Pittsburgh duo can deliver the pizza and its oven


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It would be too much to hope for that Pittsburgh's latest mobile food vendor, Pizza Boat, would be selling and serving pizza from an actual boat.

But it's still pretty good that two guys are planning to ply the land around the three rivers with a pizza oven on wheels.

They'll be firing it up this weekend for what they're billing as the "1st Tri-Annual East End Olympics."

Held at Bayardstown Social Club, the outdoor picnic space at 3008 Penn Ave. in the Strip District, it's "an afternoon social event to celebrate good food, good beer, and good times out-of-doors. This is Pittsburgh's premier forum to judge and be judged on competitive lawn games, athletic prowess and overall performance as a human being."

The games begin at 1 p.m. Sunday. The $6 admission gets a personal pizza, draft beer (craft and "also less good beer for those who burn their tongues on the pizza"), music and other fun.

Meet Jeff Ryan, 29, and Matt Watson, 28, of Friendship. Mr. Ryan grew up in Robinson and after college, moved to New York City, where he wound up working for about four years for Roberta's Pizza, which had several mobile pizza ovens.

Mr. Watson, a Grove City native who got to know Mr. Ryan via his twin bother while going to college in Pittsburgh, wound up joining him at Roberta's for about a year and a half.

They decided to move back to Pittsburgh and give mobile pizza a go here.

They toyed with an idea of an actual boat, but soon realized how difficult that would be, so while that's an "intangible dream," Mr. Ryan says, they're sticking with the name.

They found their oven-on-a-trailer near Cleveland, the project of a stonemason and a welder who had a big grill on it, too. But they took off the grill as they made a few modifications, such as adding plumbing and a sink. They pull the roughly 3,000-pound contraption with a 1997 Chevy Suburban.

They stress that they are not yet a business nor Allegheny County Health Department certified, but they plan to be by next spring. They'll get help negotiating mobile food rules and regulations from Megan Lindsay of Pittsburgh Mobile Food and of Franktuary, where Mr. Ryan worked as kitchen manager for a time. Now he and Mr. Watson work at Dinette in East Liberty.

"Pizza is where our heart is," says Mr. Ryan.

At Sunday's Bayardstown event, they're just wanting to give people a taste of their Neopolitan-style pie, which they'll bake for no more than a minute in the 900-degree, wood-fired oven. They'll also give away some T-shirts they had printed with most striking artwork by local artist Joe Mruk (see it in color at pizzaboatpgh.com).

To preregister your team to compete (just two people in any event) in the East End Olympics -- games include bocce, croquet, badminton and "a humiliatingly difficult obstacle race DEATH MATCH!!" -- visit http://eastendolympics.com.

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Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr. First Published September 12, 2013 4:00 AM


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