Somehow I ended up on meetup.com and the first thing I did was type in “pizza.” I do this on every new site I enter. Gotta test its mettle. In this case there was a legitimate result: The Pittsburgh Pizza Parade. Pittsburgh has a parade for all the major holidays, but if you don’t live in Bloomfield you’re missing out on a majority of them. This Pizza Parade is more accessible. The troup tromps through Pittsburgh to meet at pizza places and eat pizza. Then they roll their bloated pizza bodies back home. I guess the parade aspect takes place post eating; most attendees blow up to the size of floats.
I’m only kidding - you can’t actually turn into a parade float from eating pizza. Bob, the founder of the Pittsburgh Pizza Parade, was kind enough to answer some questions for me. He’s been around the block and knows way more about pizza than I do!
Pizza Walk With Me (PWWM): What is your history with pizza? I always find it interesting how people seem to always have a pizza story.
Bob: I have always enjoyed pizza growing up in the Italian family. On Friday nights my grandmother used to make homemade dough and we would have pizza as the men watched the fights on TV. This is when the Gillette sponsored music came on and that was the signal to serve the pizza. The dough was handmade and we would help kneed it by punching, which was fun for young kids. The pizza had a small amount of sauce and cheese, but we would always have anchovies or mushrooms or a lot of toppings. The men would drink Iron city or Rolling Rock beer with the pizza. We never ate pizza out when I was young.
PWWM: Do you think there’s such a thing as a perfect slice of pizza? Or even the best pizza? There are almost too many variables to consider!
Bob: When I was in 8th grade my friends started going to Mineo’s pizza on Murray Avenue in Squirrel hill. This is still my favorite. Others swore by Vincent’s in Forest Hills. They are totally different styles with Mineo’s being thinner with substantial amount of cheese. Vincent’s is thicker and greasier with a wonderful way of chopping up the pepperoni on it. It closed after he died recently, but I understand they are remodeling it to reopen.
PWWM: What is it about pizza that brings a group of people together?
Bob: I have had pizza every place in the world where I have gone. I love it and it is my favorite food. During my many trips to Italy I found the pizza there is very thin and served to individuals. I much more prefer the sharing among the group of people. This is why like the pizza groups. It is an excellent source of community to share pizza and conversation.
PWWM: What inspired you to start this pizza parade? Do you think it’s something that you could do with any food? Maybe hoagies? Or falafel?
Bob: A few years ago I went to a pizza group called From A-Z. They would schedule an evening at pizza shops starting an A then B and we would go through the alphabet. I enjoyed the variety and had some excellent pizzas and met new people. I decided in September to start it again on a weekly basis every Monday or Tuesday night. These are slow times restaurants and a single people living alone enjoy the opportunity to get out and share some food and conversation.
Yes it would be easy to do that same type of meet up with fish sandwiches or any other type of food. People are communal it like to gather to eat and talk. People want to meet new people.
PWWM: Do you think there’s such a thing as Pittsburgh Style Pizza?
Bob: I do not think that there is a specific pizza that is Pittsburgh style pizza.
You could argue that the pizza from around the Naples area which is not as thick as Sicilian and thicker than Roma but is in between and is more common in Pittsburgh.
PWWM: How have you seen pizza evolve through the years? Or do you think it has stagnated?
Bob: I have witnessed the change generations of the Minneo’s
From the passage of Mr. Mineo’s to his sons in the enlargement and remodeling of the location. When we first went there there is no seating there’s a tiny counter at the window you could rest your pizza on. We would go around the corner and sit on somebody’s steps and enjoy our pizza.
We were always careful to clean up after ourselves and place the empty wrapper some box in the trash.
PWWM: Why do you think pizza has weaved its way into American culture?
Bob: I think pizza is so popular because it is inexpensive and easy to make it taste wonderful.
You can order by the slice or the pie.
Pizza shops are everywhere. Pizza is on most menus.
Pizza is forever.