Pizza Walk With Me

Let's get hyped up over some pizza.

A Customizable Pizza Vending Machine - The 24/7 Pizza Box

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment

Over the years of operating this site, I’ve been sent videos and links about vending machines that dispense pizzas. They come in all shapes and sizes: some pizza vending machines will take a par-baked crust, squirt some sauce on the roasting dough, and sprinkle cheese. Others heat up a stored product. The 24/7 Pizza Box is the latter.

The 24/7 Pizza Box is a white label solution for pizza vending machines. Any pizza shop can buy one (or many!) of these machines and fill it with slices of their own pizza like a pizza pez dispenser. Then, the pizza shop scatters these pizza machines throughout their city or town and wait for hungry patrons to swipe their card and buy the pizza. Simple and convenient.

A Pizza Vending machine is a novel concept, and while there are nice fantastical reasons you’d deploy these, there’s too much of a downside. The pizza isn’t cooked well, too greasy, taste like reheated pizza, etc. The cost of quality isn’t worth the cost of convenience - if it was wouldn’t every gas station be rolling in pizza profit?

I spoke with Shawn of the 24/7 Pizza Box and he reassured that there’s a number of customization options so a pizza shop can dial in the device to their liking. Still, at the end of the day you’re buying a reheated slice from a vending machine. 

In some situations a reheated slice of pizza will hit the spot and I suspect we’ll see them on college campuses or inside bars if anywhere. The slice I had out of this machine was swimming in grease, a bit cold in the middle and flopped like a dead fish. Hopefully there’s some tweaking that can happen behind the scenes to bring these slices back to life. Maybe some pizza defibrillators attached to the side of the machine?

Pizza Expo 2018: Tom Tallarico Arrives in Las Vegas

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment

The following is a column written by our new columnist, Tom Tallarico (previously associate editor). Tom Tallarico has a lust for pizza and Las Vegas that can hardly be contained in single post. Enjoy his writing and please help me understand why he refers to me as a "webmaster." 

Prequel/Arrival: Hello, everyone; I’m baacckk. As the Expo was approaching this year, I was with Webmaster Dan for a visit to see Tony at Pizza Taglio in January. We were reminiscing about last year’s Expo as Tony had also attended. On the way home, I said to Dan, “Heck, I’m going back; this event is too good to miss for so many reasons.” The Big News this year is Webmaster Dan is also attending for the 1st time as you’ve probably already noted. As Dan has reported, over the last 12 months, the Pizza growth in Pittsburgh has been amazing. “Tony Taglio” won a local best Pizza award, Caliente, a perennial winner at the EXPO opened a 4th shop (in my neighborhood, Aspinwall; MMmmmm) & Driftwood Oven has moved into a permanent location in Lawrenceville. Dan has most recently reported a renaissance in Pittsburgh with Detroit style; more on that later.

For me (and others), part of the charm of the Expo is the Las Vegas setting. No surprise as this town is the US Convention mecca. On Monday, we took an early 6:20 flight to arrive at 8:00 AM. Greeted at the airport by a new & old “Welcome” 


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Welcome to Las Vegas New.png

Then headed to the hotel, dropped bags at off to the convention center where valet Mark noted Dan’s hat & assumed he was a Gonzaga fan. This was the first reminder of everything else going on in the city, NCAA Sweet 16 Madness,

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March Madness 1.png



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But enough of that for now. The first mission upon entering the Convention Hall is getting the Badge. The last 2 years, as Dan was not coming I was using his badge. But this year:

Tom Badge.png


My own badge. Perhaps, the last 2 years never really happened?? At any rate, with nothing happening yet, we proceeded over to the café for much needed coffee as NAPTIME thoughts were already dancing in our heads. Curiously enough, we spotted someone in a Penquins shirt. I approached him to chat wondering who this might be. None other than Pete Tolman, owner of the increasingly popular Iron Borne, a big part of the Detroit Pizza movement in Pittsburgh. Interesting background in that he was a classically trained chef with a background in fine dining whose credits include time at Nemacolin. Anyone heard of Latreauc?  He had no background in Pizza but decided to go with it & the Detroit style after enjoying it at a shop in Colorado(??) called Brown Dog.   

Pete Iron Born.png

After a nice chat, we headed to a seminar conducted by John Gutekanst, owner of Avalanche Pizza in the college town of Athens, Ohio. Titled Finding Your Niche; Using Creativity, Absurdity & Street Smarts. The title speaks for itself & the content lived up to it. The underlying theme was to Try anything once to market your shop even if it scares people. Core values are Passion, Love, Creativity & Knowledge. 

That brought the first day to an end at the Expo except for checking on the progress of the Exhibit set-up. 

  Editor's Note: This is not the Pizza Expo exhibit hall.

Editor's Note: This is not the Pizza Expo exhibit hall.



So far, so good. We all recall what goes on at the Exhibits???  More on that next time. 


Pizza Expo 2018: Touring the Exhibit Hall, Meeting Pizza Legends, Pizza Robots and Free Pizza

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment

A brief recap of Day 2 of the 2018 International Pizza Expo

Hi there! This is Dan Tallarico, your favorite pizza journalist, with a recap from day 2 of our visit to the 2018 International Pizza Expo. You can read our day 1 recap here if you want to get up to speed on our pizza adventure thus far.

This expo is huge. From end-to-end I swear it's a mile long. Each row is home to pizza ovens, baking sheets, cheese suppliers, tomato vendors and all sorts of fringe pizza technology and services. It's overwhelming, but we've done our best to bring you a cross-section of the expo. It's impossible to see it all. Or eat it all, but we are doing it for you.

Watch our Day 2 Recap Video here or keep reading for a rundown of highlights.

Pizza Legends Cooking on the Show Floor

The Pizza Expo exists to elevate pizza craftsmanship and help pizza makers make the best pizza and share ideas. So, you have pizza legends like Tony Gemignani and Graziano Bertuzzo cooking on the floor like it was another day in the kitchen. These two are trailblazers in the world of pizza and have helped spread new techniques and information about how to make better pizza.

 Graziano Bertucco showing off a pizza he made that's engineered to reduce starch.

Graziano Bertucco showing off a pizza he made that's engineered to reduce starch.

Detroit Style Pizza

In 2009 no one outside of Detroit knew what Detroit Style Pizza was. Now, Pittsburgh  has two Detroit Style Pizza shops and many more are peppered across the nation. This movement was started by Shawn Randazzo, president of the Detroit Style Pizza Company.

Shawn loves Detroit Style Pizza and when he first entered the World Pizza Competition he was surprised to see no one else knew about his region's pizza. So, he spent years being the Detroit Style Pizza ambassador. The tipping point for his movement was when he won the World Pizza Championships in 2012 with his Detroit Style Pizza. Now the World Pizza Championships are filled with variations of the pie.

Through his efforts and passion, Shawn has helped Detroit Style Pizza get on the map. He frequently travels the globe to help aspiring Detroit Pizza folks dial in their technique. I shot some video with his crew so look forward to that!

Gluten Free Pizza

Gluten Free Pizza is growing in popularity as more people pay attention to what they're putting into their bodies. As Graziano Bertuzzo said, "You aren't what you eat, but what you digest." Among the traditional pizza companies, the show floor is home to new gluten free pizza ventures. And great news - the pizza taste pretty good.

A gluten free pizza category was added to the World Pizza Championships and I heard that spots filled up pretty quickly. If you're into the gluten free lifestyle you'll be happy to know that there's some quality pizza coming your way.

 Pittsburgh Pizzaiolo, Kevin Konn, cutting into a mozzarella, broccoli rabe pie. 

Pittsburgh Pizzaiolo, Kevin Konn, cutting into a mozzarella, broccoli rabe pie. 


Day 3 Ahead!

That's all for now - I have a ton of photos and videos to get together, so stay tuned for those updates in the coming days. 



Mercurio's Wins 5th Place in the Napoletana Division of the International Pizza Championships

Pizza News, Pizza ExpoDan Tallarico1 Comment
The Mercurio's Crew after their fifth place finish

Michael Mercurio, of Mercurio's pizza in Shadyside, has placed 5th in the Napoletana Division of the International Pizza Challenge. The competition for this is fierce as Michael was competing with seasoned pizzaiolos from across the globe. This competition was so tight that Michael missed out on 3rd place by 12 points and first place by 31. It was one of the closest competitions the judges have seen as the quality of neapolitan pizza continues to grow.

"When I discovered I came in fifth place I was blown away," Michael Mercurio said. "I can't wait to come back next year and compete it again, gonna bring a victory back for Pittsburgh."

Mercurio's award winning Neapolitan pizza

The pie Michael submitted to the judges is a picturesque neapolitan pizza. Perfect leopard printing, an even layer of sauce and dollops of cheese smoothly melted into the pie. It's a remarkable pizza that can go pizza-to-pizza with just about any other neapolitan pizza across the globe.

This is another great pizza accolade for the Pittsburgh Pizza Community.



2018 Pizza Expo: Traveling to the Expo Highlight Reel

Pizza Essay, Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment

Traveling to Las Vegas has been a bit exhausting. Since it's not about the destination, but really the journey, I thought I'd chronicle our first day of getting to Las Vegas and struggling to ham it up for the camera. 

It wasn't all an exhausting waste, we actually had a number of great conversations and captured quality content with the attendees here. Off the top of my head, here's some articles you can look forward to:

Pizza Expo International Pizza Challenge

I spoke with Jeremy Galvin at length about the International Pizza Challenge. He orchestrates the event and has been handling the logistics for a few years. In his words, the point of this challenge is to "elevate the pizza craft." It's basically an arena of pizza makers trying to out-pizza each other. 

Jeremy told me that the non-traditional categories fill up quick and the event is truly international as competitors fly in from all over the world to compete. Gluten Free and Sicilian / Detroit Style pizzas are bubbling up in popularity this year, so look for those!

Iron Born Visits Pizza Expo

Our associate editor, Tom Tallarico, spotted a young pizza maker in a penguins shirt. After talking a bit he found it was the owner of Iron Born pizza, Pete Tolman. Pete talked with us about his goals for Pizza Expo, how it took him years to get his dough to where he wanted it, and what the future of Iron Born pizza might look like.

He was also pretty stoked about the panel on whether or not a 24-hour fermentation has benefits on dough. Funny how I haven't had a chance to catch up with him a mile from my house, but we have no problem chatting 3,000 miles away from home.

A Young Pizza Competitor

I've been following the career of Anthony Scardino since Tom reported on his pedigree a few years back. He's competing in his first International Pizza Challenge this year and, at the time of this writing, is balling his dough up for this week's competition. What a guy!

We had a few minutes together to take a selfie and do a short interview. I'll be picking his brain about pizza, competing, and the pizza expo family in the coming days.

What to expect from Pizza Walk With Me at the International Pizza Expo

Pizza ExpoDan Tallarico1 Comment
International Pizza Expo

Wow, it’s finally here. Pizza Walk With Me’s third International Pizza Expo. Pizza Expo is home to the World Pizza Games, pizza innovations, hundreds of vendors and an event that basically turns Las Vegas into a huge Pizza Think Tank. Talk about paradise. 

In the past, I’ve sent our associate editor (and my father) Tom Tallarico. He brought back hot scoops and breaking news about Caliente winning the Pizza Championship in 2016, a photo with pizza Trail Blazers like Tony Gemignani and Scott Anthony, and he has gotten me enrolled on several vendors mailing list. Thanks Dad!

But this year we’re doubling our staff - I’m heading out to Las Vegas on Monday to attend my first ever Pizza Expo. Together this Father and Son Pizza Duo will bring you amazing stories about up and coming pizza makers, we’ll deliver breaking news faster than you can heat up a Freschetta, and produce a couple of videos with pizza royalty. Here’s a preview of some of the coverage we’re looking to bringing your way.

The International Pizza Challenge

When people ask me what goes on at the International Pizza Expo one of the things I always bring up are the pizza championships. While there’s also the World Pizza Games, which focus on talent and dough tricks (like box folding), the International Pizza Challenge. There are a number of competitors that enter the International Pizza Challenge vying for the best pizza in a multitude of pizza categories. It’s an amazing event because it brings together the variety of pizzas that have evolved and sprouted across the United States.

Divisions are broken up by traditional, non-traditional, pan, pizza napoleteana and gluten free. It’s a swath of categories that cover everything from Detroit Style pizza to the pizza that was perfected in the heart of Italy.

I plan to follow a couple of different pizza contestants, one of which is Anthony Scardino. Scardino is a seasoned pizza veteran who has spent the past few years bringing an eclectic bout of pizza to life in Chicago. Everything from Bonci to Sicilian Style. He’s so thorough in his experimenting that he has earned / given himself the name Professor Pizza. I’m looking forward to the experiment he brings to the International Pizza Challenge!

The Women of Pizza

Women of Pizza at Pizza Expo


Did you catch the Ugly Delicious episode about pizza? Cool. The most amazing part of that episode is how they managed to talk to only dudes. It’s an industry of old white guys, that’s for sure. 

Luckily, the show will play host to showcasing some of the women in the industry. On Wednesday we’ll be heading to the show floor to talk with some of these women, learn their stories, what made them get into this industry and where they see the industry growing.  Here’s who we’ll be talking to:

Giorgia Cporuscio - Possibly the only female pizzaiolo in the US!

Laura Meyer - A winner at the International Pizza Expo and trained under Tony Gemignani.

Ann Kim - Owner and chef at three pizza shops in Minneapolis. Winner of best new restaurant accolades. 

Jeanette Catena - Educator and trainer of a variety of different pizza styles in the United States. Founded Pizzeria LUNA in NJ.

Nikki West - Chief Experience Officer of NYPD Pizza in Phoenix, Arizona.

Nicole Bean - An owner of pizza restaurants in Houston, Texas, serving both Detroit and New York Style pizza.

Awesome line up of women and I can’t wait to hear their stories and share them with the world.

Pizza + Social Media, a Match Made in Heaven

Scott Anthony, a seasoned leader in the pizza industry and owner of Punxy Pizza in Punxsutawney, PA, reached out to me about his session helping pizza owners improve their social media presence and outreach to pizza journalist like myself.

Scott has been in the industry for years and can’t sit still. He’s always jetting around to pizza events across the country helping to spread the word and passion of pizza. I’ll be stopping by his session to pick his brain and get his thoughts on the current pizza landscape. 

Lots of Pizza

Pizza Expo is home to pizza innovations, cutting edge techniques and huge personalities. I’ll do my best to capture exactly what’s going on in the Pizza Industry and do my best to see what the next big thing is going to be. Will it be Detroit Style Pizza, which has its own session on Thursday? Or maybe a new type of cheese or a baking technique? 

Stay tuned for more pizza highlights. Don’t want to miss an update? You can follow Pizza Walk With Me on Instagram at Don't forget to sign up for the mailing list to get hot scoops and hot pizza news delivered right to your inbox!

Badamo’s Pizza on the North Side: A Delicious Combination of Passion and Perfection

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment

Let me tell you when I first ran into the Badamo’s crew because it contextualizes their aura.

I was at the Michigan and Trumbull pop-up at the Vandal, an event that was packed with people pushing to the front for Detroit style pizza. I was helping to take orders for the evening, bustling around, weaving between people when someone from the kitchen shouted they were out of takeout boxes. A critical component was missing, we needed to fold pizza boxes stat.  So, the Badamo crew, who are waiting patiently to try this pizza ( who have probably spent all day prepping dough, getting restaurant in order, and all the other things that come with making pizza) and these dudes just start folding boxes. Like box folding addicts, they can’t stop. No shrugging, no fussing, they were eager to lend a hand and help out. 

And their pizza is a personification if that sentiment. Friends building some great. A family of pizza makers, a pizza that you want to share. 


I visited their newly opened location on the North Side. It's a small joint, but full of charm. The waiting area was filled with soon-to-be-regulars waiting for their Friday night order of pizza and hoagies. In their display case were an assortment of specialty slices. Perfect if you want to mix-and-match some slices to accompany your evening hoagie. 

I stuck with a fresh pie which came out piping out from the oven and appeared to be expertly cooked. I mean, look at that crust!

 Above you can see a practically perfect in every way pizza. The crust is the right kind of brown, charred in the right spots, and you have an even layer of cheese that covers the sauce just so. 

Above you can see a practically perfect in every way pizza. The crust is the right kind of brown, charred in the right spots, and you have an even layer of cheese that covers the sauce just so. 

Like a fool I grabbed a pizza and a hoagie to eat by my lonesome. The life of a pizza journalist.

One bite in and I was already dying to tell my pals about the pizza.I was enjoying. The sauce was tangy, not too sweet, and the cheese masterfully held everything together. Half the pizza contained sausage and green peppers. Both these toppings were fresh and fairly distributed without stealing the pie spotlight. 

The pieces folded easily, but I noticed the bottom was a bit too pale. It could've spent a minute or two on the hot side of the oven. I reached out to Badamo's and they confirmed that this happens sometimes saying:

A lot of times with the deck ovens if you're blasting the ovens with pies all night the stone cool down and you get more top heat than bottom stone heat. Therefore, it didn't get it's color. Normally if I notice that, I'll slide it to a spot that hasn't had a pie on it to get the bottom dark as well.

With a new oven on a busy night, there's a learning curve to baking pizzas. I'm really impressed with the insightful comment they sent back too. The folks at Badamo's really get pizza. They're in the pursuit of perfection but know that there are bumps along the road. Sometimes that's a pizza that's not perfectly cooked. And that's a-okay.

I look forward to going back to see how they've grown.


Badamo's pizza is reminiscent of the local small-town pizza shop, but with a level of perfection. It's an elevated version of the pizzas I grew up eating (Luciano's and Monte Cello's to name a few). It's comforting in its shape, but has a depth of flavor that those suburban flagships are missing.

I bet these guys grew up eating similar pizzas and thought, "Hey, we can do this." Add in a unique level of passion and a pursuit of perfection and you have one of the tastiest pizzas this side of the Allegheny. 


Pizza Review: Roberta's Airt-Tight Wood Fired Margherita Pizza

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment

Roberta's pizza has thrived in Bushwick on a foundation of quality and freshness. Their business infrastructure was built organically over the course of a year where the Roberta's crew had nothing but close friends and family to rely on. In the Roberta's Cookbook there's a rambling introduction that tries to tell the Roberta's story (they note that it's a story still being written). While trying to capture the spirit they write, "To experience Roberta's, you have to visit it." And now you can purchase a vacuum sealed pizza of theirs in the freezer section of a local Whole Foods.

It's curious that a pizza place that relies so much on experiencing the environment of Roberta's would be one of the first to have their Margherita pizza sealed and sent across state lines. If so much of what makes Roberta's great is the atmosphere and making memories with friends, what good is a pizza divorced of that? 

While it may seem like a cash-in you'll be happy to know that this pizza actually holds up. Most frozen or reheated pizzas have a lingering taste about them. It's the taste of age, or a lack of freshness, that is entirely edible but in a different pizza class of its own. This Roberta's pizza came bubbling back to life after a mere three minutes in the oven. I let it loiter in the oven for a minute longer for extra crispiness. While the pizza was missing that pop of freshness, it is a solid Neapolitan pizza. 

 Here's the pizza after spending a few minutes in the oven.

Here's the pizza after spending a few minutes in the oven.

The puddles of cheese held dribbles of olive oil, the sauce was simple and tangy. The pizza was a near perfect facsimile of the one that comes out of a Roberta's oven. Which makes sense as these pizzas are cooked and immediately packaged, freezing a pizza in time until you're ready to open the delicious time capsule. The Margherita is a perfect canvas if you want to add your toppings and doctor up the pizza. The pizza is perfectly balanced as is, and the sauce shines through, but feel free to add a sprinkle of meat.

They did their best to put a quality Margherita pizza into the wild. But the question remains: if you need to visit Roberta's to experience Roberta's, why package the pizza? The Roberta's cookbook was written a while ago and maybe they wised up. Maybe they want to spread their passion for pizza and open up the opportunity to gather with friends and make their memories in their homes. Or parks. Or wherever. The pizza is what draws friends and family together. It doesn't matter where it's eaten, as long as it's eaten with your pizza pals.

Roberta's air-tight Margherita is the king of the freezer section pizza. If you need a Neapolitan pizza in a pinch you can't go wrong with this package. It retails for ~$10 at Whole Foods or you can spend $70 to have it shipped from your door from Gold Bely's

Pizza Remix: Get Pumped Up with Driftwood Oven's Archer Pizza

Pizza VideoDan TallaricoComment

A muse can take many forms. For some it's a beautiful partner, always lingering at their side with wisdom and guidance. For me it's a perfectly baked pizza and amazing lighting. I had extra footage from my visit to Driftwood Oven's new spot in Lawrenceville so I put it to some tunes. 

Enjoy the video and if you've had a chance to make it to Driftwood Oven for their soft opening let me know how you enjoyed it!

A Video of Driftwood Oven's Permanent Location in Lawrenceville

Pizza Video, Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment

It's no secret that I adore Driftwood Oven's pizza. I spent a lot of money on gasoline chasing them around to every corner of Pittsburgh. But most of their travels have come to an end as they've settled on a permanent home in Lawrenceville.

They've taken up residence at 3615 Butler St (the old Matteo's spot) where they'll be slinging 16 inch pizzas with a full bar and a roof over their heads. Three years of hard work to sell pizzas and an amazingly successful Kickstarter is really paying off for Neil, Justin and the whole Driftwood Oven crew. 

I was lucky enough to pop into their shop during their soft opening. It was a Sunday full of sunshine and I did my best to capture their pizza on video. Look forward to more coverage of Driftwood Oven as they figure out this whole permanent pizza thing. Maybe we'll even see some of their delicious and elusive square pizza slices...


 This is Driftwood Oven's delicious Archer pizza. A bit bigger and sturdier than their mobile version.

This is Driftwood Oven's delicious Archer pizza. A bit bigger and sturdier than their mobile version.

Happy National Pizza Day, Please Hug a Pizza

Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment

Pizza is humankind’s bestfriend. While we have created so many great industries, technologies and flavors, pizza is the one creation that loves us back.  

Think about eating a pizza. There’s no other experience like it.  

As each bite of pizza globs down your esophagus, strings of cheese latching onto anything it can grab and occasionally clogging the passage, it’s actually saying hello. It’s pizza’s way of saying, “Thanks for making us one and I promise that my sauce, oil, crust and whole being will help make you a better person.”

People and pizza go together like, uh, pizza and beer. Pizza is a simple food that we use as social currency and in return we are all the richer. The more you spend it the more there seems to be! When I’m interested in meeting up with someone we will obviously go and grab some pizza. Now, next time we meet we will either go to another pizza place or spend the whole time talking about how we bonded over pizza.

Pizza begets pizza begets pizza. 

Pizza has evolved alongside us. As we’ve settled across the country pizza has adapted to fit in with the local lifestyle. That’s how we have Detroit Style pizza and New York style. No matter what economic class you find yourself in pizza is one of the more accessible foods. Grab a slice on a street corner for a dollar or drop $25 a pie at a fancy brick oven place with a fancy awning outside their building.  

Pizza is there for us, waiting in the wings, never judging but always glowing its oily glow.

Happy National Pizza Day. Go hug a pizza and let it hug you back.

Here’s some pizza photos to celebrate.  

 Slice Island’s signature rectangles.  

Slice Island’s signature rectangles.  

 Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Michigan & Trumbull

Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Michigan & Trumbull

 Sausage and pepper pizza from Della Terra

Sausage and pepper pizza from Della Terra

 A lightly olived pizza from Piazza Talarico

A lightly olived pizza from Piazza Talarico

 A Sicilian pizza I made for Christmas! 

A Sicilian pizza I made for Christmas! 

 Tommy T doing his best Professor Pizza impression.  

Tommy T doing his best Professor Pizza impression.  

Villa Reale Pizzeria: if Yinzers Founded Italy

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment
 The classic sausage and green peppers pizza. This pizza was perfectly cooked, sturdy, and toppings evenly spread out. 

The classic sausage and green peppers pizza. This pizza was perfectly cooked, sturdy, and toppings evenly spread out. 

I imagine that there's fan fiction out in the world that describes in detail what would happen if a rag-tag crew of Pittsburghers traveled across the Atlantic and settled onto the fine country of Italy. They'd call their vibrant land "Yintaly" and their flag would flutter in Southern Italian Wind boasting colors of black, gold, green, red and white. And their pizzas and pizzerias would be modeled after the fine bar/pizzeria of Villa Reale in downtown Pittsburgh.

Villa Reale is a hidden ball of mozzarella in downtown Pittsburgh, nestled next to Weiner World on Smithfield Street, it's an unassuming pizza parlor. When you first enter you notice how unbelievably long this building it. There's a bar in front of the ovens that extend as far as Italy until it opens up into a dining room. I would not be surprised if the blueprints show that this building is modeled off of Italy's boot-shape.

Me and my pizza crew sat in the dining room, but I'm interested in going back for the bar experience. I have a hunch that that's the "right" way to enjoy Villa Reale because you can sip beer and get a front-row seat for the pizza making. That's a tough combo to find in Pittsburgh, but a huge plus for making the trip to Villa Reale.

 This half plain, half capicolla was a bit of a mess. Cheese flooded the center and it was unruly. I think it was because this was an XL, a troublesome size. 

This half plain, half capicolla was a bit of a mess. Cheese flooded the center and it was unruly. I think it was because this was an XL, a troublesome size. 

My pizza crew had two pizzas: a sausage and green pepper and a half-plain half-capicolla. These pizzas may have been made on opposite sides of the world by random strangers. The plain/capicolla had enough cheese for four pizzas while the sausage/green peppers was slice after slice of perfection. How do they do it? How do they churn out such different pizzas?

It sounds like a bad thing, but to me it's comfort. With the boom of artisan pizzerias, it's somewhat refreshing to be served a gloopy moat of cheese and a crisp, crunchy medley of sausage and peppers. It adds an extra layer of mystique and yes, of course we ate all but one slice.

Villa Reale's pizza is the kind of pizza that has a crust that is so volatile that some parts may shatter in your mouth and others are soft and chewy. It's the phenomenon that happens when air pockets form in the crust leaving behind bites that explode like landmines. The slight imperfections of this pizza is what makes it so classic and Pittsburgh-esque.  

I'd put Villa Reale up there with one of my lifetime favorites, Mama Lucia's. I love the mix of Italian heritage and Pittsburgh and they created an odd mish-mash of an environment that you can only find in Downtown Pittsburgh.

 Here is an unfortunate slice of plain pizza that looks like Laura Palmer wrapped up in plastic on the side of a river.

Here is an unfortunate slice of plain pizza that looks like Laura Palmer wrapped up in plastic on the side of a river.

Next time I go to work on my Pittsburgh x Italy crossover fan fiction, I'll do it at the Villa Rae bar. The perfect environment to chat with surly waiters and eat the finest food Italy has to offer. This is pizza that pairs well with a cold Miller High Life or whatever light beer of your choosing.

As a bonus, try to find the photo of a (younger?) Mona Lisa in front of a painting of the Mona Lisa. This really is the icing on the tiramisu. 


Driftwood Oven Looks to Community to Raise Some Dough

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment

Welp, the Driftwood Oven boys are at it again. Towards the end of November they announced that they were going to focus their Winter energy on making Matteo's old house their home and open a shop on Butler St. After years of traveling around the city, battling for their lives in multiple pizza dojos, and dealing with the elements, Neil and Justin thought they deserved a solid roof over their heads.

After all, they ventured to the corners of the city to serve us pizza, it's about time we travel their way. 

Driftwood Oven is opening up in the old Matteo's spot on Butler Street. I'm not sure what happened to Matteo's, but I'm confident a somewhat casual pizza shop will do wonders in the Lawrenceville area. But, because they're upgrading from a tent to a sturdy structure with an actual roof they need a bit of help with the extra expenses. So they launched a Kickstarter to raise the extra money

I'm typically a bit skeptical of Kickstarters because creators tend to get a too grandiose with their promises. Typically resulting in failed goals or setting impossible expectations. The steady rolling Driftwood Oven crew has hit a sweet spot with their rewards and have a solid track record of quality to back up their promises. 

The rewards are far from crazy and give you an opportunity to pre-buy pizzas at bulk discounts. For $100 you get an invite to their Kickstarter Party which is already in the running for the 2018 Pizza Party of the year.

Driftwood Oven is a success and pizza shop like no other. They are hard workers who built a pizza empire from scratch. As of this writing the Kickstarter is about eight hours old and has already raised over $10,000. Each of those dollars represents a delicious archer they served in the dark winter nights outside Staghorn Cafe in Greenfield and the long days of prepping dough for those sweltering days outside of Grist House. 

Why Driftwood Oven Going to Kickstarter is Great for the Community

 A couple of classic pies from Driftwood Oven

A couple of classic pies from Driftwood Oven

I am a firm believer that everyone's favorite pizza place is whatever they were raised on. Luciano's and Monte Cello's hold a special place in my heart even though their modern forms may not be the greatest version of their pie. Driftwood Oven having a permanent home will give family's another great option for Friday pizzas and I bet you that place will host someone's birthday each weekend. Maybe so much that they'll create a Driftwood Oven Birthday Song?

More importantly, Butler Street is peppered with businesses that are out of touch with the neighborhood. It's the unfortunate side effect of the population boom and investors trying to capitalize on a trend. Participating in the Driftwood Oven Kickstarter gives residence a way to say "I made this happen" and "This is the kind of business I want in my backyard."

Can you even believe that Butler St is anchored on one end by Driftwood oven and on the other Slice Island? Pittsburgh has certainly become the secret pizza capitol of the North East. 

One final thing - their mobile pizza unit isn't going anywhere as they said they'll roll it out of the shop when things get a bit warmer. Stay tuned for more Driftwood Oven pizza updates.



Michigan & Trumbull and Their Flavorful Pizza Labyrinth

Pizza ReviewDan Tallarico1 Comment
 Michigan & Trumbull's Packard Pepperoni, complete with pepperoni, peppers, follows of sauce and that gooey cheese.

Michigan & Trumbull's Packard Pepperoni, complete with pepperoni, peppers, follows of sauce and that gooey cheese.

Nestled into the corner of the newly built Federal Galley is a piece of Detroit in the form of Michigan & Trumbull. Michigan & Trumbull is helmed by Nathan and Kristin who are Detroit Natives that bake delicious Detroit Style pizza. Detroit Style pizzas has started leaking out of Detroit and into other metropolitan areas the past five years.  According to Tony Gemignani's Pizza Bible, the rise in popularity is tied to Shawn Randazzo, cofounder of Detroit Style Pizza Company, entering and winning the International Pizza Challenge in 2012. Around that time fan favorites Via 313 popped up in Austin which stoked interest in Detroit Style pizza. With Pittsburgh host to two Detroit Style places I guess you can say that it's finally a thing. 

Michigan & Trumbull creates my favorite version of Detroit Style pizza. There's a fine line pizza makers have to walk between making a thick sicilian style pizza that's filled with oil and true Detroit style that is outlined by a caramelized crust filled with flavor. A quality pie has a hint of sweetness that blends nicely with the grease of pepperonis lined up on each square.

 Up close with the Packard Pepperoni.

Up close with the Packard Pepperoni.

And biting into a Packard Pepperoni is complex. It doesn't taste like any other kind of pizza. The cheese, caramelization of the crust, pepperoni, peppers, and honey blend together to create a cacophony of flavor. A new species of pizza deserving of its own classification.

It's honestly a bit overwhelming and foreign at first. But, with each bite comes another shred of enlightenment. Between chews I found myself understanding the strategic profile of the pizza.

"Ah, okay, so that drizzle of honey is causing the sweetness which blends nicely with the goopy cheese."

"Those peppers add just the right amount of heat."

"The edges of this crust somehow don't even taste like dough, but as if someone laminated it in a sweet crunchy shell."

But keep eating and you'll completely understand each individual flavor in these squares. It's a lot to take in at once, but by your third square you'll find yourself craving more and accelerating towards the finish.

Eating the Packard Pepperoni is fun, almost like solving a brain tickling puzzle. With each bite I uncovered a new flavor which kept me yearning for more. I've actually taken breaks from writing this to take small nibbles of the piece I brought home to share with my wife.  

I look forward to trying each and every pizza that Michigan & Trumbull has on their menu. I see them adding a ton to the rich Pittsburgh Pizza Tapestry and I'm so glad they chose to bring their take on Detroit Style Pizza to Pittsburgh.

 Looking forward to eating my way through the Michigan & Trumbull menu.

Looking forward to eating my way through the Michigan & Trumbull menu.

You can find them at the newly opened Federal Galley on the North Shore.



Making Pizza Dough Guided by the Light of the Pizza Bible

Dan TallaricoComment
Pizza Bible Cover

I’ve recently found myself with plenty of free time and what better activity to fill those dull hours than mastering the craft of pizza? 

Pizza is a basic exercise that has been around for ages. If someone without the power of the internet could figure out how to make pizza so can you! But, having a mentor or guide helps provide much needed structure. More importantly, a good guide explains the fundamentals and the why behind making pizza.

Where to begin? How do you find a mentor? A great start is praying to the pizza gods above. Like civilizations that have relied on ethereal beings and lords to provide guidance, so too can you find inspiration and wisdom in the form of a bible. The Pizza Bible. The Pizza Bible is a spiritual novel that will guide your soul to Nirvana. And if you’re reading this, chances are that Nirvana is great pizza.


These dough balls come from the very first recipe from the book. It’s part of the “Master Class” where Tony Gemignani, the author and pizza master, explains the basics. Why use ice cold water? What’s the best flour to use? How do bags of flour differ? 

Beyond the basics, the Pizza Bible tells the story of pizzas around the region. How can you replicate a New York city pizza in your kitchen? What makes Detroit Style so great? What differentiates a Sicilian crust from a normal crust? Why would you want to use poolish?

I currently have poolish growing in my kitchen for use in some upcoming pizza experiments. Winter time always makes me crave Sicilian pizza and now I'm taking matters into my own hands. 

This Winter if you’re looking for a hobby or activity to fill the hours, try making pizza. It’s fun in groups and working your way through the Pizza Bible will sharpen your taste for pizza. You can find the Pizza Bible over at Amazon.

Italy Official Owns Neapolitan Pizza - What Does That Mean for the Future of Pizza?

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
Vera Pizza Sign

Well, it’s official. Italy and Naples are the clear owners of Neapolitan pizza. Unesco, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has given pizza “intangible heritage” status. Meaning it is officially part of Italy’s cultural tapestry. They official own neapolitan pizza.

This makes sense as they’ve been trying to regulate and control pizza for years. Everyone knew that neapolitan style pizza belonged to the fine folks in Naples, where it was originally created, but now it’s official. There’s some comfort in official decrees much as there’s comfort in Neapolitan pizza itself.

Because of strict regulations neapolitan pizza’s consistency is rivaled only by Starbucks. You can walk into any restaurant that features the pizzaiolo mascot (a man in a white outfit and black mask) and know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a sign of quality, fresh cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes. As it’s grown in popularity there have been several liberties taken to the pizza that stalwarts find quite offensive.

Neapolitan Pizza adheres to a strict set of rules. The fine folks at Forno Bravo actually translated the latest update to the regulations around neapolitan pizza. There are eight article that describe how to make the pizza, what flour to use, the temperature of each ingredient, how to serve the pizza and even the signage promoting the use of neapolitan pizza. You can read it in its entirety here.

The regulations are extensive, but if you had created one of the most popular foods and saw it evolve into a medium to house things like buffalo chicken and ranch dressing wouldn’t you go the extra mile to put some rules around the lawless mess? But those rules can stifle creativity. My favorite pizza comes when pizza makers take the neapolitan style and tweak it ever so slightly to create what pizza enthusiasts call “neo-neapolitan” pizza.

 The Green Pointer from Pizza Taglio is a wonderful evolution of the future of pizza.

The Green Pointer from Pizza Taglio is a wonderful evolution of the future of pizza.

Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Enters the Ring

Neo-neapolitan pizza gives the pizzaiolo more control and agency about how to cook the pizza. Whether they want to mess with the shape, cheese and tomatoes, or the temperature of the oven. Neo-neapolitan is an evolution of the classic, and if pizza wants to maintain its ubiquity you’ll see the younger generation adopt fewer guidelines. After all, a refusal to change and adapt has doomed plenty of industries.

A perfect example of neo-neapolitan pizza is what Tony makes at Pizza Taglio. Tony cooks at a lower temperature and plays around with the rise time of dough and core ingredients. It may look like the Wikipedia entry for pizza, but someone from Naples would see the difference almost immediately. The Green Pointer is what happens when someone who knows the rules and regulations around pizza and understands the right way to (respectfully) break them.  The creation isn’t disastrous or alarming, it’s familiar but at the same time new and intriguing. 

Neo-Neapolitan pizza builds a bridge between the past and future. It’s a fun spin on the classic, but contains enough of the fundamental aspects of pizza to deliver that comfortness that we’ve come to expect from neapolitan pizza.

 Another view of the delicious Green Pointer, which I would love to be eating this very second.

Another view of the delicious Green Pointer, which I would love to be eating this very second.

Michigan & Trumbull Delivers Delicious Detroit Style Pizza to Pittsburgh

Pizza News, Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment
Michigan and Trumbull Detroit style Pizza


“What is Detroit Style pizza and why is it coming to Pittsburgh?” is a question I get a lot lately. 

Well, Pittsburgh is a culinary melting pot and it makes sense that eventually this city will play host to the largest variety of pizza in the country. As Pittsburgh sits in the midst of the Rust Belt, the city is uniquely poised to take advantage of the trends migrating to the East Coast and vice versa.

Michigan & Trumbull, run by Kristin Calverley and Nate Peck, is the latest Detroit Style pizza shop to open in Pittsburgh, the first being Iron Born in Smallman Gallery. Michigan & Trumbull is following their lead and opening up inside Federal Galley, the "sequel" to Smallman Galley, on the North Side.

I was lucky enough to visit Michigan & Trumbull during their pop-up at The Vandal. While they sold out amazingly fast and left a behind a wake of happy customers, I got a chance to sample their vegan pizza. Which, I gotta tell ya that this was a true delight to eat and I hope it is a staple on their menu. The creamy rémoulade is a fine substitute for cheese and the eggplant provided plenty of flavor. It is the perfect compliment to the cheese and red sauce that decorates a majority of pizzas.

 The Michigan & Trumbull vegan pizza is not to be missed!

The Michigan & Trumbull vegan pizza is not to be missed!

While Pittsburgh doesn’t have its own well-defined style of pizza, it’s strange that Detroit of all places does. Like most things in Detroit, you can thank the motor industry for that. Pans used for car manufacturing happened to perfectly double as pizza pans. So what's Detroit Style pizza? As Nate Peck says, “I think what makes Detroit style pizza is the deep blue steel pan, and the cheese pushed to the very edge before cooking. This gives you the crispy cheese edge we love so much.”

And that’s the beauty of Detroit Style pizza. In some ways it is the antithesis of New York style and a distant cousin of Chicago pizza. Instead of a floppy triangle, Detroit style pizza is traditionally served as rectangles.It’s thick, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

The outside crust supports the sauce, cheese, and just about anything you can throw onto the slice. It’s an architectural beast that soaks up greasy pepperoni or fresh tomato sauce.

 Stacks of pizza dough waiting to hit the oven.

Stacks of pizza dough waiting to hit the oven.

So, why aren’t we seeing more Detroit Style pizza? Why is Michigan & Trumbull getting into this business now? 

Nate Peck says:

I’m not exactly sure what has taken the rest of the world to find out about Detroit style pizza. Honestly growing up in the Detroit area I didn't even think twice about it only being a Detroit thing. I thought we just had a choice of round and square. Then we moved to Pittsburgh and were like wait, nobody has anything close to pizza like home? which is why I started playing around with the dough and ordered a few pans.

Creating the dough for Detroit Style pizza, and the cooking process, is an involved. It’s not as simple as slapping the dough into the oven, rotating it out, and placing it on a tray. There's a lot that happens to the dough before it gets stretched out.

Nate describes his dough process to me, saying:

For our dough I do a 15 hour 'poolish' taking 20% of the doughs flour and water with a pinch of yeast and fermenting at room temperature. I then mix the rest of the ingredients. I usually do about 500-525 degrees for 12-15 minutes. You have to make sure you let the dough rise halfway up each pan after portioning.

For the sauce we do a really simple, fresh sauce. Using Stanislaus tomatoes. We don’t cook it very long to ensure it keeps its fresh tomato flavor. Since we do a nice long bake on the pizza I  use a whole milk mozzarella so it doesn’t burn.

Expect Michigan & Trumbull to setup shop in the Federal Galley when it opens this year. Keep up to date with Michigan & Trumbull on Facebook. I'll keep you posted on any other Michigan & Trumbull updates here on Pizza Walk With Me.




Pizza Dojo 4: Driftwood Oven vs Pizza Boat

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
Pizza Dojo 4 From Downtown

Pizza Dojo 4 (technically the 5th Pizza Dojo event) has been announced for this Saturday, November 11th. Once again, Pizza Boat has emerged from the shadows and challenged Driftwood Oven to a two-enter-one-leaves pizza showdown of epic proportions .


Typically these challenges appear out of thin air, like a spectre who emerges from purgatory with unfinished business. Pizza Boat's unfinished business stems from the rampant ranking of pizzas happening in Pittsburgh this season.

Most recently, The Incline started a peculiar pizza bracket (which I was interviewed for here) that gave the ranking power to the Pittsburgh citizens. Much like the 2016 election, no pollster could imagine the outcome (except for me who actually did a pretty solid job predicting the winners. I guess that makes me the Nate Silver of pizza polls?).

Driftwood Oven was unceremoniously knocked out of the bracket in the first round and Pizza Boat was snubbed entirely. Pizza Boat took their aggression to Twitter as their therapist was clearly sick of their bellyaching.

Pizza Boat taunted Driftwood Oven in their classic fashion and pondered about the proper way to rank pizzas. Should there be a governing body? What about a list of listicles? How specific should the rankings go and why didn’t anyone rank the darkest place for pizza? It was here that Pizza Boat struck gold. While both pizza makers were victims to the bracket, they would create a competition that caters to their strengths. 

Pizza Dojo events traditionally take place in the midst of Autumn when daylight is a sparse commodity and farmers relish the early morning sunlight. While most pizza makers are blessed with interior lighting, Pizza Boat and Driftwood Oven brave the elements to make pizza by the glow of the moon. A harsh environment, yes, but they pride themselves on being ranked highest (by themselves) for “darkest place to eat pizza.”

The fifth Pizza Dojo event, Pizza Dojo 4, takes place Saturday, November 11, in the lot behind Spirit Hall. Watch a video of last year’s event here featuring Rick Sebak: