Welcome Back: The Lunchbox: TPN dissects the ‘Big 3’ pizza shops of Atwood

Welcome Back: The Lunchbox: TPN dissects the Big 3 pizza shops of Atwood

By Shawn Cooke & Jasper Wilson / The Pitt News Staff

The terms “pizza party” and “pizza after a party” contain a powerful distinction, despite their similar phrasing. The former suggests a first after-school club meeting or a reward for good behavior in elementary school, whereas the latter is usually paired with behavior that could get you kicked out of school. 

For many college students, pizza can be the only sure thing on weekend nights. Even if the party’s a bust, huddling around a steaming pizza box with close friends or complete strangers can make for a satisfying plan B.

There are a few crucial questions that come into play when deciding where to order pizza from. Determining whether you want to sit down in the store, save the most cash or have it delivered right to your door can often make the decision an easier one. Oh, and quality might be a consideration.

The Pitt News’ very own pizza experts, Jasper Wilson and Shawn Cooke, break down the “Big Three” pizza places (Sorrento’s, Antoon’s, Pizza Romano) of Atwood Street, a hub for hungry students, based on the aforementioned priorities. 

Jasper: First, I’d like to mourn the loss of Pizza Sola’s Oakland franchise, which closed this summer and was my go-to stop for a slice [moment of silence]. 

Moving on, there are two main situations in which you find yourself craving a pizza from the remaining Oakland establishments:

1. Post-party: When you want a pie in these late-night situations, you want it fast, and Sorrento’s and Antoon’s are the two places to go. Though each restaurant goes about it in a different way, both are built to handle hordes of people, and their speed with your order will reflect that.

Many times, one’s choice between the two comes down to how long the lines are. The two stores are less than 150 feet apart on the same side of the street, with Antoon’s to the south and Sorrento’s to the north. This layout makes it easy to get a sense of which is the faster option at a given time. 

The inside of Antoon’s is roughly the size of a broom closet. But that feature doesn’t really matter, because there’s nowhere to sit down anyway. You call or walk in to make your order, get it and leave. Antoon’s offers the lowest price for a large cheese pizza on the block, at $5, which makes up for anything it lacks structurally.

If you want a sit-down situation, Sorrento’s has tables, booths and enough general surface area in the store to accommodate a large number of people. Its large cheese goes for $6.

2. For an actual meal: The same guidelines about dine-in or takeout apply in the second scenario, but this is where quality comes into play. 

Shawn: Yes, with a boon in quality comes an increase in cost, more often than not. The best pizza on Atwood comes from Pizza Romano, but it comes at a price. A large pie at Romano, while slightly larger at 16 inches, costs $10.99. Aside from a consistently strong crust and balance, Romano becomes the go-to place if you live far enough from South Oakland (i.e. Upper Campus) — Romano offers free delivery, which makes the price of a delivered pizza comparable to Sorrento’s and Antoon’s, before tax. During a brutal winter such as this past season, shelling out the extra $5-6 doesn’t seem so crazy.

The cheaper alternatives of Atwood differ slightly in quality, but Antoon’s will usually be more reliable when it comes to keeping form. The crust at Sorrento’s can occasionally be floppy, with the contents sliding right off, but the appeal of their ranch dressing compensates for these shortcomings. And besides, sometimes a place to sit is all you need. The pizza’s just a bonus.