Author Topic: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA  (Read 21570 times)

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Offline PizzaBrewer

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Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« on: May 31, 2006, 10:49:57 AM »
Photos
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.


Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2006, 11:51:54 AM »
That is a great Pizza!!! (I can see the influence....) :P

Did you meet Ron?

Any other comment???

Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2006, 06:32:17 PM »
No, I didn't meet Ron.  I just went in at lunchtime and ordered a pizza.

I'm probably not the one to pass judgment, as I've never had real Neapolitan pizza.  But I must say I was somewhat underwhelmed.  The pizza was good, but I was hoping for a revelatory experience.  Maybe I just don't prefer the form of Neapolitan pizza....

Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but I just don't get all the fuss........

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Wallman

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2006, 09:43:39 PM »
I ate at Il Pizziaolo this past Friday and was very impressed.  The Pizza Margherita (DOC) was very, very good. They use imported, terrific tasting buffalo mozzarella from Italy, caputo flour, fresh tasting tomato sauce and cook it in a great wood fired oven.  The pizza had a nice char as the picture from Pizzabrewer shows, and decent oven spring. 

I'd say the pizza was as good as 2 Amy's in DC and almost as good as the pie I had at Pizziaolo in Oakland, which is the best I've had so far. We also had an outstanding antipasta salad.  The wine list is pretty good with a nice selection of Italian wines helpfully organized by region. The wait staff was very well informed about the menu and techniques.  I asked to chat with Ron the owner, but he was busy in the kitchen, although he had been working the pizza oven earlier in the evening.  It terms of atmosphere, the restaurant is causal but nice, we sat outside in the garden which was very pleasant.  They also have a very attractive wine bar in a separate building located in the garden.  If you are in the Pittsburgh area, I'd highly recommend it. Plan on about a 15-20 minute drive from downtown during rush hour.

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2006, 05:54:08 PM »
I recently had the fortune to visit Il Pizzaiolo.  I have to say that I was totally blown away on all accounts.  So far the places I have tried in the USA that claim to be making authentic neapoitan pizza are :

Antica Pizzeria (Los Angeles)
Sezz Medi (ny)
Luzzo's  (ny)
Una Pizza Napoletana (ny)
A16 (san fran)
The NY pizza show, and an Accardi foods gathering featuring Roberto Caprucio making pies "on location"

There is no contest.  Il Pizzaiolo wins for the best pizza I have had among this crowd.  On top of that, The restaraunt itself has a beautiful main dining room, an absolutely gorgeous out door seating area, and a really cozy wine bar.   Speaking of wine, this restaraunt has the best selection of Italian wines I have ever seen.  I didn't count,  but I was shocked at the number of offerings just in the Campagnia region (around Naples).  Over all the vibe of this restaraunt is just very inviting, and so is it's owner Ron. 

It is no surprise to me why this place is so successful while other similar places in the area are falling off the map.  Ron's attention to detail in every aspect of the restaraunt is mind boggling.   There is fresh basil growing in the window sills, like many pizzeria could, but here it is the correct Neapolitan basil strain that they use in Naples.  I have been to many Italian restaraunts that use ground meat for the Bolognese.  Not Ron, he hand chops his meat so that it is an accurate representation of the dish as it would be found in Italy.  The pasta he uses, if not fresh, is made outside of naples by (from what I have read elsewhere)  the best producer in Italy.  This guy is so into food that for lunches he started a place down the street that is serving up NY style hot dogs and California style never frozen hamburgers ala In and out Burger (my personal favorite burger).  While he is obviously a business man, I really got the impression that this was more than likely because of his love for food, and not because of any huge profit margin.  Even the sodas on the menu here are researched and well thought out.  I had never tried an aranciata (the san pelligreno orange soda) that tasted like this.  Turns out, Ron discovered that they are not all the same product, and this type in the larger plastic bottle is the best tasting version.  It is very apparent that this type of attention goes on through every dish and item on the menu.  Ron is not just a master Pizzaiolo, but also a very astute researcher of the best item or ingredients for everything he sells.  Now that is a recipe for success!

Ok, on to the pizza.  Right off the bat I was worried when I got to the restaraunt.  I asked if Ron was around and was told that he was working in the office.  I was shocked to find that in a place with this type of reputation someone other than the owner was trusted to make the pizza.  As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about.  Apparently Ron is doing an excellent job of training because my pizza was made with the same amount precision that I saw in Naples.  I have heard reports on this forum about how Neapolitan pizza can be soggy.  Well, no chance of that here.  This pizza had a crispy outer layer as thin as an egg shell that encased a soft fluffy interior.  It was perfectly moist, without the slightest bit of sogginess.  The combination of Buffalo mozzarella and the amazing olive oil used on this pizza gave it an addictive quality that is so hard to find.  Everything was in perfect balance.  There was not too much oil, the sauce was at the perfect consistency.  So many times I get a pie at other pizzerias that are close, but there is always some issue.  Not enough salt in the dough or on the cheese.  Too much sauce, too much oil, too much time in the oven.  Not at Il Pizzaiolo.  This pizza was perfect.

Another thing on this menu that I tried was the calzone fritto.  In typical Il Pizzaiolo style, this calzone was made with the best possible ingredients.  Of course not just any old ricotta would do here.  Ron actually uses Buffalo ricotta.  If you have never had the chance to taste this cheese (I hadn't) you are really missing out.  The calzone here at Il Pizzaiolo was actually better than the two I tried in Italy!  I sampled one at Antica costa, and another at De figliole,  both places are in Naples.  While they were both more than excellent, I don't remember them having the depth of flavor that this calzone had.  The outer crust was just like I remember from italy, but ron's calzone made with Ricotta di Buffala, Mozzarella di Buffala, salame, parmigiano-reggiano, fresh ground pepper and marinara sauce was simply to die for.

We started our meal with the Antipasto Napoli, which is an all vegetarian dish consisting of Eggplant "funghetto", zucchini "scapece", mushrooms, carots "spiratosa", Rapini, Green beans, artichokes, and roasted red and yellow peppers.  I could have come to this restaraunt, eaten this dish, and gone home completely satisfied having just that for a meal.  I was shocked at how each vegetable was marinated or seasoned in a different way.  So often you just get a dish of vegetables that have a similar seasoning throughout.  Travelling around this dish you would get a salty bite, a bite laced with flavorful olive oil, another with a spike of vinegar, etc. Ron even realized that it is best to cook different vegetables at varying amounts.  You would get the crisp fresh flavor of a lightly cooked (but marinated) carrot, then a bight of a well roasted pepper that gave the dish a ying and yang of not only seasonings, but also of freshness.

The Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese dish was regrettably the only pasta I was able to try.  Even though I am a pizza freak eating this dish made me think that on my next visit I would be happy eating only pasta.  My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it.  This pasta was better than anything I have ever had in Boston's north end, even at restaraunts charging twice this price.  The description on the menu was : Fresh tagliatelle pasta with the classic meat ragu of balogna with parmigiano-reggiano.  It could have just said, the best meat sauce you have ever tried.  It was beyond description.

There was a blood orange sorbet talked about, but we never got around to trying it.  As with everything at Il Pizzaiolo, I am sure that it was fit for a king.  It was probably made with some crazy strain of super hybrid orange that ron discovered who's seeds were accidentally dropped on earth from a spacecraft that came here to help the Egyptians build the pyramids. 

Think I liked this place???

Offline David

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2006, 06:44:14 PM »
Sound's like you enjoyed it Scott!I was there for lunch a while back and was equally impressed ,though I only had a Margherita + Coffee.The staff were really friendly and took me out back to show me the lovely garden and little Party Room (?) upstairs. As a  fan of Art Deco / Architecture ,I was  shocked by some of the gems in this suburban neiborhood.It was a beautiful sunny day when I was there and I felt more like I was in So.Cal than Mt.Lebanon,PA.Looking forward to going back soon,
                                                                                 David
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2006, 10:40:43 PM »
Antipasto and calzone
« Last Edit: October 17, 2006, 10:43:53 PM by scott r »

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2006, 10:48:13 PM »
Of course his lemoncello is from Capri.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2006, 08:30:16 AM »
Great Post!!!

Ron deserves much more credit then what other receive in US.

Seeking perfection all the time!

I miss that bar....

Ciao

Offline mmarston

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2006, 04:38:35 PM »
My mother in law  (a war bride from Naples) always complains about the lack of fried calzone in the US. I found her one in Brooklyn years ago but we no longer live there. This place looks great!!
Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance.  Dave Barry


Offline T-Man

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2006, 07:34:23 PM »
This discussion is strange to me as my office is literally a 1 minute walk down the block from this fine establishment.  What's strange is I haven't been there for well over a year or maybe even two.  Obviously I need to address this issue!

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2006, 09:46:06 PM »
You are a lucky, lucky man

Offline David

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2006, 11:04:42 AM »
you can lead a horse ..................
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2007, 01:27:12 PM »
I was fortunate enough to work in NYC then meet my family in San Fran for Christmas.  In the past month I have tried pizza at  Luzzos, Una Pizza Napoletana,John's, Arturo's, Bens, Patsy's, Carmine 28, Pepe's and Sally's in New Haven, and in the bay area Nizza La Bella, Picco, and Pizzaiolo.  I had Pizzeria Regina and Santarpio's in Boston, and Antica Pizza in Los Angeles within the past two months.

I can definitely say that the pizza at Il Pizzaiolo in Mt Lebanon was by far the best pizza I have found. 

Congratulations Ron for kicking ass!

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2007, 06:37:14 PM »
An invitation for Scott to write his latest review....


I just want to see the latest pictures....

Ciao

Offline ratana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2007, 10:50:50 AM »
An invitation for Scott to write his latest review....


I just want to see the latest pictures....

Ciao

I second that.. did they get a new oven as you said scott?

Offline ratana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2007, 10:14:22 PM »
Well, after posting the above I kept thinking about this place, and I decided the Ms. and I would go check it out for ourselves.  I had not been there in quite some time, and I remember not being very impressed.  Scott R had urged me to try it again, in a different thread, stating that they were going to have a new oven.

Wow, what a difference an oven can make.  I can truly say that I am happy now that I can get some very close to authentic Pizza in the rather pizza-handicapped city of Pittsburgh.  The crust was close to ideal for this style... chewy, with smoky charred bits and just the right amount of salt, and the texture was very gently crisp with the right ratio of softness.  Delicious.  The sauce was simple, elegant and complemented the bufala perfectly.  The bufala was creamy, white and not too liquidy when it melted.  Time to cook was very short.  We also tried a farfalle with pesto, cherry tomatoes and chicken roasted in the wood oven. Fantastic.

I inquired about some of the ingredients - they were using LaValle DOP tomatoes and a San Giuliano Brand olive oil.  I was surprised at their choice of LaValle, I was almost sure they would be using something a little more esoteric, but my un-educated guess is that LaValle is the only DOP tomato that pennmac (right here in pittsburgh) sells, perhaps that is why?  At home I have not found the LaValle DOP to be clearly superior over some non DOP tomatoes, but I guess to comply with VPN rules...

I did notice they put the basil on before cooking, something I have rarely seen those with wood ovens do.  Is there a particular reason for this?  does the basil infuse into the sauce a little bit?  Isn't there a risk of burning/scorching it?

All in all, this was very up there in terms of my wood-oven pizza experiences.  For me, it doesn't quite top "controversial" UPN in NYC, I think because I just love the flavor at UPN and the general "soupiness" of his pies and the olive oil he uses -- and I feel UPN's oven burns a little hotter.  And it does not top what I had in Naples.  But it was so many steps above our rather disappointing experience that we had at Regina Margherita/Roberto's (before he moved), and most things I have tried when out of town, so I am very happy to say we will be returning again, and sooner than later.

Offline David

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2007, 10:52:18 PM »

I did notice they put the basil on before cooking, something I have rarely seen those with wood ovens do.  Is there a particular reason for this?  does the basil infuse into the sauce a little bit?  Isn't there a risk of burning/scorching it?


Exactly,you can taste a world of difference IMO.I tend to use quite a lot of basil and have never yet burt it.My mouth is now watering..........Thanks !
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2007, 04:36:42 AM »

...
Wow, what a difference an oven can make.  ...

...

...

... and I feel UPN's oven burns a little hotter.  ...


Yes, the oven is the single most important tool in the creation of a Pizza Napoletana.

About your second quote, hotter or not (did not measure myself) UPN oven is unbalanced and doesn't cook pizza properly as well as quickly enough compared to Il Pizzaiolo, most often burning the bottom before the top is cooked.

I appreciate you may like the burnt flavor, but aside of being unhealthy, it should not be there.

Both the cornicione and the bottom of the pizza should have a ""leopard like"" dotted signs of char, not whole areas/side...

And by the way, did you like how the oven look ;-)


Ciao

Offline ratana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2007, 09:44:49 AM »
Some pictures.  I have included one of my experience at UPN.  You will notice the somewhat better balance of cheese to sauce, and soupiness that I like.  And also, that at least when I took this picture, he was not burning the pies.  That is part of what led to my preference, but I do not want to understate my joy at knowing Il Pizzaiolo is a short drive away, and is now cranking out extremely high quality pies.