Pittsburgh Pizza Debate: The Aiello’s Vs. Mineo’s Rivalry Expands to the Suburbs

Extra (meat)! Extra (cheese)! Read all about Pittsburgh’s latest pizza news!


Gussied up

For Valentine’s Day, I treated myself to the ultimate love triangle: a big slice of pizza. 

A friend told me that Gussy’s Bagels in Oakland had recently expanded to include a pizzeria. This is fitting since that’s the type of business that previously occupied the space at 3606 Fifth Ave. Bolstered by his weekend bagel sales at Acorn in Shadyside, Chef Scott Walton took over the storefront and named it after his buddy, former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte.

Pizza and football — the perfect team!

In addition to bagels, soups and deli sandwiches, Gussy’s now serves whole pizzas and slices. The new menu items are available for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and for dinner (carryout and delivery only) from 5 to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The “slices” look more like sails and take up an entire small pizza box. I was going to take my meal to go, but, upon seeing the enormity of it, grabbed a seat so I could figure out a game plan. I don’t have the coordination to stuff my face while walking down a busy sidewalk like John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.” 

I was amazed by the paper-thin crust’s ability to hold housemade sauce, Pecorino Romano and mozzarella cheese and sweet rope Italian sausage. I folded the slice lengthwise and began to chow down. I probably would have made some kind of origami bird if I wasn’t so hungry. 

Within a few bites, I reached the crust, which was so crispy it created a little pile of crumb confetti in my lap. Talk about a pizza party! I feel like listening to the Bee Gees.

From Squirrel Hill to the North Hills

One of Pittsburgh’s greatest pie rivalries has spilled over into the suburbs. 

Earlier this month Aiello’s, a Squirrel Hill shop that’s been in a decades-long battle with Murray Avenue neighbor Mineo’s, opened a second eatery at 580 Burchfield Road in Shaler. The new place is less than 4 miles from the site Mineo’s opened last spring at 2684 Wildwood Road, just outside of North Park.

I enjoy food from both businesses, but, as a North Hills native, my allegiance lies with Sir Pizza. Those little square pieces with smoked provolone and finely diced toppings distributed evenly over the entire pie guarantee my mouth will have a good (k)night. 

DemoresDeMore than a mouthful

DeMore’s Modern Pizzeria in Millvale has been under new ownership since Feb. 1 and already has a cult following. 

OK, so the Pizza Cult is just an intriguing name for their email newsletter, but General Manager Adam Wilcox says he hopes to attract new members with a refined menu, fun events and good vibes. 

“We’re getting back to basics with it,” he explains. “No screens, no conveyor belts. It’s 100% stone-oven baked, artisanal pizza.”

Food’s been flying out of the storefront at 1256 Evergreen Road since the 1980s, but the business lost its identity along the way.

The space is morphing into a music lounge with more seating, including a pew salvaged from a desanctified church and a leather couch. One wall will display cassette and 8-track tapes and the others will rock graffiti-style art. The crew also plans to revamp the patio for the summer and serve beer and wine by 2024. 

Wilcox has a long history of revitalizing restaurants. The California native runs SLO Coast Taco Shop, a local food truck serving tacos, carne asada fries and stuffed avocado. The vehicle had a semi-permanent home outside of Element Church in Millvale, but is now parked behind DeMore’s until spring when it will start making the rounds to local breweries and festivals. 

In the meantime, you can stop in for old favorites such as DeMore’s Famous Eggplant Parm and new offerings such as the Flaming Lips Pizza topped with hot coppa, pepperoni, Calabrian chili honey, shaved Asiago and spicy red sauce. Since I’m raising the World’s Pickiest Eater, we selected The Plain Jane with fresh, house-made mozzarella and red sauce. 

For the first time ever, my finicky 13-year-old ate every bite, including the crust. 

Maybe there’s more to this Pizza Cult after all.



Un-Common Oven

Pizza is in Gavin McCall’s blood — and all over his body. 

The chef is working on a full pizza-themed tattoo sleeve. That kind of dedication is a key ingredient at Common Oven Pizza Co.

Located inside Strange Roots Experimental Ales in New Kensington, the kitchen produces pizza made in a wood-fired oven using naturally leavened dough, handmade mozzarella and fresh toppings. My red pie had basil and grated Pecorino cheese on top, a small, simple touch that added big flavor.

McCall worked in multiple pizzerias around Pittsburgh and spent a few years doing “obsessive experimentation” in his own home. Common Oven started as a pop-up in the fall of 2021, feeding crowds at breweries and outdoor events.

After three tents blew away in two months, he realized he needed a brick-and-mortar spot to weather the storms.

The folks at Strange Roots, who have different food partners at their locations in Millvale (Pittsburgh Sandwich Society) and Gibsonia (Off The Rails BBQ), tapped Common Oven to sling pizzas in at 977 Fifth Ave. last summer. You order from your seat by scanning the QR code, McCall will text you when it’s ready and you grab it from a rack in the back of the brewery. Need assistance, squeak the plush pizza slice.


“As for the future, I’m planning to stay right where I am,” McCall says. “I just want to make great pizza and bread (and sometimes other things) for people and practice my craft, I’m not really interested in expanding to the point that I’m more of a manager than a cook. So for the foreseeable future, if you come to Strange Roots New Ken, I’ll be working the oven!”


Thank you for being a friend

I was sad to hear about the closing of Doughbar Pizzeria & Rotisserie on the South Side. 

A team of veteran chefs hatched the pizza and chicken concept before the pandemic and opened it in March 2021. The restaurant had a variety of pizza styles, whole- and half-bird rotisserie chicken, sandwiches, salads and sides. 

They also had one wall that doubled as a shrine to “The Golden Girls.” 

I consider any fan of the classic sitcom to be a pal and a confidant. I wish the Doughbar dudes luck in their future endeavors. And to the folks who move into the vacated East Carson Street space, please keep the shrine and serve cheesecake.

Categories: PGHeats