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Pabalos Island Pies is Toronto's newest pop-up doing Detroit-style pizza -- but with a Filipino twist.
Owner Sean Santos, created the self-proclaimed 'Island Pie' several years ago for a friend's art show. With the COVID pandemic forcing many restaurateurs to shift their operations entirely, Santos used this as an opportunity to get creative and offer food that is ideal for takeout.
"We decided to revisit the idea because during COVID we had a lot of down-time, we had access to a space, and we thought it would be a fun project to take on," says Santos. "Pizza is the perfect vessel to put whatever toppings you want on it and this hadn't been done yet, so we thought that it would be a great idea to showcase our cuisine and other Asian-inspired cuisines."
Pabalos Island Pies is comparable to Detroit-style deep dish in its style but offers a distinctly different flavour profile than traditional pizza.
"Our dough is a little bit different," says Santos. "We add rice flour to it to give it a bit of a chew. But we still get the crispy edges and the crispy bottom that are synonymous with Detroit-style pizzas."
The pop-up has five different kinds of pies, each with its unique combination of Filipino ingredients. The 'Bespren Longanizza' pie is inspired by the traditional Pinoy breakfast, featuring a longanisa sausage mix, fried egg, roasted onions and Pabalos' signature sauce.
Pabalos' signature sauce incorporates a blend of chillies, garlic, lemongrass, roasted onions and sweet banana ketchup -- a popular Filipino condiment enjoyed with grilled meats and sausage.
Other notable pizzas are the 'Lola' pie, inspired by Sicilian grandmas pan pizzas with roasted tomatoes, signature sauce, fresh basil and coconut cream, as well as the 'Plantation' pie with smokey shaved pork shoulder and sweet roasted pineapple.
As if Detroit style deep-dish with a Filipino flare isn't already a stroke of genius, each pizza box at Pabalos comes with a different art piece, hand-drawn by Toronto artist TIGZ.
Pabalos Island Pies will be hosting another pop-up this August 23 and 24 inside Wallflower Restaurant at 1665 Dundas West from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Pre-orders are now open through their online order form. They will also be taking same-day walk-ins and patio dining for slices and beers from some of Toronto's local craft breweries.