Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon, Hampton, Warrendale
These guys were the among first to bring real Neopolitan-style pizza to Pittsburgh and still rank among the best. They boast training in Naples, and a wood-fired oven made with “bricks and volcanic sand from Mount Vesuvius,” which is way cool. The Salsicca I Rapini pie features sweet fennel sausage contrasting with the slight bitterness of rapini, and is great, as is the self-explanatory Prosciutto E Arugula.
Vincent’s Pizza Park, Forest Hills
Vinnie Pie has been encrusted with so many stories over the years, that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s legend. The prices look like they can’t be right, but you’re getting your money’s worth in sheer pizza tonnage here. Picture a swimming pool made of crust, filled to the brim with meats and cheeses (and no shortage of greasy, cheesy soup). It’s an experience. The gigantic, puffy crust is usually enough to hold it all together — usually. “Pizza Park” is apt — it’s an amusement park for pizza. If a Vinnie Pie doesn’t taste like it does in your childhood memories, check out the similar Shelly Pie in Wilmerding to see if that gets it right.
Dependable Neopolitan-style wood-fired pizzas, plus locally-made gelato as dessert– this Shadyside spot offers both and doesn’t disappoint. Try the Porchetta with seasoned Italian pork atop burrata, and pair it with some Black Cherry Bordeaux or Amaretto gelato for dessert. This place wins.
Rialto Pizza, Greenfield
A sentimental favorite, as this is my neighborhood pizza joint. I could have their white pizza with spinach and feta for every meal forever (and sometimes have for days). I also love the unpretentious, neighborhood atmosphere, with people dropping in for beer and a chat, and boisterous baseball teams celebrating their victories at Magee Field across the street.
Badamo’s Pizza, Mt. Lebanon, North Side
Another thin-crust standout (sensing a pattern here?), though this one is just a little thicker than some. They note “some charring and imperfections result in maximum flavor,” which is a great way to put it. Red slices are only $1.75, which makes me wonder why I don’t have one in each hand right now.
Alida’s Woodfired Cucina, Lawrenceville
Can a place on Butler Street in Lawrenceville really be off the beaten path? Though it’s on perhaps the single street most responsible for great new restaurants in Pittsburgh, this pizza place is pretty far down toward the Strip, and seems a bit removed from most foot traffic. But walk the extra steps to Alida’s, because it’s a great place for classic wood-fired pizzas. The Quattro Carne is heaven for carnivores, with prosciutto, spicy soppressata, salami and hot or sweet sausage.
And in case you don’t already know where to find them, here are the still delicious standbys that have ruled Pittsburgh’s pizza scene for decades:
Mineo’s Pizza House, Squirrel Hill, Mt. Lebanon
Full disclosure: I’m a Mineo’s guy. When my Pittsburgh expatriate buddy comes to visit from San Francisco — where they have pretty much the best of everything — the first thing we do is tuck into a giant, greasy Mineo’s pie, with its dense, viscous layers of chewy cheese and pepperoni hidden beneath. It’s hard to know how to attack it, at first — but this isn’t the worst problem in the world. If the cheese is your thing, this is your place.
Aiello’s Pizza, Squirrel Hill
As a Mineo’s partisan, I feel obligated to bash Aiello’s. And yet, I really can’t. As a pizza lover, I have to admit — this is good pizza. It’s fairly cheap and not a greasy mess, and their newly remodeled space is bright and clean and inviting. I just can’t hate any pizza (well, Little Caesars can get thrown in the Mon, honestly) that makes the effort to be good.