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Aug 9, 2007 05:30 PM

What is wrong with the PG's food writers? [Moved from Pennsylvania]

To call the P-G's writers "food critics" would be too generous. By definition it takes knowledge of the subject matter to be a critic.

Today's paper... in reviewing Marzoni's, the writer allowed the manager to explain away blackened/burned pizza crusts by blaming it on the new wood-fired brick oven not being properly seasoned.

And the writer bought the explanation, apparently. This is most likely a case of the crust not being optimized for the cooking temps. Or somebody put something on the oven floor that's not coming up (there was mention of constant "scraping").

As if that weren't bad enough, in the same review the "critic" says, "Of the two daily soup offerings, the pasta e fagioli might benefit from more feta cheese (not offered by the server) and, perhaps more garlic."

The news here isn't "more" feta cheese, it's that the pasta e fagioli they're serving has ANY feta cheese. Maybe if the critic had called out that they serve a unique version with feta, I'd take it in stride. But the way the article was written, you'd think that's the way all pasta e fagioli was made.

To be perfectly fair, the Trib's writers are no better. They've reviewed coffeehouses without actually tasting any of the coffee.

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  1. Their food critic left a while back. They haven't replaced her far as I know. So I guess it's only a motley crew of who knows what writing that stuff. I looked at the article and on the bottom it says they're just freelancers writing these apparently. Maybe you could try. ;-)

    5 Replies
    1. re: CrazyOne

      The problem is people are reading it and beliving it.

      1. re: Mom4

        That is a big problem, yes, but it's not really specific to the PG or food writing or Pittsburgh. :-)

        Note I'm not defending the PG here. Just pointing out that there are always going to be people prone to believing everything they read. Don't want to do that on CH either!

        To their credit, they do solicit comments at the end of the article, but maybe they always do that

        1. re: CrazyOne

          I have to agree..they are terrible. Everything seems to get 3 stars, even if it's on par with Applebee's. The former food critic was Elizabeth Downer I believe..she is now the wine critic. I didn't think she was great. I'd like to see what the requirements for the job are....Feta in Pasta e Fagioli-disgusting! The only cheese that belongs is Parmigiano Reggiano!

          Pittsburgh Magazine seems to do a better job...although their "Citywide Poll" never ceases to shock me. #1 pizza= Vocelli/formerly Pizza Outlet? YUCK! And Nakama as the best restaurant in Pittsburgh?

          It makes me want to cry. I was flying home to Pittsburgh and the person behind me was raving "the best restaurant in Pittsburgh" as Roland's down in the Strip. ... It's these awful food critics and "Voter WInners" that make visitors think that all food in the 'Burgh is terrible...

          Thank God for Chowhound!:)

          1. re: QSheba

            Polls bring out the masses, though, you know? Unfortunately the majority of the general public just doesn't have the selectivity that you see on CH. Olive Garden in the ranks of favorite Italian and the like. *shudder*

            Don't forget that paying this much attention to food and restaurants puts you in a rarified minority. Even the readers of Pittsburgh Magazine just aren't at that level.

            Luckily, there is room for people's tastes to change. We see at least that despite the quality of restaurant reviewing and such there are some good restaurants both new and established. There may or may not ever be any hope for those transplants to Pittsburgh who are especially picky about their pizza, though. ;-)

            Again, make sure you tell the P-G. At least a newspaper is set up in such a way that they expect to hear from readers. Nothing will get better unless they hear how bad it is.

            1. re: CrazyOne

              Thankfully there's Harry's Pizza in Peters to cater to those of us transplated from the Boston/NYC corridor ;-)

              Heck, who on CH wouldn't do this job even if all you were paid was the cost of the meal? I do kind of like the new food guy Bob Batz if only because he promptly responds to emails.

              The PG is aware they have much to learn about conducting their own poll and that the poll really amounts to not much more than a popularity contest that an establishment can win by soliciting votes. But, it's the type of content that sells newspapers and advertisements.

              On the AOL polls, it's well-known that establishments simply clear their cookies after voting and then vote for themselves over and over again. In fact, there are software programs out there that will do that for you.

              So yeah, don't believe "Best Of" polls unless they're done by qualified professionals (or qualified CHs).

    2. Good point, P G. Also, they don't seem to recognize the importance of garlic in the keilbasa for pasta fazool.