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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:





 

Michigan & Trumbull Detroit Pizza Pop-Up at The Vandal

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
Michigan & Trumbull Detroit Style Pizza

I hope you're into Detroit Style Pizza because it is slowly taking over Pittsburgh. The latest entrant in that arena is Michigan & Trumbull. They're a Detroit Style Pizza shop that was shocked to find a lack of that good, thick, crunchy pizza here in Pittsburgh. In Nate Peck's (chef/owner of Michigan & Trumbull) own words, "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."

I'll have a more thorough interview with them on the site later, but today is the day you can sample their pizza. They'll be setting up shop at The Vandal tonight in Lawrenceville from 5pm - Whenever-we-run-out-o-clock. 

Here's the menu of pizza they'll have at The Vandal this evening:

Michigan & Trumbull pizza menu

And here's a sample of what the pizza may look like right before you take a chomp!

Michigan and Trumbull pizza

 

 

Badamo’s Pizza Pizzafies the North Side

Dan TallaricoComment
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Badamo’s Pizza is taking no time to make its mark on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Here’s the mural they’ve painted onto the front of their store’s shutter.  

Not sure when the spot will be opening, but some may say this display is a bit of a tease. How can you present this image (one of a greasy, cheesy triangle of joy!) and not sell the real thing. 

Whats worse is that the closest pizza fix is a Pizza Hut across the street. Talk about pizza torture.  

I suspect you’ll know when Badamo’s Pizza opens when you hear a collective shout and cheer from North Side citizens. 

Stay tuned!  

Driftwood Oven Turns 2! Let's Talk About Driftwood Oven!

Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment
DriftWood Oven Turns 2

They grow up so fast, don't they? First they're fumbling their little dough balls, struggling to figure out logistics, and experimenting with flours. Now, they are feeding multiple breweries a weekend, growing their staff, and sourcing ingredients so intelligently it would make your head spin. Not to mention the trophy case of accolades.  To celebrate, Driftwood Oven will be at Roundabout Brewery this Sunday at 1pm with some of their pals. More info here, but let's talk a bit about their excellence. 

Driftwood Oven burst onto the scene in a flurry of excellence. From their first pizza everyone knew this was legit. I remember biting into my first Driftwood Oven pie and looking around nodding, waiting to be woken up from another one of my pizza dreams.  

Hard to believe they are only now turning two. Harder to believe a pizza landscape that doesn't involve Driftwood Oven. 

The way Driftwood Oven has woven their way into the Pittsburgh tapestry is remarkable. From hanging out on the fringe in Greenfield, to bouncing from breweries to breweries. From working in a basement to getting prep space in Larimer. They drifted to where they were needed. It seemed like most evenings they were never further than a 5 minute drive or walk from my house, always within an arms reach. 

Despite being a mobile oven, their aura is permanent. A night at Grist House or Dancing Gnome without Driftwood Oven feels empty. Heading to Round About brewery for a drink without that tent outside just seems off

Justin greets visitors at their Greenfield spot. Neil bakes pizzas endlessly. 

Justin greets visitors at their Greenfield spot. Neil bakes pizzas endlessly. 

Justin always greets you with a smile and a large hello. His background in improve and comedy are not wasted in the Driftwood Oven tent. He's quick with quips and makes every pizza patron seem welcome. Neil works diligently behind the oven creating pies after pie. Bouncing between the oven and dough requires supreme focus and Neil never loses sight of a great pizza. And that's the way it has typically been. They've added some help along the way, which was much needed considering an evening at Grist House has them swamped in tickets as soon as the festivities begin. 

And their little oven, who would ever think that physics and science would allow it to make enough pizzas to serve hundreds of people without a single drop in quality? I've never had to wait longer than 15 minutes for a pie, which is a small miracle. And it's not because I write about pizza. You, the clever reader, get the same loving attention and speedy service that I receive. It's a democratic pizza process and they treat every customer like it's their thousandths pie. 

When I spoke with Neil nearly two years ago about his craft, he said, “I care a lot about what goes into this. Everything on the plate is good for you. I’m not going to serve you anything that I wouldn’t eat.”

That has been a staple of Driftwood Oven during their pizza tenure and it's great to see holding themselves to those standards. RSVP to Driftwood Oven's 2nd Anniversary Party here

Driftwood Oven also has really great t-shirts. You can watch my review below. 

Badamo's Pizza Nestles into the North Side

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
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Uh oh folks. I think the holy trinity of food is finally complete on the North Side. On the corner of Federal and North Ave, there has always been a reliable stop for hotdogs and burritos. But pizza? Well, save for a Pizza Hut, that area has been a pizza desert. 

Badamo's Pizza is here to save the day.  

This is the second location for A'Pizza Badamo, their first being in Mt. Lebanon. The pizzeria is known for delicious, stylish pizzas and a "yes and" atmosphere. It's like if Michaelangelo opened a pizzeria. Both the Ninja Turtle and the Renaissance Man. But they opened the shop together. 

 Stay tuned for more updates as I walk by this work-in-progress on my lunch breaks.  

Pizza Boat's Picklesburgh Adventure

Dan TallaricoComment

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Picklesburgh has taken over the Roberto Clemente bridge in downtown Pittsburgh. Vendors from across the city have gathered to show off an assortment of pickled items. Things like a fried pickle, pickle on a stick, pickle juice, tacos with pickled vegetables, and of course pizza.

Spirit's booth dished out cocktails and brought Pizza Boat to serve up three pizzas that loosely fit the pickled theme. 

Their White piqued my interest. While they didn't brine the dough, they assembled a topical pizza. Who could pass up mozzarella, ricotta, black pepper, honey and pickled carrots?

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The pizza is a stunning canvas of white. Obviously.  The ricotta and mozzarella meld into each other and the carrots stick out like exclamation points. If it was a wild animal you would think it evolved these features to scare off predators or hide in a wintery environment.

The White is a bit decadent. The cheese and honey deliver a sweetness that is sweeter than I enjoy for a pizza. This could easily double as a dessert pizza. The pickled carrots should balance that out, but there wasn't enough representation to combat the sweet essence. Perhaps doubling the pickled carrots could balance this pie?

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But at an event like Pickleburgh, I'm happy they tried something a bit unorthodox. It's a welcome alternative to the pretzel vendors and the army of fried foods weighing down the bridge.

If you see this pizza out in the wild definitely give it a taste. Or, add this onto your order to gobble up as a dessert pizza at the end of a meal.

Can't Beat Driftwood Oven's Beet Pizza, The Beetza

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment
Driftwood Oven Beets

In the midst of a summer heat session, sometimes the margherita doesn't feel like the right pizza. The goo-factor of the cheese can clog you up, slow you down, and pump the breaks one of those often sung about summer nights. Spicy sausage or pepperoni exacerbates the heat draining your body of useful liquids. Boy, just typing this sentence is giving me the sweats.

Driftwood Oven has taken in account all those variables and algorithms and created a pizza perfect for summer chowing: The Beetza.

Yes, pizza is perfect for every season, but the weather impacts the pizza nuance. And this Beetza is a quintessential summer pizza. Almost as refreshing as a sparkling spritz or an ice-cold High Life.

We'll get to the beets in a moment, but this pizza has a soft, creamy layer that blends perfectly with a summer evening. The mixture is made up of crème fraîche, ricotta and Old Gold cheese (basically aged cheddar). It's gooey and light, giving you the perfect lubricant to put down a couple of airy slices. Chives are scattered on top of the pizza like celebratory confetti. They provide festive flair and a bit of flavor. The star of the show is, of course, the beets.

UpCloseBeetza

While beets are traditionally a delicious winter vegetable, there's no law against slicing them up for a delicious, bouncy pizza. Beets can be a flavor dead end. If they are not prepared well enough you get that wonderful earthy flavor in your mouth. The kind of flavor worms would die for. The Beetza comes corrects with the beet flavoring. 

Instead of that earth flavor, every bite of beets is a burst of delicious, "rooty," flavor. When combined with the crust, the cream and a bit of caramelized onion, you get a sophisticated flavor in the form of a pizza. 

Of course, the amazingly consistent Driftwood Oven crust plays host to these flavors and doesn't falter one bit under the heap of toppings. 

The Beet Pizza is a potpourri of fun and flavor that pairs perfectly with a well cracked cold one. For those that don't enjoy beets, check this out as I know you'll be pleasantly surprised. 

Finally, here's a photo of a non-beet pizza. Just for fun.

Bonus margherita Pizza

Man Defies God, Attempts World's Longest Pizza

Pizza NewsDan TallaricoComment
World's Longest Pizza Attempt

 

Attempting records is an inherent part of anyone's spiritual journey; something that unites. Something that brings out the very best in everyone. A reason to celebrate humanity and friendship. 

That's pulled from the LongestPizza.com, the site for the World's Longest Pizza attempt. The event is taking place today, June 10th, at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. To compete for the record a team of the greatest pizza makers joined forces, like a pizza version of the Avengers. The team consists of: Tony GemignaniGiulio Adriani, Tom Leehman, John Arena, Fred Mortati, Massimo Balacchi, Mario Vollera and Jimmy DeSisto.

Here's some of the logistics and stats for this attempt:

*The dough weighs about 8000lbs
*The sauce will weigh about 5600lbs
*The cheese will weigh about 3600lbs
*Total weight of the pizza= 17200lbs at around 7000’
*The oven will be moving at around 17’/min. The assemblers will need to work fast or the oven will catch up with them. The oven is cooking at around 700°F; once it starts its journey it cannot pause or stop.
*The assemblers will be rotated every 90 min or so, so they can have breaks and move to other ares that they will be needed, etc. If all goes well, we should be done in under 8 hrs. We will add some toppings to the last 1000’ of the pizza for variety.

Logistically, this might be the most complicated pizza in the world. The pizza makers must constantly be dealing with the dough, managing the ingredients and ensuring everything is in its place. Here's a few photos from the attempt taken by Scott Anthony, a regular pizza correspondent for Pizza Today and the owner of Punxy Pizza. I'll keep you updated as the attempt continues.

Some wonder if humidity and the weather will be an issue? Coincidentally, this is the second World Record Attempt to take place on a racetrack. In May, Nike attempted a sub 2 hour marathon attempt on a racetrack in Italy.

 

LongestPizzaMachine
ConverorBeltPizza

 

 

Pizza Shirt Review: Driftwood Oven's Old-Fashioned Baseball Shirt

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment

When I'm not eating pizza I'm thinking about ways to showcase my pizza passion. While some say I wear my pizza love on my sleeve, that isn't good enough. I'm always on the hunt for tasteful, snug, and cool pizza shirts to pull over my body. Luckily for me, Driftwood Oven has hit the point of their success where they are selling t-shirts. A sure sign of a healthy business. Here's my review of the Driftwood Oven old-timey baseball t-shirt.

Dispatch From Pizza Expo Day 4: Two Geniuses of Pizza Showcase Pizza Excellence

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
Pizza ala Pala made by pizza genius, Graziano Bertuzzo

Pizza ala Pala made by pizza genius, Graziano Bertuzzo

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. In his final dispatch he spends time soaking in pizza excellence.  Read Day 1 HereRead Day 2 of Pizza Expo Here. Read Day 3 here.

Pizza EXPO 2017-Day 4

Day 4 of the EXPO started off with a special morning treat, and no it wasn’t Sunny Side-up Eggs perfectly cracked on a Pizza. A session titled Two Champions Unite it was a special collaboration of two Pizza Giants; Tony Gemignani & Graziano Bertuzzo from Italy, top Pizza craftsman in Europe. Both have won Pizza titles in the U.S. and Italy. Both have won Pizza acrobatic titles at the start of their careers. That said, opening remarks included comments that the “Hands” define the style. The theme of the demonstration was Pizza alla Pala; or “Pizza on a Board”. Showing how Pizza making has become stylishly sophisticated, both Masters described techniques in dough making & toppings.

Graziano pre-ferments the dough with no yeast. He instead uses fruit soaked water for a natural fermentation. Makes use of Type 1 flour with an 18 hour rest which enhances the aroma. Dough is restarted with ground rice, fairly common in Italy making the dough lighter & crisper. The eventual dough has a higher hydration upwards of 90% which produces a better dough. Higher hydration of dough has been mentioned throughout the week.

Tony focused on the make-up of the dough using a spouted grain & spoke to the utilization of ancient grains for a dough which is healthier to eat. Using these grains with minimal use of yeast produces a product with more balanced Pizza components evenly present leading to a more satisfying Pizza experience. Both techniques add to the “digestability” of the food.

Tony Gemignani's version of Pizza ala Spana

Tony Gemignani's version of Pizza ala Spana

Graziano Bertuzza is a legend of pizza making

Graziano Bertuzza is a legend of pizza making

Another unique feature of the Pizza alla Pala is that most of the toppings are added after the dough comes out of the oven. Graziano topped the dough with potatoes cut into small bits along with rosemary & oil; then into the oven. After the bake, a variety of toppings are added. Graziano used toppings common to Italy; shrimp marinated in OJ (genius marinate; also almonds will take out the fishy flavor), Zucchini & Asparagus marinated in oil, olives as well as shaved chocolate at the end (once again, genius).

Tony’s toppings included peppadeaux peppers, goat cheese, hot pepper oil, cheese & a final topping of greens like Arugula. “It’s all about the finishing ingredients.”

Another technique was gutting the crust in half & filling with appropriate meats & cheeses. Love that! I would also spread that with some sort of “special sauce” concoction. Samples were very tasty. Great presentation which once again demonstrates the versatility of pizza, it’s evolution & the value of innovation.

Slices of pizza out in the wild of Pizza Expo

Slices of pizza out in the wild of Pizza Expo

Day 4 also included the International Pizza Competition Final & the “Best of the Best” Bake-Off which is a competition among four past World Champions. Locally, Eric Von Hansen, last year’s winner in the Pan Division, was the Northeast Regional Champ. (At press time, regional winners were not listed for the Pan division.) This gives Caliente’s Two Regional Champs for Expo 2017. Great performance.

For the “Best of the Best”, Graziano Bertuzzo, mentioned above & Nino Coniglio, 2016 Pizza Maker of the year & a presenter from yesterday finished 1-2. No surprises; just ongoing excellence from both Pizza Masters.

With that completed, it was one more walk through the Exhibit Hall and then preparation for the trip home. Good Show!

See ya next year Pizza Expo!

See ya next year Pizza Expo!

Dispatch from Pizza Expo Day 3: Pizza Competition and 3 Critical Pizza Rules

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
Matt Hickey's pizza entry into the pan pizza competition at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Matt Hickey's pizza entry into the pan pizza competition at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. This year he spent time investigating the wonders of the pizza competition at Pizza Expo.. These are the fruits of his labor. Read Day 1 Here. Read Day 2 of Pizza Expo Here. 

Pizza EXPO 2017-Day 3

Day 3 continues with the International Pizza Challenge & the World Pizza Games. Local entrants include Eric Von Hansen in the Non-Traditional Division & Matt Hickey in the Pan Division. (As listed here earlier, Matt Hickey, also entered in the World Pizza Games, won the in the Dough Stretching competition.)

Eric’s entry includes a garlic-honey sauce with a steak topping. Matt’s entry has a topping which includes greens, nuts & strawberries lightly topped with balsamic. Results for both will be listed tomorrow.

Eric Von Hansen of Caliente waiting to compete at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Eric Von Hansen of Caliente waiting to compete at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Nino Conigilio Champion Pizza

I attended the Demonstration “My Champion Pizzas” conducted by Nino Coniglio, last year’s Pizza Maker of the Year from Brooklyn. With the classic Brooklyn accent & presentation style, he was a delight to watch & he certainly knows Pizza. He prepared a Mushroom Pizza; not just your typical mushroom pie but one that starts with dough that has fermented for 72 hours. Dough is worked & spread with EVOO, Pecorino Romano & Mozzarella; then topped with Portabella & Shitake mushrooms with Rosemary. Added near the end is truffle cream, pine nuts & finished with Parmigiana Reggiano.

Nino’s Pizza rules include:

  • Put ingredients on evenly (very, very important).

  • Don’t overload the pie.

  • NO Dried Rosemary (not sure if this is a rule or a pet peeve).

Very nice, entertaining Demo.

Of course, one other activity on Day 3 is the obligatory walk through the Exhibit Hall enjoying food sample after food sample & chit chat with the vendors.

The day ends with Pizza Expo Block Party & the completion of the World Pizza Acrobatic Games.

Tony Scardino pointing at Tony Gemigani

Tony Scardino pointing at Tony Gemigani

Dispatch From Pizza Expo Day 2: Let the World Pizza Games Begin

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
It wouldn't be Pizza Expo without pizza.

It wouldn't be Pizza Expo without pizza.

 

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. Before sending me this report, Tommy T called me to say how demanding covering the Pizza Expo has been. These are the fruits of his labor.

Pizza EXPO 2017-Day 2

With Day 2 of the EXPO comes the opening of the Exhibit Hall including Food Suppliers, Equipment Manufacturers and to the crowd’s delight, samples that their products produce, i.e. pizza, charcuterie, macaroni, olives & food, food, & more food. I can’t recall last year’s EXPO having so much & such a variety of samples.

Day 2 also starts the beginning of the International Pizza Challenge & the World Pizza Games. Of special interest in the IPC are the entrants from Caliente’s. First of all as reported here earlier, Nick Fink from Caliente’s is the Northeast Champion in the Traditional Division, his 1st competition. Congratulations to him. Eric Von Hansen, last year’s winner in the Pan Division, is entered in the Non-Traditional Division & Matt Hickey in the Pan Division. Their competition starts tomorrow so more to follow.

An action shot of the dough stretching competition in the 2017 World Pizza Games

An action shot of the dough stretching competition in the 2017 World Pizza Games

In the World Pizza Games, Caliente’s had entrants in both the Dough Stretching & Box Folding competitions. Citizens Pie (Cleveland shop mentioned in the prequel) entrant Bonn Rassavong won the Box Folding competition with a final time in a cool 20 seconds for folding 5 boxes.

The winner of the box folding competition, Citizen Pie Bonn Rassavong

The winner of the box folding competition, Citizen Pie Bonn Rassavong

Attended the Demonstration “Make Innovation your Calling Card” where Doug Ferriman continued his theme of Innovation by developing the Unknown.

Doug Ferriman's breakfast pizza.

Doug Ferriman's breakfast pizza.


The demonstration includes making a Pizza for each meal of the day. Started with a breakfast Pizza, the next frontier in Pizza making. His dough is aged for 36 hours which produces a mix which is “fluffy & puffy”. Added to the stretched dough is a 3 cheese blend (Prov/Mozz mix, pepper jack & fontina), pepperdeaux peppers, cracked eggs; sunny side up & finished with a guacamole spread. The crust is then brushed with a maple syrup & honey mix to give it a “French toast” taste.

 

The lunch Pizza was a Reuben with spiced Pastrami (MMMmmmm), Sauerkraut, Siracha Cheese (now that’s innovation!!!!) finished with Russian dressing & garnished with crispy Jalapanos (nice touch).

The unique piece of the dinner Pizza was the use of “caviar olive oil”, a rare product from Spain where Olive Oil is encapsulated.

That makes for a busy Day 2 visiting endless rows of Exhibits & the variety of food samples, watching the Pizza competitions & another classic Pizza Demonstration. Much more to come from Day 3.      

Meats at Pizza Expo

Dispatch from Pizza Expo 2017: Day One

Dan TallaricoComment
The all-star Caliente pizza crew

The all-star Caliente pizza crew

Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. With a year under his belt, as well as at least 100 more pizza slices, Tom is ready to tackle the 2017 Pizza Expo.These are his unedited reports.

Pizza Expo 2017-Day 1

Day One at the Pizza Expo usually involves Registration completion of participants & completion of the Exhibit set-up. It also includes informative Workshops for Pizza Shop operators for running a successful business & the start of seminars. Before the sessions began, my Expo started where last year’s ended as I ran into the group from Caliente’s. Last year at this time I ran into owner Nick Bogacz on the last day. He informed me that his chef, Eric Von Hansen had won best Pan Pizza in the International Pizza Challenge & brought two other staff members This year, Nick has brought along a total of 5 staff members.

Experience suggests that a big part in running a successful Pizza Business is assembling a good team which is not easy. Nick has been able to do just that. Keys are treating the staff well, develop loyalties & finding good “kids” who want to work & learn. He brings them to events like this. His staff is entered in the World Pizza Games; dough stretching & box folding & now 2 entrants in the International Pizza Challenge.

Eric is competing in the Non-Traditional Division. In additional, one of Caliente’s younger staff members, Matt Hickey, is entering his 1st competition in the Pan Division. Matt has been with Caliente’s for 2 years. However, he has been reading Pizza Today for many years, has always wanted to get to the Expo & now is ready for competition. He has prepared well, working at a number of shops in the area before getting to Caliente’s where he is now GM at the newest location in Mt. Lebanon. Good luck to both Eric & Matt. Caught a glimpse of their Pizza babies. Both look tasty with a bit of a twist; quite Innovative. Incidentally, Caliente’s now has 3 locations & hopes to open a 4th by late summer.

pizza expo keynote

Speaking of Innovation, that was the topic of the opening seminar. Innovation Keeps Me Growing speaker was Doug Ferriman, an owner in the Boston area with the Crazy Dough brand & now launching a 2nd business, Oath Craft Business involving fresh ingredient pies with wife, Melissa. Doug’s philosophy is being positive, have faith in yourself & living in the Unknown. The Unknown is where Innoovation comes from. Success generally doesn’t come quickly or easily & it took Doug about 7 years to achieve the success he now enjoys. Key Points or Elevations as he calls them include:

  • Having a clear & open mind; let the bad stuff go; keep your energy positive

  • Humility & Visualization

  • Conquering Fears

  • Determination

  • Power of Perspective

  • Will to Win

  • The Summit itself

 

Norman Vincent Peale couldn’t have put it better. Of course, Doug’s success involved becoming an International Pizza Challenge Champion on 2 occasions.'

One win involves quite an Innovative way of prepping dough. It involved grilling the dough, searing the dough in Olive Oil & then baking. Sounds tasty.'

Melissa & Doug Ferriman, Pizza Visionaries

Melissa & Doug Ferriman, Pizza Visionaries

A 2nd seminar involved Dough Fermentation moderated by Peter Reinhart. Topics include various fermentation processes & the importance of time & temperature for consistency. Key point was longer fermentation leads to better flavor & texture for your crust.

 

Lastly, attended a seminar conducted by Tony G. involving Specialty Cheeses & how to apply them. Once again, this session demonstrates the evolution & innovation of Pizza making. Subject matter ranged from traditional cheeses in their various forms to “finishing” cheeses of the softer, creamier variety. Makes one anxious to get back home to try something new.

That completed Day One. Informative sessions along with meeting new & old friends.

Tomorrow the Exhibits open & the World Games begin.

Caliente Wins Best Traditional Pizza in Northeast Regional Championship at the Pizza Expo

Dan TallaricoComment
Nick Fink wins first in Northeast Region Tradtional Pizza at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Nick Fink wins first in Northeast Region Tradtional Pizza at the 2017 Pizza Expo

Caliente can't stop winning in the world of pizza. Nick Fink, up and coming Pizza Star at Pittsburgh's Caliente, has won first place for the Traditional Pizza Division in the Northeast Region. His award winnning pizza was a Sausage & Pepper medley. Peppers were Charcoal/Hickory Grilled.

Key was roasted peppers hickory blend. Sausage was blend of Hot/Sweet & Calabrian.

Nick Is 21 and has been with Caliente's for 3 years. Started at Captain's Pizza at 15. 

 

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Dispatch from Pizza Expo 2017: The Prequel

Pizza ExpoDan TallaricoComment
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Pizza Expo is an astounding event that happens every year in Las Vegas. Last year I sent my associate editor, Tom Tallarico, to the show to cover the pizza news. Tom loves pizza so much he always capitalizes the word. You can read his Pizza Expo Coverage from last year here. With a year under his belt, as well as at least 100 more pizza slices, Tom is ready to tackle the 2017 Pizza Expo.These are his unedited reports.

PIZZA EXPO 2017

Well back at the EXPO again. Been looking forward to getting back since LAST March. And as time passes, Pizza becomes more popular (if that is possible) and takes on more & interesting iterations, i.e. Wood fired, 90 seconds in & out of the oven (as authentic as it gets), creative sauces & toppings & more shops than ever. Over the past year, my Pizza adventures have included:

Periodical Pizza fests around the city with prominent participants including Driftwood oven, Caliente, Graziano’s, Pizza Taglio among others.

Speaking of Driftwood Oven, have enjoyed their fare at various brewerys around town. Also, happy to see press release touting Neil being recognized with a Rust Belt Rising Chef award. Congratulations to him.

 

Eric Von Hanson with his award winning Pan Pizza from Caliente

Eric Von Hanson with his award winning Pan Pizza from Caliente

Speaking of award winners, last year’s Pizza Expo Champion for Pan Pizza, Eric Von Hanson had the Pan Pizza put on the menu some months ago. But the big surprise is they have put the actual Pan winner, the Quack Attack, on the menu as well. Have to get one at least once a month.

Paulie Gee's Logan Square

Always enjoy the Brunch at Spirit Lounge featuring their wonderful pizza product including watching a Steeler playoff game there.

Two class places in Chicago; Bleuna & Paulie Gee’s out of NYC. Went to see Tony Scardino hard at work. He is an associate of Tony G. who I met last year at the Expo.

Up and coming pizza maker, Anthony Scardino with Pizza Walk With Me associate editor, Tom Tallarico

Up and coming pizza maker, Anthony Scardino with Pizza Walk With Me associate editor, Tom Tallarico

Always enjoy mainstays Fazio’s in Lawrenceville & Casa del Sol in Aspinwall.

Many others that I have missed as well. But haven’t been to Spak Bros. yet which I need to get to. It’s on my list.

Vytauras of Citizen Pie waving hello!,

Vytauras of Citizen Pie waving hello!,

Of course, Pittsburgh Pizza fest. I missed it as I was in Ohio. However, on my way home per a colleagues recommendation, I stopped at a place in Cleveland called Citizens Pie. Outstanding Pie!!! Some of the freshest ingredients/topping ever. The Soppressata was cut thick & exceptional. Turns out, Pizza maker/owner Vytauras will be at the Expo this week for the 1st time. One of his guys will be competing in the Box folding contest trying to break the World record.

A slice of pizza from Citizen Pie in Cleveland, Ohio

A slice of pizza from Citizen Pie in Cleveland, Ohio

All that said, now looking forward to a Fun Fun week. Actually the weekend in Vegas was quite fun already. 

Graziano's Slice Investigation: Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Pizza ReviewDan TallaricoComment
Here is a simple, sloppy slice of Graziano's buffalo chicken pizza.

Here is a simple, sloppy slice of Graziano's buffalo chicken pizza.

I admire Graziano's candor and excitement for their own pizza. I routinely visit their store for a six-pack, and occasionally I'll get a slice to take home with me. No use grabbing some beers without a pizza companion. 

There's always someone spilling their drama in the front of the shop, but behind the counter you'll find the same reliable staff of workers who have seen it all and dealt with more griping and antics than most people see in their lifetime. 

No one ever recommends Graziano's, and it rarely makes any "best of" list, yet their store is home to a couple of trophies. They participated in a few pizza competitions last summer and won consecutive "People's Choice Awards" for best pizza. The pizza in question: their buffalo chicken pizza.

I popped into Graziano's for a slice and one of the workers asked me if I wanted a slice of a fresh buffalo chicken pizza. I waffled, like a dope, then said yes. Most buffalo chicken pizza I've had starts with a crust, a gallon of ranch, french fries, fried chicken and a drizzle of hot sauce. 

This flipped the script on buffalo chicken pizza. Instead of ranch, their pizza is slathered in hot sauce. They admitted they "went a bit overboard." I'd beg to differ - if you're going to make a pizza that's 90% hot sauce, lean into it. Own the fact that every buffalo chicken pizza carries with it a tub of hot sauce. That's what buffalo chicken pizza lovers want.

On top of the buffalo sauce was a hunk of cheese and grilled chicken, not fried. I was shocked, but with the crunch of the crust you don't miss the fried chicken. In fact, it helps all the flavors blend in a bit better.

If you're in the market for a somewhat sloppy, delicious and fun pizza, try the Buffalo Chicken Pizza from Graziano's. It's worth the adventure at least once. 

Graziano's Pizza

Slice on Broadway, a Local Pizza Darling - #PGHPizzaWeek

Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment

Find me a single person that dislikes Slice on Broadway. I dare you. Watch the video above and try and find a severe flaw.

It's impossible. Helmed by Rico Lunardi, Slice on Broadway is a pizza shop that is slowly taking over Pittsburgh pizza. His aggressive and intelligent expansion has earned him a spot in PNC Park, replacing the bland Diamond Pizza shop. A win for all parties involved.

Rico's mission is to build out consistently delicious pizza and, basically, ensure that everyone in Pittsburgh has access to amazing pizza. He shows no signs of slowing down which is a boon for everyone in the area. 

I'm a big fan of what Rico has accomplished, heck the guy even got the mayor to declare April 14th as the official Slice on Broadway day in the city! If you haven't eaten a slice of Slice on Broadway, do yourself a favor and go to one of his locations this week.

What I Order

  • Rico stocks his shops with rare meats for a pizza shop: I always get a pie with soppressata. 
  • Pepperoni rolls aren a good side option!

Slice on Broadway Ordering Info

Slice on Broadway in the News

Driftwood Oven Experiments With Square Slices - #PGHPIZZAWEEK

Pizza EssayDan TallaricoComment
Driftwood Oven experiments with square slices

Driftwood Oven experiments with square slices

I don't know what kind of witchcraft happens under Driftwood Oven's pizza tent. Over the cold season, Neil and Justin set up their mobile home and zip themselves inside their pizza den. If you're at Grist House, Dancing Gnome or any other location they call home, to order the pizza you unzip their tent and enter the pizza cave.

The Driftwood Oven pizza cave is a warm safe place. Some folks linger inside with their beer and watch Neil expertly work the oven. Justin is a one-man-show ready to entertain anyone that enters. The pizza cave draws people in, like travelers gathering next to a warm hearth to rest their weary legs and tell tales of pizza.

On my most recent visit into the Driftwood Oven pizza cave, Neil had a tray of square slices. Driftwood Oven has been teasing square slices for a long time. In fact, I had sampled some square slices from Driftwood Oven months ago. The ones Neil are selling today is an evolution of that product. I asked him if this means he finally mastered the formula. 

"It's never perfect. You know that. It's a constant work in progress," was Neil's response. I suppose an artist is never truly satisfied. 

But square slices have a nostalgia to them. My uncle was so excited to see the slices on the menu that he ordered six. "Growing up in Beaver, it's all we ate. For your birthday they set down a platter of square slices," said my uncle, Don Erb, about his history with square slices.

Here Don uses the "blow on hot pizza" technique to cool it down a few degrees.

Here Don uses the "blow on hot pizza" technique to cool it down a few degrees.

There is a rustic feeling to the square slices. It recalls memories of grandma pie: dough mashed into a square tray and plopped into the oven. It requires much less finesse than getting a round pie. 

Driftwood Oven's square slices were delicious. The slices were solid, sturdy, and provided a hearty crunch. In past iterations the inside has been much softer, so maybe they're trying to strike that crunch-to-soft-balance. 

still, it was beautiful and it was simple. I'm excited to eat tray after tray of their square pie in the coming months.

What I Order

  • A margherita and something zany on the menu.
  • Gotta grab a square slice as an appetizer.
  • Get a pizza per person.

How to Hunt Down Driftwood Oven

Other Driftwood Oven News