Author Topic: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA  (Read 23348 times)

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Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2007, 02:32:29 AM »
Ratana, I am so glad you made it back to Il Pizzaiolo.  I have to admit that I was actually worried about ron getting a new oven.  His pizza was so amazing before, and I thought that a faster baking oven could lead to soupy pizza.  A highly regarded forum member had just visited Naples right before Ron got the new oven and the reports I received were that all the pies he had in Naples were much too wet.  Well, as it turns out I had nothing to fear. The pies coming out of the new oven at Il Pizzaiolo are even better than the old ones, and I can definitely say that for my tastes are the best that I can find in the US.  Although Ron strives for authenticity, I think that subconsciously he is effected by growing up in America and is staying away from the super high hydration doughs and the extra wet cheese and sauce that can lead to that soupy pizza that can be part of the Neapolitan experience. Even with these 1 minute bakes there was no gummy layer under the sauce, something I have found at other Neapolitan pizzerias here in the US. 

My favorite thing about the pizza I tried is how tender and light the crust is.  This is one thing that must be hard to perfect, since most other neapolitan pizzerias I have been to in the US have had a chewier, tougher crust texture.  The faster bake allowed by the new oven has seemed to help make the pizzas even softer, while still maintaining a slight crispness to the outside layer.

As far as the new oven goes, I was served 60 second pies that were cooked completely even top to bottom.  I was shocked at how little effort was exerted to get the bake perfect in this oven, and the minimal wood consumption needed to achieve these fast bakes.

On this visit I was able to taste many more of the pasta dishes and I have to say that Ron's pasta's are every bit as good as his pizzas.  The dishes I sampled were better than anything I can find in the North end of Boston (our little Italy), and were actually much cheaper than anything that comes close to that quality in Boston.  I can not say enough good things about this restaurant.  If anybody is serious about pizza napoletana or any of the foods of this region of Italy a visit to Il Pizzaiolo is a must!


Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #26 on: May 07, 2007, 02:59:42 AM »
perfect char

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #27 on: May 07, 2007, 03:02:27 AM »
perfect pies

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #28 on: May 07, 2007, 03:04:08 AM »
Pasta

Offline shango

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #29 on: May 07, 2007, 08:54:25 AM »
Beautiful pizze!

I was wondering;  are the pizze here served sliced?

Also, I could not see any oregano on the Marinara?  weird.

Uh, I believe that is B and W arugula..If so, it is good.

Can't wait to try this place..(I wonder if they need any kitchen help..)
pizza, pizza, pizza

Offline shango

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2007, 08:56:00 AM »
Another thing, I would like to see a picture of the crumb if you have one..

Thanks,
-E
pizza, pizza, pizza

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #31 on: May 07, 2007, 12:20:24 PM »
shango, I wish I did have some crumb shots.   It's a lower hydration dough so it doesn't have the huge (visually impressive) voids you see in Marcos and Ciro's photo's, but for eating I like it this way!  You get a bit more crisp, yet the dough is still super soft and melt in your mouth.

I think there was a tiny bit of oregano on there, but if I am not mistaken in Italy it is thought that basil and oregano do not go together.  Ron made these pizzas special for me and I am a basil lover!

The pies do come sliced.   Il pizzaiolo is in Pittsburgh after all, and also realize that pizza is a tiny part of Rons business.  This is really more of a full service Italian restaurant, and oh........the Desserts!  He has told me that some day he is going to open a dedicated Neapolitan pizzeria where the pizza comes out unsliced.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #32 on: May 08, 2007, 07:46:31 AM »
Hi Scott,

Thanks for the pictures. My only point on your comments, would be to clarify the low hidration statement:

For a Caputo dough a low hidration percentage, in general terms, would be something >56%. I believe Ron's dough is above that percentage. Also when using filtered water (or any soft water compared to an hard water area), the actual effect on the dough formation may be more likely an higher percentage dough.

The voids or crumb structure, in any case, are not totally dependent by the hidration, and in actual fact there are few more factors to consider.

Ciao

Offline sanchez

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #33 on: May 17, 2007, 06:59:35 AM »
I live about an hour from this place so it's not exactly next door but the the next time I'm in d'Burgh I'll be sure to stop by and check this joint out.  Do they have a website.  I couldn't seem to find one.

Are there any other Pittsburgh Pizza hotspots?


Offline TONY

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #34 on: May 17, 2007, 12:24:05 PM »
Sanchez,

You have to try Vincent's Pizza in Forest hills..........there are several around the Pittsburgh area.
I rank it in the top 3 in Pittsburgh.........

Tony

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #35 on: May 18, 2007, 01:41:53 AM »
tony, we are in total agreement.   Il Pizzaiolo and Vincents, number 1 and 2 in da burg.  Funny how they are exact opposites.

Offline sanchez

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #36 on: May 26, 2007, 07:52:32 AM »
Well I had a chance to try Il Pizzaiolo yesterday and I took it.  Stopped by for a late lunch around 2:30 so the place was empty.  One other couple there.  I was really pumped up to try this pizza.  My initial impression was that the restaurant was nice although  a little more upscale than your standard pizza joint.  We sat inside instead of the patio because the weather was hot (87F).  We ordered the Pizza Margharita with pepperoni.  I sat so that I could watch the pizza being made and watched it go into the oven.  About 1 minute later they were bringing it to our table.  Very fast service which was expected since we were the only people there.  The pizza looked beautiful.  The crust was exceptional, light and tender with perfect char.  Very flavorful indeed.  Now for the bad part.  The overall pizza taste was off.  This was our first stop at Il Pizzaiolo but certainly not our first time eating Neopolitan style Pizza Margharita.  I'm not really sure how to explain the taste but both of us kind of looked at each other like something was not right.  In the end I'd say it almost had a slightly caustic taste to it.  There is really no other way I can describe it.  Almost like it had a soap taste to it.  I wonder if maybe some of his ingrediants were stored in a container that wasn't rinsed properly.  The off taste was very slight but when you are paying $16 for a 12-14 inch pizza you want it to be the best pizza you've ever eaten. 

Although I only have a 550 degree oven and a pizza stone I've made pizzas that I prefer to this one.  If I could get the Il Pizzaiolo crust with my own toppings I'd be a happy camper.  I'm not sure how excited I really am to even go back to Il Pizzaiolo.  I guess I'll try Vincents next just to say I've tried the Burgh's two best pizzarias.  Hopefully Vincent delivers. 

One last thing I was a little disappointed in concering Il Pizzaiolo is that at 2:30 in the afternoon I was not exactly concerned with drinking wine or beer so I orded a Coke.  They brought out this little micro sized 10 oz bottle and a small glass of ice and charged me $2.50 for it.  I know they want to be a little classier than your typical pizza joint but I definately could've used a little more to drink.  They did bring me a glass of water after I drank the Coke.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2007, 07:54:35 AM by sanchez »

Offline scott r

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2007, 04:38:36 AM »
Sanchez.  Do you think it is possible that the flavor came from the crust?  It is actually quite common with really high temperature pizzas to have a flavor just as you have described.  This happens when there is even slightly too much bench flour used and it burns on the 900 degree oven floor, and as you have noted the effects are severe.  I have had pies with this ailment at numerous neapolitan pizzerias around the country, and certainly out of my own oven, but never at Il Pizzaiolo.  Other forum members have even reported this phenomenon at the Neapolitan benchmark pizzeria Da Michelle, so apparently nobody is immune from the problem.

Offline sanchez

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2007, 10:28:11 AM »
Scott I'm really not 100% sure if it was too much bench flour or not.  I've never experienced that flavor before.  I know the texture of the crust was fantastic but it could've very well been giving it the off taste as well.

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2007, 11:09:39 AM »
sanchez,

As a test sometime, try making one of your doughs but use a lot of bench flour and a lot of flour on your peel. Then, after baking the pizza, visually check the bottom of the finished crust, and taste the crust portion by itself. Having intentionally done this myself as an experiment, I think you will see a thin, generally white layer of flour on the bottom crust. And it will taste bitter, almost to the point of being difficult to enjoy the pizza. Raw flour is flour that has not gone through the fermentation process and it will bake up with a bitter flavor. In fact, some time ago, I received a Caputo 00 dough recipe from the importer of the flour and the recipe came with a caution to immediately remove any excess flour when working with the dough. See, for example, Reply 10 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,783.msg7219.html#msg7219 (the highlighted portion was highlighted in the recipe as I received it). Raw flour on the bottom of the dough can also affect the final bake because it can reflect heat rather than absorb it. This may not be a big factor but it is something that perhaps should best be avoided.

Quite possibly, your test might confirm or refute whether raw flour was the source of the crust flavors you detected at Il Pizzaiolo. BTW, to read more on this subject in relation to Da Michelle, see this thread: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2902.msg24879.html#msg24879.

Peter
« Last Edit: May 27, 2007, 11:34:12 AM by Pete-zza »

Offline ilpizzaiolo

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #40 on: May 27, 2007, 11:25:55 AM »
I'll let you guys figure out the pizza, but here is some information not subject to opinion, knowledge or experience.

Regarding the 8 oz. coca-cola it is listed on the menu for $ 2.00. The price including tax is $ 2.14.

The reason why we serve the  8 oz bottle instead of fountain products is that it is superior. The same attention to quality and detail that has been applied to every single ingredient and product in the restaurant has been given to the quality of coca-cola and other bottled beverages as well. I make less money off of an 8 oz. coke (my cost .55 cents) than my competitors do selling fountain products at the same price with free refills. Fountain products are also inconsistant, generally taste bad, and the lines that are used to pump it are usually ridden with bacteria, possibly contributing to the bad taste. So the 8 oz. coca-cola bottle is actually a value at $ 2.00 + tax.

Secondly, my pizza maker probably did use to much bench flour which imparted the slight bitterness you speak of. That is something i need to deal with, and is a challenge with higher hydration doughs using caputo flour. however, if you are local, i think it would be a mistake to let that be your only experience at il pizzaiolo as we are 99% accurate. I belive this so much, that i am willing to pay for your next experience, and order for you to give a true neapolitan experience and highlight what we do best.

ciao

 - ron

Offline David

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #41 on: May 27, 2007, 12:24:47 PM »
Hope I'm not distracting from this thread,just an observation and something I've given some thought to.Over the years of watching different pizza makers and their techniques it seems divided into a few different methods of getting the pizza to the peel to the oven.
Maybe because he's from New York Chris Bianco it appears uses the technique of utilizing a separate wooden peel for each skin and dresses the skin on the peel.Neapolitans dress the skin on the marble and drag the pizza onto the (usually) wooden peel,even when working solo .If my memory serves me right, some years ago I saw the guy from UPN also dress the skin on a wood peel.In Rome and throughout the North it seemed common practice to dress the skin on the bench and lift the pizza off the bench with a metal peel - a learned skill indeed,and I think impossible with heavy laden American Pizza and difficult with highly hydrated doughs.Any thoughts on this?
BTW regarding the whole bottled soda  thing ,I personally believe it's not unlike Neapolitan Pizza - If I need to explain then you  really wouldn't understand.
Mines a Big Gulp please.

Off topic,but as I'm having a rant....
I was having dinner last Tuesday evening at the Sheraton LAX and for dessert a companion ordered a Creme Brulee for himself.It arrived in a 10" ceramic fluted Quiche dish and the espresso was served with regular tea spoons.Was I jet lagged or my Pinot spiked with some hallucinogenic?
« Last Edit: May 27, 2007, 09:33:43 PM by David »
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Offline sumeri

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #42 on: May 27, 2007, 08:05:39 PM »
Not sure how Ron does it, but we tend to save our best pizzaioli for the busiest times.  Meaning at 2:30 you probably are not having your pizza made be the most experienced pizza maker no matter where you go.  Also if an oven has been used heavy at lunch then it is not used for a while, the floor builds up a tremendous amount of heat which makes the yellow/orange bottom very hard to avoid with even a minimal amount of bench flour.
As pointed out by a previous poster it has been reported several times at Da Michele so you can be assured that it happens almost everywhere.  Now that you know what you are looking for (burnt orange or yellow look to the bottom of the pizza and a very bitter taste) I'm sure most pizzerias worth their salt would gladly make you a new one if you have the problem again.

Offline sanchez

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2007, 08:24:21 AM »
Interesting comments indeed.  Sounds to me like the off taste was indeed due to too much bench flour.  Thanks everyone for clarifying that.  I guess I could try the test you stated Pete but I'd hate to waste a good dough ball.  :)  Maybe if I decide to try Il Pizzaiolo again I'll go during prime hours when their oven is getting more use.  I probably should have brought it to their attention but I generally don't do that unless the product is exceptionally bad.  And this product wasn't bad, it just wasn't as great as I was expecting it to be. 

As for the Coke, I know you want to serve bottled drinks for the reasons you stated.  Ever thought about serving the larger bottles of Coke instead of those tiny little bottles?  Distributors always seem to charge more for those smaller specialty bottles so it's possible that you could be getting larger bottles for a similar price.  Something you might look in to.

Offline ilpizzaiolo

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #44 on: May 28, 2007, 10:31:13 AM »
i agree, i would love to have the larger bottles (not just for value, but also they are very cool). Unfortunately I am at the mercy of the local distributer and they only carry the coke in the 8oz. Unlike other north eastern states, we can't even get diet coke and sprite in the 8 oz. I do not know if the larger bottles are available in the south. I do know that a different regional distributer other than my own is not allowed to sell to me and the freight cost would also be prohibitive, and be considered   "black market" as the corporate crooks at coca-cola would call it. Also, the stuff from mexico is great, but once it gets here from mexico, my cost would be $2.00, which means my customer could buy 3 of the small ones (24 oz.) for the same price as one 16 oz. I don't think there is any other solution. Coke actually makes if difficult for their customers to experience their product at a higher level of quality in america, including the use of corn syrup instead or cane sugar which is still used in most other parts of the world. coca-cola usa. is driven purely by profits and nothing else.

- ron

Offline Flagpull

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #45 on: May 28, 2007, 12:48:11 PM »
Man, it's only a 3 hour drive to you. I need to get out there soon.

Offline David

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #46 on: May 28, 2007, 04:25:15 PM »
Some interesting reading on the Coke topic here:

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2006/March/19/local/stories/01local.htm

Seemingly Costco in Ca. is selling it.
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Offline pcampbell

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #47 on: May 29, 2007, 06:02:57 PM »
Apparently they had sugar based coke for the Jewish holidays around here.  Gave up on coke myself.

However, I would completely agree, glass bottled coke is tastably better than canned, fountain and plastic bottled (in that order). 
Patrick

Offline robert40

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #48 on: April 19, 2008, 10:44:10 AM »
Had a wonderful dinner here last night. Will give full details when I return home.

scottr, Thanks so much for the suggestion!

Offline ratana

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Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
« Reply #49 on: April 19, 2008, 01:35:21 PM »
i agree, i would love to have the larger bottles (not just for value, but also they are very cool). Unfortunately I am at the mercy of the local distributer and they only carry the coke in the 8oz. Unlike other north eastern states, we can't even get diet coke and sprite in the 8 oz. I do not know if the larger bottles are available in the south. I do know that a different regional distributer other than my own is not allowed to sell to me and the freight cost would also be prohibitive, and be considered   "black market" as the corporate crooks at coca-cola would call it. Also, the stuff from mexico is great, but once it gets here from mexico, my cost would be $2.00, which means my customer could buy 3 of the small ones (24 oz.) for the same price as one 16 oz. I don't think there is any other solution. Coke actually makes if difficult for their customers to experience their product at a higher level of quality in america, including the use of corn syrup instead or cane sugar which is still used in most other parts of the world. coca-cola usa. is driven purely by profits and nothing else.

- ron


Hi Ron I am not sure if you will get this reply, but, Reyna Foods in the strip actually sells cases of Mexican Coke for $30 for 24 16 oz bottles.  It is possible that they would sell wholsesale even cheaper?  It is delicious and perhaps that would be an option?  Not as bad as $2 each.  I really do like it though.  Real sugar, less carbonation, less acidity.