Pittsburgh’s food scene wasn’t exactly anything to write home about 20 years ago. Two forward-thinking food entrepreneurs set out to change that.
Ron Molinaro was a self-assured 25-year-old pizza maker looking to introduce his hometown to the wonders of Neapolitan-style pizza. And he did, when he opened Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon in 1996.
Nick Ambeliotis, on the other hand, was a seasoned food importer and distributor with dreams of making the finest artisan bread the city had seen, using the same laborious, centuries-old techniques as his Greek ancestors. That became a reality with the advent of Robinson’s Mediterra Bakehouse in 2002.
In the mid-1990s, their paths crossed. Mr. Ambeliotis was Mr. Molinaro’s purveyor for ingredients from Italy when he started Il Pizzaiolo. Mr. Molinaro, in turn, was one of Mr. Ambeliotis’ first customers when he opened Mediterra, and still buys his bread today.
In celebration of Father’s Day on Sunday, we take a look at how the two breadwinners got their start in Pittsburgh.