December 31, 2007

Scrapin' Up the Bits, Bye-Bye '07 Style

OK, OK, I admit
it December doesn’t seem like the best time to be buying or eating avocados. That said, if Giant Eagle is going to sell avocados at this time of year, then maybe they should actually last a few days, eh? I bought one about a month ago as well and, when I cut it open and tasted it a little bit, it had the consistency and flavor of wax.

Last week, with the hope of putting some slices on a COBALT sandwich (Cheese, Onion, Bacon, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato) – using some delicious bacon from Wil-Den Farms – I cut it open and you can see above what I found. Mind you, the avocado was by no means overly soft. Based on my experience over the past few years, it seemed to be plum for slicing. Shame the inside looked like a rotted out tree!

Even minus the avocado, the sandwich (pictured to the right) was still pretty good. And, admittedly, the “T” in the COBALT was a tomato from the same grocery chain (yes, meaning it came from pretty far away – I was weak and really in the mood for a BLT!) that was pretty good, even though it’s December.

Enough complaining A little bit late, some of my favorite things about the holiday season:
  • Holiday beers
  • Panettone from The Enrico Biscotti Company - where, by the way, on Christmas Eve, we received a present in the form of two free black and white people cookies for our two kids: “Little ones never pay for little people cookies,” the very nice woman behind the counter said.
  • My mother’s pizzelles
  • Watching It’s a Wonderful Life
  • My wife’s gingerbread men (and women)
  • Listening to the soundtrack from Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

‘Burgh food gems A food critic from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, China Millman, offers her top 10 food moments of the year and, I gotta say, it was inspiring. It really demonstrated to me that Pittsburgh has a better food scene than I give it credit for.

Gotta get me some of that Boscano Tartufo from Penn Mac.

And, after our recent trip to NYC and the other-worldly gnocchi with short rib bits appetizer I had, the braised pork ragu with gnocchi from Mio Kitchen & Wine Bar in Aspinwall sounds ultra appealing.

More local food… Two other local food items of interest – that is, two new local food-related businesses. First, Radicchio’s International Marketplace to the south of the city in McMurray sounds intriguing. What caught my eye:

But the nicest surprise may be its 15,000-square-foot produce section in the center of the store. It features precise piles of fruits and vegetables (including exotics such as Sharon fruit persimmon) in easy-to-navigate rows managed by clerks in black bow ties.

And then there’s the mega-environmentally friendly, Florida-based pizza chain, Pizza Fusion, which is opening a location far north of the city not far from Casa de Fillippelli. The menu seems almost too extensive, almost never a good thing in my view. But it’s an interesting concept in a pizza chain, that’s for sure:

We proudly serve up delicious, gourmet pizza in its purest form - untainted by artificial additives, like preservatives, growth hormones, pesticides, nitrates and trans fats (to name a few). ... Additionally, we proudly offer health conscious alternatives for our friends with selective diets and food allergies, such as our delicious gluten-free pizza, brownies and beer and our tasty vegan selections.

Born from a desire to make a difference, every detail of our operations is continuously evaluated from an environmental perspective in an effort to further minimize our ecological footprint. From delivering our food in company owned hybrid vehicles and offsetting 100% of our power consumption with the purchase of renewable wind energy certificates to building LEED certified restaurants, we are committed to being a leader in not only the pizza industry, but in a better quality of life.


Pizza Fusion said...

My name is Eric Haley and I’m the Vice President of Communications with Pizza Fusion. Thank you for your interest in organic and sustainable food practices. We also appreciate your interest in and support for Pizza Fusion. I noticed you commented on the price of our menu and wanted to take the opportunity to respond. While today's pizza industry is comprised of coupon wars and monster chains that use cheap ingredients to produce their food and cheesy gimmicks to sell it in the quickest way possible, Pizza Fusion caters to a different customer. We have taken a detail oriented approach to quality food preparation and service that has resulted in a superior product in terms of taste, healthiness and minimal environmental impact.

Beyond traveling the world to study the art of true pizza making and working with some of the top pizza industry experts, such as Dave Ostrander (, we've put tremendous emphasis on the handpicked procedure of selecting our vendors and ingredients with careful attention to their organic production process - all the way down to the salts and oils we use. In addition to our organic menu of gourmet pizza, sandwiches, salads, beer and wine, we proudly offer health conscious alternatives for people with selective diets and food allergies. For example, we serve gluten-free pizza, brownies and beer for our friends with celiac disease. Vegans and vegetarians love us for our soy mozzarella (used in our ‘Very Vegan Pizza’) and vegan brownies. We also offer a healthier multi-grain crust for the carb conscious eater. We’ve even gone to great lengths to ensure that the kitchen technology used to prepare our food is top-of-the-line, such as the 37 square foot custom-built RotoFlex oven we opted to use in all our restaurants to cook our pizzas with. It’s our holistic commitment to quality that is redefining the pizza industry as we know it and we’re very proud of it.

Furthermore, our detail oriented eco-friendly approach that you referenced does present us with a slightly higher cost of operations versus your traditional restaurant. This, combined with the higher cost of serving organic food, is the reason behind our slightly higher priced menu. However, we believe that you get what you pay for and it’s evident in the delicious taste of our menu and socially conscious existence. We’re confident that once you’ve experienced the unsurpassed quality of our food and service, you’ll understand the difference between Pizza Fusion and your typical pizza joint.

Again, thank you for your interest in healthy, sustainable food.

Sustainably yours,

Eric Haley

Fillippelli the Cook said...

Thanks, Eric. Actually, I totally dig the concept and wasn't taken aback by the price. I can't fault you for misreading the post, but it actually says "The menu seems almost too exTennsive..." with a T, not a P.

As for that comment, my experience at most - not all - restaurants with menus that are just very big is that they don't seem to do any one thing very well, or maybe just one or two things. Hopefully you'll prove me wrong, because I can assure you we'll be trying Pizza Fusion.

As for the price, hopefully that won't be a problem. I, for one, can appreciate what you are trying to do and absolutely understand that truly better ingredients do cost more and, as a result, taste better. Whether the folks in Gibsonia and nearby areas are willing to shell out $20 for a single pizza when they can get two for that price somewhere else is another matter. Personally, 99% of those OTHER pizza places aren't worth even 50 cents, but these are hard economic times and I can't necessarily fault those who think that price is too steep.

Please let me know when the Gibsonia location will be opening and we'll try a few pizzas and offer up a review here at Lustybit.

Pizza Fusion said...

I've contacted Lens Crafters and have a new prescription on the way. lol. Please forgive my misinterpretation.

Well, I do look forward to introducing you to our pies. I’ll keep you posted on the opening of our Gibsonia location and will make sure you get a personal invite from me to the grand opening. We're known for our grand openings. We attracted over 600 people to the grand opening of our Fort Lauderdale store where we gave out over 300 pizzas and copious amounts of free organic beer and wine. Thank you again for your interest and support. We really appreciate it. AND sorry for my bad eye sight! :)

Pizza Fusion said...

Our Fort Lauderdale Grand Opening -