Iron Born's white pie

With a soft opening this weekend at Millvale Days, the folks at Iron Born are announcing their arrival in the riverfront borough.

Chef Pete Tolman of Iron Born. Photo by Tom O’Connor.
Chef Pete Tolman of Iron Born. Photo by Tom O’Connor.

The Detroit-style pizza shop, a staple at Smallman Galley in the Strip District, is opening a second location on Grant Avenue in a building that once housed the Riverfront Cafe.

Iron Born‘s new eatery will feature sides such as jumbo chicken wings and salads, but the main draw is the shop’s signature rectangular pies. The pizzas are made with 100 percent organic flour and two-day fermented dough cooked in cast-iron pans inside ovens lined with steel plates.

After selling pies during the Millvale event this weekend, the Iron Born team will be working on their new space’s interior. We’ll update this story when their official opening date is announced.

“When customers would ask us where we would open a shop, we would turn it back on them and ask ‘Where should we open up?’ Millvale was one of the top responses, if not the top response, no doubt driven by the brewery scene in that northern corridor,” says Carrie DuMars, who is owner Pete Tolman’s girlfriend and is actively involved with the build-out project.

She says the couple is excited to call Millvale their “second home.”

“Aside from already having great complementary businesses that pull in traffic, it’s very down to earth and quintessentially Pittsburgh,” DuMars says. “One of the first items Pete moved in was my bike. Where we live now isn’t very bike friendly, but in Millvale you can hop right on the North Shore Trail. We’re looking forward to enjoying the borough … that is as soon as all this renovation is done!”

Since June 2017, Iron Born has operated alongside three other pop-up eateries in a 6,000-square-foot space at the restaurant incubator Smallman Galley. They will remain there, at least for a while, even after the new Millvale space is fully open.

Chefs at Smallman (and its sister location, Federal Galley at Nova Place on the North Side) spend between 12 and 18 months designing a menu, building a customer base and learning tricks of the restaurant trade so they can, one day, open their own brick and mortar stores.

Tolman spent a lot of time perfecting his pizza dough, which has a unique crispness to it.

This particular pop-up has definitely flourished in its incubator: Iron Born’s pizza often sells out at Smallman.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.