You might recognize me as the Zombie Pickle.
When I walked into ScareHouse on its first night in September, I was excited to find out what I’d do to make the people of Pittsburgh scream. A costume list posted by the door said, “Festival-goer No. 3.”
OK, great! A zombie! Then I noticed “(Zombie pickle)” typed next to it.
The costume manager handed it over, a large green suit with holes for my face and arms, and I became … The Zombie Pickle.
That’s how, a few weeks ago, I first heard about pickle pizza.
A pizza parlor near Rochester, N.Y., posted a now-viral photo of a dill pickle pizza and said “If you love pickles this is all you need!!” — so a ScareHouse coworker sent a video about the pickle pizza to The Zombie Pickle.
I have to admit I was intrigued, but not enough to drive to upstate New York.
Then it happened here: Caliente Pizza and Drafthouse, which has locations in Bloomfield, Aspinwall, Hampton and Mount Lebanon, partnered with Pittsburgh Pickle Co. for National Pickle Day.
I had to try it.
Caliente starts with a homemade, roasted garlic base on the crust, then adds dill pickle slices, ricotta and parmesan cheeses, plus some butter once it comes out of the oven.
The pickles weren’t too salty or overpowering, and the ricotta was a nice complement to balance the crisp dill slices.
Friends who tried it with me liked the addition of Frank’s Red Hot to give it more zing.
“For those traditional pizza people, I would say, ‘Live a little, and try the pickle pizza,'” Caliente owner Nick Bogacz said.
It’s available at all four locations through Dec. 14.
Customers have been asking for it since the restaurants tapped a limited release of Southern Tier’s Dill Pickle Gose beer in July, marketing director Christina Keiser said.
Long before I had heard of pickles on pizza, I made my way to the “Pittsburgh Zombies” section of the ScareHouse that first night, where blaring music and stage lights obscured by fog were a part of the festival room. On a booth labeled “HIMEZ” sat jars of fake pickles with labels like “The Hills Have Dills” or “Evil Bread (and Butter).”
It was as if George Romero walked into Picklesburgh, and there I was: A bloodied, growling pickle mascot. During ScareHouse’s two-month season, for about 20 nights, I morphed into The Zombie Pickle.
Some visitors mentioned Pickle Rick from “Rick and Morty” – or tried to figure out what I was in the half-dark, foggy room.
That didn’t mean people weren’t scared. Maybe it was because I was a near-6-foot-tall green blob baring my teeth. (Even if they couldn’t quite make out that I was a pickle.)
One night, two people even called me a Christmas tree. But that never happened again.
At first I was a little bummed that I didn’t get a yinzer zombie costume with a Roberto Clemente jersey and gray makeup. But after a while, I embraced The Zombie Pickle. I even pinned a Heinz pickle pin to my ScareHouse cast hoodie.
And while I liked Caliente’s pickle pizza, did I like enough to order it again?
Maybe, as time goes on, the pickle pizza will grow on me, just like The Zombie Pickle.