Well, despite it feeling as if we’ve traveled into the near future here in Pittsburgh, with the 70 degree weather, it’s still only the end of February and the individual conference tournaments that will filter into the NCAA March Madness brackets are about to get started over the next week. If you listen closely you can hear Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas greasing each other up in anticipation. We can take the Doppler effect of Dicky V’s approaching “Yeah Baby!”‘s as a sign that it’s time for us to get serious about who is going to make it into the Pizza Madness bracket. Today, we will prognosticate who may make it into the dance.
Who Is Definitely In?
These places are the heavily favored powerhouses that have, basically, already punched their ticket to the dance. These are the Duke, UNC, Kansas, and Kentuckys of the Pittsburgh pizza game and already have their places set at the table. Overused cliches notwithstading, here are the pizzas that will, no doubt, be eaten and judged by me (and hopefully you) in the coming month:
2128 Murray Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217
2112 Murray Ave # 1, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
5107 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
103 Capital Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15226
|Pizza Taglio||East Liberty
126 S Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
5523 Walnut St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
4624 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
512 Perry Hwy, Pittsburgh, PA 15229
4109 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
|Slice on Broadway||Beechview
2128 Broadway Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216
242 51st St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
4065 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
1473 Banksville Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15216
3801 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201
|Il Pizzaiolo||Mt. Lebanon
703 Washington Rd, Mt Lebanon, PA 15228
5996 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
|La Tavola||Mt. Washington
1 Boggs Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211
824 Chartiers Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15220
123 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
|Monte Cello’s||Ross Twp.
2198 Babcock Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15209
|A’Pizza Badamo||Mt. Lebanon
656 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228
|Pizza House (Police Station Pizza)||Ambridge
1007 Merchant St, Ambridge, PA 15003
618 Duss Ave Ambridge, PA 15003
998 Ardmore Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15221
207 21st St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
I’ve been to some of these places and those would be my favorites like Mineo’s, Fiori’s, Spak, Slice Island, Beto’s, Cello’s, Graziano’s, and Pizza Co. It doesn’t take Alan Turing to notice the pattern here. A lot of my favorite places are in close proximity to my neighborhood. I’m aware of the bias, but that’s what this tournament is all about! I’m gonna try ’em all so I can definitively enthrone the top dog. I can’t wait to dig into some of these long standing favorites that I’ve yet to consume. I’ve never had a Vinny Pie. I’ve never tried Police Station Pizza. For fuck’s sake, I’ve never eaten Slice on Broadway! Therefore, it is my duty to do so in the name of this competition.
On The Bubble
While the aforementioned 25 might be the favorites, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a Cinderella story with those who are currently on the bubble. There are some fantastic pizzas in the list below, but some of them are bubblicious just because of their proximity to Pittsburgh. Should I really consider Greensburg, Washington, and Beaver as “Pittsburgh” pizza places? I’m honestly not sure. So this is my final plea to convince me to include any of these places below.
|Bella Notte||Strip District 1914 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222|
|Fazio’s||Lawrenceville 4028 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224|
|Sciulli’s||Oakland 3404 Fifth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213|
|Proper Brick Oven||Downtown 139 7th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222|
|Michael’s||Southside 2612 Sarah St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203|
|Mario’s||Beaver 594 3rd St, Beaver, PA 15009|
|Osso’s||Washington 90 Henderson Ave, Washington, PA 15301|
|Italian Village||Squirrel Hill 5886 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217|
|Napoli||Squirrel Hill 2006 Murray Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217|
|Cucina Bella||Bridgeville 1200 Pennsylvania Ave, Bridgeville, PA 15017|
|Erico Biscotti||Strip District 2022 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222|
|Sola||Southside 1417 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203|
|Mamma Lucia||Wexford 11978 Perry Hwy, Wexford, PA 15090|
|Casa Del Sole||Aspinwall 222 1st St, Aspinwall, PA 15215|
|Jioio’s||Greensburg 939 Carbon Rd, Greensburg, PA 15601|
|Little E’s||Greensburg 807 Highland Ave, Greensburg, PA 15601|
|The Upper Crust||Washington 201 S. Main St, Washington, PA 15301|
I know from personal experience that Osso’s and Upper Crust in Washpa and Mario’s in Beaver have genuinely great pizza. I’ve read and heard a lot about Jioio’s and Little E’s in Greensburg, as well and I’d love to try them. Not sure if they are close enough to be considered.
Also on the bubble are places like Italian Village and Sola which have solid slices, but since they are chains, do they count? I think they might. They are, indeed, native to Pittsburgh. I might even be at the risk of losing some friendships if I don’t give Italian Village a shot at the title.
I’m willing to bet one of these places will end up in the Final Four. Help me solidify the final lineup by commenting on Facebook or Instagram to let me know which seven of these should round out the all holy pizza bracket. I’ll take the responses and finalize the list within the week so we can set the schedule and get down to the business of actually eating pizza.
This is your first real chance to become part of this thing. Stir the pot, start some controversy, and have your say!
Not everyone can don pizza sneakers and go dancing at this party. Some places have to remain on the outside. These are the places that will, for sure, not fight for the prize.
Not from Pittsburgh – You’ve probably figured this out by now and it may hurt to actually read this, but Sir Pizza will not be included. “Booo!” “Hiss!” “I hope you get cancer!” I get it. All of you (including one snake apparently) love Sir Pizza. Look, I do too. Those little chopped up pepperoni’s mean more to me than certain family members. I’d join the military to protect them. Hyperbole aside, Sir Pizza just isn’t from Pittsburgh. It’s a chain that originated outside of western PA in Lafeyette, Indiana. I can’t do it. For the same reason I can’t include Jet’s Pizza on Banksville. Jet’s started in Detroit and is also great pizza. Think of Little Caesar’s, but only it tastes good. Finally, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is out. Again, not from the Burgh. I recommend that you eat at these places and they are definitely honorable mentions, but due to technicalities, they are out.
The Four Horesmen o the Pizzapocalypse – The harbingers of doom that are Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Little Caesar’s will never be considered the best of anything. Hold on, I take that back. Pizza Hut is always a contender for fastest way to get diarrhea. It’s right up there with drinking stagnant water. “But, Jake I kinda like these places some times!” So? I also kinda like eating Burger King, but we’re not gonna give them an actual crown. We’ve all eaten these pizzas for one reason or another. For some reason people love to get these pizzas in mass quantities for parties. I don’t know why. Maybe there is some sort of bargain situation, but we should all have more self respect. Your local pizza shop will always have better pizza. And, look, if I hurt your feelings, I’m sorry. I just need you to understand that liking any of these is more of a guilty pleasure than anything, but you can’t call your guilty pleasure the best. I mean you wouldn’t say Smooth by Santana featuring Rob Thomas is the best song of all time (even though you secretly love it), would you? Oh. You would? Well, this is more awkward that that Peyton Manning/Papa John kiss at the Super Bowl last year.
Alright, we’re getting close to crunch time (not to be confused with what I call eating cereal). Only a couple more steps until we are finally eating!
PS – If you enjoy witty humor that is at the very least tangentially related to food, please check out Dinner Is Served 1972. Far better writing and very funny. Do it!