A muse can take many forms. For some it's a beautiful partner, always lingering at their side with wisdom and guidance. For me it's a perfectly baked pizza and amazing lighting. I had extra footage from my visit to Driftwood Oven's new spot in Lawrenceville so I put it to some tunes.
Enjoy the video and if you've had a chance to make it to Driftwood Oven for their soft opening let me know how you enjoyed it!
Michigan & Trumbull's Packard Pepperoni, complete with pepperoni, peppers, follows of sauce and that gooey cheese.
Nestled into the corner of the newly built Federal Galley is a piece of Detroit in the form of Michigan & Trumbull. Michigan & Trumbull is helmed by Nathan and Kristin who are Detroit Natives that bake delicious Detroit Style pizza. Detroit Style pizzas has started leaking out of Detroit and into other metropolitan areas the past five years. According to Tony Gemignani's Pizza Bible, the rise in popularity is tied to Shawn Randazzo, cofounder of Detroit Style Pizza Company, entering and winning the International Pizza Challenge in 2012. Around that time fan favorites Via 313 popped up in Austin which stoked interest in Detroit Style pizza. With Pittsburgh host to two Detroit Style places I guess you can say that it's finally a thing.
Michigan & Trumbull creates my favorite version of Detroit Style pizza. There's a fine line pizza makers have to walk between making a thick sicilian style pizza that's filled with oil and true Detroit style that is outlined by a caramelized crust filled with flavor. A quality pie has a hint of sweetness that blends nicely with the grease of pepperonis lined up on each square.
Up close with the Packard Pepperoni.
And biting into a Packard Pepperoni is complex. It doesn't taste like any other kind of pizza. The cheese, caramelization of the crust, pepperoni, peppers, and honey blend together to create a cacophony of flavor. A new species of pizza deserving of its own classification.
It's honestly a bit overwhelming and foreign at first. But, with each bite comes another shred of enlightenment. Between chews I found myself understanding the strategic profile of the pizza.
"Ah, okay, so that drizzle of honey is causing the sweetness which blends nicely with the goopy cheese."
"Those peppers add just the right amount of heat."
"The edges of this crust somehow don't even taste like dough, but as if someone laminated it in a sweet crunchy shell."
Butkeep eating and you'll completely understand each individual flavor in these squares. It's a lot to take in at once, but by your third square you'll find yourself craving more and accelerating towards the finish.
Eating the Packard Pepperoni is fun, almost like solving a brain tickling puzzle. With each bite I uncovered a new flavor which kept me yearning for more. I've actually taken breaks from writing this to take small nibbles of the piece I brought home to share with my wife.
I look forward to trying each and every pizza that Michigan & Trumbull has on their menu. I see them adding a ton to the rich Pittsburgh Pizza Tapestry and I'm so glad they chose to bring their take on Detroit Style Pizza to Pittsburgh.
Looking forward to eating my way through the Michigan & Trumbull menu.
You can find them at the newly opened Federal Galley on the North Shore.
Tony at Pizza Taglio is constantly testing out new things in his pizza kitchen. Some days he'll bring out a plate of cheeses from exotic locales, other days he's working on perfecting a calzone filled with ricotta and nutella.
I was lucky enough to be hanging out in Tony's kitchen the night he made Sicilian pizza. The dough rose for two days and was cooked in a pan, giving it a crispy exterior and a soft interior. With a smile on his face he told me how bewildered pizza eaters are to find that the cheese goes underneath the sauce in a Sicilian pie.
"Little do they know it's to prevent the cheese from burning." Genius. And look - it bubbles up to the top naturally.
You can watch a video of the pizza being made up above. It's a tiered process—as the pizza cooks you add more items on top of it. In total it took about 20 minutes to cook a single pie.
I couldn't keep my mits off it. It was crunchy and soft. The sauce was made a few hours before. The sauce contained a single anchovy. I don't know if it made a difference, perhaps because the total package was so delicious. I didn't have time to think about the effects a single fish could have on an amazing pizza. Thinking about it now...is it possible a single fish could impact the flavor of the pizza? Hmm...
I hope this becomes a staple of Pizza Taglio's menu. It's the perfect pizza to share with pals. As you work your way towards the center you find yourself in the midst of a pizza mess. Sauce and cheese gloop every which way. It's then that you drop your guard and simply enjoy the pizza. No need to worry about a mess or looking good for whomever. A deliciously sloppy pizza will warm your spirit and instill pizza confidence into your soul.
Pizza Dojo 3: Driftwood Oven vs Pizza Boat, a match of the millennia
When last we left the Pizza Boat gang, they were serving up pies against Rick Easton's exquisite Bread + Salt pizza, hoping a loss wouldn't send them to the nether realm of pizza: Slice Island.
That was back in July of 2014. Since then pizza empires have risen and crumbled into nothingness. The sauce that flooded the streets after Pizza Dojo 2 has dried up and crusted around the gutters. The world was quiet and peace was brought to Pittsburgh's pizza world.
That is, until Driftwood Oven showed up. Seemingly inspired by Pizza Boat, Driftwood Oven is a mobile pizza unit that travels around the city, hangs outside of breweries and even has a semi-permanent residence at The Vandal every Sunday. Driftwood Oven has taken over the mobile pizza game.
Neil serves up some pizzas in the heart of Greenfield.
Pizza Boat sensed a disturbance. They broke free of their Slice Island prison in the basement of the Spirit Lodge and warned Driftwood Oven of their trespassing.
didnt get out there too much this yr but props to @DriftwoodOven for lowering the bar & widening the void of quality pizza. always next year
Pizza Boat was ruthless in their criticism of Driftwood Oven. Was it jealousy? Did Pizza Boat lose faith in their craft and now resort to lashing out at their competition? No one said the pizza business was easy, but some folks think that Pizza Boat went too far.
With one final insult, Pizza Boat hit the right button and Driftwood Oven caved into their demands.
those are strong words @DriftwoodOven
are you sure you wanna do this? you already jumped the gun on buying an oven
No one is sure what happens during a Pizza Dojo. Do the pizza gods momentarily stop their work to witness to pizzerias slice and dice to the death? Anthropologists think that the Pizza Dojo is an ancient ritual performed by pizzaiolos during 5,000 B.C. The purpose was to find who was building the best pizzas, with the winners being sent into isolation to refine their pizza technique. That's how Italy was established.
In the modern era, Pizza Dojo is used a last resort to settle pizza disputes. It's the modern day "Bring your six-shooter, kiss your kids goodbye and meet me in town center at high noon." In the Pizza Dojo, there can only be one winner.
Driftwood Oven declined to comment about the Pizza Dojo. They are masters of their craft who prefer to focus on their dough than chilidish antics. There's no doubt that Neil is tinkering with a revolutionary dough recipe that will make Pizza Boat look like fools.
Driftwood Oven taking the high road is honorable, but, this may be their undoing. The Pizza Dojo is no place for rules or honor. A sense of pride only gets in the way of victory.
Since Pizza Boat has lost their souls during the Pizza Dojo: Anticrust event (which was technically Pizza Dojo 3), I'm confident they'll pull out any tricks to emerge victorious.
That’s not humidity clinging to your body. Those aren’t beads of sweat forming on the bridge of your sweat. Those are droplets of grease; our atmosphere is ever-changing but right now the climate is stunningly pro-pizza. Staggeringly so. There was a time where the best pizza in Pittsburgh was locked in a 50 year old pizza house that hasn’t changed their formula in years. Now, you need a Pizza Tour Guide to help you scout out and find every pizza gem in the city. You could spend an entire day eating pizza and barely scratch Pittsburgh’s doughy surface.
Pittsburgh swells with innovation, health, bike lanes and great food. Bakery Square is becoming its own personal pan pizza with every amenity and topping to keep residents from venturing outside its crusty walls.
Luxury apartments are going up in Lawrenceville, The Strip and any place where water is nearby, like a family of sea monkeys brought to life with some of earth’s water. Where once you could see a bright yellow bridge you instead see a new PNC building or a hotel. Contractors can hardly finish their Primanti’s sandwich between having to tear down old warehouses and build rows of apartments. Whatever yeast has been sitting dormant in Pittsburgh is now beginning to proof.
It’s all exciting stuff and there’s no doubt that Pittsburgh is growing fast. But to me the true testament of growth for a city is the wealth of pizza options. Whereas a few years ago answering “Best Pizza in Pittsburgh?” took a moment. It was a dry question, easy to swallow and easier to spit back up.
Just a stack of Pizza al Taglio
But answering that question today? Man, you have to narrow it down. Do you mean neapolitan pizza? Roman? New York style pizza? Wood-fired oven? Brick oven? Vegan? Gluten free? Which neighborhood? Delivery? Sit down? The age-old pizza question is impossible to answer without specifying what pizza breed you’re talking about.
Because the secret is that the best Pizza in Pittsburgh is everywhere, and most of it didn't exist five years ago.
Some of Pittsburgh’s best pizza comes from Bread and Salt, a bread shop in Bloomfield. They’ve received nation attention for their pizza al taglio, which is the second place in Pittsburgh that is bringing that Roman delight to Pittsburgh. The second being Pizza Taglio in East Liberty, and both are thriving.
Then of course you have your utility pizza. This is the kind of pizza crave after a night of drinking, after a hard day of work, and when it’s too hot or too cold outside. It’s pizza you convince yourself you need when life is tossing a few sucker punches your way. These days, every neighborhood has easy access to one or two of these shops. I can actually walk outside my door in Lawrenceville be outside The Pizza Company, Fazio’s or Graziano’s in two minutes.
Slice on Broadway keeps Beechview flowing with pizza.
Grab your dead cat and swing it around your head. I’m confident your cat corpse will graze against a building that contains bags of cheese, a dough mixer and pumps out pizzas frantically on Sunday and feeds the masses Friday and Saturday night.
The delicious grease can be found in any neighborhood no matter the price of real estate. Can you believe the author of The Pizza Bible, Tony Gemignani, chose Caliente (Yeah, Caliente in Bloomfield) spent his one day making pizza in Pittsburgh. Caliente doesn’t have a steep legacy of feeding the Steelers. They aren’t written about in the New York Times. But the folks at Caliente care and they put their heart into the pies they make. And every pizza that they make perks Bloomfield up just a little bit more.
Beyond pizzerias there is a wave of mobile pizza units sprouting around Pittsburgh. Like the seeds of a dandelion plant blowing through town, you never quite know when you’ll stumble into a mobile pizza unit. A cart, a truck, a table with a quaint tent and an oven is all anyone needs. Pow - you got pizza in your zipcode.
Pizza Boat, one of the first Pittsburgh mobile units, served up some of the best pizza in Pittsburgh. They're now at home at Slice Island at Spirit Lodge in Lawrenceville.
I try to eat at as many mobile units that I can, mostly because the reaction from natives is always new. “Where did yinz come from?” they’ll ask, their tattered Polamalu jersey flowing in the wind. With each question they come to terms with the idea that there’s pizza available a block from their house today, but tomorrow they’ll be gone. Those that give in are rewarded with fresh ingredients, most are sourced locally, and an investment in a unit that could become a weekly staple in their neighborhood.
Between Driftwood Oven, Flatbread Pizza, and The Brownstone, you have a Ringling Bros. Pizza Circus forming.
Spak Brothers organized a pizza eating contest at this year's Pizza Fest.
Most of the pizzerias I listed here didn’t exist five years ago. And no one is showing signs of slowing down. Pittsburgh never got too fancy with their pizza. It was a Friday night thing for a long time. Slowly and surely, Pizza is evolving in Pittsburgh. Its tentacles are finding its way into all aspects of the city, integrating itself with the steel core.
Pizza is so personal to every citizen because it’s introduced to us at such a young age and so often. Fridays after school you’d get pizza. Sleepovers you’d have pizza. If you read a book you got pizza. Kid’s love it and it’s affordable. As we develop pizza binds itself to our DNA. Whether we realize it or not pizza is a dish that has made a tremendous impact on us all. It’s a food for everyone.
When I delivered pizzas it wasn’t uncommon to take two pies out for delivery, one to a house that looked like could have been a half-way house and the other being a tiny mansion in the city. The only difference being the amount of 2-Litre Pepsi bottles I had to carry up their steps.
Before long Pittsburgh won’t be heralded for its medical advancements or sports teams. Or its education institutions or livability. Or whatever criteria someone decides to use to rank cities. Pittsburgh will be known far and wide for its illustrious pizza eco-system. And the fact that this basic food is thriving in Pizza is all you need to see to see that Pittsburgh is doing better than ever.
Pizza is a food of the people. As Pittsburgh grows and thrives it only makes sense that more pizza shops open up to meet the demand of every Pittsburgher.
What a week it’s been in Pittsburgh Pizza news! As Pittsburgh begins to turn the heat up, pizza season is in full swing. Well, it’s less of a “swing” and more of “pizza season continues per usual.”
Let’s get to the pizza news for this week.
Mobile Pizza Downtown
I was interviewing a fellow pizza lover the other day and he expressed his sadness for the lack of mobile pizza units. He wondered where Pizza Boat had sailed off to (they’re at the Spirit Lodge, fyi) and why there was no other pizza unit to fill their void.
Well, as it turns out there’s the Wood Fired Flatbreads truck. They pop-up in downtown Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill, and a few other places around the city. They seem a bit less cool than the Pizza Boat, but it looks like they do a great job of making you a pizza on a city sidewalk.
Well, I have more news on the PNC Pizza front. Have you heard of Pizza Logs? It’s not a combination of pizza and Lincoln Logs. It’s a rolled up pizza. That you can build a pizza house out of, I guess?
There they are! They’re a new addition to the pizza landscape at PNC Park. Next time you’re at PNC Park, try out a Pizza Log and let me know what you think. They seem like something you’d want to eat at a baseball game.
Pizza Fest Fills Lawrenceville
I conducted a ton of interviews at Pizza Fest; I spoke with the owners of Spak and Pizza Parma. I interviewed pizza enthusiasts. I even spoke to the folks behind the Pizza Pinup competition! I’ll have videos and interviews with those folks coming this week, but I wanted to share some photos from the event.
It was legit crazy. So glad it’s an event that exist in Pittsburgh.
Hi. Pizza is a food that can strike at any moment. During a party, during sad times and during the times of your life that you’ll remember for ages to come. To ensure you’re always near a pizza shop I’m going to do my best to educate you about the best pizza you can digest in nearly any scenario. Today, we’ll talk about pizza strategy for a Pittsburgh Pirate’s game.
Summer is approaching and with the heat, humidity and moderate amount of quality Pittsburgh sunshine comes baseball. To cheer on the Buccos you’re going to need some good pizza.
Here’s some pizza places to eat at when you go to a Pittburgh Pirate’s Game.
Giovanni’s employees a clumsy italian man who’s only job is to drop his biscotti and, when he bends over to pick it up, use his rotund rump to knock a canister of sugar into a vat of their sauce.
With that in mind, this is the kind of pizza place you go to if you have kids tagging along for a hot day at the park. The sweetness of the pizza will cut though any attitude and perk up toddlers and teens alike. Their palates won’t mind the sweetness and you’ll happily choke this down.
Eat this pizza when: The Pirates play the Atlanta Braves. It’s the pizza version of sweet tea and will really get you into the southern spirit.
Diamond Pizza in PNC Park
Image credit: Pizza Pizazz
When I was a child and my dad took me to baseball games at Three Rivers Stadium I would cry in my seat until he returned with pizza. I was a pouty kid, the kind of kid who would throw a vacuum cleaner down the steps for no reason. So, when the pizza finally arrived I’d take a sabbatical from crying from nothing and instead cry that the pizza tasted too much like wine.
My dad never gave me wine so I had no frame of reference, but it was gross enough that I would choke down half the pizza and call it quits. I think that pizza was Pizza Hut pizza.
Anyways, Diamond Pizza Place does not taste like wine. It’s a solid place to get pizza inside the ballpark.
Eat this pizza when: The Pirates play the New York Yankees. They’ll sell you a big ol’ NY slice of pizza. Then, when AJ Burnett walks a guy you can shout (in a sloppy New York accent) “Hey, I’m walking here!”
Stone Neapolitan Pizzeria
Stone pizza combines the Chipotle / Henry Ford assembly line mentality with the frugality and practicalness of an Italian grandmother who follows her heart to make a warm, gooey pizza. You pick the toppings, sauce and oil and the pizzaiolo behind the counter will fix you up a pizza faster than Marte can run the bases.
Eat this pizza when: The Pirates play the Cubs. You can eat authentic, fancy pizza and brag that the pizza was made faster than it takes to cut a single slice of their thick Chicago Pizza.
Monte Cello’s is the pizzeria you went with your high school sweetheart after a high school football game. After your ninth refill of Pepsi, six slices of pizza and a win for the home team you were filled with the feeling invincibility and enough gas to float a hot air balloon over the Grand Canyon.
There’s a Monte Cello’s downtown that exists to pay homage to your childhood. Every slice that comes out of that oven is sprinkled with a proprietary blend of parmesan, pepper and nostalgia.
Eat this pizza when: The Pirates play the team from the hometown you moved from so you could go to CMU / work for Google.
On the other end of the Rachel Carson bridge is Pizza Parma. It’s a pizza shop that exists on an ever-changing corner, except it is untouched by time. Pizza Parma adheres to no rules but their own and they’re not rules you’ll ever be familiar with.
Their slices are large, cheesy and capable of absorbing any poisons that linger in your stomach. It is both a panacea and a hinderance to your health. Choose from the Barnyard Special, the Taco Pizza, or the BBQ Chicken pizza.
Eat this pizza when: The Pirates are playing an unimportant game and you’re mostly there to tailgate, roll into the stadium in the fourth inning and boo Ryan Braun
Special Shoutout to the Beer Market
The Beer Market, located right next to PNC Park, turns the BYOB formula on its head. They have hundreds of beers to choose from and they welcome you to bring in any food. But really, you’re going to bring pizza.
You can grab pizza from any of the places above, bring it to the Beer Market and enjoy a number of beers. Getting a seat can be a strategic undertaking, but if you’re cunning and persistent you’ll have no problem.
Now you’re prepared to eat pizza next time you go to a Pirate’s game. If you enjoyed this, go ahead and tell a bud or two! You can even sign up for my pizza newsletter to get great stuff like this delivered directly to your inbox.
Another week in Pittsburgh, another week of pizza news that you have got to be devouring. So much news, in fact, that Bill Peduto mentioned to me during the half marathon that he’s thinking of turning The Point into a slice of pizza.
The fountain would of course erupt with tomato sauce and cheese to alert citizens of any important pizza news.
Crazy but totally true. But hey, let’s talk Pittsburgh Pizza News & Happenings.
As part of the Pittsburgh Pizza Fest there will be a Pittsburgh Pizza Pinup Contest. Here’s a quote from the Facebook page for the event:
We’ll be offering a chance to be part of our Pizza Pinup calendar for 2016 that will be in pizza shops all over Pittsburgh!
Bring your best pizza outfit and pose with a greasy slice for a chance to win.
A Pizza Photojournal
If I had a motorcycle I’d pop wheelies 24/7 and peel out on my way from pizza place to pizza place. I’d ride into the sunset, launch off a ramp and land on a cushion of cheese.
I’d wear a jacket made out of uneaten pizza crust and my helmet would be a greasy pizza box.
Some motorcycle owners drive their motorcycles to every pizza place in Western Pennsylvania. Some motorcycle owners start a pizza journal.
Meet The Pizza Journal. It’s an Instagram account manned by two dudes with motorcycles who eat pizza. It’s a smart use of the medium and a great way to distribute bite-sized pizza thoughts.
They are really keen on discovering the flaves.
The Best Pizza in Pittsburgh in Thrillist
I’ve never met a “Best Pizza” list I’ve agreed with. Which is probably a good thing—if we all had the same opinions on pizza then every pizza shop in Pittsburgh would just be a replica of Spak Brothers.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to this list of on the Thrillist. It’s a smattering of interesting pizza places in Pittsburgh that would show up in any Reddit comment thread about pizza.
Most pizza list adheres to an ancient architecture. Which usually contains:
Alright! That’s a wrap for this week’s Pittsburgh Pizza Update. I’m working on some interviews, videos, and more which I’ll sprinkle into the website in the coming days. Tell your favorite message board! Tell a pizza shop! Or sign up for my pizza newsletter!
Listen, I think we’re ready for a regular pizza column here in Pittsburgh. What’s crazy is that such a weekly column could even be possible. As Pittsburgh continues to appear on random top 10 lists that circulate around my Facebook feed, Pizza is still one of the most important advancements in this city. And quietly, there have been major shifts in the Pittsburgh pizza landscape. Which is amazing. Now when you have visitors coming into Pittsburgh and they say “Hey, pal, let’s get some good pizza” you’ll have options outside of Mineo’s.
In classic Pittsburgh fashion, we have pizza makers that started their journey in Brooklyn, NY that have returned to Pittsburgh to make a difference. A real difference.
We have pizza makers that have traveled to Italy and know actual real-life pizzaiolos. We have restaurant owners and creators that are friendly enough to rub elbows and throw down in pizza competitions that rival the WWE in their histrionic storylines.
Of course, it can’t be all good news. You can’t have progress without a few casualties in the pizza arena. And yes, unfortunately Pizza Cono had to shut down and move on. I tried to support them and spread their cone-shaped gospel, but sometimes the public just isn’t interested in stark change. It’s unsettling on one level and unorthodox on another. Being surrounded by Pittsburgh pizza institutions probably didn’t help.
Which leads us to your Pittsburgh Pizza Update.
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Pizza Update
Once a week I’ll write some updates about the pizza happenings in Pittsburgh. I’ve talked with folks who think this isn’t possible. They think there isn’t enough pizza news happening. And ya know, I sincerely doubt that. Because pizza melted its way into this country’s core fabric.
And, if Pittsburgh runs out of events I can always hit up scottspizzatours, because if he’s not counting his pizza boxes he’s judging some underground pizza competition in Brazil which is equally fascinating.
Let’s talk pizza.
Pizza al Taglio is Cutting its Way into Pittsburgh
Pizza al Taglio originated in Rome and is typically sold by the gram. It’s square and cooked in a tray. It’s not the Sicilian pizza you get from any other pizza shop. No, it’s much better. Pizza al Taglio is often made from a cold-fermented dough, meaning the pizza you eat is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Something like this.
That’s a fine looking pizza mattress.
Pizza al Taglio is considered takeaway pizza, or something you grab on your way to your next appointment. “Taglio” actually means “to cut” in Italian, so it is literally just a cut of pizza. If you’re reading this and in a hurry, rest assured that you have time to swoop into one of the two pizza shops in Pittsburgh that serve Pizza al Taglio and still make whatever appointment you have next on your agenda.
If you’re in East Liberty you can visit Pizza Taglio. Tony runs the shop down there and if you’ve ever had the pizza at Espresso a Mano, you’ve had Tony’s pizza. His shop opened a short while ago and he’s actually running out of pizza. That’s the best sentence I’ve ever typed.
Here’s Tony showing off his pizza at Espresso a Mano. Also, Matt (who runs Espresso a Mano) told me that Tony is still hoping to supply Espresso a Mano with pizza on Saturdays.
If you’re in Bloomfield you can pop into Bread & Salt. They’re deep into Pearl Street and worth seeking out. I haven’t had their pizza yet, but I’ve popped in and had some of their baked goods. If their pizza is half as good as the rosemary, basil cookie I had then we’re in great hands.
I have an interview with Tony I’m currently editing together, so look forward to that in the next few days.
Back from the Dead - Pizza Boat Sails Again
What a twist, right? Pizza Boat, some of the best pizza in Pittsburgh, has found a permanent home on Slice Island. If you have your pizza map in front of you you’ll know that Slice Island is inside the Spirit Lodge, a new event hall / bar / space in Lawrenceville, close to 51st street.
While I always admired the nomadic spirit of Pizza Boat, I’m glad they’ve found a permanent home. But is it permanent? Who knows with these folks. They start a beef with a new adversary every week, so it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in pizza purgatory. God bless em!
Alright! That’s the first Pittsburgh Pizza Update. I’m working on some interviews, videos, and more which I’ll sprinkle into the website in the coming days. If you like what you read tell your friend! Tell your favorite message board! Tell a pizza shop! Or sign up for my pizza newsletter!
Scott also told me that Penn Mac holds a special place in Tony’s heart. In the Pizza Bible, Tony mentions Penn Mac 13 times, citing the specialty store as a “source for true Italian ingredients.” And he not wrong. I buy all my type 00 flour and cheese for pizza there!
Tony Gemignani is a guy who knows pizza. In fact, he wrote The Pizza Bible. This is a well-known book in the world of pizza that helps pizzaiolos decode all of the wonderful pizza secrets.
Does that mean this is the Rosetta Stone of pizza and now you’ll be able to communicate with your pie? I’m not saying it’s not.
This Friday, February 13th, Valentine’s Day Eve (a day I use to declare my love for pizza) the author of the pizza bible, Tony Gemignani, will be visiting Pittsburgh. He’ll spend the morning at Penn Mac where he’ll be doing a book signing. In the evening he’ll pop over to Caliente Pizza & Draft House from 6pm to 8pm to sign books and talk pizza.
I’m really excited and I’m hoping to get a chance to interview Tony. He probably has some amazing insights in the world of pizza. Hope to see you at Caliente this Friday!
Slice on Broadway sits along the train line in Beechview. Rico, one of the founders of Slice on Broadway, brings fresh toppings, meats and cheeses to your traditional New York style pizza.
Slice on Broadway is unassuming. At first glance you’d think it was just another shop trying to compete with Fiori’s. But it’s more than that, it’s delicious, fresh and friendly. Rico spares no expense when it comes to pizza. Every bite and crunch of a crust emits a “thank you.” It’s like Rico and his team make every pie especially for you, their valued customer.
It’s sad when some of the best pizza in Pittsburgh goes into hibernation, but I’m sure they’ll come back stronger, sturdier, and more delicious than ever.
I was going through my pizza archives when I found some photos I took of a Pizza Boat outing that I never published. My friend Mark wanted to meet me in the Strip District after a morning of tailgating. He was walking from Heinz Field to 20th St in the Strip just for pizza.
It was the only type of sustenance that could save him at that point in his life.
We each had our own pie. I defaulted to the classic margherita and he chose the white pizza topped with arugula as green as Kermit’s coat and cheese that spread itself around the pizza without a care in the world. Carefree cheese is the best cheese. It fills your insides with an aura of optimism that makes you feel like you can digest an unlimited amount of pizza.
Here’s Mark who cannot wait to get that pizza in his mouth. He was even willing to meet the slice half-way like estranged parents meet up to exchange kids for the weekend.
Shouting his name to look at the camera at this point was no good. He was in the zone. Tranced out on pizza. To him he had reached nirvana. And it was only slightly oily.
After eating his pizza he was out of sorts. He kept mumbling about a higher existence and trailed off mid-thought to look in the distance. Was he seeing a truer reality than the one I’m experiencing? Did the pizza knock something loose in his mind?
Mark was a changed man after his Pizza Boat experience.
It’s not too late to get on the Pizza Boat and drift off into your own personal pizza nirvana.
We must come together as a community, as pizza brothers and sisters, to stop evil from winning and destroying pizza as we know it. As humans we have a moral obligation to pizza. It’s a gift from the heavens and if we turn our back on pizza we may see the gateway to the divine crumble.
I wasn’t able to make it to The Return to Pizza Dojo, a pizza competition between pizzaboatpgh and Bread and Salt, but pizza freelancer Chad “Mozzarella” McMutrie put together this special report.
Chad blends together the best parts of a Rick Sebak special and adds in the poignant nature of Ira Glass to deliver, what I think, is some stellar reporting. Is the evening just about making the best pizza? Who are these competitors anyways? What is it about pizza that brings together an entire city?
Chad does his best to answer these questions and capture the essence of The Return to Pizza Dojo.
For a long time Pittsburgh has suffered from stale pizza competition. Well, lack of competition, really. There’s the “Mineo’s vs Aiello’s” battle, which has become too convenient for the common Pittsburgher. If there was actually competition between the two we would see pizza innovation! New recipes, new technology. Instead, it’s the equivalent of two old folks sitting on opposite porches groaning at each other.
For the past few weeks they’ve killed it next to Bar Marco. Cranking out some of the best pizza Pittsburgh has ever seen. Fresh, smart, and just perfect. It introduced a level of pizza that blows the standards out of the water.
But there’s a competitor in town that is willing to answer the call for pizza competitors: Bread + Salt.
The Return to Pizza Dojo will open old wounds, stuff them with fresh basil, and cauterize the wound shut with some hot mozzarella. In the wake of the Pizza Dojo will be sauce, dough, cheese, and a few bruised pizzaiolos. And you need to be there to witness it on Friday, July 25th, at Bar Marco.
But this is the price of progress. This is what it takes to spur the Pittsburgh pizza landscape that’s willing to crown a pizza place other than Mineo’s as “the best pizza.” This is the beginning of a long pizza journey, young grasshopper.
That graffiti is mysterious to say the least. Is this the first we’re seeing of a Joker-caliber villain who’s running a secret pizza cartel here in Pittsburgh?
The image looks like a royal pizza cutter. A scepter that is used to both rule over royal subjects and cut a royal pizza. Perhaps a throw back to Queen Margherita, the namesake of the classic margherita pizza.
Just when I thought I was beginning to grasp the concept, I received these replies:
P-P-P-P-Pizza Montage of the incredibly mobile pizzaboatpgh. Wonder at their mobile wood fired oven. Gasp at the freshness of their ingredients. Nearly faint as you witness their near-flawless craftsmanship and passion make its way into every inch of a pizza.
I love pizza. And I especially love pizza that’s within striking distance of my home. If I can walk a few blocks and return with a piping hot pie that I can eat in the safety of my pizza-proof home, I’m yours.
Pizza Boat dropped anchor down the street from me a few weeks ago and I had to pay a visit. Back in February someone asked me if I had eaten from the deck of the Pittsburgh Pizza Boat. I finally did, and it was as equally exciting as discovering a trove of buried treasure.
I interviewed Jeff Ryan, who’s a co-founder of Pizza Boat. He was doing a lot of the cooking and I’m thankful he took a few minutes to talk to me about what makes the Pizza Boat special. Caution: This video is full of amazing pizza and top-tier craftsmanship.
I loved the Pizza Boat and I predict big things coming from them in the future. I’m particularly fond of their nomad lifestyle. You never know where they’ll pop up, but if you see them you can bet it’s a place you want to be.
You can keep up with them on Twitter and they seem to have a calendar on their website. Get out your binoculars. compass and map. Your mission is to track down pizzaboatpgh today.