A new generation of pizzaiolos is rising in Pittsburgh.
They are young, passionate perfectionists and stick to an artisanal script. For them, the ultimate pizza is about the dough and not so much about the topping.
Neil Blazin (Driftwood Oven), David Anoia (Pizzeria Davide), Kevin Konn (Romulus-al Taglio), Sara Boyer (Iron Born Pizza), Chris Bartko (Gabagool Pizzeria), Michael Mercurio (Mercurio’s) and Anthony Ambeliotis (Mediterra Bakehouse) will stretch and bake their signature pies and serve them oven-hot on June 23 at the PizzaFest — A Slice of Delish.
The 21-plus event, which is from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Pennsylvania Market in the Strip District, will feature demos on how to stretch dough and make mozzarella. Ole Smoky Whiskey Distillery and Arsenal Cider House will will pour whiskeys and hard ciders, and discuss how best to pair them with pizzas..
Tickets are $25 online or $35 at the door.
“We are always looking for something new and people here love their pizza,” says Dee Weinberg of Good Taste Pittsburgh, who is hosting the event. “So we wanted to show the high-end of pizzas.”
Kevin Konn, 38, Romulus Pizza al Taglio
The Mt. Lebanon native attended the now-closed Le Cordon Bleu but settled on making pizzas after going to Seattle. After learning to make Roman pizzas, known for their hydrated dough and slow fermentation, from Massimiliano Saieva at the Roman Pizza Academy in Miami, he opened shop at The Pennsylvania Market in the Strip District last November. He now holds classes on making Roman-style pizzas and helped in picking the participants for the festival.
Rolling Dough with Pizza OS
Pizza for the fest.
“Justin Balla, my partner in crime, and I will have two kinds of Roman pizzas. One is a classic Margherita pizza topped with San Marzano tomatoes, housemade mozzarella and basil. The other is a deconstructed pierogi pizza with Yukon potato puree, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions and kielbasa.”
What sets apart a Roman pizza?
“It is rectangular but is not a Sicilian pizza, which is more dense. The very hydrated dough and fermentation process distinguishes a Roman pizza. The dough has less flour and more water — almost 90% water. I cold proof the dough for four days, then ball the dough and let it sit for eight days at room temp before stretching it out.”
And the crust?
“It looks like it is heavy but it is not because of the air pockets. It is light and crispy and won’t make you want to run a marathon. But it’s more than a snack. I don’t like to use treated flours.”
Are you about the dough or topping?
“I’m always about the dough, which is a great vessel to hold everything. You have to taste the extra-virgin olive oil and the flour. I was taught to make it by the best of the best — Massimiliano Saieva. Science and math are involved in making it.”
What is your beverage of choice with pizza?
“Coke. I will drink the beer afterwards.”
Your go-to pizza?
“It is a marinara pizza with San Marzano tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, oregano and no cheese. It should not be overwhelmed with toppings.”
What’s your fave shop in town?
It’s Don Campiti’s Pizzeria in Dormont. The pizza is thin and crispy and I grew up on it. It tastes of memories and brings me home.”