giardiniera from Proper Brick Oven Tap Room

Proper Brick Oven Tap Room, great addition to cultural district

Proper Brick Oven Tap RoomDowntown Pittsburgh’s cultural district transformation is nothing short of impressive. While Butcher & The Rye and Grit & Grace are getting a lot of press lately, Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room has recently won me over as my new favorite spot downtown. Located on Seventh Street next to the Benedum Center, it’s impressive to walk in and see the brick oven right in front of you with seating should you want to watch the chef make each and every pizza by hand.

On my first visit to Proper, it was a quiet winter weekend afternoon with no large performances so as you would expect, the place was slow. TasteBudA and I sat at the main bar which boasts an impressive selection of rotating craft beers from breweries local and afar.  In fact, I learned there is a brewery I’d never heard of from Millvale!

Beer flights of four 4 o.z. pours are just $9 and a great way to taste a selection of new brews.  I ordered myself a flight to start and for my lunch ordered the Carnivore Pizza.

San Marzano tomatoes / house-made sweet and hot Italian sausage / spicy pepperoni / bacon / house-made mozzarella

Carnivore Pizza from Proper Brick Oven Tap Room
Carnivore Pizza from Proper Brick Oven Tap Room

The pizza was fantastic.  The crust was nice and soft but held the massive amount of meat toppings well.  I really enjoyed the mixture of sweet and hot sausage on the pizza.  Much to my luck, the pizza went well with the beers I selected on the flight too.  Next time, I may have to sit by the oven so I can see the artist – er, chef – at work crafting this pizza.   While I didn’t really want to share, I did find it in my heart to offer TasteBudA a slice, though he didn’t oblige.

TasteBudA got the Sausage & Pepper Puccia. While usually you envision Italian Sausage to be in link form, this sandwich was served butterflied and coated with melted provolone cheese. Flavor-wise the sandwich was on point.  TasteBudA’s only critical comment was that the sandwich may have sat and cooled off too much while my pizza finished cooking.

Sausage & Pepper
hot Italian sausage / roasted sweet and hot peppers / roasted garlic spread / provolone

 Sausage & Pepper Puccia from Proper Brick Oven Tap Room
Sausage and Pepper Puccia

I saved the best part for last.  By far, the most exciting part of my meal was the homemade side of giardiniera that I ordered with my pizza. The best way to describe the taste is to envision pickled vegetables drained of the salty, vinegary brine and tossed in an Italian dressing. The spicy pickled house vegetable mix was delicious and will surely keep me coming back for more. In fact, I stopped in on St. Patrick’s Day to have a flight of beers and a side of giardiniera.

Giardiniera from Proper Brick Oven Tap Room
Best Damn Part of the Meal: The Side of Giardiniera

Proper is a top-grade place that can certainly hold its own among other downtown powerhouse restaurants.  When you stop and think about it, it fits in nicely to compliment the offerings in the cultural district.  Fine-dining pizza isn’t something other cultural district restaurants hang their hat on, so I hope they take the opportunity to stand out for their pizza.  Personally, I look forward to going back for the pizza.  But if I’m being totally honest, I’d go back just for more giardiniera.

Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room on Urbanspoon

Giorgio’s Place

Giorgio's Place on UrbanspoonThis sit down pizza place on Western Ave of the Northside offers a simple, but delicious menu. We will caution that the restaurant is cash-only, but there is a 7-Eleven with an ATM only a block away. (Before we could realize it, we sadly witnessed two local soldiers walk away because they didn’t have cash.)

I was impressed with the side salad, it was well beyond a bagged salad that we’ve gotten from similar-sized restaurants. The pizza was very good, but the stromboli was more impressive. The sausage stromboli was packed with sliced, italian link sausage and a generous amount of cheese.
All and all, it was a simple dinner that was satisfying. If they were open on Sundays, we’d gladly work them into our Steelers pizza rotation.

Pizza Pie in New York!

John's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon
New York City is know for many different cuisine, but Italian flavors rank very high in the Big Apple.  On Friday night before seeing a Broadway show (The Addams Family)  we decided to try a well known Pizza spot in the city called John’s Pizzeria in Midtown West. 

John’s Pizzeria is a very busy spot with a lot of seating and quick service.  Our show started at 8pm and we had a bit of a late start to dinner, but John’s catered to us very well in the short time we had to eat.  We ordered a 8 cut pie with sausage and peppers. 
The Pizza came out very hot, the topping portions, cheese and sauce were perfect all around.  The best thing was when you took a bite, you didn’t have the annoyance of toppings falling off, which for me is a big deal.  The size of the slices were perfect and between the both of us was a perfect amount to fill us up before the show. 
When it comes to price it was the perfect split,  especially with our drinks and tip.  I definitely recommend John’s for service, taste and price!  Also, make sure to let your server know you are headed to a show nearby, which in my opinion helped time our table so we could enjoy our food and have plenty of time to walk over to the show. 
John’s also has beautiful architecture as well so you can not only enjoy the company but the view from all around.

Thank you John’s for an enjoyable dinner and a fun start to our evening!

Left Unfulfilled by Colangelo’s

Colangelo's Bakery on Urbanspoon
Colangelo’s has good ingredients, but if you are ordering takeout, don’t count on getting what you ordered.  Now, I don’t say this out of haste.  I’ve had two consecutive food orders messed up!  If you’d followed my posts on the blog, you’ve seen that I tend to be a fan of pizzas.  Colangelo’s pizza has all of the right elements of a good pizza; I’d even go as far as to say that the pizza is good.  But as a consumer, getting the pizza the way you ordered it, should be considered when reviewing a good pizza.

Arriving to work today, I was craving a good slice of a white pizza.  The “white” part of my order apparently was lost on whoever took the order because I received a red pizza, again!    Sure, I’ll eat the pizza, but my craving will go unfulfilled.  Oh, and the so-called hot peppers, aren’t hot at all.

Next time I resort to ordering takeout, I guess I’ll just stick to the pasta dishes from Colangelo’s.

Pizza in the Strip!

Bella Notte Pizza Pasta & More on Urbanspoon
Tastebud A Here!: Like any typical Tuesday I was working downtown and was hungry for something good and cheap. Many of my coworkers always told me that Bella Notte had really great pizza for a good price. And they were so right!

Pizza by the slice is 3 dollars, small additional charge per topping. For just over 5 dollars I had a single slice of Pizza with Pepperoni and Mushroom and a iced tea. The slice was HUGE! I could hardly finish it. I also added some ranch dressing with my pizza because face it…Ranch goes with almost anything! It was so good, the toppings were fresh, the pizza was cooked just right. I was afraid by doing a single slice that my pizza would come out over cooked but they were on there game during the working day lunch hour. If you also work in the strip they are pretty quick on getting your food out to you. I told the young woman who took my order that I had to be at work by a certain time and she made sure that my pizza came out fast and she dropped off the bill when my food came. There is nothing worse when you have to rush you food during your lunch hour.

This would also be a good place to sit outside and eat and to take the family for a good pizza. I did see they had some outside seating as well. They also have more than just pizza and if the pizza is good then im sure the rest of the menu items should be amazing.Make sure you stop in the next time you are shopping in the Strip District buying your yinzer gear or produce at Wholeys! I can’t wait to go back!

Pasta Too

Pasta Too on Urbanspoon

One day TasteBud A and I, TasteBud B, were looking to order a pizza to eat during a Steelers game and after he had a bad experience with Pizza Hut he suggested we order from Pasta Too. — Now, I have lived in Pittsburgh for a few years and always would drive passed Pasta Too on Federal Street and think “why is there a random Pasta restaurant on this block.” I enjoy pasta, but really shouldn’t be gorging on such carb-heavy meals. — So I replied that I didn’t want to have pasta. When he told me it was a pizza place, but he’d never eaten it, we decided to give it a shot.
We taste buds have something great in common, a constant craving for pizza.
Our order from Pasta Too:

one 8-cut Pizza with Sweet Peppers and Sausage

We picked it up and it was very reasonably priced at just under $10. The pizza was amazing. I almost didn’t want to be drink my beer because I wanted to savor the taste of the slightly sweet pizza sauce. Before we knew it, we had finished the pizza and the Steelers had won.
Although the football game was victorious, the pizza overshadowed the win and we now crave Pasta Too! We can’t wait to try other topping combinations now. The nearby Pizza Hut may have just lost our business forever …