Everybody loves pizza, and Thunder Bay residents are no exception. And when you consider the youthful culinary renaissance that’s happening downtown, as well as the well-established and sizeable Italian-Canadian community (over 16,000 folks), it’s no wonder Thunder Bay is practically overflowing with great pizza options. The following list of hip young upstarts and historic institutions should get you started on your very own Thunder Bay pizza journey.
The new kids on the block
Both Hands Wood Oven Pizzeria and Bakery
297 Park Avenue, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 1C4
Both Hands has been in operation since 2014, but owner Derek Luchesse’s bread has been a mainstay at Thunder Bay Country Market for over a decade. Their rustic pizza has that special quality that can only be achieved using a super hot wood-fire oven—crisp yet airy crust with just the right amount of char. An oven-building aficionado, Luchesse also has a mobile wood-fire pizza oven for events, and gives oven-building workshops for those who are interested in making their own wood-fire-oven-baked bread and pizza on their property. Taking special care to source their ingredients locally and ethically, Both Hands is a must visit for lovers of classy, rustic pies. Dine-in and pick-up only.
Eat Local Pizza
801 Red River Rd, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 1J9
It’s not just a clever name. Eat Local Pizza really goes a commendable and frankly impressive distance in sourcing their ingredients from local farms—from the flour to the Thunder Oak Gouda cheese. And they aren’t afraid to go eclectic either, with toppings like jerk pork, butter chicken, and customer favourite—wait for it—perogies! Eat Local has proven time and again to be an amazing community partner, consistently donating pies to various organizations, and running their own Kids Without Lunches program for schools. Perhaps most importantly though, they make a darn satisfying pizza. Dine-in, pick-up, and delivery.
271 Bay St, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 1R6
Nook sources many of their ingredients locally and doesn’t veer too far from traditional Italian toppings like prosciutto, mozzarella, and salami, and the results are fabulous. Serving Neapolitan-inspired pizza and other simple rustic Italian fare like traditional pastas, salads, and antipasti to Thunder Bayers since 2015, Nook is a welcome addition to a city that is increasingly hungry for sophisticated yet unpretentious food downtown. With an ever-changing wine list and an assortment of cocktails, Nook is a winning contender for date night. Dine-in and pick-up only.
2617 Arthur St East, Thunder Bay, ON
Zed’s is perhaps the newest kid on the block, and their cheese-heavy pies and generous panzerotti have been garnering them a well-earned following. If you’re adventurous, order The Gambler for $21: a 16” pie with the house’s choice of toppings! Dine-in, pick-up, and delivery.
The old-school institutions
135 Frederica St E, Thunder Bay, ON P7E 3V4
Mama Alfa’s is a classic Italian family restaurant with great pizza. Mama Alfa herself, who does all the cooking, has been known to visit tables and check up on customer satisfaction. Their Caesar salad is famous! Dine-in, pick-up, and delivery.
507 Syndicate Ave S, Thunder Bay, ON P7E 1E6
A quick disclaimer: Caesar’s Place, with their charming red and white checkered tablecloths, has good pizza, but this establishment is on this list for one reason, and one reason only—their transcendental football-sized panzerotti, served with their “fresh, homemade, Award-Winning, Signature Marinara sauce.” Don’t mess around: go deep fried—not baked—and when the house suggests adding fresh garlic and banana peppers to your usual favourite fillings, I suggest you listen. Dine-in, pick-up, and delivery.
Stan’s Pizzeria and Spaghetti House
80 Cumberland St N, Thunder Bay, ON P7A 4L9
Though their incredible time-capsule dining room is sadly no longer open, Thunder Bay institution Stan’s Pizzeria and Spaghetti House is still going strong on the delivery and take-out fronts, and they still sport their iconic sign and façade out front. And word has it that their pizza is just as gooey and satisfying as it ever was. Bring it on! Pick-up and delivery only.
168 Court St S, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 2X6
Perhaps most beloved for their comforting homemade pasta dishes like lasagna, linguini carbonara, and “Penne Bar Italia,” the pizza at this local mainstay is nothing to sneeze at. If you have the chance to visit, you’ll get why this homey family eatery and espresso bar has been satisfying Thunder Bayers for nearly three decades. Dine-in and pick-up only.
European Bakery and Pizza
642 Simpson St, Thunder Bay, ON P7C 3J7
A neighbourhood bakery that specializes in Eastern European breads and surprisingly great pizza, European Bakery is a beloved local institution with a lot of heart. In 2015 they launched a hugely successful “pay-it-forward” program, where customers can pay to add sticky notes to the wall that can be redeemed by community members who can’t pay for their own slice. After surviving a harrowing three years of business-crippling construction that shut down traffic on their street, European Bakery remains a favourite with locals. Show them some love! Dine-in and pick-up only.
161 Court St S, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 2X7
While Donato’s has been operating in Thunder Bay for over 25 years, their pizzas and breads are imbued with over a century of Italian baking traditions passed down over generations of bakers, originating with Caterina Primerano di la Marinara in Simbario, Calabria in the early 1900s. Perhaps it goes without saying that their pizza is very very good. Dine-in, pick-up, and delivery.
Just don’t try to hit them all on the same day. On second thought, if you’re that ambitious, don’t let me try to stop you!