When we talk about pizza on Arthur Avenue, we tend to talk about two pies: the Salerno-style pies at Zero Otto Nove and Full Moon's cornmeal-dusted slices. I've never found fault with Zero's pizzas, and I have fond memories of their butternut squash purée, smoked mozzarella, and spicy pancetta pie. Full moon? Not so much.
But both pizzas are only available by the pie. Looking for a slice? You can do even better.
A brief survey reveals plenty of options. You have a pair of classic slices at Ivana and Catania, not to mention the super old school pies at red sauce spot Mario's. For the best slice on the block, though, my money goes to Cafe al Mercato, a kitschy, budget-minded cafe in the back of the autumnal Arthur Avenue Retail Market.
Unlike the aforementioned pizzerias, Cafe al Mercato specializes in square Sicilian slices, the best you'll find in the area. Of the 15 types available, my favorite is the eggplant ($3.50), which comes thinly sliced, breaded, and fried to a greaseless crisp. Dollops of creamy mozzarella decorate the top, and a chunky tomato sauce is sweet and cautiously seasoned. You won't find any oregano there, but it gets the job done.
The crust is, thankfully, not the oversized, bready behemoth most pizzerias think it should be. It's reasonably proportioned, with a crisp shell and satisfying crunch; for best results, go for the corner slice. It's nothing fancy, but it's simply and elusively delicious, which is what Cafe al Mercato is all about.
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