Best Italian in Pittsburgh.
I'm in Pittsburgh in early Dec. on business.
$ is not a problem, but my boss is from New Haven, Ct.
and knows good home cooked traditional Italian food.
Also is Primante's as good as T.V. makes it out to be?
I'd love to try something unique to the city as I have never visited.
Tally another vote for a non-Pittsburgher whose bewildered by all the Primanti press. I'd much rather get a sandwich from the Pittsburgh Deli Company, not that they're anything special.
Picolo Forno is one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh, but it's not really serious cuisine. The aforementioned lasagna is quite good and the antipasti and pizze are really satisfying. However, I've found many of the pastas are disappointing and the menu lacks the secondi of a serious Italian ristorante. Usually we show up with a few bottles and nosh on the first courses for hours. It works out to an excellent deal for food that will accompany a wide variety of lighter wines but again, I wouldn't go there for a serious meal or with a borolo.
Girasole and Enricos are more fancy, but I actually like them much less. I find that Enrico's food is far too heavy and has no real subtlety. Girasole, on the other hand, is just really boring. Of the two, I definitely prefer Enrico's as it can be satisfying to consume all that richness. I think they both sell the burnt almond torte from the nearby Prantl's bakeshop. That's worth ordering, I think.
Lidia's served me the best octopus Ive had. I've really enjoyed many of their dishes and I think their bargain wine list is outstanding; whoever picks out their inexpensive bottles really has some great finds. The wine list in general is very good. A little inconsistency in the menu is the only thing that keeps me from recommending Lidia's without hesitation.
Dish has been on my list for the last two years but I never seem to manage to get out there.
I agree with the Girasole suggestions. I like the food although the last couple of times I've been there the service was less than great.
As for the Primanti's debate: Call it what it is- it's a sandwich that native Pittsburghers grew up with and celebrate as part of their city's food heritage. To a non-native (obviously I am one) it might not be all that great. I've been told by coworkers that it does taste much better at 2am after a night of drinking, but I'm going to just have to take their word for it. One visit was more than enough for me.
#1 - primanti's is not overrated. Corned beef or pastrami with that vinegary/peppery coleslaw (no mayo in there) and crispy, thick fries, maybe a fried egg for added bonus, on fresh Italian bread. Maybe also a dash or two or three of hot sauce. Gourmet? no. A good sandwich, hells yes. Fatheads sandwiches are good, but the few I have had always left me feeling full but not satisfied. Fatheads does have an excellent beer selection, though.
#2 - If we're taking Italian food the way they eat it in Italy, then Dish Osteria on the South Side is definitely a good recommendation - simple food, quality ingredients, well executed, excellent atmosphere.
#3 - The O has heaping mounds of greasy fries that are excellent if you are very drunk, or if you just really like greasy fries, and long-ass hot dogs that are, in the world of hot dogs, nothing spectacular.
IMO, I think the main reason many of us non-native Pittsburghers are ambivalent about Primanits is the Mancini bread. I'd love a kielbasa with the works and fried egg on a nice Breadworks or Mediterra or Allegro roll or ciabattina. But I can't think of anyone who's moved here who actually likes Mancini bread. I understand Mancini an institution here, but it's to bread what IC Light is to beer ;-)
My favorite is Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville, the only restaurant in Pgh. who make a decent Lasagne Bolognese. And their pizza is great, too. Also, the grilled veg. appetizer. They are closed Sunday and Monday.
Lidia's is good for brunch on Sunday. It's $22 for all you can eat antipasto and dessert, plus your choice of entree.
Actually, both restaurants are very reasonably priced. Lidia's is more expensive at dinner.
You must avoid the so-called Little Italy restaurants in Bloomfield, unless you're craving Italian-American drek from the '50s.
Enrico's - Shadyside
Girasole - Shadyside
17th Street Cafe - Southside
Dish - Southside
Cafe Roma - Bloomfield - BYO
a favorite of the BF is Gran Canal - Sharpsburg......
recently went to La Tavola - Mt Washington - while it was good, I was not overly impressed. Our entree portions contained very little seafood/meat (and we ordered frutti de mare and a veal dish)...the place was packed and I wanted to love it but was dissappointed by the execution of the entrees....the BYO might persuade me to give it a 2nd try.....
For authentic Italian, I'd recommend Alla Famiglia in Allentown (http://www.allafamigliapittsburgh.com) as well as the aforementioned Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville. Also, Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon has great Napolitan pizza and some decent antipasti and pasta dishes.
For authentic italian, I would definitely go with Davio.
The owner of Davio started Alla Famiglia and sold it to the current owner. I think Davio does it better than Alla Famiglia. Only negative about Davio is plastic tablecloths really stink at a restaurant that is about $50pp. It is BYOB.
In my opinion, Primanti's is overrated - when in Oakland, I opt for the O.
2100 Broadway Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15216
The O is the Original Hot Dog Shop
I always pick Fat Head's over Primanti's.
Does anyone know if Per Mi Figlia that didn't last a year at the corner of Forbes and Murray was owned by the same people who own Alla Famiglia? That was the rumor at the time. If so, I would avoid Alla Famiglia. The food at Per Mi Figlia was what did them in. I had a crabcake there one night with a sauce made of what tasted like orange juice from a can. Another time, I had ravioli that was made of such thick dough, I would rather have been served a can of Chef BoyArDee. If ever a restaurant deserved to close, it was Per Mi Figlia.
I can't wait to get to Piccolo Forno. The menu looks great, very reasonably priced, byob, and I've heard great things. Google it. Its also very close to downtown.
just got it, www.piccolo-forno.com
yes Primanti's is very good. I would go to the Southside or Strip District. Get the Pittsburgher Cheesesteak. Best with a beer or after a few. Delicious none the less.