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 the pizza and taco theme.
Wicked Pie and PA Taco Co. opened at the WPU’s Schenley Cafe Food Court on November 2nd. According to Mallory Susser, restaurant director of Pitt Eats, the restaurants are based on the idea of the “local” concept. This allows businesses to be more creative with their recipes and menu options.
“Sourcing locally and using local suppliers gives us better control over supply chain issues. Local providers are more flexible and reliable with our fluctuating needs during the semester, ”said Susser. “We share the campus calendar and provide regular updates so that our farmers and local partners can better prepare and provide fresh, delicious ingredients.”
Wicked Pie, a pizzeria restaurant, offers its customers a variety of specialty toppings and doughs. The pies are cooked in a turbo-fire convection oven for 90 seconds, which maintains the convenience of fast food. The pies are individually made and include vegan and vegetarian options, including vegan hot peppers, cauliflower batter, and vegan batter.
Susser said a top seller on the menu among students so far has been the goat and herb pizza.
“One of our most popular signature pizzas was the pizza with goats and herbs in the wicked pie. It consists of a base of Boursin goat and herb cheese and is topped with our crushed Italian mixture, rocket, bruschetta and balsamic glaze, ”said Susser.
Anirudh Nangunoori, a freshman biology student, said he was intrigued by the new restaurants at Wicked Pie.
“It was brand new and I wanted to try it out. I ordered a simple cheese pizza and water with my meal swap, ”said Nangunoori. “The size of the pizza was pretty good, it was an alternative to other thinner crust pizzas.”
Nangunoori said he feels that Wicked Pie has just opened and they still have some food quality issues.
“The pizza wasn’t bad, it was their first day open. I’m a vegetarian and there were standard options and some pretty good vegetarian options for me, ”said Nangunoori. “However, the dough was really thick at the edges, but thin towards the middle, it was an uneven chewing experience and somehow mushy.”
As a freshman with a meal plan, Nangunoori said that he was also disappointed with the value of the meal exchanges.
“The meal swap only comes with a simple cheese pizza. Toppings are extra, and specialty pizzas are all full price and on the more expensive side, ”said Nangunoori. “In the Perch you get pizza with a topping and a selection of sauces. In addition, the dough there is the best I’ve ever had. ”
Nangunoori said he was still optimistic that these facilities would get better over time as they gain more experience at the Schenley Cafe.
“I would love to come back as soon as they have been around longer and are more established to try out some special options and get a better opinion. I have hope that it will be reversed, ”said Nangunoori.
Next to Wicked Pie is PA Taco Co. The restaurant’s menu uses homemade sauces and corn tortillas, with halal-certified beef and vegan options, combined into a cultural street taco. In the case of a meal swap, the students can get two tacos of any kind.
“PA Taco Co offers local Jubilee hill Proteins like barbacoa that is Halal certified, Pollo Asado, Al Pastor, and a breaded avocado. All proteins are prepared on a street taco with homemade coleslaw and sauces, ”said Susser. “We’ll be expanding and adding to the menus in the next semester to offer even more delicious options to choose from.”
TJ McCloskey, a sophomore supply chain and marketing major, said the intricate graffiti decoration outside caught his attention.
“What attracted me was the graffiti on the front of the shop. Really pops out and catches the eye. I thought, ‘Whoa, that’s cool,’ ”McCloskey said.
McCloskey said he was happy with his order and portion size, and had a pleasant interaction with the workers.
“I have three tacos, two with chicken and one with pork and pineapple. They were all big and filling the way I like them, ”said McCloskey. “Overall, I can definitely recommend it. The food was good and the workers were nice. ”
Students who use their meal exchange will receive two tacos.
The Pitt Eats team and members of the Pitt community created PA Taco Co. and Wicked Pie in February. According to Susser, the goal of these new, locally-inspired facilities is to better serve 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,” said Susser. “Research has identified trends in the food categories, such as toppings and ingredients, that are popular with college students and the Pittsburgh area.”
According to Susser, Pitt Eats is happy with its opening so far and its impact on on-campus dining, offering students a variety of dining options.
“When it comes to the taste, variety and flexibility of what is offered on campus, Wicked Pie and PA Taco Co. help diversify and add value to students with meal membership,” said Susser. “We are pleased about the initial response to the two new locations and look forward to building on the success of the opening.”