Concept: 3 out of 5
Execution: 0 out of 5
Yeah, but: See the December 2009 update.
The Long Version: Cora's Pizza is one of those things that's difficult to rate. It's significantly better than the pizza chain that was a staple of my childhood, to the point where I can't remember when I last ordered pizza through a central dispatch phone number. But at the same time it's not nearly the best pizza that I've ever had. So how should I rank it?
It's fast food. It's very generous portions for not very much money, even better than the chains. But it's still fast food, and doesn't rise above its station - nor does it really try to. It's a significantly above average performance in a fairly average product niche. I'm happy to go there for dinner every week or two, and it's where I take friends who want a quick and easy meal. But is it approaching perfection? Not really, unless perfection needs to come in under $5.
Updated December 24, 2009:
In an article eloquently titled "Cora Pizza closed after dead rats spotted", the CBC news website writes: Cora Pizza, a popular eatery near the University of Toronto, has been shut down after several dead rats and fresh rat droppings were found on the premises. The city of Toronto's Dinesafe website summarizes their inspection results in much less poetic language. The report from December 21 details four 'crucial' violations: "Operator fail to ensure food is not contaminated/adulterated; Employee fail to wash hands when required; Operator fail to prevent a rodent infestation; Operator fail to prevent gross unsanitary conditions." There were another eight violations that were merely 'significant', and four more minor ones. I had actually spent a few minutes copying and pasting some of them before I realized that I was actually looking at the results from their Conditional Pass ratings from June and March 2009.
This review was written back when they only had one conditional pass (quickly corrected) and three previous Pass ratings. I'm not too fussy - after all, anyone can 'fail to use proper procedure(s) to ensure food safety' from time to time. But in this case, Cora not only had the health inspector shut then down because it was unsafe for people to eat their food, but then also didn't get the situation reversed in time for the follow-up inspection two days later.
Updated Yet Again, June 16, 2010:
Cora did pass a routine health inspection on April 27, 2010. They then received a 'Conditional Pass' on June 7, and while they passed the make-up test the next day, the results of the earlier inspection look pretty familiar. The restaurant is now closed for renovations, and it looks like they're doing a thorough job. For what it's worth, this is probably a good time to renovate - the university students are gone right now - so there's no reason to think that the work is connected to the results. I just hope that they come back stronger.