Wicked Pie, PA Taco Co. open in WPU to mixed receptions

Wicked+Pie+opened+in+the+William+Pitt+Union%E2%80%99s+Schenley+Cafe+food+court+on+Nov.+2.

Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

Wicked Pie opened in the William Pitt Union’s Schenley Cafe food court on Nov. 2.

By Julia DiPietro, Staff Writer

After a long wait, two new restaurants in the William Pitt Union replaced the Pizza Hut and Taco Bell locations. They incorporate vegan and vegetarian styling, while keeping with the pizza and taco theme.

Wicked Pie and PA Taco Co. opened in the WPU’s Schenley Cafe food court on Nov. 2. The restaurants are founded on the idea of the “local” concept, according to Mallory Susser, the Pitt Eats restaurants director. This allows the establishments more creativity in their recipes and menu options.

“Sourcing local and using local vendors give us better control over supply chain issues. Local vendors are more flexible and reliable in our fluctuating needs throughout the semester,” Susser said. “We share the campus calendar and provide regular updates, so our farmers and local partners are able to better prepare for and provide an abundance of fresh, delicious ingredients.”

Wicked Pie, a pizza restaurant, provides its customers with a variety of specialty toppings and doughs. The pies are cooked for 90 seconds in a turbo fire, convection style oven, which maintains the convenience of fast food. The pies are individually made and incorporate vegan and vegetarian options, including vegan pepperoni, cauliflower dough and vegan dough.

Susser said a top seller on the menu among students so far has been the Goat & Herb pizza. 

“One of our most popular signature pizzas has been the Goat & Herb pizza at Wicked Pie. It features a boursin goat and herb cheese base and topped with our shredded Italian blend, arugula, bruschetta and balsamic glaze,” Susser said. 

Anirudh Nangunoori, a first-year biology major, said he was intrigued by the new dining opportunities at Wicked Pie.

“It was brand new and I wanted to try it out. I ordered a plain cheese pizza and water with my meal exchange,” Nangunoori said. “The size of the pizza was pretty good, it was a thinner crust alternative to other pizza places.” 

Nangunoori said he felt that because Wicked Pie just opened, they still have some kinks to work out with their quality of food.

“The pizza was not bad, it was their first day open. I am a vegetarian, and they had standard options and some pretty good veggie options for me,” Nangunoori said. “However, the dough around the edges was really thick but thin towards the center, it was an uneven chewing experience and kind of soggy.” 

As a first-year student on a meal plan, Nangunoori said he was also disappointed by the meal exchange value.

“The meal exchange only comes with a plain cheese pizza. Toppings are extra, and specialty pizzas are all full-priced and on the more expensive side,” Nangunoori said. “At the Perch, you get pizza with one topping and with a choice of sauces. Plus the dough there is the best I’ve ever had.” 

Nangunoori said he still has optimism that, in time, these establishments will continue to get better in service and value as they gain more experience in the Schenley Cafe.

“I would like to go back once they’ve been around longer and are more established, to try some specialty options and get a better opinion. I have hope it will turn around,” Nangunoori said.

Next to Wicked Pie is PA Taco Co. The restaurant’s menu utilizes homemade sauces and corn tortillas, with halal-certified beef and vegan options, combined into a cultural street taco. With a meal exchange, students can get two tacos of any type.

“PA Taco Co offers local Jubilee Hilltop proteins, such as barbacoa, which is halal-certified, pollo asado, al pastor and a breaded avocado. All proteins are prepared on a street taco with house-made slaw and sauces,” Susser said. “We will be expanding and adding to the menus next semester, providing even more mouthwatering options to choose from.”

T.J. McCloskey, a sophomore supply chain and marketing major, said the intricate graffiti decoration outside caught his attention.

“What drew me in was the graffiti on the front of the store. Really pops out and catches your eye. I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s cool,’” McCloskey said.

McCloskey said he was satisfied with his order and size portions of the food, and had a pleasant interaction with the workers.

“I got three tacos, two with chicken and one with pork and pineapples. They were all big and filling too, just how I like it,” McCloskey said. “Overall, I definitely recommend it. The food was good and the workers were nice.” 

Students who choose to use their meal exchange get two tacos.

The Pitt Eats team and Pitt community members developed PA Taco Co. and Wicked Pie in February. According to Susser, the goal of these new locally inspired establishments is to better match the needs and trends of today’s college students. 

“The development of the concepts began in February 2021 with a thorough market analysis of pizza and tacos in the area,” Susser said. “The marketing research identified trends in the food categories, such as toppings and ingredients, what is popular among college-aged students and the Pittsburgh area.”

According to Susser, Pitt Eats is content with their opening so far and their impact on the dining on campus, providing students meal plans with multiple food options. 

“When it comes to taste, variety and flexibility of offerings on campus, Wicked Pie and PA Taco Co. help to diversify and provide value to students on a meal membership,” Susser said. “We are pleased with the initial response to both new locations, and look forward to building on their opening success.”

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