Pizza Making Forum

Reviews & Opinions => Pizzeria & Restaurant Reviews => Topic started by: PizzaBrewer on May 31, 2006, 10:49:57 AM

Title: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: PizzaBrewer on May 31, 2006, 10:49:57 AM
Photos
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana 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???
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: PizzaBrewer 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: Wallman 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r 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???
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: David 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on October 17, 2006, 10:40:43 PM
Antipasto and calzone
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on October 17, 2006, 10:48:13 PM
Of course his lemoncello is from Capri.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: mmarston 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!!
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: T-Man 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!
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on October 18, 2006, 09:46:06 PM
You are a lucky, lucky man
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: David on October 19, 2006, 11:04:42 AM
you can lead a horse ..................
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r 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!
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ratana 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?
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ratana 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: David 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 !
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ratana 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 20, 2007, 12:12:09 PM
Great pictures, thanks.

I am not questioning your preference, but was trying to give it a perspective. The better or worse balance is arguable. Funny enough the less sauce situation is more inclined to the US market then anything else, however for what I see in your picture of UPN, that seams a bit too much.

Also, I am not trying to argue here, but in the same UPN pictures, bottom-right hand corner, the lower part of the cornicione seams to be on the burning side. I did not question the top, and in fact look OK, but the problem with the 7 pizze we  were served at UPN was that were all burnt and all had the same defects, both in baking as well as handling... It would be interesting to see a picture of the under crust as for the one you posted of il Pizzaiolo (which seams 99% perfect from a bottom crust cooking)
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ratana on April 20, 2007, 01:05:46 PM
Great pictures, thanks.

I am not questioning your preference, but was trying to give it a perspective. The better or worse balance is arguable. Funny enough the less sauce situation is more inclined to the US market then anything else, however for what I see in your picture of UPN, that seams a bit too much.

Also, I am not trying to argue here, but in the same UPN pictures, bottom-right hand corner, the lower part of the cornicione seams to be on the burning side. I did not question the top, and in fact look OK, but the problem with the 7 pizze we  were served at UPN was that were all burnt and all had the same defects, both in baking as well as handling... It would be interesting to see a picture of the under crust as for the one you posted of il Pizzaiolo (which seams 99% perfect from a bottom crust cooking)

I see what you mean with the burnt area. I will need to pay better attention next time I go back.  The pizza I had in naples, compared to what I have had in the US, seemed to be more elegant with LESS ingredients.  So I am deferring to you and asking, is "less" the true Italian way to do it?  With less ingredients, less dough, and less cheese, to have a (to my palate) better pizza?  It seems every place I have tried in the US, they use a lot more dough than what I had and a lot more cheese. I have attached an example of a Da Michele pie (can you say what is good and bad about this one?).  I think they were not using Bufala, and the olive oil was not amazing, but I found it better overall than UPN or Il Pizzaiolo (but this was several years ago, so my memory could be faulty). I just really liked the understated elegance of it.  And the price!!

To keep it on topic, I do highly recommend Il Pizzaiolo now. The first picture from the first post in the thread, is somewhat what I remember it being like.  But now I think due to the hotter oven everything melts better and works much better together. So my review is complete approval and I recommend anyone that was not impressed previously to go try the new oven.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sumeri on April 20, 2007, 03:29:05 PM
Great looking pizza!  I'm sure Ron was as happy as I was to get rid of his pre fab oven.
That pizza is exactly like I love it.  Spots of heavy tomato and other spots with very light tomato but oil and parmigiano...for my tastes perfection!

Hey Marco I tried to send you a private message but your box is full.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana on April 20, 2007, 04:18:07 PM
Ratana,

enough is more, I would say. Not too much tomato but just about the right quantity to cover the desired area with a tiny amount. I would say the pizza in the Da Michele picture you have posted is just about right but with too much oil and that particular one was slightly burnt on the top left corner. They do it at times, but there it depends more on the proximity to the flame inside the oven.


Brad, send me an email to the globe under my name.

Ciao
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: shango on April 20, 2007, 06:08:57 PM
looks like that burnt edge may have been caught on the peel?  Maybe.

Regardless, a beautiful pizza, to be sure!

Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r 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!
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on May 07, 2007, 02:59:42 AM
perfect char
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on May 07, 2007, 03:02:27 AM
perfect pies
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on May 07, 2007, 03:04:08 AM
Pasta
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: shango 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..)
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: shango 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pizzanapoletana 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sanchez 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?
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: TONY 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sanchez 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sanchez 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: Pete-zza 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ilpizzaiolo 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: David 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?
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sumeri 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sanchez 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ilpizzaiolo 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
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: Flagpull 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: David 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: pcampbell 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). 
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: robert40 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!
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: ratana 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.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: robert40 on April 30, 2008, 12:40:56 PM
I recently tried Il Pizzaiolo and was very impressed.

A little history.  My wife's family is from the Pittsburgh area and we lived there off and on over the past twenty years. In the early 90's after leaving the Inn at Little Washington we tried to make a go for it and moved to the area.
Eventually hoping to open a restaurant. Now don't get me wrong... I'm not knocking Pittsburgh but the truth is, it is not the culinary capital of the world. You can believe I don't cook to get rich but at the time the pay scale was so below average that it was not feasibly possible to support a family. Plus the quality of restaurants at the time could not even balance out the salary loss. We tried again a few years later and again I was not willing to take the gamble opening a restaurant. Just did not seem practical from a business sense.

So after my visit to Il Pizzaiole it was delightful to see someone took the risk and produced a restaurant that no doubt would be successful anywhere in the country. Bravo and well done!

My wife's family may not be the most adventuress diners out there but they even were impressed. Between all of us I believe we sampled a good share of the menu. But need to return to try more of the wonderful pastas.

We started with a nice bottle of Zefiro and received a complementary bowl of baby clams with tomatoes. Excellent broth to dip your bread in. My mother-in-law could not believe her eyes seeing her six year old granddaughter enjoying those clams. :P For apps we had Antipasto Misto 'Very good', Cozze Marinara which were plump mussels in another great bread dipping sauce. Unfortunately my son refused to part with but a few. A salad 'Roma' that I did not taste but heard the tomatoes were great for this time of the year. Caesar salads a few at the table had. Perfectly dressed and passed my wifes caesars salad test.
I then had the Margherita with mozzarella di bufala while the better half ordered the regular margherita. I enjoyed mine more, but hers was also very good. Found it a bit odd that both versions are offered. One daughter had the Tagliatell alla Bolognese. which was better then Babbos bolognese. Six year old daughter had the Gnocchi which was light as clouds. Dad thought for sure I would get more but she polished it off. :'( A few colzones that I did not try. And I believe my son had a pizza called diablo but I may be wrong. I enjoyed the slice he shared but can't recall ingredients.

Service was good but a bit rushed. But it is a busy place and should be expected.

Was it the best pizza I ever had? No, Chris Bianco still holds that title. But that is a personal choice as they are two totally different styles of pizza. But second place for sure and thats a winner in my book.
Can't wait to return and the best reason in over twenty years to visit the mother-in-law. Just joking... I think. :-D
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on May 01, 2008, 04:16:38 AM
Nice review!  The thing that blows me away the most, and what you have hit on, is that ron is making pizza that is as good as the absolute best our country has to offer, but he is also providing a massive full scale italian menu where everything is up to that level of quality.  I can't even fathom how this is all possible under one roof. There is a lot of diversity to the menu yet every dish I have there is done so perfectly that it seems like it must be Ron's specialty.  I have also been to a mario batali restaurant (lupa) and found that rons pastas are better! 
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: robert40 on May 01, 2008, 12:16:42 PM
Nice review!  The thing that blows me away the most, and what you have hit on, is that ron is making pizza that is as good as the absolute best our country has to offer, but he is also providing a massive full scale italian menu where everything is up to that level of quality.  I can't even fathom how this is all possible under one roof. There is a lot of diversity to the menu yet every dish I have there is done so perfectly that it seems like it must be Ron's specialty.  I have also been to a mario batali restaurant (lupa) and found that rons pastas are better! 

I agree. Just the task of making consistent quality pizza is a commitment in itself. Never mind adding a wide selection of pastas. The freshness of ingredients really stood out to me. Plus the pride the kitchen took in it's work reflected on the plate. Sometimes a good indication of cooks that are serious about their career is in the simple things done well like the salads. Can't wait to return and thanks again for the rec.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: shango on October 04, 2008, 08:39:38 PM
Finally made it out to Il Pizzaiolo.  Amazing pizza!!  A friend and I shared the Margherita DOC, sausage and rapini, and a Provola, (I think that was the name, with fresh tomato, arugula, smokey cheese, (scamorza?) and shaved grana).  It's really the closest I've had to the pizza I ate in Naples, Gino Sorbillo in particular. 

The restaurant and oven are both very aesthetically pleasing, and the wait staff isn't half bad either!

Highly recommended, worth the trip.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: jorapel* on March 23, 2009, 05:15:11 AM
Well finally getting a chance to get out there this coming weekend. Can anybody give me a heads up for any wait times there might be at Il Pizzaiolo...Family visit from upstate NY and want to be prepared if we have to keep my little ones occupied.

thanks
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: sanchez on March 23, 2009, 06:30:27 AM
When I was at Il Piz there was hardly anyone else there.  Of course that was during off peak hours which probably explained my subpar pie.  Don't know how crowed it gets during peak dinner hours.
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: jorapel* on March 23, 2009, 07:51:43 PM
I imagine anytime before 4:00 it should be ok

thanks
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on November 11, 2020, 11:26:35 AM
I just wanted everyone to know that Il Pizzaiolo is absolutely firing on all cylinders lately.  I was elated to see Ron manning the oven and making the pizza himself and I was rewarded with pizza that is just as good as the best in Naples.  He also happens to be an incredibly nice guy.   I cant say enough good things about this place.  As a restaurant owner myself I am honestly in shock at how Ron is using such expensive ingredients and still able to charge what he does.  If your in the Pittsburgh area this is a must try pizzeria!
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: Pete-zza on November 11, 2020, 11:54:08 AM
Scott,

Ron checks in on the forum from time to time. He last visited on the third of this month.

Peter
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on November 11, 2020, 12:05:13 PM
Ron is the man
Title: Re: Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon (Pittsburgh) PA
Post by: scott r on December 04, 2020, 10:56:24 PM
Last time I was here Ron made my pizza and it was amazing. This time one of his employees was making pizzas and it was exactly the same with the same balance of toppings.  Thats the sign of a really good owner.  On top of that Ron has imported a shipping container of Marazzo items including the DOP san marzanos that Ciro Salvo uses at 50 Kalo.  You can even buy them (in glass) at his restaurant now.  Love Ill Pizzaiolo!