The Quest to Find the Best Pizza in Pittsburgh

Posted By Jeremy in Eat & Drink


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In our endless quest to experience all Pittsburgh has to offer, we are on the look out for the region’s best meals.

One food we absolutely love is pizza, and Pittsburgh has no shortage of restaurants offering up these delicious creations. But as with everything not all pizza shops are created equal, and our quest to find the best pizza in Pittsburgh was born!

What We Look for in a Pizza

Fig Pizza at Porch in Oakland

Pizza is one of those food items you could ask any person on the street and they would have a different opinion on what “good” means.

To some it is the sauce, to others it is how hot it is when it arrives, the quality of ingredients, the type of crust and how it is cooked, and on and on and on.

This makes taking in recommendations somewhat tricky as even the worst neighborhood pizza joint could have a decent following and give it glowing reviews. But if you don’t know what the person looks for in a pizza, you may not understand what the big deal is about when you try it for yourself.

So when it comes to us reviewing pizza, we wanted to set out a fairly straight forward set of criteria that we look for in a good pizza- one that can be applied to all of our reviews.

Our global criteria is to answer the eternal question: “what makes this pizza stand out from a neighborhood pizza joint?” We’d like to think you know the type when we say “neighborhood pizza joint”- they’re the corner shops that all seem to use the same low-quality ingredients, are dripping with grease, and have relatively bland flavor.

As pizza lovers we can eat this all day without thinking twice, but it isn’t to say we enjoy it much beyond the convenience aspect of it being literally just across the street.

For our reviews, we wanted to find the shops that stand out as being better- be it for their crust, toppings, sauce, sides, or any number of combinations. These are the kind of things we want to find on our quest for the best pizza in Pittsburgh.

A Few Notes: This guide is only to be taken as a list of places we’ve been to and reviewed on our site so far. It is not comprehensive. If you would like to make a recommendation please comment or email us at jeremy@discovertheburgh.com.

We are also not accounting for sides or other menu items in our rankings here- only the pizzas themselves.

Finally, many restaurants in Pittsburgh serve pizza; however, we are keeping this post to be either traditional pizza shops or restaurants with a disproportionately high number of pizzas on the menu (Italian restaurants with pizza menus would qualify). Restaurants with one or two pizzas on the menu are not included unless they are absolutely spectacular.

Neighborhood Pizza Joints

Pizza Fiesta

For better or worse, some of the pizza shops we try come across simply are average. In many cases this is not to say that they are bad, but just that they do not stand out in the sea of corner pizza shops and the common Pittsburgh pizza style at large.

They may have one pie that is truly amazing, or even have a great side (in fact, most of the ones we’ve visited we’ve enjoyed the sides better than the pizzas!), but beyond those are simply not that memorable. They can still satisfy a craving if you want something quick and nearby, although we would not go out of our way for them.

The pizza joints we’ve reviewed so far that far into this category include the following:

As we don’t have much to say about average neighborhood pizza joints (check out the reviews for some highlights), we will reserve the more detailed dialogue for the rest.

Decent Pizza in Pittsburgh

For a pizza to be called decent, it has to be just a cut above the rest. These pizza places do enough to distinguish themselves from the neighborhood joints, but may only have one or two hooks that get you to warrant a visit over a neighborhood shop unless you are truly in the mood for something specific.

La Tavola

La Tavola Pizza

La Tavola is one of our favorite Italian restaurants in the city, but did you know that this Mount Washington staple has a pizza shop tucked away in the back corner?

The pizza at La Tavola comes in traditional rounds as well as square cut Sicilians. We found the rounds to be somewhat disappointing as while the toppings were delicious there was a lack of focus on making a good crust and sauce altogether.

La Tavola Sicilian Pizza

The square cut Sicilians are a marked improvement with a thicker crust that has a nice solid bite to it (and is crisp to the point of being crumbly, even), which is why we’re giving this one a boost into the decent category.

We opted for the Nona Pina’s Sicilian, their grandmother’s specialty, which was only an onion based tomato sauce topped with basil, Romano cheese, and other spices- full of flavor and definitely worth adding on to any order!

La Tavola is located at 1 Boggs Avenue on Mount Washington.

Beto’s

Beto's Pizza

You may know Beto’s as the place that puts a mound of cold toppings (including cheese) on their slices. This pizza is a bit of a novelty in the region and, while it has its place, is still a bit odd. We’ll go here when we have a craving, but we have to be honest in saying that the craving doesn’t come all that often.

Beto’s is located at 1473 Banksville Road in Beechview.

Fiori’s

Fiori's Pizza

Fiori’s receives a lot of local attention for their pies, and has an almost cult like following behind it. We get it, its decent pizza, but at the end of the day the quality of ingredients and flavors are only just a little better from the rest.

If that is enough to get you to drive across town for a pizza, we won’t judge, but I’m not sure it is enough for us other than the slight quality bump. For that, we’ll give it a decent rating.

Fiori’s is located at 103 Capital Avenue in Brookline.

Joe & Pie

Joe & Pie Pizza

Joe & Pie is located in the cultural district and kicks their pizza up with a delicious crust that is almost cracker like in the middle (read: thin and crispy).

This is balanced with sufficiently puffy edges and unusual topping combinations. We sampled the Joe & Pie special which features white sauce, gyro meat, two kinds of cheeses, spinach, and tomatoes. A hearty and flavorful pizza that does not hold back.

Joe & Pie is located at 955 Liberty Avenue in the Cultural District.

Police Station Pizza (Robinson)

Police Station Pizza

If you take Beto’s pizza from above, bake it longer, and ensure all the toppings are warm the whole way through (aside from an extra sprinkling of cold cheese on after), you’ll get Police Station Pizza.

We visited the Robinson Township franchise location and tried combinations of plain, pepperoni and hot pepper, and a self-made deluxe. The by-the-slice setup works well here because Police Station Pizza is best when right out of the oven as the thick crust gives a great bite unlike no other.

But when leftover this one does not hold up unless you re-bake it, making this one best for consuming at the store only.

Police Station Pizza’s original location is in Ambridge; however, our review was from the Robinson Township location at 1124 Park Manor Blvd.

DeMore’s Pizzeria

DeMore's Pizzeria

DeMore’s Pizzeria has won many local awards for their pizzas due to their unusual topping combinations (such as the amazing Eggplant Parm or a BBQ brisket creation that is as much a monster sandwich as it is pizza).  

The pizza itself beyond the toppings is a solid, but does little to stand out on its own- meaning that DeMore’s best offerings are the specialty creations.

DeMore’s Pizzeria is located at 1256 Evergreen Road in Millvale.

D&G Pizza

D&G Pizza

D&G Pizza in Beaver Falls serves up the local favorite Ohio Valley style pizza- namely square cuts with cold toppings (albeit with a small amount of cheese baked on-top). Much like others of this style, we call this one decent simply because we have not found one that has overwhelmingly impressed us one way or another.

The flavors are good, the style is better than neighborhood joints by far, but beyond that they don’t stand out that much.

That being said the crust on this one is crisp, but not too crisp, and the toppings are not mounded up so high that you can’t taste anything else. They’re still cold, but you get a better balance of the warm crust due to the proportions which we can certainly appreciate.

If you order this one to go, Beaver Brewing Company next door offers a perfect compliment in the form of delicious beer that would allow this one to rank just a wee bit higher if we considered outside factors beyond the pizza shop’s control.

D&G Pizza is located at 1818 7th Avenue in Beaver Falls, PA. Check out Buttermilk Falls just north of town before stopping for a slice here!

Bubba’s

Bubba's Pizza in Greensburg

Bubba’s in Greensburg has one of the more unusual pizzas to make this guide, and we’re torn on whether or not to call it pizza at all (they do, so we’re going with it).

This one is a thicker, focaccia-like dough (read: soft crust) with inverted toppings that is reminiscent of some of the Detroit style pizzas we’ll feature later on.

It isn’t the kind of pie you’d drive all the way over to Greensburg for, but if you are nearby and want to try something different with some really good flavors you’ll certainly get that here. While there be sure to try their delicious Polish food that they are known for- yes they do both!

Bubba’s is located at 14 N Westmoreland Avenue in Greensburg.

Above Average Pizza in Pittsburgh

For a pizza to be above average, we start to look at the increase in quality of the pizza as well as more than just a few key things that make it stand out.

These small details may be no different than a decent pizza above depending on how you review pizzas, but the final product comes out to with a taste that we prefer just a little bit more.

Dinette

Dinette

Dinette in East Liberty focuses on small plates and personal pan pizzas that are cooked in their brick oven pizza and topped with local ingredients (many of which are grown on their roof top garden).

The only thing holding back from rating this one much higher is that their price ($20 including tip) is a bit steep for their size.

Dinette is located at 5996 Centre Avenue in East Liberty.

Caliente Pizza and Draft House

Caliente Pizza

The folks at Caliente Pizza and Draft House have been making names for themselves in the pizza scene, winning international competitions for their pan pizza.

So it should be no surprise that this one is ranked highly because of their crust (although the fresh toppings don’t hurt it).

When comparing the two, we definitely enjoyed the crust of the pan as a superior product over the standard pizzas, but we have to admit that the edges are almost too puffy and take a fair bit of surface area away from the delicious toppings. Still, a solid pizza all the same.

Caliente Pizza and Draft House has several locations in the region. Our review is based off of the location at 4624 Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield.

Michigan & Trumbull

Michigan & Trumbull at Federal Galley

Michigan & Trumbull is one of the four food stalls found at the restaurant incubator Federal Galley in the North Side. This one focuses on Detroit style pizza which is thick crust with an inverted layer of toppings (cheese, toppings, and then sauce).

This one has some pros and cons which knock it out of our top category ever-so-slightly. On the pro side, the thick dough is fairly light and both the crust and toppings are full of flavors that we absolutely love.

On the con side, the toppings tend to be lumped in the center of the four slices, and for the 8″ x 10″ pizza the price of $13-$17 per pie was a bit much for what you get.

But if you can get beyond these somewhat small issues the pizzas at Michigan & Trumbull are worth trying!

Michigan & Trumbull is located at Federal Galley at 200 Children’s Way in the North Side.

Spirit and Slice Island Pizza

Slice Island Pizza

The pizza at Slice Island (located at Spirit bar in Lawrenceville) is not for everyone, let’s just get that out of the way early.

This one is Sicilian style and square cut, but they put an emphasis on unusual toppings like sausage and corn or pea shoots, jalapenos, and strawberries.

Weird? Definitely. Takes a bit to get used to? For sure. We started out not liking this one very much but by the time we finished our tray we were craving more. We rank this one above average because of that with the caveat that we know not everyone will have the same opinion.

Spirit is located at 242 51st Street in Lawrenceville.

Proper Brick Oven

Pig and the Fig at Proper Brick Oven in Pittsburgh

Proper Brick Oven in downtown Pittsburgh focuses on brick oven pizzas (naturally) and other Italian inspired mains. During our visit we sampled a pie with prosciutto, figs, and goat cheese that was topped with fig-infused balsamic vinegar.

Between these wonderful toppings and a nice, charred crust we have to say that the pizza came together as one of the better ones we’ve had in downtown Pittsburgh. Just ignore the low quality of this photo and try it!

Proper Brick Oven is located at 139 7th Street in downtown Pittsburgh. They also have a food truck.

Badamo’s Pizza

Badamo's Pizza Pittsburgh

Badamo’s Pizza is one of those spots that is right on the line between above average and amazing for us, and we give them high marks for a simple reason- both their traditional and Sicilian style pizzas are solid (a rare feat for establishments that offer both).

In both cases the pizzas are relatively light on the cheese and sauce (with the Sicilian being a bit heavier on the latter), and the flavors of the toppings and crust are allowed to come through nicely. The crust could stand to be a bit crispier and the toppings are a bit sparse at times, especially on the traditional pies.

But whether you want an entire pizza or a slice on the fly you’ll do right by visiting this one.

Badamo’s Pizza has two locations- one at 656 Washington Rd. in Mt Lebanon and one at 1106 Federal Street in the North Side. We visited the North Side location for our review.

Amazing Pizza in Pittsburgh

For a pizza to be called amazing, it has to pretty much have everything we look for in a pizza. Namely good crust, fresh toppings, cooked to perfection, and overall be the kind of pie we would love to be able to make at home. If a pizza joint falls into this category it is the kind of place we have on our list to return to time and time again (and in the case of a few of them, we have)!

Ephesus

Ephesus Pizza

Our first pizza shop on our “amazing” list is a bit of an odd one. That is because Ephesus Pizza is as much of a Turkish restaurant as it is pizzeria!

Yes, it is an odd combination but the folks at this spot make a solid pie and top it with some more unusual options like lamb or chicken kebabs (with one full kebab per slice) or Turkish pepperoni (soujouck) to name a few.

Would this one fall in a lower category without the Turkish toppings? For sure. While the base pizza here is decent, the toppings are what really knock it out of the park and has us going back again and again. So when ordering from this spot be sure to go for the Turkish inspired creations- you can’t go wrong!

Ephesus Pizza has several locations around the city. We often order from the downtown location at 219 4th Avenue near Market Square.

Driftwood Oven

Driftwood Oven Pizza

The folks at Driftwood Oven have managed to perfect something that we once thought was impossible, and that is create a mobile brick oven!

Yes, this one is a food truck that rolls up to local Pittsburgh breweries and events to crank out near perfect Neapolitan and Sicilian style pizzas. Their menu is often fairly limited, but it is one of those places you can order just about everything and be satisfied. Doing it at a brewery is just an added perk!

Driftwood Oven is a food truck. We often see them at Grist House and Roundabout Brewery.

Slice on Broadway

Slice Ginormous Pizza in Beechview

One of the biggest complaints we hear about Pittsburgh pizza is that there are no New York style pizza options in the city. While our options are quite limited for this, we have to admit that Slice on Broadway does a fantastic iteration of massive, thin pizza slices that should make any New York pizza lover proud.  

If you’re truly hungry go for the ginormous (pictured) as it is large enough to feed a small army, or simply grab a slice or two at their PNC Park location during a Pirates game!

Slice on Broadway has several locations in the city. Our review is based off of the location at 2128 Broadway Avenue in Beechview; however, we also frequent the PNC Park location with similar thoughts.

Piccolo Forno

Piccolo Forno Pizza

If you’ve ever traveled around Italy, you probably know the traditional Italian style pizza all too well. A bit larger than a personal size, a nice char from a hot oven, and incredibly thin crust that barely holds up to the toppings, thus encouraging you to eat each slice as fast as you possibly can.

If you’re looking for this style pizza in Pittsburgh, look no further than Piccolo Forno– home to what we think is some of the most authentic Italian pizza there is.

Piccolo Forno is located at 3801 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

Threadbare Cider House

Threadbare pizza

Threadbare is a cider house located in the North Side that uses locally sourced ingredients to make their tasty concoctions.

In addition to their beverage menu, Threadbare focuses on making artisan personal pizzas with seasonal ingredients (one such pizza from opening weekend included charred fennel, peach, preserved lemon, black pepper, mozzarella, and brie which was an astounding combination of flavors).

The reason we rank this pizza amongst the very best is not the toppings, even though they were quite good, but rather the crust as it was cooked perfectly and nearly all pieces we tried had a nice crunch the whole way through. It is the kind of crust we wish most other pizza places had, and for that reason we can’t stop talking about it.

Threadbare Cider House is located at 1291 Spring Garden Avenue in the North Side.

Iron Born

Iron Born Pizza

Iron Born at Smallman Galley is another pizza shop in Pittsburgh that focuses on Detroit style pizza (like Michigan & Trumbull at Smallman’s sister restaurant Federal Galley). The setup is the same with thick crust, inverted toppings, and flavors that we somehow never knew we were missing.

Iron Born makes our top category for their intense flavors, crispy crusts, but is also a bit on the more expensive side of the spectrum as far as pizzas are concerned.

Iron Born is located inside Smallman Galley at 54 21st Street in the Strip District.

The Upper Crust at Washington Brewing Company (Washington)

Upper Crust Pizza

To sample the pizzas from The Upper Crust, you’re going to have to make a bit of a drive. That is because this pizza shop is located in the heart of Washington, PA, just about 40 minutes south of the city.

So why would we include a pizza shop on our list that is very clearly not in the city? It is because this particular joint focuses on fresh ingredients in an abundance that would put most to shame.

Worth the drive alone? That is debatable, but if you happen to be in the area this one is a must try.

As of late 2017 The Upper Crust closed its standalone location in Washington; however, their menu is available at The Washington Brewing Company just around the corner (owned by the same team). We have decided to keep the pizza on this list but please note we have not visited since the change to confirm any menu differences from the standalone location.

The Upper Crust’s pizza menu is now available at The Washington Brewing Company at 28 E Maiden St in late 2017.

Pizzaiolo Primo

Pizzaiolo Primo

Pizzaiolo Primo in Market Square focuses on authentic Neapolitan style pizzas that are cooked in a hot brick oven and topped with fresh ingredients (some of which include mozzarella rush imported from Italy!).

These pies come at a fair premium over their counterparts from other shops. But if you are looking for something that would compete with some of the very best in Italy, we have to give credit where credit is due.

Pizzaiolo Primo is located in Market Square.

We know we have a long way to go until we’ve tried all the pizzas Pittsburgh has to offer. We try to get a few pizzas every month and will update this guide with each new pizza joint we try! If you have a recommendation we should try sooner rather than later please comment below or email us at jeremy@discovertheburgh.com to share your favorite spot. As always, more quests are coming soon!

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1 Comment

  1. We would love if you tried our pizza at The (original) Upper Crust in Fox Chapel. We are a local favorite and have hand tossed pizza with quality fresh ingredients. We are located at the corner of Harts Run and Dorseyville rd. In Fox Chapel. Thank you for your consideration.

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