Daily Slice: 'The Provola' at Il Pizzaiolo, Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania
We're at a point in pizza history where just about every mid-sized American city has a Neapolitan-style pizzeria. But the Pittsburgh area has had a fantastic one since 1996, when Ron Molinaro opened Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon.
The VPN-cerified spot may have 15 years on some of the newbies, but it's aged well; on par with nearly any other city's orthodox Neapolitan spots. Their wood-fired oven gets up to 900°-1000°F, they say, and pizzas emerge quickly enough to support that claim. The real strength of these pies is in the crust: a little char on the bottom, crisp on the edges, airy-light and chewy on the inside. We enjoyed the Provola ($18), with San Marzano tomato sauce, basil, Parmigiano-reggiano, olive oil, cherry tomatoes that soften and spread in the heat, and a smoked mozzarella di bufula that melted evenly and contributed just a bit of smoky flavor that echoed the char of the crust; but on the strength of the crust, I'd recommend just about anything here.