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Introducing Pizzeria Defina, the new Roncesvalles spot for Neapolitan, Roman, fried and “salad” pizzas

Inside Roksolana Curkowskyj’s new Roncesvalles pizzeria (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Pizzeria Defina, the latest spot to open on Roncesvalles, was for a long time home to take-out joint Cosa Pizza. When Roksolana Curkowskyj, a graduate of Ryerson’s fashion design program, purchased the property, she was planning to turn it into a bridal studio. But after exploring the space’s potential (including the giant pizza oven that came with it), Roksolana decided to apply her less-is-more design philosophy to pizzas rather than wedding gowns.

Curkowskyj headed to California to learn Neapolitan-style pizza from the best: 10-time world pizza champ Tony Gemignani. Her pies are available in either the traditional Neapolitan style or in the thinner Roma version; deep-fried and “salad” options are also offered. Curkowskyj isn’t one to shy away from experimentation: the Roncy pizza plays up the area’s Polish population, with potatoes, pancetta and asiago, and plans for a California-style breakfast pie are in the works.

Curkowskyj’s pizzas use local and organic ingredients, in addition to the essential Caputo flour imported from Naples. A pesto version comes with grilled chicken, calabrese peppers, fior di latte and fresh goat cheese ($16). The eccentric buffalo mozzarella “pizza salad” comes with a mound of cheese nestled between two pieces of bread with heaps of cherry tomatoes, all of it drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil ($14).

Exposed brick walls and wide-planed wooden floors give the joint a homey feel. Much of the woodwork was done by Curkowskyj’s sons, who used hemlock reclaimed from the building to make the bar and wine rack, as well as many of the tables. Potted plants and brightly hued jarred goods—such as Bumpercrop’s vanilla rhubarb ($13)—make for colourful accents. Local artist Christian Aldo was invited to create two murals, one behind the bar and the other next to the ubiquitous oven. Curkowskyj must be doing something right—Defina is already packed with couples and young families by 6 p.m.

Pizzeria Defina, 320 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-534-4414, pizzeriadefina.com

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  • Deb

    honestly, the food does not look that appealing….

  • Sunny

    Very relieved it didn’t become a bridal shop – not at all what the area needs.

    Though I fail to see how pancetta and asiago are playing to the Polish population – those are stock Italian ingredients. In fact, when we were there, every menu item was very Italian. Which makes sense for a pizza joint.

  • parkdaleeater

    why can’t the area use or need a bridal shop? does it really need another pizza place? i would be fine if it was either or something else completely…except maybe another coffee shop-we have more than our share of them

  • jaydee

    To Parkdale Eater: I wouldn’t call the existing Pizza places on Ronces good or even ok pizza joints. Pizzeria Defina is authentic real Italian style pizza. Not your Pizza Pizza, Pizza Nova style of inedible garbage.

  • jaydee

    To Deb: Honestly, they’re pics. Please try the food before commenting. Comments are for experienced diners (i.e. as having been there), not for trolls.

  • parkdaleeater

    oh sad jaydee….

    and sunny-it might be a better bridal shop than restaurant.

    service started sketchy and ended worse…i have never not left a tip…but first the food

    the meatballs were okay, big but kind of hard and chewy-the tomato sauce with them however, was brilliant!

    the pizza-too many toppings, toppings loaded into the centre-that results in a soggy middle. the toppings need to be balanced and spread out (jaydee-i know what pizza is supposed to be and this wasn’t it) all the pizzas around us suffered the same problem. cooked longer, hotter oven, spun in the oven….so many easy corrections.

    the carbonara, guanciale was great, pasta cooked perfectly, but the egg was bland, no parm, no salt or anything to add balance to this dish. no s&p on the table-if you don’t want us to season our food-you have to do it correctly.

    the service.

    our ‘waiter’ was overwhelmed. yes it was busy but he just couldn’t handle 5 tables of 2-the people next to us were sat before we arrived and had nothing but closed menus on their table. we were ‘lucky’ to get a floor manager type who saw that we were also sitting-but she was quicker and quite engaging for a while until i brought up the problem with the carbonara-her response (before disappearing for the rest of the night) was that this was an ‘italian’ carbonara without cream (canadian as she called it). we have had and cooked many an italian carbonara and understand how it is to be prepared. ‘waiter boy’ delivered our food and asked if we needed anything else-we asked for water which never came. another bottle of wine never came, the waiter and floor manager never came, the request to see if we wanted dessert never came, the bill never came, we went to the bar to pay the bill and when presented with the tip option on the debit machine i said no for the only time in my life thus far.

    we won’t be back

  • Paul Lima

    Been there twice; will go back. Great ceasar salad; meatball appetizer was delicious. Pizzas were great. Welcome to Roncy!

    FYI: I am the guy in the green t-shirt; had no idea the picture was being taken.

  • shutupjaydee

    @jaydee: take it easy, deb is actually right. what is so amazing about a pizza with pesto, chicken and red peppers? this is the kind of pizza you find at douche-y pizza joints and I’m not saying anything against this place because to be quite honest, I am kind of sick of all these new pizza places opening up and all the hype that they come with, only to be disappointed by nothing special, yet everyone raves about. libretto is OK, but I don’t get what the lineup is for. anyhoo, it’s not like deb said anything so offensive, just that it didn’t look appealing. I’ve seen ppl say way worse about something of which they know NOTHING. I believe this comments section is reserved for COMMENTS, like them or not.

  • shutupjaydee

    oh, I forgot to add that I hope this place does well, not only because they’re new and they deserve a shot but because yes this city does need a decent pizza place; not that we have none whatsoever, but you know…

  • Sara Ciancamerla

    Great place! Just to clarify, the art shown in the main photo belongs to Roncesvalles artist Robert Ciancamerla.

  • parkdaleeater

    so sara….would the place be great even if they took down the art by the person with the same last name as you?

  • KingPin

    Parkdale Eater is a big fat fuck. I know his fat ass eats everywhere and i have seen him in Mc Donalds on several occasions…in fact he told me he loves pizza hut… so what could his fat ass possibly know. LOSERRRRRR!!!

  • Longjohn

    We went last weekend. The pizza was delicious.

  • PDcritic

    I went to Defina tonight, the wait for the pizza was very long (with only 3 customers dining), the pizza came burnt and had lackluster taste. Not to mention the items were way overpriced for the quality.

    0.5/10 stars

  • Ohmygod

    I am disgusted with the childish back and forth comments re this new pizza joint,,which we wanted to try!
    How can any business get off to a pos start with this slander?!
    Come on peeps,,take it easy and give them a chance,,we are going to make our own minds up,,and I hope everyone else will too.

  • milkmn

    I have been several times now and have enjoyed the experience. Food has been great and the service has been just as good.
    Welcome to Roncy!

  • Carolyn

    Too bad the young art student from OCAD – Daniel McNamara-who provided, free of charge, the use of his wonderfully creative skateboard art was never mentioned in the promo material nor was he given recognition for his exceptional artwork or provided the courtesy of indicating that these whimsical and appealing pieces were/are for sale. Young artists struggle to make a living and should be supported and encouraged. Sadly this has not happened at Pizza Defina- just hollow promises and a young artist taken advantage of. Too bad.

 

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