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Beto's Pizza offers a slice of decadence

| Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009

There's no need to order extra cheese at Beto's Pizza.

Trust us.

That would be like getting the corner piece of a birthday cake and wanting more icing.

You're not going to need it.

Beto's, located on Banksville Road, is known for the mound of cold cheese piled on each slice of pizza as it exits steaming from the oven.

The shop uses 300 pounds of freshly shredded provolone cheese per day. Cheese isn't the only topping that goes on after the baking process. All 10 do. Sausage, green peppers and mushrooms, however, are kept warm, but still go on after the pieces are cooked.

"That's the Beto's way of serving pizza," says Jamie Pipes, whose father, Jim Van Newkirk, owns the restaurant. "We put the toppings on after it comes out, and we put on a lot of toppings. We call it decadent. We know it's different. People either love it or hate it, but we have a huge following. We have people who live out of the area who when they come back in town they stop here because they say they can't find this kind of pizza anywhere else."

The preparation isn't the only thing unusual about Beto's.

Pizza only is sold by the slice in squares and not in whole pies like most shops. A cut is $1.10 each (add 50 cents per topping). You can purchase an entire tray which is 28 cheese cuts for $29.44 (toppings 50 cents extra per cut) which is great for parties.

If you're not in the mood for pizza, try one of nine hoagies from Italian ($3.79/half) to steak ($4.69/half). As a side dish, sample six wings in your choice of barbecue, garlic, hot & spicy barbecue, hot or mild sauce for $3.09. A grilled chicken salad is $5.49 and a shrimp basket and fries cost $5.39. Leave room for fried cheese cake bites in chocolate, caramel or raspberry for $3.79.

If you dine in, after you place an order at the counter, your food will be brought to your table. Beto's was purchased by Pipes' grandfather, the late Jim Van Newkirk in 1961. His son by the same name worked for him before taking over the business. He is involved in the day-to-day business and his children -- son Mike and daughter Leah, along with Pipes and her husband Dave -- also work there.

The restaurant was renovated this year. The seating capacity was doubled, the kitchen expanded, and parking lot re-paved.

Photos on the walls capture past moments of customers enjoying the Beto's experience. Beto's has shipped pizza throughout the U.S. and to Afghanistan.

Jamie Pipes says she remembers being at the store as young as 7 years old cleaning tables and folding pizza boxes.

"This is our family business, and I enjoy being part of it," Pipes says. "The hours are crazy sometimes, but I have been around it my whole life so this is what I do. It's fun, and it's great to visit with out-of-town customers when they come back or to chat with the regulars as well as greet new customers."

George Rosenwald from Mt. Washington has been a customer for "a long time."

"At first, it wasn't my favorite pizza, but after I started coming here a lot I realized I love it," says Rosenwald, who had two cuts with mild peppers and an Italian hoagie. "They certainly aren't cheap with the toppings. You also get free refills on drinks. The new dining area is nice, too."

Joe Derrick, of Cook's Forest, who used to live in Mt. Washington, was dining with Rosenwald.

"When you find a place you like and feel comfortable you keep coming back," Derrick says. "This is that kind of place."

Beto's Pizza is at 1473 Banksville Road, Banksville. Hours: Takeout, 11 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. daily; dine-in: 11 a.m. to midnight daily. Details: 412-561-0121.

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