Ross Township Camelot: Sir Pizza
“Good day, m’lord! What doth though requireth for thy after-noon repast?”
“Knave: bring forth your lordship a pair of this establishment’s esteemed ten-inch pizzas–and may they resemble the handicraft of the time-honored artisans at Totino’s in all possible ways!”
“Very good, sir! How wouldst thou prefereth to decorate thine pies and enliven thy spirit?”
“Adorn the lady’s with olives black and your finest banana peppers.”
“Of course. And for thou, sir? What extraordinary combination suits sire today?”
“Allow me to bloweth thy mind with coating true, twixt sausage and multi-colored peppers.”
“Such an extraordinary request your humble servant has never encountered! Raise the flag and open the hearth! An order from the king!”
O.K. Ordering at Sir Pizza wasn’t quite like that, but I think it’s fair to say we were treated like some demi-royalty.
Last month, when we introduced The Pizza Chase with Beto’s Pizza we made it clear we were looking for pizzerias that did things in some fundamentally different (though, not necessarily better) way. The people spoke, The Orbit followed-through, and below are our questions (if not yours) on Sir Pizza answered (and not) to the best of our ability.
Is Sir Pizza a chain?
Yes…wait: no…maybe? The Orbit‘s crack research team spent no small amount of time attempting to answer this seemingly-simple question and came to no definitive conclusion. As far as we can tell, Sir Pizza started in 1957 in Indiana as Pizza King and operated as a chain up through at least the early 1990s. From there it gets hazy.
Sir Pizza-Pittsburgh has three locations–all in the North Hills. We visited the “original,” started in 1975 in Ross Township. But a search for Sir Pizza reveals other similar shires scattered around the eastern half of the United States–two in Michigan, five in South Florida, some South Carolina chapters, an outpost each in Kentucky and Tennessee, etc.
There seems to be no central dominion to which the individual restaurants pay tribute. The marionettes appear to have cut their own strings, leaving independent fiefdoms that may or may not resemble each other, but certainly don’t acknowledge any connection publicly.
The royal crest of the Kingdom of Sir Pizza
What’s with the whole ‘Sir’ thing? Is this medieval pizza?
Another interesting ponderable with no clear answer. Sir Pizza’s commitment to the whole lords in sauce/knights of the round pie pan thing is shaky at best. There’s the calligraphic “Sir” in the signage, the crest/shield logo, and a smiling cartoony knight tipping his armored visor on the menu, but other than that you’d swear you were back in any old suburban pizza parlor in a squat New World strip mall. Black and white photos of “la familia” take up one wall and nods to various local sports teams are positioned around the dining areas. On decor alone, it could as easily be Italian Wedding Pizza, or High School Football Pizza.
“Good to the very edge”
The only previous time this hungry blogger experienced Sir Pizza was years ago as payment for helping to move a giant 1970s-era recording console from Turtle Creek to the North Hills. “I almost died and you’re paying me with Totino’s?”, I asked. I don’t even remember if I got a beer out of the deal. [Bill: you (might) owe me a beer!] In retrospect, that assessment is a little harsh–but just a little.
The pizza is on a thin, cracker-like crust with a reasonable layer of cheese and toppings. Sir Pizza claims they use special smoked provolone instead of mozzarella, but these layman’s tastebuds couldn’t discern the difference. The meat toppings, as well as the peppers and onions, were minced into tiny morsels, which again gave it that joie de congélateur allée. The pizzas are cooked and served on cardboard discs.
Sir Pizza uses the tag line “Good to the very edge” which is a nod to the practice of running the sauce, cheese, and toppings all the way out to (and over) the pizza’s perimeter. It’s a nice gimmick, but I couldn’t help but think it’s really a mask for a completely uninteresting flat crust that wouldn’t survive on its own.
Our Pittsburgh-born Wisconsin-based correspondent Murphy informed us that all of these qualities–the cracker crust, the minced toppings, the hidden edge–are all hallmarks of a more general “midwestern pizza”.
The other great midwesterness of Sir Pizza’s product is the curious way the pie is cut. Instead of the familiar wedge-shaped diametric slices one expects, the pizza is cut on a loose grid: two cuts in one direction, three the other. But because the pizza is round, this makes every cut an awkward non-standard size. Murphy lays down the pitfalls pretty clearly:
Also and very important is the way they slice it, in little squares called “party style” though it doesn’t sound like a party to me when you have nothing solid to grab onto (like, you know, a CRUST). I would like to further note that using non-triangular cuts means that some people might get stuck with a dinky little side piece and others get a weird gloopy middle piece rather than beautifully uniform, foldable triangles.
Ouch! Ain’t no law like Murphy’s. Just like we said back in our report on Beto’s, when you bake a fresh pizza, even when it’s bad, it’s still good. That basic fact holds true at Sir Pizza. The legion of devoted “Sir-heads” who line up for the trademark pie and defend it with the zeal of South Hills’ “Betonauts” will disagree, but we’re glad they love their local(-ish) pie. The Orbit remains perplexed, but still curious. Mangia!
Sir Pizza’s “party style” cuts