Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Frisch's - Caste Village

Caste Village Shopping Center
Baptist and Grove Roads

One thing I've learned from my "career" as a pizza blogger, is that you can find decent pizza in places where you would never expect it.

We have long been fans of Frisch's awesome chicken and have served it at many family gatherings, but never tried their pizza.  Actually, I didn't even know they made pizza until I took a close look at their menu.  Frisch's was packed after Sunday's Steelers game, so other people had the same idea.

It turned out to be very good.  The crust was thick with crisp edges, and tasted homemade.  The sauce was mild and slightly chunky - all in all, very enjoyable.  The cheese was very thick, very gooey, and tasted fresh.  If you like loads of cheese, you'll definitely like this pizza! 

The only downside was, to me, the cheese - I had asked for "easy on the cheese" because of my ongoing attempt to control my cholesterol, but it came loaded with about a 1/2" thick layer of cheese.  I just pulled it off.  Oh well!

Frisch's has a very extensive menu and I've enjoyed any item of theirs that I have ever tried.  Menu items include fresh soups, many sandwiches, salads - by the pound or prepared, pizza, pizza calzones, wedgies, seafood (fish, shrimp, scallops, and tuna melt), side orders, broasted chicken (again ... awesome!), wings, and desserts.  They also offer value meals, which include buckets and barrels of chicken and a hoagie/pizza combination, and a kid's menu. 

Frisch's also has a large catering menu that includes hoagies and sandwich rings, party trays, homemade pastas, ribs salads, and chicken among many other items ... the perfect thing for a busy Holiday season.

Frisch's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pino Gelato - South Side Works

You know that I am a huge fan of the Pino Gelato Pizza Cone - in fact, it's one of my favorite all time treats!  I was thrilled when I heard that Pino Gelato was opening in the South Side Works.

I finally got a chance to visit there yesterday and ... no pizza cone!  But you know what?  That's perfectly okay.  Their gelato is absolutely amazing - very creamy with inventive flavors.  And they have the next best thing to the pizza cone - crepes!  The very friendly staff suggest adding a scoop of gelato to the crepe, but I like the plain nutella filled or the lemon. 


Pino Gelato on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey and Mashed Potatoes Pizza Recipe

1 12" prepared pizza crust

These measurements are approximate - use your leftovers in whatever proportions you like!
1 cup mashed potatoes
1 cup chopped cooked turkey
1/2 cup stuffing (optional)
1/2 cup grated cheese - I like provolone, but chunks of feta can also be good.

Spread mashed potatoes evenly on pizza crust.  Sprinkle turkey evenly over top.  Dot with spoonfuls of stuffing (if desired).  Top with cheese.  Bake according to the directions on the pizza crust that you used, or until the toppings are warm and cheese is melted.

Serve with cranberry sauce on the side.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

E. M. Pizzeria - Brentwood

4140 Saw Mill Run Blvd. (Rt. 51)

This review is a testament to the fact that advertising does work!  We must have driven by the E. M. Pizzeria thousands of times but never really noticed it.  This past week, we found a menu tucked into our copy of the either the South Hills Record or the Pennysaver ... and it looked pretty good!  We tried it last night and are glad we did.

The pizza had a very tasty thick and chewy hand tossed crust.  The fresh sauce was thick and flecked with herbs, and the pizza was just the way we like it - extra sauce and light cheese.  (We asked for light cheese on our pizza which is why it looks thin in the photo.)  I read another review that said the sauce is bland - that is not at all how we feel!  We liked the sauce very much, and although it is mild, it is also very flavorful.

E.M. Pizzeria has a very extensive menu with many varieties and combinations of pizza, salads, calzones, wedgies, pasta, specialty pasta, oven-baked hoagies, gourmet hoagies, gyros, wings, appretizers and desserts!  We love the sound of the Chicken Spinach Gourmet Hoagie, the Gyro Hoagie and the Chicken Ranchero sounds awesome - chicken breast, ranch sauce, french fries and provolone.  I can imagine myself stopping back very soon for a yummy Chicken Gyro Platter, Greek Pizza or a Tuscan Chicken Pizza (grilled chicken, tomato sauce, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and mozzarella). 

We'll be back!

E. M. Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Main Street Cafe, Hilton Head Island, SC

We loved the hospitality at the Main Street Cafe - they were all very friendly and nice.  They let us sit outside with our dog ... and even brought him a bowl of water and a treat!   We absolutely loved their green pea soup - it tasted just like homemade.  Actually, I guess, better than homemade!

On the last night of our vacation, we decided to order a Main Street pizza to go.   I have to admit that we like the crust on the pizza at our other Hilton Head favorite, New York City Pizza, a tad better ... but loved the sauce on the Main Street pizza.  They even gave us an extra container of sauce.  When we think about the other excellent menu items (did I forget to mention the chicken parm subs?), the friendly staff, the dog friendly atmosphere ... and the amazing soup ... we've definitely added Main Street to our list of Hilton Head cravings!
Main Street Cafe & Pub on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New York City Pizza, Hilton Head Island, SC

When our vacation was about a week away, we started to think about our favorite Hilton Head things - New York City Pizza, the pizza cone and gelato at Pino Gelato, the awesome chocolate cake at the Fresh Market ... and, oh yeah, the beach.

We're weren't disappointed.  In the photo, the pizza might look a little lopsided, but that was the way I carried it.  It was awesome.

New York City Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Urbanspoon Rocks!

We love Urbanspoon!  Not only do we check it out to find local restaurants, on a recent vacation to Hilton Head, we found some new favorites on the Hilton Head Urbanspoon.  Thanks, guys!

Friday, October 8, 2010

McGinnis Sisters Margherita White Pizza

I often stop and pick up a "regular" pizza at McGinnis Sisters, but last week a lot of people must have had the same idea because the only pizza left in the case was this lovely little white pizza!

I liked the freshness of the ingredients - the roma tomatoes were firm, the cheese excellent and the crust was good, as usual.  I liked the addition of the dots of pesto sauce - nice touch!

All in all, I think I personally prefer McGinnis' pizza with red pizza sauce, but this was a nice alternative on a chilly, rainy night.  And it's beautiful, isn't it?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Conicella's Pizza - Greenfield

422 Greenfield Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA

We loved it!  Conicella's pizza had a thick, Pittsburgh-style hand-tossed crust that was tender with just the right amount of chewiness.  The sauce was mild and family friendly, yet rich enough to satisfy the adult tastes, too.   Although I normally don't like a lot of cheese on our pizza (cholesterol problems!), Conicella's cheese was fresh and flavorful - it was totally worth it to indulge when it was the real deal.

I had looked everywhere online for a Conicella's menu and couldn't find one, so intended to pick it up along with the pizza ... but when I got there, I just forgot.  Sorry!  Friends who have been there said that they hoagies and sides and that everything they've had from Conicella's is outstanding.  I believe them.

Conicella's is take out only.

Conicella Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 3, 2010

Giovanni's Pizza - Dormont

3047 West Liberty Avenue
Dormont, PA  15216

Giovanni's makes an awesome crust - I have to say that it is one of the best crusts I have had in Pittsburgh - tender and flaky, thin yet sturdy, and very flavorful.    We ordered an 8-cut pizza with extra sauce, light cheese, and mushrooms on half.  The sauce is a little sweet for my personal taste, but my co-taster loved it.  I think if I had ordered the regular amount of sauce rather than double sauce, it would have been perfect for me.  (I can't help it - I love pizza sauce.)  The mushrooms were fresh and plentiful, and I enjoyed them - I wished I had also ordered banana pepper rings as a topping, but that I'll try that next time.

We also ordered mozzarella sticks, which were also wonderful - perfectly fried and just the right amount of spice in the coating.  The sauce that came with the sticks was not the same sauce as on the pizza - it was very good marinara sauce.

Although we ordered our pizza to go, Giovanni's has plenty of seating if you'd like your meal fresh from the oven.   In addition to the traditional pizza that we ordered, Giovanni's has 19 gourmet pizzas on their menu - the most unusual gourmet pizza is the new "Crab Trap" - it is topped with shrimp, scallops, crabmeat and spinach in a homemade lobster sauce and sprinkled with Old Bay Seasoning.  All of Giovanni's pizzas and bread twists are also available for Take-N-Bake.

Giovanni's has plenty more options if you don't feel like pizza - 14 Appetizers, 7 Bread Twists, Jumbo Buffalo Wings with your choose of sauces, Soups and Salad, Gyros, Wedgies and Calzones, Hoagies and Wraps, Pasta dishesm, and 24 House Specialties.  Wow!  The newest House Specialties are Pasta Picasso, Penne ala Vodka with Chicken, Pasta Primavera and Lasagna.  Some of the entrees are even available gluten free - Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Spinach, Mediterranean Pasta, Italian Dinner, and Baked Ziti. 

And, if that's not enough, Giovanni's offers five desserts - Homemade Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Cannoli, Sweet Twists, and Homemade Doughnut Puffs that are dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar and served with a chocolate dipping sauce.

Giovanni's Pizza & Pasta Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Calzone from the Grand View Buffet at the Rivers Casino

Awe.  Some.  We love the Grandview Buffet!

We took part of our winnings (yes, we did have winnings!) and bought dinner at the Grand View Buffet.  We loved everything we tried, from the huge soup and salad bar on through to dessert. 

On our last visit to the Grandview, we tried pizza, and liked it.  This time, I could see that the pizza station was very popular.  When I saw this lonely piece of calzone left at the buffet, I quickly transferred it to my plate.  It was very good - the calzone was tender inside with a firm, yet flaky, exterior.  I don't normally choose pepperoni as a topping, but I did like the spicy pepperoni and red pepper filling ... which also had a perfect proportion of luscious, creamy cheese. 

I can't wait to taste what the chef's come up with next!

P.S.  Honestly, if you go, don't miss the dessert bar!

Grand View Buffet (Rivers Casino) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Muffin Tin Pizzas - Every Day Food Magazine

The September issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine has some great pizza ideas - including making mini pizzas in mini muffin tins.  I would have never thought of that!!!   You should buy the magazine to see the photos in gorgeous full color and read the instructions, but basically the idea is using your mini muffin tins to make mini deep dish pizzas.  I love it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review: Pepperoni Pizza Can Be Murder by Chris Cavender

Fun, with a great plot and several recipes!

I read quite a bit, and this book combined two of my favorite things - cozy mysteries and pizza!  The book centers around a pizzeria in a small town in Tennessee, the owner - Eleanor - and her sister, Maddie.  The set up seems natural, the characters believable, and it kept me guessing until the end.  There were two recipes included in the book - which looked easy to make - and suggestions for other pizza-type recipes sprinkled throughout the book.

Loved it and can't wait for the next installment!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pizza Warehouse at Kennywood

It wouldn't be summer without a trip to Kennywood!  We made our annual visit earlier this week.  It was late when we arrived, so we went with the less expensive "Nightrider" ticket option.  Since it was late, we were also pretty hungry,  we walked past the new Sky Rocket roller coaster (I miss the Turnpike!) and headed straight for the first pizza that we found.  That happened to be the Pizza Warehouse, which is located near the Ferris Wheel.   I have to admit that I wasn't expecting very much from the pizza, but as it turns out, I liked it!  The pizzas are already made, so we weren't able to ask for our usual extra sauce and light cheese - as you can see, our pizza arrived covered in thick, luscious cheese that turned out to be quite tasty.  The crust was decent, and I especially liked the edges, which were a crisp and had a good flavor.

We thought we'd try some of the other pizzas at Kennywood, but didn't taste any others that night.  The personal pizzas at Lost Kennywood looked especially good and we'll try one next time ... maybe for a Fright Night visit? 

We also stood in line for over half an hour at the Potato Patch and the line hardly moved.  A gorgeous woman in front of us kept stalking off and returning impatiently to the line.  She finally turned to her boyfriend and said "I am just not getting what I want."  (Whenever I have my own diva moments, I just think to myself , "I am just not getting what I want" and laugh.)   On the other hand, I was just not getting what I wanted either!  When half an hour stretched into 45 minutes and the line wasn't getting much shorter, we left and went to the food pavilion and ordered french fries with cheese.  And you know what?  They were awesome! 

But back to pizza!  Was the Pizza Warehouse pizza as good as our favorite handmade pizzeria pizzas?  No, but for a sweet summer night, it was just perfect.

Pizza Warehouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sunseri's Mushroom Pizza

2805 Custer Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15227
(412) 885-8833

We love to try new pizzerias, but every now and then we need to visit an old favorite - Sunseri's!  We normally order a plain pizza, but this time I had a sudden craving for mushrooms - and they were plentiful!  Great flavor, as usual, and a reminder as to why they remain on our top favorites list.

Sunseri Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Diamond Pizza @ PNC Park

Diamond Pizza (formerly Vincents)
Pittsburgh, PA

This is a review from a guest blogger.  Thank you!

"My friend Norm and I went to the Pirates game a couple of weeks ago; the one that had the Steve Miller concert afterward.  Lo and behold, we saw that they sold pizza there at Diamond Pizza.

"It was the end of the seventh inning and I knew I had to try that pizza.  It was three stories down and to the right, in the first floor out field area.  Long walk.  Then it started to rain.  Perfect timing, I thought.  We went in to get the pizza and asked a few questions while we were waiting.  The man working there said that everything is made fresh every day.  I believe him, because it looked very fresh.  The pizza was evenly covered in cheese and a nice amount of sauce, too.  I ordered the plain; my friend got the pepperoni. 

"Everything was great, except that I wanted to take a picture and forgot my camera ... which was three stories up, back at my seat!  That meant carrying my pizza and going back to my seat in the pouring rain.  Do you know how hard it is to do that, carrying it through thousands of people, and trying to keep your pizza dry?  And not take a single bite?  Anyway, I got my camera and snapped a photo.  Not the best one, out on the ramp with everybody else, but the pizza held its own.  Sorry for the thumb.

"Great multi-cheese taste, a mild sauce, and not too greasy.  We liked it.

"And Steve Miller was pretty good, too."
The Diamond Pizza (Formerly Vincent's) PNC Park on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 26, 2010

Michael's Pizza Bar - South Side

We visited Michael's Pizza Bar last year and liked it.  Now our friend and neighbor, Chef Matt, works at Michael's and made this pizza.   This photo is of the pizza before I reheated it, so imagine that gorgeous cheese warm and gooey from the oven. 

Lexi says, "It's bomb!"

Michael's Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Pizza Company - North Baldwin / Carrick, PA

3050 Churchview Avenue
Baldwin, PA

The Pizza Company is a small, but steadily growing, take-out pizza chain and since there is one fairly close to us, we'd been curious about their pizza.  We ordered a traditional crust pizza with extra sauce and asked that they go "easy on the cheese" since we don't like huge mounds of cheese on a pizza. 

We were happy with the pizza - we're not yet ready to add it to our top ten, but we'd definitely try it again.  The pizza is very family friendly - the sauce is mild and pleasantly herby.  The crust was a nice texture - it was cooked enough that it held the sauce well, and the ends were firm, but was not so hard as to have that cardboard texture that some crusts do.  Our friend Lexi loved it and said that it was an "awesome pizza"!   I only wished that it had more sauce, but again, that's my personal preference.

In addition to the traditional hand tossed pizza, the Pizza Company has white pizza and nine varieties of specialty pizzas - Supreme, Veggie, Pepperoni Feast, Gourmet White, Meat Eaters, White Chicken, BBQ Chicken, Buffalo Chicken and Greek.  (I think the Greek sounds really good - imported olive oil, garlic, spices, spinach, kalamata olives and feta cheese.)  They also offer wings, salad, some sides, and breadsticks. 

One interesting sandwich is the "Original Untouchable", that sounds kinda like a Primanti Brothers - meats topped with spice slaw and French fries on fresh Italian bread.  You can order an Original Untouchable with your choice of Steak, Ham, Salami, Capicolla, Meatball, Sausage or Turkey for $5.50, or a  Bacon and Egg Untouchable for $5.75.  You can also order either topped with tomato or a fried egg for a tiny extra charge.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Smoked Mozzarella Artisan Cheese from Emerald Valley Farm

There's a new vendor at the Whitehall Farmer's Market and they are selling one of our favorite things ... cheese!  The Emerald Valley Farm makes artisan "old world style" aged cheeses.  Their cheeses don't have any added hormones, food colorings or preservatives, gluten or binders.  And best of all, they taste good!  They were giving out samples of their cheeses at the Farmers Market, and this smoked mozzarella was our favorite.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pizza at the 2010 Summer Fancy Food Show

According to the National Association for the Speciality Food Trade, pizza remains a staple (well, we knew that!) with frozen pizzas that go far beyond pepperoni and sausage. 

Rick Bayless' Frontera Kitchens has three new varieties of wood-fired frozen pizza which are available in stores now:
  • Four Cheese with fresh vine-ripe tomatoes and cilantro 
  • Roasted Vegetable with with red, yellow and poblano peppers
  • Barbeque Style Chicken with grilled red onions and cilantro

Another famous chef, Chef Wolfgang Puck, has added a Four Cheese Tomato Pesto Pizza to his frozen food line - according to their website, the pizza has a "A thin, honey-infused crust topped with a classic basil-pesto sauce, mozzarella, fontina, parmesan and imported goat cheeses and hand-sliced tomatoes."

Amy's Kitchen, always a favorite of ours, has new pizza varities also - Four Cheese Pizza, with a combination of fontina, provolone, parmesan and mozzarella, and Broccoli and Spinach in a White Cheese Sauce. 

A company new on the specialty food scene, Red Fork Natural Foods, introduced Chicken and Smoked Gouda Pizza, and Bianca Pizza with Mushrooms and Kalamata Olives.  And if you're looking for pizza flavored snacks, Cruncho Snacks has pizza flavored peanuts that are available in two size of bags (and in bulk).

There is lots more pizza news and new products to talk about - more later!

Nominate Your Favorite Pizza as Pittsburgh's Best on WPXI

Have you found Pittsburgh's best pizza?  WPXI is looking for nominations for Pittsburgh's best pizza - nominations end July 15.

I'll have to think about which pizza I'll nominate as my own favorite - so far, I have nine of them!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Domino's Show Us Your Pizza Contest

I think all pizzas are beautiful, but is your pizza especially gorgeous?  Well, just take a photo and submit it to Domino's Show Us Your Pizza Contest and you might win $500!

They will accept entries until July 26, 2010, and will judge the entries on creativity/originality, quality of composition, and adherence to the photo promise as shown in the rules.  Four inners will be chosen and will be announced on August 16, 2010.

Good luck!

My Pizza Garden - The Fennel Has Disappeared!

It is super hot today ... and what happened to my fennel?  When I went outside to water this morning, my little patch of fennel is nowhere to be found.  I think either the deer or the bunnies must have eaten it!  On the plus side, the herbs are rockin' - the oregano is thick and full of gorgeous purple blossoms, the basil is very fragrant and healthy, and the parsley is delicious.  (Why aren't the bunnies eating the parsley as they have in other years?)  I pulled out two hot pepper plants, but the rest seem to be doing okay.  I don't have any ripe tomatoes yet, but there are plenty of little green ones on the way.  I can't wait for some ripe tomatoes - I have a recipe for a Caprese Pizza, and am just waiting for some fresh, homegrown tomatoes so that I can give it a try.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Luciano's Italian Brick Oven - White Oak

1212 Long Run Road
White Oak, PA  15131

And we have a new addition to the Top 10!

Sharon called today (Happy Birthday, Sharon!) to tell us about a fantastic pizza that she tried - Luciano's, on Route 48 in White Oak.  Since it was on the way back from our trip to the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival in Greensburg, we decided that there was no time like the present to try it ... and besides, we were starving.

Luciano's is a full service restaurant and has a take out pizza and six-pack area.  Both are thriving - the parking lot was packed, even at an early hour on a weeknight. 

It was easy to see why they are so popular - Luciano's pizza was everything Sharon said it would be and more.  The handmade, hand tossed crust was chewy and tender, yet firm enough to hold the sauce without being soggy.  The pureed style sauce was slightly spicy, deep red (full of healthy lycopene I bet!) and rich with oregano.   We asked for extra sauce and easy on the cheese, and it was prepared exactly the way we like it.  Luciano's offers 10 varieties of pizza:  Traditional, White, Deep Dish, Pan, Chicago Style, Chicken Supreme, Vegetable, Stuffed Spinach, Gyro and Alfredo.   We saw a white pizza being prepared, and I'd like to go back and try that next.

We also tried the cheese sticks and they were some of the best we've tried, with perfect seasoning in the breading, slightly melted but still firm, and not at all greasy or oily.  I also ordered a tossed salad, and it had fresh ingredients and was accompanied by a nice balsamic vinaigrette.  In addition, Luciano's has eight varieties of calzones, ten hoagies and two pizza breads - red or white.

If you opt for dinner, Luciano's has pasta, seafood, chicken and veal entrees.  Sharon has had Chicken Piccata and Veal Parmesan and said both were excellent.  They also have a full range of appetizers, soups, salad, sides and extras.  I saw polenta listed under the appetizers - since I love polenta, it just gives me another reason to go back!

Luciano's Pizza & Six Pack on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Aunt Carol's Pizza Pizzazz Dip Mix at the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival

Today was gorgeous and we went to the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival at Twin Lakes Park.  Guess what we found?  Another Pizza Pizzazz!  Aunt Carol's makes a Pizza Pizzazz dip mix.  The sample was decent, but I bet it would be good as a pizza seasoning, too.

If you've never been to the Arts and Heritage Festival, you have to go - the artists' booths are set up under trees and along the lakes.  It is a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and has a wide variety of arts ... and an equally wide variety of food.  The festival runs through the Sunday the 4th.  Make sure you stop by the juried art - there is an incredible silver necklace on exhibit! 

Garlic and Basil Pizza Recipe

I finally had a few small bits of produce from my garden!  Today I used some fresh garlic and basil from my garden to make a very simple garlic and basil pizza.  Actually, it's so simple that it doesn't even deserve to be called a "recipe", but it was really fantastic.   Here's how I made it:

I used a premade crust from Armello's Italian Bakery in Vandergrift, PA.  I put the crust on a large cookie sheet, then spritzed it with about a tablespoon of olive oil.  I then spread about 3/4 cup of pizza sauce on top of the crust.  I cleaned two cloves of fresh garlic and sliced the garlic into very thin slices - I used a sharp knife, but I think a microplane or peeler would work better.  I picked some fresh basil, cleaned and julienned it and then sprinkled it on top.  (Next time I'll use a lot more basil.)  I then topped the pizza with about 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella cheese and about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, and slid it into a 450 degree oven where it baked for about 8 minutes.

It was wonderful!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Armello's Pizza Crust and Fontana's Pizza Sauce - Vandergrift, PA

We went to the Whitehall Farmers Market on Monday and stopped by the Callifonte Foods booth to buy a jar of Fontana's Pizza Sauce and a package of two Armello's Italian Bakery pizza crusts.  (I also bought cookies from Happy Jack Bakery and some incredible blueberries - I'm going to get there early next week so I can be sure to get a double batch!)

Fontana's sauce is thick and rich, deep red in color and slightly sweet.  Armello's pizza crust comes in a package of two.  They are charmingly uneven, and when cooked are chewy in the center and crisp on the edges - just the way I like it.  Armello's pizza crust now comes in whole wheat - I can't wait to try that next week!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Weight Watchers Pizza Cheat Sheet and Recipe on

An article today on the KDKA website gives Weight Watchers' hints for  healthier, low fat pizza ... plus includes a recipe for Grilled Pizza with Crispy Mushrooms and Shallots.   Some of their suggestions are to go for a thin crust pizza, order red sauce instead of white, and to pile on the veggie toppings.   They also suggest using a tortilla as a pizza base, which is something I haven't tried. 

I have my own suggestion for ordering a lower fat / lower calorie pizza - when you order, ask them to only use half the cheese that they normally would!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grilled Pizza Recipes from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Sunday's edition of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had a huge article in the Magazine section, with loads of hints and recipes  for grilled pizza.  The printed article had several recipes, but you can check out two of them online  - Eggplant and Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella and Sausage.   I can't wait to try them!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Pizza Garden - Looks Like Trouble!

Uh oh!  All of a sudden my hot banana peppers look terrible, with withered yellow leaves and spots on the peppers.  I am heartbroken!  It probably has something to do with the weird orange bug I found hanging onto a drooping leaf.   I am planning to pull them tomorrow, after I find my heavy gloves that the bug can't get through.  The other "pizza crops" are doing well - I finally figured out what fennel looks like, and the basil is amazingly good.  I'm hoping things turn out okay with the tomatoes - they look very healthy right now, but a neighbor told me about a tomato fungus that is on its way and advised me to prespray.  My mother was a fantastic gardener and I wish that she was here to give me advice (and lots of help)! 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mama Mary's Pizza Crust Recipe Contest with Cool Prizes

Here's a recipe contest I just heard about - Mama Mary's Pizza Crust is hosting a recipe contest with great prizes.  How great?  Well, how does a grand prize of $5000 and a trip to Disney World sound?    Grand prize winners will be chosen from three categories:  Your Mama's Favorite Pizza, Creative Creations Traditional or Dessert Pizza..   Semifinalists are chosen quarterly, so if you hurry you can still get in an entry for the second quarter, which ends June 30.  Semifinalists will receive a cappucchino machine and a year's supply of Mama Mary's Gourmet Pizza Crusts, plus be qualify to compete for a grand prize.

Good luck!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vinny's Great Pizza & More - Brookline

618 Brookline Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
(412) 344-8500

We had a coupon for Pizzarella Pizza in Brookline, but when we called to place an order ... the location is now Vinny's Great Pizza!   (And guess what - they were nice enough to accept the Pizzarella coupon.)

When I think of a "Vinny's Pizza", I automatically think of a pizza from Vincent's Pizza Park in Forest Hillls and wondered if they were affiliated (the answer is no).  Vinny's Great Pizza & More is actually a chain, with locations in Brookline, Uniontown and Morgantown, WV.  This Vinny's Pizza was named for Vincent Tarzia, who came to American with his mother from Marina Di Gioiosa, Reggio Calabria, Italy.

When we try a new pizzaria, we like to order a plain cheese pizza with a red sauce, so that we can fairly compare it to others we've tried.  Our first impression of Vinny's was the wonderful aroma - we could hardly wait to open the box and dive in!  We enjoyed the robust sauce - it was thick and rich, with flecks of oregano.   The traditional style crust was also thick and rich and had a mild flavor, which made it a good vehicle for the sauce and the generous layer of luscious, gooey cheese.

Vinny's Great Pizza & More has a very extensive menu which includes Appetizers, Salad, Wings, Hoagies and Subs (including gyros), Calzones & Strombolis, Italian Dinners, Desserts and Soft Drinks.  They have red or white pizzas, eleven specialty pizzas and Vinny's Signature Pizza, which sounds fantastic.  It's called "The Mediterranean", and comes with either white or red sauce, and is topped with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, Kalamata olives, onions, mozzarella, provolone and feta cheese.

Here's a cool idea - Vinny's has cell phone coupons!  Send a text to phone number 30364, type CHEESE, hit send and a coupon and special offer will be delivered to your cell phone, "like magic, Baby!"

Vinny's Great Pizza & More on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pizza Recipes in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

I really look forward to the days that my copy of Everyday Food arrives in the mailbox - it was especially sweet yesterday, when I opened the July/August issue to find a whole section devoted to pizza.  (Page 90!)   Pizza recipes include Tomato and Basil, Grilled Asparagus and Ricotta, Fontina Fennel and Onion, Shrimp and Pesto, 3 Cheese, and Sausage and Olives, as well as recipes for the crust and toppings.  Gorgeous illustrations, too, of course - and the pizzas have a charmingly imperfect look which makes me feel like I can make them myself.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pillsbury Refrigerated Thin Crust Pizza Dough ... With Hot Peppers

I always keep a tube of Pillsbury's refrigerated pizza dough in the refrigerator for a quick and easy pizza.  I usually buy the Classic crust, but this time opted for Thin Crust - it had good flavor, except that ... yes, I burnt it again.   Just as I was about to take the pizza out of the oven, the dog jumped over the fence and ran off down the street.  By the time we got back to the house, it was overdone.  (The photo is from the "good end".)

I had another little mishap with it, too - when I was unrolling it, one side of the crust stuck to my hand and I ended up sticking my fingers through it, which made a huge hole.  I patched it back together, but it was not as beautiful as I wanted it to be.

What I was really excited about was that I used the first banana pepper from my Pizza Garden to use as a topping!

For what it's worth, here's the recipe:

1 Tbsp. olive oil
One Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust (we used the Thin Crust)
1 cup of pizza sauce, or to taste (we used Mid's)
1 hot banana pepper, cleaned and sliced very thinly
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese, or a pizza blend (we used Organic Valley)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare cookie sheet or pizza pan with a layer of olive oil.  Unroll crust and place on cookie sheet.  Spread pizza sauce over crust, decorate with sliced pepper, and top with grated cheese.  Bake for approximately 14 minutes and try to prevent your dog from running away while cooking.

Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes.  Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Caramelized Onion, Roasted Garlic and Artichoke Pizza Recipe on Voila! With Emily

Voila! With Emily is one of my favorite recipe blogs - her recipes are down to earth, but easy to prepare and just really, really good.  Today's blog post is a recipe for Caramelized Onion, Roasted Garlic and Artichoke Pizza.   And, wow.  It sounds fantastic!  When I find all of the ingredients, I'm going to try it.

Papa John's On Top in Consumer Survey

According to a blog post today on The Consumerist, Papa John's is at the top of the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index - beating out pizza chain restaurant rivals Dominos, Little Caesar's and Pizza Hut.   I have more of a "I've never met a pizza I didn't like" attitude than The Consumerist, or maybe it's an "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" attitude, but it is interesting reading and an interesting blog, even for a Pollyanna like me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Whitehall Farmers Market

Tonight was the the season kickoff of the Whitehall Farmers Market which relocated to Caste Village this year - and it was a good choice of venue, because the place was rockin'!   And besides, the South Hills Record said that they would be giving away free tote bags, and I just love a freebie.  We filled our new tote bags with gorgeous raspberries from the Trax Farms booth, broccoli, and some amazing lime cookies from Happy Jack Bakery.   The very nice man who sells Italian foods (sorry! I will have to double check his name next week) has added several new items, two of which are pizza sauce and handmade pizza crusts.  We ran out of spending money by the time we got to his booth, but are already planning to try them next week.  Yum!

Pizza Hut Healthy Choice Ideas from Healthy Style Magazine

A few weeks ago, Healthy Style Magazine by Parade included an article on best fast food choices - the article was written by Joy Bauer, the Today Show nutrition and health expert.   She included choices for Taco Bell, Subway, KFC and McDonald's ... but of course I zeroed in on the healthy choices at Pizza Hut!  Joy's picks were all from Pizza Hut's Fit 'n Delicious choices - either Green Pepper, Red Onion & Diced Red Tomato, or Diced Red Tomato, Mushroom & Jalapeno, or Ham, Red Onion & Mushroom.   The best part is that they all weigh in at under 160 calories per slice!

Tour de Pizza Stops in Bluffton, SC, 6/15 - Free Pizza!

One of my favorite Hilton Head blogs, Blog a la Carte, today talks about Matt McClellan's Tour de Pizza.  Matt is a Florida pizza shop owner who is on a month long cycling trip from St. Pete to NYC, where he will stop and eat at local pizza shops along the way.  He'll be at Monster Pizza on June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. - at which time Monster Pizza will be giving away free slices of their new Monster-tricious Pizza.  Matt is also a big believer in the health benefits of pizza and is living proof - Blog a la Carte says that on his recent month long pizza diet, he lost 20 pounds and his cholesterol and blood levels both dropped. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grilled Pizza Burgers on Ciabatta Bread Recipe

Serves 4

1 lb. ground round
pizza seasoning
4 Tbsp. shredded mozzarella
4 Tbsp. pizza sauce
hot pepper rings
multigrain ciabatta buns

Preheat grill.  While grill is heating, form ground round or ground beef into four patties.  Place on grill and sprinkle with pizza seasoning. 

While burgers are cooking, slice buns (we used Giant Eagle multigrain ciabatta rolls) and toast.

After flipping burgers, sprinkle again with pizza seasoning.

When burgers are cooked through, top each with 1 Tablespoon pizza sauce (we used Mid's), then 1 Tablespoon of shredded mozzarella, with several hot pepper rings on top.

Slide carefully onto toasted buns and serve!

Note:  One of our pizza burger tasters would have liked more pizza sauce on top of the burger but otherwise gave it a "great, I'd eat this again!" rating.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Little Chicago's Pizzeria - South Side

1728 E Carson St
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

In April, we tried a pizza from the Blue Grotto - when we were leaving, a man sidled up to us and told us that, while Blue Grotto is good, Little Chicago's makes the best pizza on the South Side!

He might have been right.

Some pizzas we love at first bite, then are less enchanted after a slice.  With Little Chicago's it was the opposite - we weren't sure, but the more we ate, the more we liked it.  By the time we finished the entire pizza - yes, the entire pizza - we were considering Little Chicagos for a new addition to our top ten.

Even though I'm sure they are best known for their Chicago style pizza, we decided to order a medium pizza with red sauce and a traditional crust.  The pizza had a wonderful aroma and we couldn't wait to try it.  The sauce was sweet with a slight taste of garlic, and small chunks of tomato.   We loved the chewy crust, which managed to be thin yet light and airy.  The crust was dusted with cornmeal and, according to one taster, had a "buttery" taste.  Another taster only managed to say "Good!" in between bites.

In addition to the traditional crust pizza, Little Chicago's offers Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza, White Pizza, an Ultra Huge 30" pizza, Calzones, Wedgies, Garlic Pepperoni Stix, a 16" Square Sicilian, French Bread Pizza, Hoagies, Fish Sandwishes and Hamburgers, wings, salads, and 12 varieties of specialty pizzas.  The specialty pizzas include a Philly Ranch and Margarita Chicken, among others.  Some of the sides include Jalapeno Poppers, Broccoli and Cheese Poppers, Provolone Stix an dmore. 

And FYI there is a half off coupon for Little Chicago's in the 2010 Enjoy coupon book.  We forgot to use it!

Little Chicago's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Pizza Garden - After the Storm

We've had a week of rain and huge thunderstorms, with flooding and even hail!  I was worried about my garden, but it has fared pretty well.  On the left, I have sweet green peppers, hot and sweet banana peppers and eggplant.  On the right ... I don't exactly remember!  My markers blew away in one of the storms.  I know I planted fennel, onions, basil and parsley, but I don't even remember which one is the fennel!  If anything on the righthand side looks like fennel to you, please let me know!  I have tomatoes planted in another bed, and they also weathered the storms very well.

Amy's Organic Cheese Pizza

As usual, Amy's did not disappoint us!

In March, we tried Amy's Organic Spinach Pizza.  Last night, we needed a little late evening snack and found an Amy's Organic Cheese Pizza tucked away in the freezer.   We heated up the toaster oven, and soon had a pleasant, fresh tasting pizza that was very enjoyable.  The sauce had nice flavor, with small chunks of tomato, and the crust was crisp.  

We haven't found a frozen pizza yet that beats our pizzeria favorites, but we know we can rely on Amy's to provide a decent, fresh tasting frozen pizza.  Thank you, Amy's!

Monday, May 31, 2010

WalMart Marketside Traditional Five Cheese and Pepperoni Pizzas

Carol and family moved into their beautiful new home yesterday and Margie offered to buy pizza to feed the hungry "moving crew".  She made a quick run to WalMart and picked up two varieties of take-and-bake Marketside pizzas - the Five Cheese Traditional Crust Pizza and the Pepperoni Traditional Crust Pizza.   The packaging and the pizzas were both very attractive and they were loaded with a tasty mixture of cheeses. 

Lexi said she loved the mild, family-friendly pizza sauce, but thought that the crust was a little hard.  In all fairness, I think the hard crust was a result of being slightly overbaked, rather than an issue with the pizza itself. 

For me personally, it will never replace a handmade pizzeria pizza, but for a quick inexpensive meal to feed a hungry crowd, it was an acceptable alternative and I was happy to have the opportunity to try it.

Congratulations on your new house, Carol!  I know that you all will have many happy times there!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Grilled Pizza Recipe - My First Try!

I know my pizza looks pretty funny - it's okay to laugh!   I read about grilled pizza.  I studied the technique both in books and online.  I watched Chef Annie Burrell's Grilled Pizza segment on the Food Network's "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef".   In the end, I loved it ... but I also made a few mistakes.  Obviously.

For my first try, I decided to go with a simple cheese pizza.


1 loaf frozen pizza dough
1 cup pizza sauce (we used Mid's)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
1/8 cup chopped basil
olive oil

Technique (or lack of):

Thaw dough according to package directions.  When thawed, place between two sheets of parchment paper that has been lightly oiled.  Try to roll into a 12" round.  Remove top sheet of parchment paper and take outside to your grill, that has been preheated.  (For this try, we used a George Foreman outdoor propane grill.)  Lay the pizza dough on top of the grill and lower lid.  Grill/bake for approximately 5 minutes on a low/medium heat.   Using a spatula or pizza peel, peek at the bottom of the crust.

In the meantime, prepare your topping ingredients and have ready to put on the crust as soon as you flip it.

When the bottom of the crust is a pleasant golden brown, use the pizza peel or two spatulas to flip the dough.  Top with a layer of pizza sauce, and sprinkle with cheeses and chopped basil.  Cover and grill/bake for approximately 10 minutes.  Peek at it after 5 minutes to ensure that the bottom of the crust is not burning and make any adjustments in temperature.

When cheese is melted and dough appears to be cooked through, use a pizza peel or two spatulas to carefully remove from heat, turn off the grill.  Slice and serve!

Despite the fact that my pizza was not that attractive, we had a lot of fun making it and we loved the slightly smokey flavor.  I will definitely give this another try sometime soon - next time I will use another type of dough and will try different toppings.

P.S.  Lexi says my pizza looks like an oven mitt.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fox's Pizza Den, Pleasant Hills - Mini Review

This is a mini review because we only had one bite!  We went to an estate sale run by Estate Liquidation Services (Mark Dlugos) estate sale in Whitehall.  We were checking out just as Mary Ann rushed in with a pizza, and Mark was kind enough to offer us a slice.  Our one bite impression was that we loved the sauce, but need to try a larger portion to judge the crust and cheese.   We're been wanting to try one of Fox's famous "Wedgies", so we'll make a visit there soon!

Fox's Pizza Den on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Planting a Pizza Garden

I think it would be fun to plant some seeds and have tiny pizzas pop out of the ground!  But ... that's not what I mean by a pizza garden.  Every year I play with a theme to my gardens - one year it was a salsa garden, another year a chili garden, and I always plant a salad garden because I eat salads every day in the summer.  I think about the ingredients I need to go into recipes for certain meals and plant herbs and vegetables to make those meals.

There are lots of ways to think about growing a pizza garden - I know I'm not planting wheat for a crust, so that's out!  That leaves sauce, herbs and spices and toppings.

To make the heirloom tomato pizza sauce recipe, I can grow the tomatoes, oregano and garlic.   Out of the nine ingredients in the salt-free pizza seasoning recipe, oregano (again), basil and maybe fennel seed are doable for me.  I've never tried to grow fennel before, but I'm going to experiment with it this year.  Toppings are the fun part - my favorite toppings on a traditional red sauced pizza are mushrooms, green and hot peppers and sliced olives; on white pizza, I like tomato, spinach and basil.  Out of those toppings, I will definitely grow green and several varieties of hot peppers.  I've been doing a little research about growing mushrooms, but haven't quite gotten brave enough.  If anybody has any hints, let me know!

So here's my plan: 

  • Roma or other meaty, Italian style tomato
  • Heirloom variety for the outstanding flavor
  • Celebrity or other salad tomato
  • Variety of grape tomatoes
  • Greek oregano - I planted some a few years ago and it has now taken over my garden!
  • Basil - both
  • Fennel
  • Sweet Globe Peppers - both green and yellow varieties
  • Banana Peppers - both hot and sweet banana
  • Giant Marconi - huge chiles that I found at my local nursery (Mosside Greenhouse in Wall, PA)
  • A slow bolt variety, such as Burpee's Harmony Hybrid (spring and fall)
  • New Zealand spinach - not a true spinach, but a decent substitute for hot summer weather
  • Burpee's has a variety called "Salad Fresh" which sounds like it could be good for summer also and great for salads and toppings
  • Sweet (like a Mayan or Vidalia type)
  • Red
  • Scallions
I'm going to do some planting this weekend!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stouffer's French Bread Cheese Pizza Review

One of my "go to" pizzas has always been Stouffer's French Bread Pizza - it's fast, reliable and pretty good.  Last night was one of those nights when I needed a fast dinner, so I put the Stouffer's French Bread Pizza in the oven and tossed a salad.  Easy, right?

The problem was that during the 30 minute cooking time, Sandy's family came by to pick up some boxes we were keeping for them (they are finally moving back into their house after 120 days at a hotel due to a house fire!), then Carol, Cocoa and Lexie stopped to say hi.  Needless to say, even though I had enough sense to turn off the oven, the pizza "rested" for much longer than it should have!

By the time everyone left, it was time to eat.  Even overcooked, the pizza was pretty good, and the only thing that really suffered was the cheese topping.  The crust was crunchy, and sauce had a pleasant, mild herby flavor.  Thank you, Stouffer's, for a reliable meal!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Kelly Liken on the Food Network's Iron Chef Tonight!

This post doesn't have anything to do with pizza, but my friend Adeline's granddaughter, Kelly Liken, is going to be on the Iron Chef tonight.  I only met Kelly once - and it was a very long time ago - but I hear stories about her all the time from her very proud grandmother! 

Here's what the Food Network says about tonight's showdown on their website:  "Colorado Chef Kelly Liken takes on the newest Iron Chef Garces in her first entry to Kitchen Stadium. Will Chef Liken's fresh take on secret ingredient be enough to best Iron Chef Garces? Tune in to see whose cuisine reigns supreme!"

We're excited and wish her the best of luck!

Italian Oven Restaurant Update

5301 Grove Rd Ste 639
Pittsburgh, PA 15236
(412) 882-6500

We finally had a chance today to stop in and try the Italian Oven Restaurant at their new Caste Village location - it is gorgeous!    We loved the sleek, contemporary look and the stunning flower arrangements (provided by Herman Heyl Florists) in my favorite shades of deep pink and fuschia. 
If you remember, the Italian Oven Cafe in Brentwood Towne Square was sort of fast/casual.  You ordered at a counter, watched your food being prepared and then either sat and ate or took it away to enjoy at home.  The new restaurant is definitely ... a restaurant ... and a very nice one, at that.  We needed to get home, so ordered our meal to go.  Although the extremely friendly staff accommodated us, it is definitely more of an "eat in" restaurant and next time I would like mine to go, I will call ahead.

I ordered my favorite Italian Oven panini - the Tuscan Chicken - and it was every bite as good as I remembered, and prepared exactly as I had requested.  It came with a small bag of chips, but none of those tasty little Italian mints that used to accompany the orders ... and no olives from an olive bar, either.  Darn!  We also tried the meatball panini and, although we thought the meatballs were juicy and flavorful, they had more of a sausage taste than we like personally and we did not finish the sandwich.   They have a new filet mignon panini that we thought we will try the next time we visit ... along with the pizza, of course.

Welcome back, Italian Oven!  We missed you!

Italian Oven Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 7, 2010

California Pizza Kitchen Cheeseburger Pizza

The one great thing about shopping on a weekend day is that at the end of almost every aisle are nice people offering tiny food samples!  Today we were lucky enough to come across samples of Cheeseburger Pizza, a limited edition pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (CPK).

We only had single bites, but that bite definitely tasted like a cheeseburger, complete with ketchup and pickle flavor!  Amazing.  My thought about it is that, although I did enjoy the bite that I had, I don't know that I would want to eat more than a slice of it.  It might be nice to enjoy a slice of the CPK  Cheeseburger pizza along with something else, like a nice salad, to accompany it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Relish Magazine's Top 3 Favorite Pizzas

Relish Magazine is that fun little food magazine that is inserted into the newspaper once a month - this week's edition listed the magazine's top three favorite pizzas and asked for readers to let them know their own favorites.  Their top 3 favorite pizzas nationwide are: 

  1. Lupi's - Chattanooga, Tennessee
  2. American Flatbread - Vermont, Oregon and Virginia
  3. Pizzeria Bianco - Phoenix, Arizona

I haven't tried a single one of them, and since none of them are close to Pittsburgh, it doesn't look likely that I will anytime soon, but you never know!  Maybe we'll plan to do a pizza tour this summer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Deep Dish Broccoli and Cheese Pizza Recipe

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 loaf frozen bread or pizza dough
1 c. shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. pizza sauce
1/2 c. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
1 cup diced fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well drained
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Thaw pizza dough overnight, following package directions.  I wrapped the frozen loaf loosely in parchment paper, then put it inside a large zip lock bag.

2.  Preheat oven to 475 d.  Coat an oven proof skillet with olive oil.

3.  Pat or roll dough into a 14" round and place it onto the oiled skillet.  (I messed this part up, but my finished pizza still looked okay!)  Cover loosely and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. 

4.  Spread pizza sauce evenly over dough; sprinkle mozzarella cheese over sauce.  Squeeze the thawed broccoli to remove any excess moisture and layer it on top of the cheese.  Top evenly with chopped tomatoes  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

5.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crust is puffy and golden brown.  Be very careful removing it from the oven - the handle will be super hot!   Cut into generous slices and serve.

Note:  My testers were not sure that they would like broccoli on pizza and really complained about it ... loudly.  I made them taste it, though, and the concensus was that it was really pretty good and that they would try it again!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Easy Pizza Recipes by Bobby Flay in Parade Magazine

This past Sunday, Parade Magazine had a three page "Make Your Own Pizza" article by Bobby Flay - not only do the photos make the pizzas look incredible, the recipes look easy!  There are three recipes - pizza dough, easy pizza sauce, and a tomato and cheese pizza recipe that puts the two together.  I don't usually take the time to make my own dough (I think I'm scared!) but Bobby's recipe looks very easy.   The sauce recipe looks very easy, too, and as a bonus is low in fat and cholesterol.  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Blue Grotto Pizza - South Side

1610 East Carson Street

I have never seen such an enormous pizza!  At 20" square, it was even difficult to get me and the box through the front door at the same time.   For reference, that's a dinner plate in the photo - the slice is so big that it looks like a saucer!

The Blue Grotto is one of the two pizzas I had lined up to try in April - the other is Fratello's in Peters Township.  We've had a hard time getting to Fratello's - the first time we tried, a huge thunderstorm blew up, and this time the car transmission seemed to be acting up (it turned out to be okay) so we decided to stick a little closer to home and headed for the Blue Grotto.

I love the name - Blue Grotto Pizza is named, I am sure, for the beautiful sea cave in Capri.  Before I even tried the pizza, the name appealed to me, as does their motto:  "Peace Love and Pizza".  (As I also love "Peace Love and Little Doughnuts" in the Strip, makers of the world's best doughnuts.) 

The Blue Grotto menu is very limited, but what reason really is there to have more menu options?  They make five types of pizza:  Neapolitan, Margherita, Bianca, Sicilian and Marinara.  Each is available by the slice or whole pie.  They also have Pizza Rolls, Sandwiches (Italiano, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Prosciutto, Cheeseteak, Meatball or Eggplant Parmesan), homemade soup, salad, and beverages. 

We ordered a Neapolitan pizza, with no additional toppings.  The sauce is very sweet and tasty, with bursts of oregano flavor.  We usually ask for extra sauce - we didn't this time, but wish we had.  The crust was thicker than I expected, and very chewy, with a pleasantly charred bottom and a very bready rim.   I'm not sure if it's in our "Top Ten" favorites, but we did enjoy the Blue Grotto pizza ... and will continue to enjoy it for a few days, as there are plenty of leftovers.

If we had a Top Ten list for salads, though, the Blue Grotto salad will be at Number One.  I ordered a small, which was surprisingly normal size - I say "surprisingly", because the pizza was so much bigger than I expected that it seems like everything would be supersized.  The salad was a step up from any other take out salad I've had, and was full of mixed greens, toasted sunflower seeds, chick peas, carrot, olives and crumbled blue cheese - close to my idea of a perfect salad. 

Next time we go to the Blue Grotto, I'd like to try some of their other pizzas, and will add a topping or two.  But next time, I'll definitely order a single slice!

Blue Grotto Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza Article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Yesterday's Pittsburgh Tribune Review had a wonderful article in the food section about a gluten free diet - and guess what the one food is that people on a g-f diet miss most?  Pizza, of course!   Several pizzerias in the Pittsburgh area now offer gluten free pizzas.  The article mentions Mandy's, Little E's, and Uno Chicago Grill.    It really is a fascinating article with lots of valuable information - since my own sister is following a gluten-free diet, it was a huge help to me personally.  Thanks to the Trib!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pittsburgh Penguins Playoff Pizza Party Menu and Recipe

I love the Pens and I love a theme party!  In honor of tonight's Game 3 against the Ottawa Senators, I am serving:

White Out Pizza Dip

1 container (5.3 oz.) plain Greek style yogurt
2 tsp. (or to taste) pizza seasoning

Mix Greek style yogurt with pizza seasoning.  Serve with blue corn tortilla chips in honor of the colors of the Penguins alternate blue and white jerseys - or serve with baby carrot or celery stick "hockey sticks".

Pizza with Pepperoni "Pucks"

I am a mostly-terian and rarely eat pepperoni, but this is a special occasion - and besides rounds of zucchini, pepperoni is the most puck-shaped pizza topping I know of!  For tonight, I am going to relax and order pizza from Sunseri's, a family favorite.

Black and Gold Ice Cream

Scoops of French Vanilla ice cream and the darkest chocolate ice cream you can find - I like Ben and Jerry's Super Fudge Chunk.  For an alternate, try lemon and black cherry sherbet (or sherbert, as my dad used to say).

Local Beer and Pop

Pick up a local craft beer or go old school and serve Iron City.   For a non-alcoholic choice, try one of Natrona Bottling Company pops, like Red Ribbon Home Brewed Style Root Beer, or hand bottled seltzer from from the Pittsburgh Selzer Works.

Have fun and GO PENS!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pino Gelato Pizza Cone Coming to the South Side Works!

Wow!  I just read that Pino Gelato is opening a gelateria in Pittsburgh's South Side Works - that means that the awesome Pizza Cone is coming to Pittsburgh!  I am a huge fan and you will be, too.  The South Side Works location is opening in June.  I can't wait!

Oh, yeah ... their gelato is pretty great, too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pizza Fusion YouTube Video Recipe Contest

Pizza Fusion is celebrating Earth Day with an online YouTube video contest and it sounds like fun - think up a recipe for an "Earth-savng pizza", make a video of it and upload your video to YouTube.  After you've done that, submit your video to Pizza Fusion and tell them why it should win.  You then have to promote, promote, promote because the top five most viewed/highest rated videos will be judged.

The panel of judges include:  Chef Aaron McCargo Jr (the Food Network), Mike Singer (Bon Appetite Magazine), Craig Agranoff (, Jen Friel, and Pizza Fusion's Co-Founder, Vaughan Lazar.

The prizes are pretty awesome, too, with the top prize a trip for two to an organic, sustainable vineyard.  Other prizes include a Trek bike, a year's supply of Honest Tea, gift cards from Earthbound Farms, Whole Foods and Pizza Fusion, and more - and your recipe will be featured on the Pizza Fusion website.

And to top it all off in a very nice way, funds raised as of result of the contest will be donated to Share Our Strength.

Beto's Pizza, Banksville Road

1473 Banksville Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
(412) 561-0121

Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time, and today we were lucky enough to be at Ron's store when his father came by with a tray of pizza from Beto's and gave us a slice.  I've heard a lot about Beto's and know that it's a "love it or hate it" kind of pizza. 

First of all, if you don't know about Beto's, they have an unusual way of preparing the pizza.  They bake the crust with sauce, then add the toppings - they are extremely generous with the toppings - after the pizza comes out of the oven.  That method results in cheese that is half melted.

We loved Beto's pizza sauce.  It was fresh and chunky and had excellent flavor.  The crust was crunchy and flavorful.  The mound of half-melted cheese was quite tasty and very fresh, and it's an unusual idea and combination of textures.  Overall, the flavor brought back happy memories of a favorite pizza from my childhood.  The only downside to me was that it was way too much cheese for my personal taste and my current cholesterol level, so it would have to be a very special and only occasional treat.

Beto's does have a large menu that includes sandwiches and some interesting menu items.  Sharon especially likes their hoagies and recommends them.  One small taste of their pizza was not enough, so we definitely plan to pay Beto's a visit in person.

Beto's Pizza on Urbanspoon