Windsor's unique take on pizza is being celebrated by the city with its own club, in an effort to attract business and cement the importance of the culinary staple in the region.
A Windsor-style pizza is known for its shredded pepperoni, locally made cheese and special crust that’s not too thick and not too thin. It also often features canned mushrooms, which add the right amount of moisture to the dish. This regional special inspired the tourism board to start the Windsor Pizza Club, as a way to boost sales amongst many of its family-owned businesses.
Gordon Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex explains that the program is part of a federal grant, which they applied for last year. They wanted to showcase something special about the city that was market-ready and easy to promote.
“When we came up with the concept of pizza, we looked no further,” he told Yahoo Canada. “We know we’ve got a delicious product and if we bundled it together, it would be something worth bragging about.”
Eight family-run pizzerias are part of the promotion, including Antonino's, which has been around since 1959. The club is free to join and is open to locals and visitors. Members of the pizza club get a membership card, available at all participating locations, which can be stamped each time they order. Once the card is filled, it can be redeemed for a prize, the current option being a t-shirt, which has the pizza club logo and the slogan “In crust we trust”.
“It encourages people to shop local,” he says. “And these pizzas are local, they aren’t franchises. They’re local talent right here.”
So far, the response has been strong. The membership card has been downloaded 150 times since it was launched last week. Former Windsor residents, some as far as B.C., have even been reaching out to express their yearning for their beloved homestyle pizza.
Canada’s interpretation of the infamous dish, which originated in Naples Italy, goes beyond Windsor. Greece-born Sam Panopoulos, who moved to Ontario when he was 20, is credited with inventing Hawaiian-style pizza after adding canned pineapple pieces to his pies, along with ham. The contentious topping can now be found at pizzerias around the world.
Earlier this year, Berlin-based “Canadian” pizzeria Ron Telesky closed up shop. The restaurant, which was decorated with wallpapers of the Rocky Mountains and a giant moose head, was inspired by co-owner Ole Schnack’s time as an exchange student in Peterborough. He was taken by the style of pizza he found there, which wasn’t thick and gooey like American style, or thin like what was commonly found in Europe. The restaurant’s variety of pizzas gave ode to Canadiana, with names like The Cronenberg Crash and The Flaming Quebec.