Legendary Toronto street food pizza joint gets permanent space at the Annex Hotel

A pizza joint famous for its street side appearances and bar pop-ups in Toronto has now settled into the Annex Hotel. Whether curbside or indoors, Raff’s Pizza crafts a blend of traditional and inventive pies entirely from scratch, perfect for any setting.

Also known as Raffaella’s Pizza Stand, the eatery pays homage to owner Simon Vickerson’s grandmother, whose cherished sauce recipe, enriched with a secret family ingredient, flavours many of the pizzas. “She’s just a classic Italian nonna who cooked a lot,” says Vickerson.“She made a lot of pastas, pizzas and lasagnes with that sauce.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by the annex hotel (@annexhotels)

Though Raff’s now calls the Annex Hotel its summer home, its beginnings last year were as organic as its ingredients. Originally a bartender, Vickerson spent late nights crafting pizzas for friends after work, eventually selling them curbside last spring, likening it to a “lemonade stand.”

Vickerson expanded his pizza operation to stands outside clubs and bars after closing hours, eventually branching out into catering, delivery and event pop-ups, including several successful ones at the trendy hotel.

“We just started saying yes to everything, anytime someone asked us if we wanted to do something,” Vickerson says.

Now that the business has a dedicated kitchen (and Vickerson no longer has an industrial dough mixer in his bedroom), Raff’s has expanded its menu beyond pizzas. Raff’s now offers finger foods like garlic breadsticks and burrata, along with select desserts. But pizzas remain the star of the show, especially the signature “Annex” — a meat-lovers specialty featuring in-house hot honey, spicy sausage, peppers and Raff’s tomato sauce — as the menu highlight.

Another unique pie features fresh figs, walnuts and hot honey, and the vegan pizza skips the cheese but boasts caramelized onions and fresh produce.

As for the drink menu, Raff’s offers hibiscus juice in partnership with Buvette’s Drink Shop. Customers can also enjoy cocktails, wine and beer from the Annex Hotel bar to complement their pizzas.

Though Raff’s continues to cater privately, deliver and pop up at events, Vickerson expresses excitement about having a dedicated kitchen and space for guests.

“It’s great to have a home base where people can find us, and it makes everything much easier to prepare in-house,” he says. “We’re thrilled to be here.”

Raff’s is located at 296 Brunswick Ave.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO