With the year winding down, we decided to visit our final three competitors of the 2014 Pittsburgh Pizza-lympics in a single afternoon. We traveled across the far reaches of the city, to the distant lands of West View, Bellevue, and Beechview. And thus we submit to you…The Battle of the ‘Views!*
We begin with our West View stop, at Center Avenue Slice.
We were a little bit apprehensive when we first came in; the place was empty, and when we ordered our pair of slices, we were told it would take 15 minutes to receive them. WHAT?! 15 minutes for two slices? That would have been grounds for straight-up disqualification, had it actually come to pass. Fortunately, the slices were out in more like seven minutes, which was still a little on the long side for your average walk-up-and-grab-a-slice stop. But enough about the time; what of the slices?
Well, they were a good size; not your perfect 8-cut (more like a 10 from eyeballing it), but more than decent — especially when you factor in that this pair of plain and mushroom slices cost us a grand total of $4.80. The cheese-to-sauce ratio was solid, with both being relatively generous, but well balanced. The crust had excellent thinness, with a hint of crispness in its texture. The slices were still easy to fold, though and didn’t droop.
All in all, it was very good pizza. We rated it a 7.2 out of 8.
Next up for us was a trip to the driest spot on the cityscape, Bellevue. Our destination was a place that Fox had used to visit in her teenage years — Luigi’s Pizzeria & Ristorante.
On the price front, at $4.90 for a pair of slices (one plain, one mushroom-and-ham), they stuck the landing. But that is probably the best feature of the slices. The cuts were kind of uneven, which means if you’re going in for just one slice rather than a pair, you might get a 10-cut sized slice, or a 12-cut sized slice. The crust was a little bit too thick for our liking; you could taste under-salted crust as the primary ingredient, particularly the closer you got to the edge of the slice. Regarding cheese-and-sauce levels, there was plenty of cheese, but not enough sauce to counter that flavor. On the plus side, it was easy to fold each slice, and they held up well under the weight of copious toppings — but with as much crust as we got, that’s not all that much of an architectural feat. Final note — it was a little weird that there wasn’t even a feint at integrating the toppings with the rest of the slice; there was nary a touch of cheese on them, and they were a notably different temperature than the slice body. Oh, and final-final note — it’s outside the bounds of this competition, but the crust is helped quite a bit if you dip it in garlic sauce!
Our final score for Luigi’s…a lowly 6.0 out of 8.
As the day’s sun faded into memory, we trekked south into the wilds of hilly Beechview. Our destination? A house-turned-pizza-shop known as Slice On Broadway.
Admittedly, I’d been curious about this place — but I’d kind of been hoping that it wouldn’t be totally awesome. After all, it had already been recognized by others as the best, and why do a ranking if you’re just going to make the same list as someone else?
But then we grabbed our slices.
Holy. Crap. These were pretty much ideal slices. They came in a perfect 8-cut, and were priced at about $4 for the pair. The cheese to sauce was perfect, and the cheese had a beautiful bit of caramelization on its surface, which adds just the slightest extra layer of flavor. The crust was paper-thin, but sturdy; it had just enough flex so that it folded without cracking, and there was zero droop to the slice. These slices were basically the slices I imagined when I came up with the Pizza-lympics in the first place. And for that, I had to award Slice on Broadway a much-coveted…
…perfect 8.0 out of 8.
So, it’s pretty clear who won the Pizza-lympics. But what of the other medals?
First, it should be noted that our first competitor, Pizza Sola, closed this year. RIP(izza).
Of the remaining seven competitors, we awarded our bronze pie to…
…Spak Brothers of Garfield! At a 7.3 of 8, you rose to the occasion and delivered a double-barreled of pizza goodness straight to our stomachs.
Taking the silver pie is…
…Mineo’s of Squirrel Hill! With a sterling 7.8 out of 8, I thought up until the last moment that you would be taking home the gold. (In fact, Fox still believes you should have had it.)
But it was not to be. Running off with the gold, with a heretofore unheard-of perfect pair of slices…
So that’s this year’s Pizza-lympics. We weren’t able to fit in every good joint in town — and a number were pre-filtered because they only offered whole pies and not by-the-slice — but we stand by our rankings. (Well, Fox’s gold is my silver, and vice-versa.) For some truly great New York-style slices, definitely make the trek south of city’s edge to Beechview and try out Slice on Broadway.
* Well, two ‘Views vs. one ‘Vue.