Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mm! Mm! Pizza - Brentwood

5208 Clairton Blvd.
Baldwin, PA

We must have passed Mm! Mm! Pizza hundreds of times and never noticed it. We found a 50% off coupon in the new Enjoy coupon book and thought we'd give it a try.

We ordered just before half time in the Steelers/Bengals game, which was a very busy time for the pizza shop. Despite that, they were up to the challenge and had our pizza ready to pick up within 25 minutes and pleasantly answered our questions.

The shop is take-out only, but there's enough room to watch them stretch and hand toss the pizza dough to order. The sauces are made fresh daily, and the toppings and cheese are also prepared fresh every morning.

We ordered a large traditional pizza with homemade red pizza sauce. The sauce was very good - it was thick and robust, pureed style, with a hint of sweetness. The crust was thick and breadlike, with a mild flavor. My first thought was that it was a little too thick for my personal taste, but in thinking about it, it was the perfect crust for the sauce - a thinner crust would not have stood up to the thick, rich delicious sauce. The ratio of sauce to crust to cheese was just about perfect. Our guest pizza taster, Carol, gave the pizza a B+ rating, and we all agreed.

Mm! Mm! Pizza has an enormous menu - they offer 24 pizza toppings, 13 specialty pizzas, 12 appetizers, 10 types of salad, and also make lamb or chicken breast gyros, wings, calzones, subs, fish sandwiches, and sweet or savory bread sticks. Some of the Specialty Pizzas are very unusual, such as the Flyin' Hawaiian (chicken breast, peppadew, and pineapple) and the Hawaiian (pizza sauce topped with ham, bacon, pineapple, mozzarella and provolone) and even the Seafood Pizza (white garlic butter, shrimp and crab meat, onions, and cheeses). I might be tempted to try two others that sound good to me - their Taco Pizza, or Chicken and Spinach.

We tasted an order of Mm! Mm! Pizza's provolone sticks, and they were very good, helped by the accompanying container of their delicious pizza dipping sauce. Instead of fried baby mushrooms, they offer breaded Portabella slices, and I plan to order some on another visit.

If you don't have an Enjoy or Entertainment book don't worry - Mm! Mm! Pizza offers lots of discounts. They have 2 Pizza Specials every day (2 Medium for $12.99, 2 Large for $14.99) and have daily specials. Their Tuesday special is a large Cheese Pizza for $6.99 or an X-Large Cheese Pizza for $8.99. On Fridays, you can choose your own special from any of the other six daily specials.

Mm! Mm! Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Salt Free Italian Pizza Seasoning Mix Recipe

2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel
pinch thyme

Mix all ingredients together and sprinkle over pizza sauce, or use to give pizza flavor to other dishes.

Store in a zip lock bag or glass jar. If you use the dried lemon peel, store in refrigerator.

Friday, September 25, 2009

California Pizza Kitchen - Frozen Margherita Pizza for One

We have so many wonderful take-out pizza options available, that we don't normally make frozen pizza. Sometimes, though, it's handy to have a frozen pizza on hand, and we were lucky enough to have a California Pizza Kitchen's Pizza Margherita Pizza for One waiting in the freezer. As a bonus, it turned out to be very good!

The box had directions to cook the pizza by either microwave or in the oven. We chose the oven, but the lined box does fold over to double as a pizza pan if you'd like to use your microwave.

The crust was light and crispy, and much tastier than we expected. The pizza had a light sauce with small chunks of tomato and flavorful pieces of basil on top. It was topped with a mixture of four cheeses - Parmesan, Asiago, Romano and Mozzarella.

The California Pizza Kitchen website suggests pairing the Pizza Margherita with a Chardonnay. They have a fun "Wine Pairings" gadget on their website that allows you to select a crust and pizza, and they will give you wine suggestions. The website also suggests cooking a Pizza Margherita, cutting it into strips and serving with a trio of dipping sauces - pesto mayo, marinara and olive oil - for a quick appetizer.

All in all, it was a very tasty pizza that we would definitely buy again.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Michael's Pizza Bar and Restaurant - South Side

2612 Sarah Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 381-6102

Michael's Pizza Bar is a bar and restaurant on Sarah Street, one block removed from the traffic of East Carson Street, on a corner between S. 26th and S. 27th Streets.

The pizza we ordered was a large traditional Pittsburgh style with extra sauce and light cheese. The traditional crust was chewy and bread like. We enjoyed the sauce, which was thick, flavorful, and slightly spicy with small flecks of oregano. Michael's was very generous with the cheese, even after we had asked for light cheese - so if you like lots of cheese on your pizza, you will love Michael's!

We also tried an order of Provolone Sticks with a small container of their excellent sauce for dipping - the cheese sticks were cooked perfectly and had a nice flavor.

Unfortunately, we forgot to pick up a menu and to ask pertinent questions about sauce, crust and preparation. It was half time and we were hurrying to get back before the 3rd quarter started and simply forgot.

This week's celebrity pizza taster, Dave, posed several interesting questions that we all considered while we ate: If we changed the amount of amount of cheese on the pizza, would the texture of the crust also change since the required cooking time might be different? What type of oven do they use to cook the pizza? What type of cheese do they use? Why did Jeff Reid miss not one, but two, field goals in Chicago? All good questions.

We will have to go back to Michael's and see what we can find out. I think next time we will sit down in the very pleasant restaurant area and enjoy the pizza, fresh from the oven.

P.S. The 50% off coupon in the Enjoy book made this pizza a real bargain, too!

Michael's Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mancini's Bread Company Pizza Dough - Strip

Now it's easy to perfect your pizza hand-tossing method ... without having to make the dough yourself!

Mancini's Bread Company in Pittsburgh's Strip District offers their fantastic pizza dough to go - you can purchase a 1-1/4 lb. ball of plain pizza dough ($2.75), or try the Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Dough ($3.70), or European Multi-Grain dough ($3.15). Mancini's also offers two pizza kits: one with dough, sauce and cheese ($7.95), and another that also includes pepperoni ($10.35).

We've tried the regular pizza dough, and intend to try both the Mancini's Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Pizza Dough and the healthy sounding European Multi-Grain.

I have to admit I rolled instead of tossed - next time, I'll have to buy extra and practice!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

West End Cafe at the Rivers Casino - Pittsburgh

On our second visit to the Rivers Casino, we couldn't even get close to the very popular Grand View Buffet! The line went way beyond the ropes, and the wait was rumored to be close to an hour. Wow! We decided to instead try another one of the five restaurants at the Rivers Casino.

This time we chose the West End Cafe, a very casual restaurant that lured us in with the enticing aroma of freshly cooked wings. The West End Cafe is a fast food style restaurant, with a walk up counter for ordering surrounded by booths and tables.

The West End Cafe offers six varieties of 10" Personal Pizzas - Pepperoni, Sausage, Quattro Formaggio, Supreme (mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, peppers and onions), Great White (olive oil, garlic, mozzarella, black pepper, oregano, broccoli), and Farmers Market (tomato, olive oil, grilled vegetables, mozzarella). They also have "Uncle Ed's Stromboli", which is stuffed with mozzarella, provolone, mortadella, salami, capicola, roasted red peppers and fresh basil. The pizzas were all generously topped and had lots of cheese.

We split a "Mighty Monongahela", which is a meatball hoagie, with marinara sauce and mozzarella. The meatballs were fresh and juicy, and the overall, the sandwich pretty darn good. The West End Cafe offers 4 other varieties of grinders - Duquesne (basically an Italian hoagie), West Ender (sausage), Steel City Steak & Cheese, and a Foundry Dog (available with chili, cheese or sauerkraut).

We also had their very good Wedding Soup and an order of fresh sliced fruit for dessert - and it was very fresh and delicious.

They make six types of Grilled Tostinos Sandwiches, served on Italian bread, and they sound very good. The Milanese sounded particularly good to me - buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, roasted red peppers and a balsamic glaze - as did the Sicilian, which is stacked with oven dried Roma tomatoes, smoked mozzarella and pepperoni. The West End Cafe Wraps will also be worth a try on another trip. There are three types - Chipotle Chicken, BBQ Chicken BLT and Boursin Roast Beef.

In addition to the sandwiches and pizza, the West End Cafe has soup and chili, salads, wings and chicken, onion rings and french fries, Italian sausage lasagna and macaroni with cheese. You can also order your favorite beverages, including beer and wine. The desserts also sound pretty good and delightfully decadent, such as the Double Chocolate Fantasy Cake and the Wild Berries and Cream Napoleon.

Although we haven't (yet) been big winners at the new Rivers Casino, we have not been disappointed with the food!

West End Cafe @ the Rivers Casino on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anthony's Pizza - Carrick

1820 Brownsville Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15210
(closed Sundays)

Anthony's is famous for two things - their very good pizza bagels and their excellent homemade iced tea. We used to get Anthony's pizza bagels often and recently realized that we had never tried their pizza!

Anthony's has been in business at the same location since 1969. The small restaurant is like a fun trip to the past, with comfortable booths that are equipped with jukebox music selectors.

Their pizza is made the old-fashioned way, too - they make the dough and sauce fresh daily, and hand toss the pizza dough to order. The sauce is made fresh on site each morning. They also freshly grate the cheese for the topping and even the ground sausage is fresh. The traditional style pizza we tried had a thin, chewy and easily foldable crust that had a good flavor. The sauce was mild - suitable for those who don't enjoy tangy foods - and the cheese was plentiful.

In addition to the traditional crust that we tried, Anthony's also offers a thick crust for an extra charge. They have plenty of toppings available: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, anchovies, meatballs, bacon, green peppers, extra cheese (not necessary!!!), black olives, onions, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, and ham capicolla. They also make ten varieties of hoagies, including a very tasty Italian hoagie, roast beef and cheese, vegetarian, and hot sausage, among others. Anthony's makes three varieties of calzones, and four types of salad (and have their own special house dressing that is very good). Appetizers include soup, homemade chili, garlic toast, soft pretzels, nachos, french fries and pizza boats.

A nice touch are the old fashioned desserts - pie, ice cream, Italian ice and Klondikes.

The next time we try Anthony's pizza, we plan to eat in the restaurant. Although we enjoyed our pizza, it did not travel well - mostly our fault, since we took longer than expected to pick it up after ordering. And besides, eating in the restaurant means we can play some tunes and split a Klondike for dessert!

P.S. The 50% off coupon in the Enjoy book made this pizza a real bargain!

Anthony's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 7, 2009

Steelers Kick-Off Black & Gold Pizza Recipe

(Otherwise known as Black Bean and Cheddar Cheese pizza)

1 12" prepared pizza crust (we used a whole wheat Boboli crust)
1 can black beans
1 tsp. taco seasoning, or more if desired
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Place pizza crust on a baking sheet.

Drain black beans and put in a mixing bowl. Use a potato masher and mash beans - leave slightly chunky. Add desired amount of taco seasoning (we used Penzey's taco seasoning).

Spoon bean mixture onto pizza crust. Sprinkle Cheddar cheese over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, or until beans are thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.

Optional Toppings:

guacamole or sliced avocados
chopped onion
salsa or hot sauce
chopped tomato
chopped olives

Serve at half time!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fast & Easy Pizza Bagel Recipe

Serves 1 or 2

1 bagel - your choice of flavor
4 Tbsp. pizza sauce
4 Tbsp. grated pizza cheese mix (combination of mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice bagel in half and lightly toast. Place toasted bagel halves on oven proof pan or baking sheet. Top each bagel half with 2 tablespoons each of prepared pizza sauce. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of grated cheese on top of each half.

Put pan in preheated oven and bake for approximately 7 minutes, or until sauce is heated through and cheese is melted.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Grand View Buffet at the Rivers Casino - Pittsburgh

777 Casino Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

We made our first visit to Pittsburgh's new Rivers Casino last night ... and had a blast!

Our first stop was the Players Club, where we quickly joined and headed out into the casino with our new red Players Club cards and complimentary $10 of free play. We wandered over to one of the bar areas and played a quick round of Joker Poker (Jacks or Better).

We soon decided that we had better fuel up before settling down for some serious game playing, so we headed up to the Grand View Buffet. Happily we found that the Casino has a 2 for 1 September dinner special at the Grand View Buffet for Players Club members (Monday through Thursday, 4 to 9 pm). What an incredible bargain!

The buffet was nothing short of amazing! There were seven stations, including BBQ, American, Italian, Asian, and Mongolian, with an enormous salad bar and an incredible dessert bar. We briefly debated whether to head right for dessert, but couldn't resist the wealth of other goodies, and we tried small tastes of just about everything offered. The variety, freshness and quality of food was wonderful - we liked everything we tried. Sharon headed right for the Asian and Mongolian bars and headed back with a plate heaped with egg rolls, Chinese spare ribs, fried rice and more. I went a more traditional route and had salad first (and again - a huge selection at the salad bar), then tasted a very juicy roasted turkey, and tidbits from all of the stations.

We were delighted to find that the Italian station had a pizza bar, which offered three varieties of pizza - cheese, pepperoni and a Chef's Special. The Chef's Special had an Alfredo-like creamy sauce, and was topped with halved cherry tomatoes, thin slices of red onion and cheese. The traditional cheese pizza had a hearty red sauce with chunks of tomato and a generous layer of cheese. The chef at the pizza station told us that the sauce and dough are fresh daily, and that the pizzas are baked in a stone oven. We had a good view of the pizza station from where we were sitting, and it seemed to be very popular with the other diners, also. Although we would not have thought of going to the Rivers Casino for pizza, we all agreed that it was pretty tasty and we would definitely try it again next time.

The highlight of the buffet was the dessert bar ... especially the lemon gelato. Don't miss it!!!

Grand View Buffet (Rivers Casino) on Urbanspoon