While visiting family and friends this weekend in upstate NY, my husband and I were sharing our infatuation for Mercurio’s pizza. Our declaration of love for this charming little pizza and gelato eatery came after dining on a sad pie from the local “pizza shop." Let it be said now, Mercurio’s is not your average pizza shop. It’s more like a mini vacation to Italy.
Mercurio’s is operated by Anna and Michael Mercurio (siblings). It’s obvious that this family run business cares about quality ingredients and the tradition of making food from one’s heritage. Michael is the head chef and is certified by the Italian government to make Neapolitan pizza. Neapolitan pizza is distinct from other pizzas because Michael must follow certain rules. I learned, after reading up on the guidelines on Mercurio's site, that the foundation of most pizzas is simple, fresh ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce and mozzarella cheese. The dough consists of wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water. Michael is not allowed to use a rolling pin while ensuring that his dough is no more than 3mm thick. He then bakes the pizza 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. The flavors and textures you get from this specialty oven are incredible.
The toppings are also mind-blowingly fresh and healthy. Sorry, folks, if you want a grease-laden mountain of processed meats you’re in the wrong spot. Rather, most pizzas are topped with items such as arugula, artichokes, Prosciutto di Parma, grape tomatoes, basil, and so on. No napkin blotting or guilty feelings required when dining on this pie.
|Pizza Della Casa (prosciutto, grape tomatoes, arugula, and shaved parmigiano reggiano)|
|Salsiccia (Italian Sausage, basil, and mozzarella)|
If you’re not in the pizza mood, you can choose from a variety of grilled Panini, salads, or munch on an antipasti plate. My favorite salad is the Insalate Rustica. It’s big enough to share and consists of spring mix, Prosciutto di Parma, artichokes, Gaeta olives, grape tomatoes, and is tossed in a perfect union of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Often times, we order this salad and a pizza to share.
You would have to be mad, or lactose intolerant, to pass up on Mercurio’s homemade gelato. The toughest part is choosing from the day’s 30 or so flavors. (They rotate their flavors fairly often as they have 200+ recipes in their arsenal.) One tidbit to mull over is that although gelato may seem more fattening than ice cream due to its creamy texture; it’s actually lower in fat. The texture is due to the fact that is has a little air pumped into it, unlike American ice cream which has 50-100% air injected prior to freezing. The best part is that it is sold by the ounce ($.70/oz) so you can mix and match and get as little or as much as you’d like.
It’s time to taste what authentic, fresh ingredients can create. Throw away that Pizza Hut delivery menu and take a trip to Italy…or Shadyside… and give Mercurio’s a try!
I give Mercurio’s: 5/5 forks
Will I return? Absolutely
5523 Walnut Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15232