Fazio’s Pizza (pronounced Fay-Zios) rests at 4028 Penn Avenue where it’s been since 2010. This is far from a start-up pizza place, in fact, they use to have a shop further up Penn for 15 years before moving towards the border of Bloomfield and Lawrenceville. We’ll get more into their pizza philosophy tomorrow, but for now I’m going to examine the slice of pizza I snagged from Fazio’s.
John Fazio, the owner of Fazio’s pizza, use to travel from Pittsburgh to New Jersey to work at the Jersey pizza shops in the summer time as a kid. I don’t know if this was part of some pizza-exchange program, but the time spent in New Jersey has certainly left a mark on him as a pizza maker. His pizza can be mistaken for a New Jersey import. Fazio’s pizza contains equal amounts cheese and grease that mix together to create that classic pizza surface; something that looks like the surface of an alien planet.
The pizza I tried, and is pictured above, was of the plain variety. I found out too late that their pride and joy is a white pizza that hosts the rich creamy layer of ricotta that’s populated with diced tomatoes. Another time, I hope. By the time I got to eat my slice, the grease had taken over much in the way that vines overtake an abandoned house. What was once a crispy crust was now a flimsy foundation that could hardly support the cheese and sauce located on its second floor. Not to worry, it would make devouring the slice that much easier.
Not that eating this pizza was troublesome. The cheese wasn’t a choking hazard, and the sauce was rationed in a way that it wasn’t spilling over and burning my skin and mouth like so many overly-sauced pizzas have. The ingredients were few, but their synergy should not go unnoticed. Separately, the crust, cheese, and sauce would seem sparse and desert-esque, but together they created a humble entity that begged to be eaten.
Before I could write down any notes of significant, the pizza had vanished. I was left holding a sturdy crust that a bird of prey could land. Just as easily, a baby would have an easy time chewing through it. The flexibility of the crust was perfect for a pizza-grip and also a pleasure to eat without the aid of a liquid to wash it down.
The staff at Fazio’s works diligently to create a pizza experience you can count on with the same certainty that you know the sun will rise. Tasks are delegated among employees so the same people are doing the same thing every day. There’s one person who handles the dough, one person who handles the sauce, so on and so forth. This ensures that your Fazio’s experience is replicated reliably. You’ll never have to worry about leading your friends into this shop, as though you were the pied piper of pizza, only to be served a pizza alien to your tastebuds and made a fool.
Fazio’s is a delight to have in the Pittsburgh Pizza Community and they deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Mineo’s or Aiello’s pizza. Their persistence of consistency is reassuring and they treat their customers like family. While eating my slice in their shop, I heard someone taking an order use the person’s name repeatedly. “Anything on that pizza, Bob?” “Anything else, Bob?” “Thanks so much for ordering, Bob.” It’s good to know that they care about as much as their pizza as they do their customers.