Munch -- er, the Artists Formerly Known as Munch -- are always on the lookout for a good slice of pizza pie. We're also on the lookout for a reliable spot for milkshakes and hand-dipped ice cream. And if you can find them both in the same storefront, so much the better, just as long as the strawberry syrup isn't confused for the marinara.
So much the better, then, is the wedge of Pittsburgh real estate where Forbes Avenue meets South Braddock Avenue. Most of the southeast corner is now taken up by Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen, but the building at 7600 Forbes, across the street from Frick Park, is also home to a new pizza and ice cream spot called -- get ready for a bolt of creative inspiration -- Park Pizza & Cream.
Park Pizza opened in October, replacing one of my favorite East End ice cream shops, Regent Square's Rose's Ice Cream. Rose's had a four-year run at that same corner, serving up goods from Kerber's Dairy, the 50-year-old North Huntingdon ice cream maker.
Park Pizza is using the same dairy supplier, and the same ancient Kelvinator-brand freezers, and already it has a leg up on Rose's in that it is open year-round, rather than seasonally. Because sometimes you want a bowl of whitehouse cherry in the middle of cold and flu season, ya know? I've yet to meet a sore throat that can't be soothed with alternating rations of whitehouse cherry ice cream and Delsym extra-strength.
Kids, please, don't try that at home.
But yes, on the whole, it's tough for a small ice cream shop to move enough product during the cold Pittsburgh winters to keep the doors open 12 months a year, which explains the pizza half of the equation. Here, there are a half-dozen specialty pizzas on the menu, and the most interesting of these is the "bianca" ($11 for a small six-cut). It's a white pizza, with the customary white pizza toppings -- mozzarella, tomato slices, basil sprigs. Beneath that, though, you'll find a thin layer of crushed garlic and ricotta cheese, and this makes all the difference. (Often in life, garlic and ricotta cheese make all the difference, though not always in the same dish.)
The pizza dough is a custom blend made by Sunseri's in the Strip District, and this brotherly Italian provenance explains Park Pizza's excellent sub sandwich rolls, as well -- chewy, crusty, dense, perfect. The meatball sub ($5.50 for six inches, $9.50 for the foot-long, which seems steep) was a sloppy pile of beef and cheese and red sauce, in the manner of more or less all meatball subs, but it was the roll that truly stood out.
A hoagie bun tour de force, if you will allow me to stretch the phrase inelegantly.
Dessert? Whitehouse cherry, obviously ($2.25). They have about 20 flavors here, and you can dress them up in all of the usual ways (sundaes, banana splits, floats and milkshakes).
It's a bright but tight space, and the business, for now, is mostly takeout. But there is seating for 12 beneath the colorful indoor mural (kids eating ice cream and pizza, naturally), and if you can't score a table, Park Pizza plans to start a delivery service this month.
If you come here looking for haute cuisine, you're better off at Alma; nor will you find inspired pub grub or giant ostrich burgers or artisanal ramen any other of-the-moment offerings. But you will find good pizza and good locally made ice cream, and with a name like Park Pizza & Cream, what else were you really hoping for?
Park Pizza & Cream is at 7600 Forbes Ave., Regent Square; 412-871-3922 and www.parkpizzacream.com, Open Mondays through Saturdays.munch