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A year ago, it was unlikely that anyone in Toronto would have imagined going to a stranger's backyard rather than a restaurant to dine on homemade pizza. However, COVID-19 created quite a shift in our lifestyle and the service industry as a whole, leading to some exciting and, in this case, very unexpected pivots.
Enter: One Night Only pizza. If you haven't yet heard of it, don't worry, as it has remained one of the city's best-kept secrets over the past few months. Like many, Toronto couple Luke and Brianna Pollard both found themselves out of work when COVID-19 hit, leading them to turn a seemingly casual hobby into a full-on business. Here's the back story: pre-pandemic, the Pollards would entertain friends every week in their backyard, allowing Luke to showcase his ever-improving attempts at the perfect pizza dough. Many people close to the couple insisted that they eventually open up a restaurant, even though they already ran a business of their own.
Unfortunately, the business they were in was halted due to COVID-19, leaving Luke and Brianna out of work in mid-March. Weekend pizza-making was carried on as a way for them to maintain a sliver of structure and familiarity during uncertain times. Luke began posting photos of his pies on Instagram under the @onenightonlypizza handle (which started as a joke with their friends). When Brianna decided on a whim to order takeout boxes to their house and sell their creations from the backyard, they kicked into gear for what would become a hidden Saturday pizza joint.
The time and care that Luke commits to making a fantastic product is evident: his dough gets its flavour from a slow, 72-hour fridge ferment and ingredients like Canadian organic flour, salt, olive oil and a pre-ferment that contains a touch of yeast. He picks up his favourite pepperoni from a spot in Hamilton and makes his sauce with Italian tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and oregano. The result is a thin, chewy, bubbly and flavourful American-style pizza, offered in four different varieties plus a weekly special, all for $20 a pop. The pies are served with a house-made garlic and dill sauce, so you can fold up your slice and dip to your heart's content.
There are only 10 pizzas available every Saturday night from their Riverdale backyard and they've sold out every week, so make sure to get there early in the hopes of snagging one!