Take your “pick-le”: Caliente debuts a new pie and brings back another for a limited time


By Kristy Locklin

I’m in a pickle; the object of my affection is leaving soon and won’t be back until next year.

Caliente Pizza & Draft House’s Big Dill Pickle Pizza returned to the menu last week, but it’s only available through Nov. 14, National Pickle Day.

When it made it’s debut in 2018, the pie raised some eyebrows, including mine. I love pizza. I love pickles, but a marriage of the two seemed like an unholy union.

I was wrong.

Chef Eric Von Hansen recently made one for me and a highly critical crew of foodies, including my 10-year-old daughter, Sarah.

The pizza is made with Caliente’s signature, beer-infused dough, roasted-chive-and-garlic-butter sauce, mozzarella, provolone, ricotta and Pittsburgh Pickle Co. pickles (which went from cucumbers to tangy deliciousness after soaking in a brine bath for four days).

A pizza in only a general sense — it’s round and cut into triangular slices — it really is its own entity. Sarah, who is pickier than the kid in the old Life cereal commercials — devoured her piece and then asked for another.

The Big Dill is a big deal and should be worshipped at the city’s next Picklesburgh festival.

If you don’t make it to Caliente in time to try the pickle pie, I suggest the Detroit “Red Top” Pizza, which hits company’s five locations on Nov. 16.

Motown’s been harboring a delicious secret for years and now it’s popping up on menus all over Pittsburgh. In the hands of Von Hansen, a two-time World Pizza Champion, it’ll make you stand up and sing “Respect” like Aretha Franklin.

After fermenting for three days, the dough is hand-pressed in square, blue-steel pans, which help to caramelize the cheese on the outer edges. It’s then topped with another layer of cheesy goodness, a sweet, red sauce, a sprinkle of parmesan and pepperoni (the little ones that curl in the oven, cupping the grease).

Sorry, Michigan. Your signature pie has a new home.

“I want to bring the entire pizza realm to Pittsburgh,” Von Hansen says, “but I want to do it the Caliente way.”