Writing about a long-established restaurant poses a special set of challenges. How can one provide a fresh perspective, rather than a retread of so many previous assessments? Tony's Pizza Palace has purveyed pizza to the Edmontonian masses since at least 1965 (though the menu below states, "EST 1986") and, as such, has no paucity of coverage in print or electronic guises.
And yet, I have managed to avoid reading any of these reviews. This is not for a concerted effort on my part, but due to the reality of a long-established restaurant blending seamlessly into the city's social fabric. Tony's is not popping up on the latest blog, nor does it appear in the paper or on the radio. Hoards of writers/foodies/etc do not generally float from one long-standing eatery to another but, rather, track the openings of new and chic spots, much like migrating ungulates follow patterns of plant green-up in search of forage.
Tony's interior harkens to the early to mid-1980s, though signs purport temporary closure in June for renovations. A laminated menu covers a few pastas, but centers on pizza. Several incarnations, including the square Sicilian pizza, require 24 hour notice for preparation. Pizza Bianca piques my interest, and I am rewarded with a garlicky symphony of roasted mushrooms draped with mozza, romano and parmigiana. A graceful crust bears these toppings with pride.
Sal's Deluxe provides a luxurious bed of marinated tomatoes layered with capocollo, proscuitto and very milky bocconcini. A generous sprinkle of parsley adds fresh, herbaceous notes. Astute spices within the tomatoes impart a wee bit of most-welcome afterburn, but the subtle bocconcini is lost in competition with its far more assertive comrades.
So, what indeed can be said about Tony's that has not already been said? I am not born-and-raised Edmontonian and, therefore, haven't decades of samples from which to draw conclusions. Regardless, if these pizzas are indicative of a "Tony's" experience, they suggest a rich history of well-made pies. Perhaps there isn't anything new to say, because good things bear repeating.