Pizza Rules

Authenticity is Essential Ingredient at II Pizzaiolo

By Lauren Wells / Photography By Michael Fornataro | April 01, 2015
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Il Pizzaiolo’s Salsiccia e Rapini and Classic Margherita DOC
LEFT: Broccoli rabe, you’ve never looked better. Both visually and aromatically inviting, Il Pizzaiolo’s Salsiccia e Rapini is a fantastic medley of fresh mozzarella, sausage, rapini, pecorino cheese, and olive oil. RIGHT: Consisting of San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, basil, and olive oil, the Classic Margherita DOC is a real “anytime, anywhere” pizza, perfect for lunch, a post-work snack, or even — dare we say — breakfast. Says Molinaro, “DOC is the European Union’s stamp of approval. It says that this pizza is made according to the exact standard of what a margherita pizza is supposed to be.”

Ron Molinaro’s fascination for the freshest, finest Italian ingredients originated some 25 years ago. To this day, the owner, chef, and head pizza-maker at Il Pizzaiolo has maintained his commitment to authenticity by importing many of the ingredients for his Neapolitan-style pies directly from Italy. Every Thursday, he receives shipments of fresh mozzarella di bufala (buffalo), burrata (a cream-filled mozzarella variety), and provolone.

In fact, there isn’t one product in Molinaro’s pizzeria that isn’t sourced carefully. The San Marzano tomatoes, for example, are grown in the Sarno Valley, near Naples, in soil fertilized by Mount Vesuvius and the Sarno River. “We’re probably one of 12 restaurants in America that use tomatoes of this quality. They’re so delicate, we actually have to hand-crush them, as opposed to using a machine,” he says, adding that many of the ingredients kept in stock are “so special, it’s a privilege to even keep them in the building.” In combination with Molinaro’s 1,000ºF, Italian-made, wood-fired oven, those specialty items allow for some dangerously delicious pizzas — and a fervently passionate fanbase to boot. This spring, he’ll pay a visit to Naples, in the hopes of returning home with a fresh batch of edible inspiration.


Although Molinaro’s Italian cheeses arrive promptly in-house once a week, he notes that they’re usually scarce within a few days. If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the imports, do not sleep on the buffalo mozzarella. It’s found in myriad pies on the menu, including the Classic Margherita DOC, shown here.


  • “Make sure the source of your recipe is reliable. Don’t always trust the cookbook, or the Internet. To take all that time and have something turn out’s a frustrating thing.”
  • “Always work with the freshest ingredients available to you.”
  • “Be patient.”


“Casa Barone cherry tomatoes. They’re grown on the foothills of Mount Vesuvius. Most Americans have never eaten something like this. The flavor is so bold and delicious — it’s extraordinary.”

“With pizza, it’s all about minimalism. It’s about the simplest, highest-quality ingredients you can find. Every product in this restaurant...we’ve sourced it out over the past two decades. We’ve gone to the best places in the world.” — Ron Molinaro, Il Pizzaiolo

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8 Market Square, Downtown
Pittsburgh, PA
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