Remember when I was on the radio talking about pizza? Oh, no? Well I was summoned by the spirits of pizza and delivered to the studios at Star 100.7 to judge Pittsburgh’s finest pizza.
Things got messy.
How could it not? Imagine being in a room with 11 other pizza judges are sleepy pizza delivery people make their way out to Green Tree at 7am to deliver pies that were once piping hot. Their trip through the tunnels and the resulting traffic, has zapped them of much of their enthusiasm After the journey, the pizza emerged, but changed. Like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon. But this metamorphosis was less beautiful, and more, well, tired. The pizza was very tired of being a pizza and it showed. But pizza wasn’t meant to travel else it would have grown wings and fly itself to the destination.
Sure it’s wheel-shaped, but that’s only for looks. I’m telling you this because that is a very important caveat when it comes to judging pizza and, one of the most challenging aspects. When you’re eating aged pizza you have to be able to assess what the pizza was like. Can your tastebuds time travel? No, but it must be able to reverse engineer the pizza to understand what it tasted like two hours ago when it birth from the oven.
But that didn’t deter us one bit. We were bubbling over with enthusiasm. The possibility of becoming one with so many pizzas at 7am was exactly what we dreamed of as kids. “Mom, I promise I’ll do all my homework if I can just not go to school and eat pizza then take naps all day.” Okay. Sure. And then pizzas started showing up.
These pizzas were nothing less than ostentatious. The majority of which were piled high with meats, cheeses, and wacky sauces. These pizzas leaned more towards meat cornucopia and stretched the definition of pizza.
Of course, on the opposite end of the spectrum was the avant garde types that left many judges scratching their head at what exactly they were looking at. Let’s just assume that many of these minimalist pizzas were ahead of their time.
The pizza makers tried to impress the judges by showing us that, yes, they could add a Jenga-style tower of meat on top of their sturdy crust. Did they think we’d be impressed by the lake of grease it left behind? Or the heaps of garlic that would have dissolved any vampire within a mile radius?
These two pizzas above didn’t win anything - which is too bad! Because in their own way they were delicious. Just not after their journey. Or at 7am. And after 16 pizzas the judges spoke and one pizza rose above the others.
This little sliver of a pizza. A humble pizza. This was chosen instead of the monstrous piles or meats or overly complex slices we were served. This wasn't decadent but one of the simplest slices of pizza a human could create. If Indiana Jones were looking for the Slice of a Carpenter, he would choose this one. And choose wisely.
The winning pizza belonged to Pizza Parma located in Shady Side on Highland Ave. It best epitomized what pizza is. A fun, simple experience, that reminds you that sometimes the most simple things in life are the best things.