza itself, one of 11 on the menu, was simply awesome: the portobellos weren't overpoweringly huge, and the sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese (along with a delicious homemade sauce) sealed the deal.Trattoria Caffé Italia
Not an exclusive pizza place by any means, the little red bistro at Gladstone and Preston is one of Ottawa's longest-standing Italian restaurants and boasts a trio of succulent flat-style and wood-fired gourmet pizzas (each cleverly called the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria). The place was packed, as per usual, when I arrived. It's been run by the well-known Carrozza family (Pat and Dom are the hosts, while their sister Connie is head chef) for more than 20 years. I dined on the Nina (tomato, black olives, heart of palm, garlic, oregano, pesto, and fontina and bocconcini cheeses). The crust, thick in some areas and thinner in others, immediately stood out as delicate but delicious, while the pesto and garlic mingled perfectly.House of Georgie & Sorento's
By this point, I know what you're thinking - I'm a little obsessed with wood-fired pizza. You're right. But I also love a good, old-fashioned tumble in slabs of dough, tomato sauce and cheese, and House of Georgie's & Sorento's is as good as any in the city. Surrounded by leafy greenery and Elgin's quaint elegance, Georgie's at 211 Gilmour St. is a true take-out pizza place. It boasts a fine menu featuring creative dishes like steak pizza, eggplant pizza and their infamous pizza and gravy. I ordered a Johnny's Pizza (fresh garlic, mushrooms, onions, green peppers and chicken). The crust was one of the lightest I'd ever had - especially for one so thick - I loved the huge chunks of fresh garlic, though my dining companions may have thought otherwise.Louis' Restaurant & Pizzeria
The first thing I noticed about Louis' Pizzeria was how busy it was - the place, nestled in the heart of Vanier at 181 MacArthur Ave., is about as wild as some of the neighbouring streets. Louis' has a great reputation around town and has enjoyed the same dedicated ownership for more than three decades. I had the combination (mushrooms, pepperoni, onions) with extra bacon, and it was certainly worth the hype. Though the pepperoni was a little much (there was almost an entire layer of it), the crust was out of this world, and the cheese-to-sauce ratio throughout the entire pie was perfect.