It’s not often I travel to the North Side. If I do it’s for the Mattress Factory or heading to the Pour House for Rock N’ Roll Karaoke. One time I even planted a tree on the North Side! But that was so long ago. In my adventures, I never would have once stumbled upon Pizza Pescara. It’s on the highest heights of of the North Side surrounded by graveyards, defunct businesses, and a car wash that would probably make your car dirtier. It’s not the thriving cultural epicenter of pizza.
A few months ago I handed out a coupon for a free pizza to the coworker that could come up for the best name for a new product. Justin won and yesterday he decided to redeem his coupon. It wasn’t quite a “break glass incase of emergency” situation, but we were both craving pizza pretty hard. Ready for a pizza adventure we piled into a car and drove to the summit of Brighton road to visit Pizza Pescara.
Preparing for the trip wasn’t easy. There’s no web presence whatsoever save for a few Urban Spoon reviews. Sometimes the best pizza is also the hardest to find. Mostly because they aren’t trying to impress anyone, they’re just plugging along doing what they do best.
Pizza Pescara has been open for three years and what do they have to show for it? Almost nothing save for a simple mixer behind the counter. I wish we could’ve showed up while they were mixing dough, maybe that’s something I have to call ahead for? Their “dining area” is bare, save for Pittsburgh sports memorabilia. So, pretty typical Pittsburgh pizza experience.
The first thing I noticed about Pizza Pescara was that their prices are out of this world cheap. We went into this expecting to order a medium pizza. The perfect size for two adults who don’t want to overeat and suffer the latter half of the work day. Unexpectedly, the cashier directed us towards a cruddy black-and-white coupon laminated to the counter. He was kind enough to inform us that by using the power of this coupon we could get a large one topping pizza for less than a medium plain pizza ($8!). That’s my kind of pizza logic. A large it is.
There’s the pizza, in all its Pescara’s glory. Note how the cheese isn’t evenly cooked and, in fact, is even missing from a few areas. It’s not a bad thing, but something I’ve never seen before. I’m digging the crispy-cheese line halfway down the pizza, almost like a checkpoint of your pizza progress. “Congrats, you’ve made it halfway,” it’s saying. Beautiful and functional!
I found the cheese to be too thick at some times and almost non-existent at others. Most of the cheese laid atop the pizza like a shell, waiting to be removed to get to the guts of the slice. Which is fine, because the sauce here is outstanding. I spoke to the owner about it and he told me they purposefully make the sauce thicker than most other places. It’s spicy, hearty, and is the real star of the pizza show.
I found the crust to be fluffy and a bit chewy. It wasn’t terrible, but I don’t think it added anything to the situation.
Pizza Pescara is just plodding along and just making ends meet, according to Mike, an employee (and maybe owner?). It’s a shame, because for it existing in North Side equivalent of Everest’s Dead Zone, it’s fairly good pizza. That sauce is unreal and worth the trip. Not the best pizza, but an interesting take on the classic.
I give it four out of five pizzas.