With our son, The Philosopher graduating as a “master” Duke, my trip with Mrs. Pie to Pittsburgh for his cap and gown ceremony could very well be our last visit to this great city. That’s such a shame since we really fell in love with Pittsburgh. While it’s a big city, it has a small-town feel along with that East Coast charm of great neighborhoods, friendly people and a slew of un-boring Mom & Pop businesses. And as to that last point, this included a few great pizza places.
My first pizza stop on this swan song visit was a rather rushed one. Driving downtown from our digs in Shadyside, we would always pass The Original Milano’s Pizzaria on Fifth that made a great drive-by impression on the Snob. Add to that the fact that the non-pizza eating, Mrs. Philosopher, who works across the street, said that her co-workers loved the place. Well, it just so happens that we were going for an early-dinner Asian Hot Pot just down the block. So, you can of course guess where I went for an appetizer while my family was getting us a table and ordering dinner.
Milano’s caters to the downtown working crowd and this time of day when the area gets quiet, they start focusing on deliveries. I made my way inside this standard-looking pizza joint to order a PC (“plain cheese” slice). Being late in the day, there were only two slices still available on display. One was all gussied up that some other guy took and the other was luckily a PC. I did get a bit skeptical since the carton date on this slice looked to have long expired.
Amazingly, the pizza maestro at Milano’s toasted my PC slice so hot, crisp and crunchy, it was hard not to enjoy this slice that came back from being near dead. It was dark and swirlier than usual courtesy of a rich tomato sauce and a late sprinkle of some shredded Mozzarella. Usually done to judge the effectiveness of the reheating process, this extra cheese drop was a little more than usual. It had the odd effect of creating a slightly unwelcome three-layer taste and there was a stark contrast between the older cheese on the bottom and the fresher drop on top.
Still, this slice was hot, tasty, crispy and hard to not love. A great mix of sauce and cheese below the fresh mootz, it was lovingly thin. The end crust however was quite dry, perhaps a symptom of its age, as was the absence of any noticeable oil on top.
Milano’s slice is awfully good and doesn’t really fit the style of some of the great Pittsburgh slices I have previously had. Also, while not quite your typical NY-style slice, it sure is a close cousin. Regardless, it’s a one that I highly recommend if it’s in your striking distance.
PIZZA SNOB RATING **** Near Perfection
The Original Milano’s Pizzaria
3606 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213