When it comes to Giovanni's Pizza in Pittsburgh, we have to take a step back and make an important distinction: there are actually several Giovanni's in the region.
In fact, there are three very close by- two in downtown proper and one in Dormont, and they all appear to be independent of each other.
So it should be no surprise that when we ordered our pizza from Giovanni's, we assumed we were getting it from one when it in fact came from another. Oops.
As it turns out, we ordered from the Dormont Giovanni's which boasts that it is home to a winner of “Pittsburgh's best pizza” and “famous” bread twists- two claims we wanted to find out about first hand.
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A Decent Neighborhood Pizza Shop
To start this particular review, I want to highlight the fact that Giovanni's is very proud of highlighting their awards. It is on their website, menu, and even on the side of their boxes.
That being said, I couldn't find any 3rd party reference to the contests in question aside from one radio station awarding it best in the South Hills in 2008. So when I ordered the Spinach & Feta, “voted 3rd best in North America,” I had to take it with a grain of salt as I could not verify it anywhere. I tossed on a Neapolitan margherita onto my order for good measure and awaited their delivery.
The Spinach & Feta pizza has a garlic butter sauce base and is amply topped with spinach, tomatoes, onions, feta, and mushrooms. It has a fairly crispy crust and is a very savory pie overall. While I still could not confirm the award it won, I would call the pizza solid all the same for those who are in the mood for a rich pie.
The Neopolitan margherita was a bit different from those you'd expect as it is very heavy on the tomatoes both in terms of sauce and diced tomatoes while being rather light on the cheese. Throw in a rather unseasoned tomato sauce and a doughy crust (which seemed strikingly different from the Spinach & Feta), and I would have said it came from a different pizza joint altogether. Sadly, not all of that is a good thing.
On its own, the toppings of the Neapolitan margherita make for a good pizza, but it is not what you'd call a classic Neapolitan by any means. Call it a tomato pie, call it cheese pizza, call it anything else and you'll be good, but Neapolitan margherita in the way we would think it is not.
Be Sure to Grab Their “Famous” Bread Twists
As I am a sucker for good marketing, I also had to try the “famous” bread twists. When I see that something is “famous” I have to try it if only because I am compelled to verify or debunk such claims. Such is the case for the “famous” bread twists at Giovanni's, which ended up being our favorite twists we've had in Pittsburgh to date.
Rather than being served in typical garlic knot style, the twists here are almost rolled like a miniature calzone. Our Spinach and feta was stuffed to the brim and came with additional cheeses inside and grated on top. The side marinara sauce was much sweeter than on the pizzas, making it a perfect complement to the rich and garlicky twists.
When you order from Giovanni's, do not forget a side of these- you won't regret it.
Overall, Giovanni's is a decent Pittsburgh pizza shop that is perfect for the neighborhood. I'm not really sure I understand where all of the award winning distinctions come from, but that is more than okay in the long run.
Giovanni's is located at 3047 W Liberty Avenue in Dormont.