Bracketology

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:

Pizza Shop Location
Mineo’s Squirrel Hill

2128 Murray Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Aiello’s Squirrel Hill

2112 Murray Ave # 1, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Spak Brothers Garfield

5107 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Fiori’s Brookline

103 Capital Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15226

Pizza Taglio East Liberty

126 S Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Mercurio’s Shadyside

5523 Walnut St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Caliente Bloomfield

4624 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Mandy’s West View

512 Perry Hwy, Pittsburgh, PA 15229

Graziano’s Lawrenceville

4109 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Slice on Broadway Beechview

2128 Broadway Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Slice Island/Spirit Lawrenceville

242 51st St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Pizza Company Lawrenceville

4065 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

Beto’s Beechview

1473 Banksville Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Piccolo Forno Lawrenceville

3801 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Il Pizzaiolo Mt. Lebanon

703 Washington Rd, Mt Lebanon, PA 15228

Dinette East Liberty

5996 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

La Tavola Mt. Washington

1 Boggs Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Pasquarelli’s McKee’s Rocks

824 Chartiers Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15220

Giovanni’s Downtown

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

Frank’s Ambridge

618 Duss Ave Ambridge, PA 15003

Vincent’s Forest Hills

998 Ardmore Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15221

Colangelo’s Strip District

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.

Pizza Shop Location
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!

Who’s Out?

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!

 

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11 comments

  1. Nico Vidokovic · February 26

    A certain young lady from Bayside, Queens would no longer let you into our house if Italian Village is not given a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Maggie Frey · February 26

    Can I attend Dinette? Ben wants to do Betos (why? I don’t know… sounds like ick)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. katherine e callery · February 26

    I want to do a whole weekend of pizza!!1

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris Frenie · February 26

    Vincent’s Pizza Park in Forest Hills should make the list.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stephanie Belcher · February 27

    Can I do Slice Island (Spirit)?!? They make a damn good slice AND BEN TOOK BETO’s. He’s getting a good slap in the face the next time I see him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jakeabee11 · February 27

      Hahaha, yes! Also, please film the slap.

      Like

      • Maggie Frey · February 28

        HA HA HA! I will do cinematography …

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Laura P. · March 1

    I’m in for whatever if you find yourself needing a partner.

    Liked by 1 person

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