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Mineo’s or Aiello’s: Pizza rivalry can’t be topped

Let’s cut right to the crust of the matter: People are passionate about their favorite pizza.

For decades, debate over which of Squirrel Hill’s two most renowned pizza joints serves the better pie has been as heated as the products pulled from their ovens.

The lively conversations typically were confined to the East End, until Mary Murrin created a Facebook group soliciting responses to that most existential of Pittsburgh-related pizza questions: “Mineo’s or Aiello’s?”

“I thought maybe (the group) would be a small collection of some friends and family who got a kick out of discussing this,” said Murrin, 47, a Point Breeze resident and Carnegie Learning Inc. vice president.

“What has happened instead has been remarkable, fun and at times silly.”

How right she is.

The remarkable: Since Murrin established the group in June, nearly 1,400 people have joined. The debate no longer is exclusive to the East End; people have weighed in from such far away places as Hawaii, London and Saginaw.

That’s all the way in Michigan, buster.

The fun: How spirited the dialogue can be.

“Not to cheese anyone off, but it doesn’t seem to be much of a contest,” wrote Peter Gilmore of Dallas. “Mineo’s wins hands down.”

A dissenting view was offered by Adam Gusky, 30, of Wilkins.

“How is this even a discussion?” he wrote. “Mineo’s tastes like ketchup on cardboard topped with shredded paper.”

The silly: That emotions flare so intensely over a question that has no correct answer.

It’s like asking someone to name his or her favorite actress. Some folks probably would select Katharine Hepburn (four Academy Awards) while others might choose Pamela Anderson (“Baywatch” and salacious home video shot with her husband).

Strictly a matter of personal preference.

For more than 30 years, Aiello’s and Mineo’s have occupied the same block of Murray Avenue. They are separated only by a demilitarized zone of eateries consisting of two restaurants and a fruit market.

Co-owners of both pizza places consider themselves computer illiterate. They seemed amused about becoming inadvertent participants in an online social networking phenomenon.

“It’s no marketing strategy on my part, but I love the idea that people are talking about this,” Dominic Mineo said. “It’s kind of a big rivalry here.”

“My wife goes on the computer and prints out some of that stuff,” Pete Aiello said. “I’m too busy behind the counter trying to make a good living to think too much about it.”

Though she has helped raise the “Mineo’s or Aiello’s?” discussion to an international level, Murrin won’t reveal her preference. The reason?

“I have one brother-in-law who is a huge Aiello’s fan and another brother-in-law who is rabid for Mineo’s,” she explained.

No wonder Murrin keeps quiet. As seriously as people take their pies in the East End, her answer could trigger familial problems of Shakespearean proportions.

In pizza parlance, that’s extra large.


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