Friday, May 18, 2012
Obituary of a Legendary Eatery II: Vincent's Pizza Park
Vincent's Pizza Park in Forest Hills are the memories of arguably the best pizza in Pittsburgh. Vincent's closed its doors for the final time as the current owners B & C Pizza Inc. had not paid rent since June 2011.
Vincent's has been a landmark in Forest Hills since Vincent Chianese first opened on Ardmore Boulevard in 1950. Chianese began tossing pies in 1947 in San Francisco alongside his uncle. He returned to Pittsburgh and worked nights as a fireman for the Union Railroad and after saving up enough money Vincent opened his own pizzeria. Chianese worked constantly at the Pizza Park until he sold the controlling interest of the business in 2005. Chianese died in March of 2012 from complications of ailments related to old age. Vincent's was a place of character as can be summed up by a sign over his oven that read, "This isn't Burger King; you take it our way, or you don't take the sonofabitch at all."
Unfortunately, I was never able to make it to Vincent's very often, but I have some great memories of delicious pizza that I wish I could have tasted one last time before it closed. There was nothing better than eating a burning hot pizza loaded with toppings, unevenly cut slices, and enough grease on it to cause a heart attack. I can remember the first time I had a Vinnie Pie after an amateur league ice hockey game. Arriving dying of hunger and pulling up to the pizzeria I had only heard stories of the greatness. We walked in to hear loud shouting, smoke-filled dining area, and the jukebox was pumping. We quickly sat down and ordered without a menu. I saw that pizza and my eyes lit up. Never had a tasted a pizza like that before. It was always speculated that the ash from Mr. Chianese's cigarette was the secret ingredient in the tasty pie. Some will say that Mineo's and Aiello's are tops in the city, but Vincent's had the character that neither can compare.
It is unfortunate that a second legendary eatery has closed its doors in the last year, but hopefully the legend will live on even though the pizzas will not. A slice of history is gone, but will live on in every clogged artery for years to come. Here's to you Vincent's Pizza Park. You will be missed.