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Monday, June 02, 2008

[Special Report] Mineo's Pizza House

Mineo's Pizza House
2128 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 521-9864

A marital union of two pizza club members is always a special occasion, and on Saturday, May 31, El Presidente and Kate (hereinafter known as La Primera Dona) wed. On Sunday, a few Pizza Clubbers and their friends were to visit Mineo's, which is widely recognized as the best pizza in Pittsburgh. Because a number of Pizza Clubbers were much worse for wear on Sunday morning, only four people attended: Stu and I and our respective Pittsburgh friends/hosts, Joe and Alyssa. Alyssa's boyfriend, who was home recovering from the Penguins loss and a truly impressive amount of whiskey, received a share of pizza at home after the visit.

Mineo's offers three kinds of pizza: a regular thin crust, a white pizza and a Sicilian pizza. Of course, we got one of each. The ordering process was complicated as none of us speak Pittsburghese. When I inquired about the size of the pizzas, the answers were all about cuts as in, "you can order a six-cut Sicilian or a whole Sicilian." After much confusion on my part, I figured out that cut is used instead of slices. It was the first time I truly felt dumb ordering pizza.

Anyhow, we got a small meatball thin crust, a small white pizza with tomatoes and a whole sausage Sicilian (only $4 more than a six-cut). The crust on the meatball thin crust was a good, dense crust - almost like a french bread crust. It's unclear if the ground beef that was allegedly a meatball was ever actually shaped into a meatball, but by the time it was on the pizza, it consisted of pretty sparse small pieces of meat. The sauce was smooth and seemed a little pasty - a far stylistic cry from typical Chicago sauces which are much chunkier.

The white pizza was not a traditional white pizza - there was no ricotta cheese. Instead, there was a nice thick layer of provolone cheese. The crust was similar in texture to the thin crust, but had a significant amount of olive oil in it, giving it a yellowish color. We got tomatoes on the white pizza, which was recommended and they went over very well. There was also a decent amount of olive oil on top of the pizza. Or perhaps that was oil from the provolone cheese. Either way, the white pizza was the unanimous favorite at the table.

The Sicilian pizza had a fluffy crust that was about an inch and a half thick. The sauce on the Sicilian did not seem to be as pasty as the sauce on the thin crust pie. It actually seemed to have even less sauce. The sausage, which is homemade, was incredibly tender and, I thought, delicious.

In the end, we had about twice as much pizza as we needed, but we felt we did our duty by trying all three kinds of pizzas offered by the king of all Pittsburgh pizzerias. Although, by eating the pizzas in the restaurant, it seems we may have been in the minority. A lot of people go to Mineo's and get their pizzas "half-baked" and then take them home to cook it themselves.

One interesting Chicago connection: Before Giovanni (John) Mineo opened the place in 1958, he was planning on opening a bakery when he went to Chicago to visit a friend who owned a pizzeria. According to family legend, that friend convinced Mineo to open a pizzeria and taught him how to make pizza. I've never had anything in Chicago remotely similar to Mineo's, but I can't imagine they'd make this up. If anyone knows the name of the Chicago establishment where John learned how to make his pies, I'd love to know.

Trying to bring back the cup...

The crowd-pleasing White Pizza...

Meatball Thin Crust Pizza...

The mighty Sicilian...

Where it went down...


  1. I'm not usually a big white pizza fan because ricotta cheese grosses me out, but this was very good. Olive oil makes everything better. The regular sausage pizza was fine but boring. I did like the sicilian, but it was too much and I couldn't really enjoy it there. When we brought the pizza home and reheated the next day, it was very good, if still filling.

  2. This place was alright... not as good as the better Chicago places, but not as bad as some of the bad ones either. The White Pizza was my favorite as well, and I enjoyed the Sicilian style pizza (as much as my hangover would let me at least...), the other thin crust pizza didn't measure up though.

  3. As a guest member to the CPC during its Pittsburgh trip, I was really excited to see what my new home city had to offer. But I gotta say, for being known so unanimously as Pittsburgh's Best Pizza, I was really a bit disappointed. The White pizza with the olive oil had the most surprising flavor, and the sicilian was alright, but I had higher hopes and left feeling more "full" than "satisfied". Admittedly, the pizza was pretty good reheated the next day. Perhaps better than on the first try.
    Nonetheless, I will still endeavor to find a pizza shop here that really does it right. And just for the record, if I find this place, I bet their white pizza will have loads of ricotta... and a meatball pizza will have real meatballs. I'm just sayin.

  4. Try Aiello's right up the street.

  5. So, I just went to Pittsburgh and decided I would try Mineo's like my fellow members.

    Mineo's crust was great on the edges, but certainly undercooked in the middle of the slices. The pepperoni was really great though - thick and spicy.

    The sauce was a highlight for me - thick, plentiful, only mildly sweet, and with a great nose.

    I ate it there, it was still kind of soggy. I wish I had tried the white pie and I also wish I had tried Aiello's, as the previous commenter mentions. I had a lot of beef to eat for dinner and didn't think I could eat two pizzas.