Is it fair to declare summer the season of pizza? It can be enjoyed year-round, of course, but some of the best pizzaiolos fire up their outdoor ovens only during summer. Plus, ingredients like uber-ripe veggies or pesto made with fresh basil are the cherry tomato on top of the proverbial pizza sundae (I’d try it). If you’ve got a hankering for wood-fired pizza, pencil in a visit to any of the pizza slingers in Ontario’s Highlands – but don’t drag your feet, some of these artisans only churn out pies during the summer!
The Barn Chefs
Pizza at The Barn Chefs is serious business. The husband and wife duo met in Luca’s home country of Italy when Sarah moved there to study Italian cuisine. The pair trained in Italy and then country-hopped all over the world before setting up shop in Coe Hill. This pizza is so special, it’s only served on Fridays in summer. A word to the wise: call to “reserve” your pizza dough to make sure there’s one with your name on it when you get there – this is a popular Friday evening locale. Once you arrive you can choose your toppings and have a seat at their picnic tables to dig into the piping hot, cheesy pie.
Pizza On Earth
Wouldn’t the world be better if there was Pizza on Earth? You’ll be feeling pretty zen when you enjoy a slice or eight of one of the region’s most coveted pizzas. Pizza on Earth serves up gourmet wood-fired pizzas in Dorset from May to September, straight from their traditional brick oven which they have dubbed “Etna.” Build your own or pick from their selection of meat- or veg-topped beauties, like the favourite Lake of Baysil, which layers chicken, goat cheese, onion, and roasted red peppers on top of a pesto base. They also make Montreal-style bagels every morning, so grab a dozen for tomorrow’s breakfast!
Neat Coffee Shop
What do you get when you combine stellar pizza with live music? The oven’s hot and the tunes even hotter at Neat Coffee Shop in Burnstown. This tiny little café housed in an 1880s schoolhouse is known as being the place to go for live music in the Ottawa Valley, served up with a side of amazing pizza. Their delectable pies are named after famous musicians, like the Weird Al (pesto, brie, pear, and arugula), or the Jack White (sausage, roasted garlic, red onions, and mozzarella).
Into the Blue Bakery
Into the Blue Bakery is a mobile pizza shop serving Haliburton County and beyond. Depending on the day of the week you’ll find them at Haliburton farmers’ market (Tuesdays), Bonnie View Inn (Wednesdays), Haliburton Highlands Brewing (Fridays) or Abbey Gardens (Sundays). New this year, they have a truck in the town of Haliburton at 33 Hops Drive which is open afternoons on Wednesdays through Sundays. Here they fire up pizzas featuring fresh, local ingredients like the Peach Delight or the cleverly named Spanakopizza. Ask them about making your pizza vegan, gluten free, or lactose free and they’d be happy to oblige.
Almonte Riverside Inn
This summer, the Lobby Bar at Almonte Riverside Inn is making good use of their brand new outdoor pizza oven on Monday nights. Call ahead and reserve a table where you can enjoy fresh fired pizza paired with soothing reggae beats. Take your pick from vegetarian classics like the margherita, or branch out and try what might become your new favourite. Locals love the Lobby Bar so reservations are recommended!
Honourable Mention: McDonalds Corners Farmers’ Market
There’s a well kept secret that has not yet surfaced on Instagram: the pizza at McDonalds Corners Farmers’ Market is worth the trip. The super-thin crust pizzas are topped to your liking and cooked before your eyes in their old-school oven. Catch the farmers’ market on Saturdays in summer from 9 am to 1 pm at the MERA Schoolhouse.