Caliente Pizza and Draft House is a Bloomfield favorite that is known for popular Pittsburgh pizzas, nationally award winning crusts, and a tap list that includes a decent selection of local Pittsburgh beer.
But as this one is a pizza place at its heart, we had to visit to check out their critically acclaimed pies to see what the fuss is all about.
The Pan Pizza is Delicious, But a Few Missteps at Caliente Pizza
The pizza at Caliente Pizza and Draft House has a sense of familiarity to it.
In a way, the fresh toppings and extremely puffy crust are very reminiscent of a few popular national pizza chains that I will not outright name here (but suffice it to say, we're thinking of good ones to us). Had I not known any better, I would've said the Garden Lovers vegetarian pizza came from the chain I ate a lot of growing up purely because of the flavor profile and the consistency of the crust.
I'm hesitant on calling this as good or bad because your opinion of this is all a matter of perspective.
For example, the sauce tasted fairly unseasoned, which would be especially great for those who do not like sweet sauces, and that the crust is, well, almost too puffy to the point that it consumes a fair bit of the pizza itself! Again, this great if you like that kind of thing, but a drawback if you don't. (And unfortunately, we push a bit to the unfavorable side of this spectrum.)
The pan pizza, on the other hand, changes the game entirely as the crust is delicious (and fairly crispy too), and has also received recognition in national competitions- it's that good. The downside here to us, much like on the regular pizza, is that the crust takes up a significant portion of the pizza itself, meaning on that 9″ square Luau (Hawaiian style) we ordered, almost half of the available area was crust without toppings.
Between you and me, I really wanted more of those!
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As the pan pizza comes at a bit of a premium over the conventional pizzas, it is unfortunate to have to say that this delicious offering has one major drawback to it that could be easily avoided during the pizza making process. The crust is indeed one of the best parts, but it is just a bit too much at the same time.
We Should've Avoided the Wings Altogether
As is the case with most pizza places we visit, I always order one side to see if any other products are worth your time. In this case I was instantly attracted to Caliente's wings which include an array of sauces that are unlike anything you've seen (including maple bacon bourbon, and a ranch-esque sauce called “Cool Runnings” that I knew I absolutely had to try).
Unfortunately, the wings were lost on me as they appeared to be baked and, by the time I returned home with my order, the skin was incredibly soggy from the sauce.
The “Cool Runnings” sauce tasted like a tangy ranch with dip seasonings, and would make a good accompaniment to a hot sauce wing order. The maple bacon bourbon, on the other hand, was almost a novelty that simply does not work out well together, and there was something off about it, with an unusual smell and a bit too strong of flavor on the sweet maple end.
Sweet and soggy wings? I'm good, thanks.
Better than Average Despite These Misgivings
Normally when I write a review, I would just put our thoughts out there and leave it at that for your interpretation, but I feel like this review deserves a bit of a follow-up before we let you go.
The pizza at Caliente Pizza and Draft House is quite good if we're talking about flavor profile alone.
I would easily put them on the better end of the spectrum of many of the pizza places we've reviewed in the city purely on flavor and quality of ingredients (wings excluded), and would definitely visit over any random corner pizza shop.
That being said, there are a few notable points that are well worth mentioning that could make it a place that you may not enjoy. None of it has anything to do with quality of the product, other than perhaps consistency in preparation, but entirely on personal preference.
Most all of our reviews end up being this way, but in this one particular case, we truly feel the need to outright state this fact as it is something that you should especially be aware of prior to visiting. You know who you are, and make your decision to visit accordingly.
Caliente Pizza & Draft House is located at 4626 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield and is open seven days a week. They have a second location in Mount Lebanon as well.