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Pizza Lists

2015 TOP PIZZA MOMENTS IN THE STEEL CITY BABY - Moments 3-1

Pizza ListsDan TallaricoComment
FinalBestPittsburghPizzaMoments

Here we are! The final three, super exciting pizza moments that happened in Pittsburgh in 2015. You can read pizza moments 9-7 here and pizza moments 6-4 right here

3: Bread & Salt in NY Times

Bread & Salt Pizza

I was talking to someone today who was telling me how after Bread & Salt was written up in the NY Times, their friend went to grab a slice of pizza but they were all sold out. Of everything but lentil soup. They said it was the best lentil soup they had.

But that’s Bread & Salt for ya. Everything there tastes like it was delivered fresh from heaven. You pay by the ounce for pizza because every ounce is worth its weight in gold. Rick Easton doesn’t skimp. He doesn’t pander. He’s a guy who wants to build the best pizza. And, ya know, maybe he has.

It was so good it made Mark Bittman retire. Just kidding. His last column in the NY Times details Rick’s process and pursuit of quality.

More telling, Mark Bittman ends his column by saying:

When I started writing it, I never would have guessed that it would end in Pittsburgh. That it does confirms that good food here is hardly limited to a couple of smug metropolitan areas, and validates my feeling that cooking in the United States is as interesting as it is anywhere in the world.

That’s the story of Pittsburgh Pizza. It’s interesting. It’s exotic. It’s practical. All at the same time.

1 & 2 - Spak Brothers Misfortune & Community Support

Commonwealth Press Spak Brothers Shirt

Is it cheating to make this both the number 1 and number 2? The story is so stunning and heart warming. It is typical pizza community and I’m so amazed how everyone came together to help out a pizza shop that stumbled into misfortune.

So, near the middle of August, Spak Brothers (a pizza place that is Andrew W.K. certified) was robbed. That certainly sucks. But on top of that their cooler died. According to Ryan Spak, he said:

We were robbed overnight Thursday and the walk-in cooler machinery decided it would shit the bed the past two nights.

The monetary loss is pretty epic due to recent events and I have no way to contact the masses any more besides twitter (which I hate) so any help spreading the word would be greatly appreciated.

What happens next is amazing. Posts went up on Pittsburgh community websites, Pittsburgh Magazine wrote about the support, and I Heart PGH got the word out. The Spak Milita knew what they had to do: eat Spak Brothers pizza.

The day they opened Spak Brothers was flooded with patrons. They sold hoagies and pizza to just about everyone in the area.

I reached out to Ryan afterwards to see what sort of impact the outreach had on the business. You can read the full interview here, but the best part is when he said:

It's been insanely busy around here. We've had a ton of exposure and new customers. The Thursday and Friday immediately following were our best sales to date which is just awe-inspiring. Everyone here feels loved (and sweaty) and I thank everyone who came through from the bottom of my heart.

Best. Sales. Ever.

Commonwealth Press also pitched in and sold a limited edition shirt with proceeds going to Spak Brothers.

Now, would this happen to every other pizza shop on this list? I don’t know. I love to think so. But Spak has spent years building good will. They put on an absurd scavenger hunt every year. The winner gets a free pizza every week for a year.

They put on a pizza eating contest at the Pittsburgh Pizza Festival. They’re community first and a business second. The karma they’ve generated is unreal, something every other pizza shop could learn from.

This takes up two spots because 1) It’s a tremendous story detailing the love Pittsburgh has for its neighborhood pizza shops and 2) The interview with Ryan is one of my favorite articles I wrote this year.


Seeing Spak Brothers recover so quickly from being on the ropes is inspiring. Pittsburgh knows a good thing when they got it and no one was ready to lose the wonderful Spak brothers. To everyone that stepped up, nice work. Now go buy yourself a pizza.


So that's the best pizza moments of 2015. It was an exciting year for Pittsburgh pizza and I have no doubt that there are more moments in store for next year. I know my goal for Pizza Walk With Me will be to make it one of the premier pizza websites. There are some great things planned. 

Before I end 2015, I want to share one of my personal favorite pizza moments. I hope it's similar to one of yours. There's nothing better than sharing pizza with pals. I have two really great pizza friends that indulge many of my pizza requests. They've gone to bad pizza places with me and some of the best pizza places. 

Pizza pal Chad and Pizza pal Adam went with me to Slice Island this summer. It was probably the most perfect day on record. We got a box of pizza, sat in the sun, talked about London Calling and had a hell of a time. Chad captured that perfectly in this Instagram video. Enjoy and see ya next year!

A video posted by churd (@heydetective) on


2015 TOP PIZZA MOMENTS IN THE STEEL CITY BABY - Moments 6-4

Pizza ListsDan Tallarico1 Comment
BestPittsburghPizzaMoments

We’re back for another wonderful look at the finest pizza moments to grease up the city of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh can be unassuming. It’s a city drowning in the soil of history. Slowly but surely we’re seeing germination of innovation. From the soil wonderful inventive plants are popping up to make the landscape varied and wonderful. What a great ecosystem.

Anyways, it turns out that this is an awesome environment for pizza. Did you know I type that sentence 60 times a week? Wild. Well, let’s get to it. Moments 6, 5 and 4 are just ahead!

6 - The Steel City Pizza Fest Happened

Pizza Pinup Contest

DJ Zombo put together Pittsburgh’s first Pizza Festival because...well why not. It was a wonderful event held in Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Park where Bloomfield, Garfield and Lawrenceville’s finest pizzerias came together to sell pizzas.

But, it wasn’t just a couple of booths with pizzas. Oh no. There was the Pizza Pinup contest where anyone could enter and be voted Ms. PizzaBurgh. Spak Brothers held a pizza eating contest every hour. Anyone could enter and race against the clock to eat a large pizza the fastest.

It was as disgusting as it was beautiful.

Spak Brothers Pizza Eating Competition

Graziano’s ended up taking home the people’s choice award, edging out Angelo’s by a single vote! How exciting. I hope to see Pizza Festival make a return next year.

5: Pizza Dojo 3: Driftwood Oven vs Pizza Boat

Driftwood Oven's Pizza Dojo lineup

Driftwood Oven's Pizza Dojo lineup

There’s nothing better than a good pizza rivalry. Pizza Boat knows how to ham it up for the crowd and play the pizza heel. I’ve had many folks ask me if Pizza Boat actually hates other pizza makers and the answer is obviously yes.

Just look at Jeff’s vicious attacks on Driftwood Oven in this video from the competition:

I’m just glad everyone made it out alive.

I hope Pizza Dojo never goes away. It’s an amazing way to introduce pizza innovations and bring a community together around great pizza.  As I wrote in my summary of the event:

Pizza Dojo isn't about a single night in Pittsburgh, it's about trying something new in the Pittsburgh pizza scene. Pushing one another to innovate and make better pizza.

Instead of existing side-by-side for years on a street in Squirrel Hill and pretending that the world on the other side of the counter hasn't changed, the pizza makers that enter the Pizza Dojo emerge with a new perspective. A new definition of pizza. Confidence to try something new and push the pizza envelope to the edge of the table.

4: Tony Gemignani visits Pittsburgh

TonyPizzaBible

You may not know Tony Gemignani, but he’s responsible for spreading the pizza gospel across the country. He’s written The Pizza Bible, an amazing book that covers every nook and cranny of pizza fundamentals. He’s put on clinics and has been crowned the World Pizza Champion.

And, this year he paid a visit to Pittsburgh to sign copies of his book and show off his pizza theory.

ThePizzaBible

He’s a guy that loves making pizza. His motto is “Respect the Craft.” And that’s a mentality that I see more and more pizza makers in Pittsburgh adopting. They put ingredients on pizza with a purpose. Nothing is haphazard and everything has a reason.


Meeting Tony was awesome, but the turnout for the event was even more impressive. Caliente was filled to the brim with pizza enthusiasts waiting to talk with Tony and exchange pizza tips.


So that's Pizza Moments 6-4! You can read moments 9-7 here. 

2015 TOP PIZZA MOMENTS IN PITTSBURGH STEEL CITY BABY - Moments 9-7

Pizza ListsDan TallaricoComment
Best Pittsburgh Pizza Moments

 

Welcome to the top 9 pizza moments in the Pittsburgh Steel City, Baby. I was looking back at this year through the lens of a pizza journalist and thought to myself, “Wow, this has been an incredibly wonderful year for everyone involved in Pittsburgh pizza.” That’s right! That means you, the pizza consumer, and even you, the pizza maker!

Pizza is glorious. I could stop typing after that and you’d nod your head in agreement. But for real—there is no food that inspires passion and community like pizza does. We gather around it, we sing its praises and it’s something we eat a few times a week no questions asked.
The last line Frank Sinatra sings in the song It’s Nice to go Traveling (a song about seeing the very best sights in the world) is “make a pizza.” The dude travels the world and when he comes back all he wants is to kick his shoes off and make a pizza.

That’s the power of pizza.

So. Pittsburgh is a place you can’t go to a bar more than twice without becoming best friends with the bartender. It’s friendly and has more pockets of communities than the roads have potholes. So it goes without saying that Pittsburgh has a strong pizza presence. Especially so in 2015.

I wanted to run down my nine favorite pizza events that happened in Pittsburgh in 2015. So here's 9-7

9: Andrew W.K. Threw a Pizza Party in Pittsburgh

If you’ve eaten at Spak Brothers you’ve seen this photo of Andrew W.K. with a pizza guitar they have hanging by the register. The dude loves to party and he knows the number one ingredient for a party: pizza.  In a recent advice column he says, “Pizza is a state of mind. Pizza is way of looking at the world. Pizza is part of a true belief that we as humans can create our own sources of true joy. And the joy that pizza brings is real and tangible. “

On June 7th this year Andrew W.K. threw a pizza party / concert down at Roberto Project in Garfield.  The event sold out so hard that they had to add a second night!

Andrew W.K. could easily be the poster child for pizza and the fact that he made it to Pittsburgh to throw a pizza party is incredible. Of all the cities! Wondering how enamored with pizza he is? Read his advice column where he counsels a pizza addled youth.

8: Slice on Broadway gets their own day! April 14

I Love what Rico has done with Slice on Broadway. He went from one shop serving up pizzas with prosciutto and soppressata to multiple shops. He’s passionate, overly friendly and a pizza entrepreneur.

His pizza shops bubble with life and I’ll bet my pizza license that after you have one slice of Rico’s pizza you’ll be a lifetime convert. It’s fresh, exciting and delicious. It takes something classic and adds a modern spin. Something that is very Pittsburgh.

Well, let me just quote the official document stating that April 14th is Slice on Broadway Day in Pittsburgh.

Whereas, Slice on Broadway, owned and operated by Rico Lunardi, has become a beloved Beechview neighborhood institution, and;

Whereas, Slice’s success has helped contribute to the ongoing renaissance and redevelopment of Broadway Avenue, which has in recent years become a dining destination for people from all over the city, and;

Whereas, Rico and his employees have never deviated from day one from their mission to deliver the “best darn pizza, sandwiches and salads money can buy,” and;

Whereas, Slice makes it a priority to make everything by scratch using the highest quality ingredients and pizza-making methods, including whole tomatoes and dough made fresh daily, and;"

You can read the whole thing on the Slice on Broadway Facebook page. Don't forget to celebrate next April accordingly.

7: Pizza Taglio & Slice Island & Bread & Salt Open

A slice from Pizza Taglio.

A slice from Pizza Taglio.

It was on a cold January night that a bright star shined above Pittsburgh. It was the start of 2015 and all was well in Pittsburgh. Things were popping along and the city was poised to grace many a top-10 list.

Like the three kings of legend wandering towards a bright light—three Pittsburgh pizza makers were inspired to set up pizza shops underneath the Pittsburgh umbrella. Yes, in 2015 we saw the opening of three of the most innovative, progressive, delicious and outstanding pizza shops.

Bread & Salt was first, opening on January 30th. I stopped in February after they opened hoping to get some pizza. Unfortunately, their system wasn’t what it was now and they didn’t have any! They've come a long way since then (which we'll get to later!). They are one of the first places to serve pizza al taglio in Pittsburgh.

Bread & Salt Margherita.

Bread & Salt Margherita.

In April we saw the opening of both Slice Island & Pizza Taglio.

Pizza Taglio is headed up by Tony, who I think might sacrifice his own life in order to get the finest / freshest ingredients into his shop. When I first met him he talked to me for 15 minutes about the nuance of the cheese he purchased.

Slice Island, a pizzeria in the Spirit Lodge, is run by the folks behind the fan-favorite Pizza Boat. They docked their ship to open up a traditional shop. They serve boxes of pizza that are so simple and complex it’s like eating a paradox.

Slice Island Peppers and Sausage

Slice Island Peppers and Sausage

These three pizza makers are cutting edge. They’re making pizza that you could only get in the depths of New York years ago. It’s some of the best pizza Pittsburgh will ever see and it all happened in 2015.


Alright! That's part one of my three part review of Pittsburgh pizza. I'll be posting parts 2 & 3 tomorrow. Honestly, there was a lot of pizza happenings and it took some strategy to get the list down to 9. There has never been a better time to be eating pizza in Pittsburgh.