Marcellos Pizzeria Ltd
By YP Contributor

An Alternative Education

Considering Marcello’s Pizzeria is often packed with happy customers enjoying delicious meals, it’s hard to believe owner Maurizio Galifi had only a short-lived career as a college student. “I wasn't too successful back then. It wasn’t really for me,” he explains. Since he didn't know what to try instead, his older brothers, Tony and Frank, suggested that Maurizio come work for them at their fledgling restaurant. He agreed to give it a go “just while he figured himself out.”

­That was in 1998. Today, Maurizio is still at the popular St. Clair West restaurant, running it solo as his brothers have moved on to open a second Marcello’s Pizzeria.  “I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy the restaurant business,” says Maurizio. It’s clear that he hasn’t stayed on by default, but rather thanks to an authentic passion for serving up great food and creating a welcoming, neighbourhood gathering place.

One of the secrets of Maurizio's success is having worked at every job there is in a restaurant: “I’ve done maintenance, dishwashing, salads, pizza making, worked on the grill and the pasta line, you name it.” These days he spends most of his time on front-of-house and the business end of things. “Having it all evolve this way was a benefit for me," says Maurizio. "Really, every restaurant owner should know every aspect of the business, from the kitchen right on through, and not many of them do. I consider myself lucky.”

They come because they know the quality is always good, the portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable. - Maurizio Galifi, co-owner
Try the popular pizza diavola, one of more than 20 speciality pizzas on the menu.
Try the popular pizza diavola, one of more than 20 speciality pizzas on the menu.
If you're not in the mood for pizza at Marcello's Pizzeria, try a delicious pasta dish, gourmet panino, salad, or meat or seafood entree.
If you're not in the mood for pizza, try a delicious pasta dish, gourmet panino, salad, or meat or seafood entree.

Who is Marcello?

“Nobody I know,” quips Maurizio. The restaurant was already named Marcello’s in 1992 when Maurizio’s father, Nicola, purchased the place for his older sons to run. Since the name had already been established, he kept the name. Nicola knew the pizza biz like the back of his hand, having run Di Peppe’s in Toronto for many years. Later he decided to pass the baton, along with a big dose of advice, onto his sons.

Maurizio, just a kid at the time, remembers his brothers experiencing a steep learning curve and many early challenges.  Nonetheless, they persevered, and thanks to hard work, a major renovation and loyal customers who spread the word, things eventually took off.

“At one point it got so busy here, you couldn’t even get in the door,” Maurizio recalls. “We said to each other, ‘We gotta do something!’” So in 2007 they opened their more spacious Woodbridge location, directly across from Vaughan Mills.

Marcello's helped launch Toronto's wood-oven pizza craze; their authentic Italian oven is one of the city's earliest. Photo by Nancy Fornasiero
Marcello's helped launch Toronto's wood-oven pizza craze; their authentic Italian oven is one of the city's earliest. Photo by Nancy Fornasiero

A Corso Italia Landmark

Marcello’s has a casual, friendly neighbourhood vibe. “We have so many supporters from around here – at lunch you’ll see local business owners, doctors and other professionals,” says Maurizio. Evenings and weekends attract a lot of families. “They come because they know the quality is always good, the portions are generous and the prices are reasonable."

Although originally strictly a pizza place, Marcello’s serves other dishes that have become equally popular. Their best-selling pasta, linguini di mare, features fresh noodles, mussels, bay scallops, black tiger shrimp and tender calamari. Choosing from among the many appetizing specialty pizzas is tough, so Maurizio recommends two customer favourites: Pizza Diavola (“tomato-sauce-mozzarella base, covered with hot soppressata, hot peppers, onions and black olives… very spicy and very good!”) and Pizza di Parma (“a simple white focaccia with roasted garlic and asiago cheese, topped with fresh baby arugula and prosciutto crudo… people go crazy for it!”)

No matter what you order, and no matter which location you visit, Marcello’s Pizzeria, with its long-standing record of great food and friendly service, is sure to please. Buon appetito!

A fixture on Corso Italia since the early '90s, Marcello's Pizzeria welcomes customers seven days a week. Photo by Nancy Fornasiero
A fixture on Corso Italia since the early '90s, Marcello's Pizzeria welcomes customers seven days a week. Photo by Nancy Fornasiero
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