One of the best things about being a professional journalist, aside from being able to clip your fingernails at your desk without colleagues thinking anything of it, is that your life is pretty much awash in pizza. Election night? Pizza in the newsroom. Random Friday night? Pizza in the newsroom. Win an extremely major journalism prize? Celebratory pizza in the newsroom. Win an extremely minor journalism prize? Regardless, there shall be pizza in the newsroom.
Spend enough years in the business, you eat a lot of pies. As such, journalists become pizza connoisseurs nearly by default. Which is why you can trust my opinion when I tell you that the pizza at Slice on Broadway is very, very good.
So good that the tiny pizza shop along Beechview's Broadway Avenue can no longer contain itself. First, it added a small but handsomely rustic upstairs dining room, in a space that used to be an apartment. Then it acquired a liquor license, allowing it to serve a selection of wine and take-out beer. And now it's planning to open a second location, in Carnegie (Slice on Broadway II) later this year.
Probably the best compliment I can pay the pizza is that my daughter, who is 23 months old and has a notably finicky palate, ate nearly two whole slices. This is a child who will not eat cake, nor ice cream, nor chicken fingers, nor cookies, nor blueberries, nor anything that you might reasonably expect a 2-year-old to enjoy.
But the slice of plain cheese pizza? Snarfed it.
We adults enjoyed Slice, as well, and used the Munch bankroll to test-drive a couple of pies and sandwiches. The "Fancy Pants" pizza ($11.95 for a small) came lightly dressed in a fragrant basil pesto, and silky, salty ribbons of prosciutto balanced nicely with the sweet sun-dried tomatoes and the dollops of goat cheese. Sublime.
"The Big Lou" ($9.95, small) would not precisely pass for a meat-lover's pizza at one of the big chains, but only because they are a bit more judicious with their toppings at Slice. A couple of buttons of pepperoni, a sprinkling of hot Italian sausage, and some fresh mushrooms over cheese and red sauce. Simple, elegant, tasty; like the rest of the pizzas here, this one came on a sturdy yet splinter-thin crust, raised here and there by char bubbles.
Subs, which are presented on Breadworks baguettes, were also richly crafted. A Caprese sub ($6.95) is the salad you know and love on a bun: some tomato, some mozzarella, some olive oil, and then the basil for a bit of sweet herbaceousness. Basil is also featured in the BBLT ($6.95): bacon, lettuce, tomato and house-made basil-pesto mayonnaise (which is where they get that extra B).
Slice is one more exceedingly pleasant place on an avenue of increasingly pleasant spots: Crested Duck Charcuterie, Las Palmas, Casta Rasta, Brew coffee shop, and now this one.
Is this the best pizza in Pittsburgh? I don't know. There are plenty of fine pizzerias in the city and its suburbs. But it's clear why it receives so much love on Yelp and in the various best-of polls, and why this pizza shop, opened three years ago by co-owners Joe Ciotti (a former buyer for Lord & Taylor, and surely one of the city's few Bucknell-educated pizza men) and Rico Lunardi (formerly of Lunardi's Italian restaurant, just a few paces north on Broadway Avenue, now closed) has grown so popular so quickly.
Slice is not too fancy, but not too pedestrian; it aspires to gourmet pizzas without gourmet prices. The attention to detail is evident on every pie. If you don't believe the newspaperman, just ask the 2-year-old.
Slice on Broadway is at 2128 Broadway Ave., Beechview; 412-531-1068 and sliceonbroadway.com; open seven days.
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