On the surface, pizza looks like a pretty easy thing to make. All you need is a crust, some sauce, cheese and a few cured meats, right? But anyone who’s ever had bad pizza knows just how wrong that statement is. It takes time to master the art of pizza-making, and that art deserves a little celebrating from time to time.
Pittsburgh City Paper agrees and that’s why it’s presenting its inaugural Pizza Week, March 20-26. CP partnered with some of the best pizza restaurants in the city to bring specially-crafted pies to the masses. Follow #pghpizzaweek on Instagram for a chance to win a 70-inch HDTV courtesy of RW McDonald and Sons. Contest details are available at www.pghpizzaweek.com.
715 Dorseyville Road, Fox Chapel
When you name your restaurant The Upper Crust Pizza, your pie had better be built on a crust that measures up to the lofty moniker. At this Fox Chapel pizzeria, in business since 2007, the hand-tossed crust is every bit as good as the name above the door implies. It’s brushed with a special house-made garlic butter before it’s baked. For Pizza Week, the shop is featuring a Chicken, Spinach and Feta pizza with white sauce, tomato and red onion. The Upper Crust has limited seating, but carryout is always available. Try not to eat the whole thing before you get it home.
1900 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill
The owners of Pastoli’s Pizza, Pasta and Paisons are huge fans of goat cheese, and say “we want to share it with our neighbors.” So for Pizza Week, they’re highlighting their Goat Cheese Pizza, with sun-dried tomatoes and grilled onions. The shop uses a traditional crust, homemade sauce and premium cheeses as the base for all of its pies. But one of the best attributes of Pastoli’s is the belief that the entire family should be able to enjoy a meal together. So Pastoli’s offers a gluten-free menu, a vegan menu and an allergen-friendly menu, so no one is ever left out.
Open for slightly more than a year, Bakd is turning heads with its classic Roman-style pies. A thin crust is topped with house-made sauce and cheeses that are either locally sourced or imported directly from Italy. The featured Pizza Week pie, Pizza Atomica, is inspired by the owners’ own experiences in Italy, and is an homage to the country’s pizzaiolos [pizza makers]. The Atomica features traditional sauce, using San Marzano tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, fennel, sausage, Tuscan salami and red onions.
Since 2010, Slice on Broadway’s three locations have had a pretty simple business strategy — skip the gimmicks and use only fresh ingredients. For Pizza Week, Slice on Broadway will feature “The Guido,” a pie with sausage, red onions and green and red peppers. Check this pizza out at one of three locations: 2128 Broadway Ave., Beechview; 108 E. Main St., Carnegie; and 115 Federal St., at PNC Park on the North Side.
City Oven’s contribution to Pizza Week is both delicious and a little bit daring. The featured pie is the BBR — blueberry, bacon and ricotta. The pie consists of brown-sugar lemon ricotta, thick-cut peppered bacon, fire-roasted blueberries, and a lemon-basil and olive-oil drizzle. But the pizza at City Oven isn’t its only noteworthy accomplishment. “Pizza with a purpose” is the shop’s motto, and that purpose is to invest in career development and give their employees an environment in which to learn.
Live it up. Do what you want. Have it your way. That’s the way Donte’s is celebrating Pizza Week. Plain slices are $1.99 (toppings are an extra 59 cents each per slice). You can have that slice with either red or white sauce, plus a wide array of toppings from the traditional (like sausage and pepperoni) to gourmet (like feta, steak and shrimp).
5523 Walnut St., Shadyside
This pizzeria has been the proud purveyor of authentic Neapolitan-style pizza since 2012. It strives to make sure its pies are a loyal homage to the pizza served in the Naples/Campania region of Italy. This week it’s highlighting the Pizza Roberto, with basil, grape tomatoes, house-made burrata cheese and extra-virgin olive oil. Owner and head pizzaiolo Michael Mercurio trained under renowned chef Roberto Caporuscio and learned the art of making this pie. Once the restaurant opened, Mercurio put the pizza on his menu as a tribute to his mentor.
The beer isn’t the only draw to this South Hills craft brewery. The wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas are also pretty tasty and serve as a nice complement to the craft brews. The brewery’s highlighted pizza for Pizza Week is a chicken pizza with Siracha marmalade, which is both sweet and savory with a spicy kick.
1200 Old Freeport Road, Fox Chapel
Nancetta’s is serious about its pizza. Chefs use only fresh ingredients, and the Caputo Flour for the crust is imported from Italy for a pie that tastes “like it came out Italy’s front door.” For Pizza Week, the shop is highlighting a Neapolitan-style, thin-crust pizza with fresh marinated figs, caramelized onions, goat cheese and fresh parmesan. The sweetness of the figs combined with the saltiness of the cheeses make for a pie that’s different and delicious.