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Apr 3, 2013 11:15 PM

Good or great Italian food in Pittsburgh

When I grew up in Pittsburgh there was really solid Italian food in Bloomfield and East Liberty. I know those days are long gone!
What are some really solid places for classic stuff - bolognese, eggplant parm, veal millanese, etc.

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  1. One of my favorites is Piccolo Forno, at Butler and 38th Streets, which is pizza, pasta, and some veg dishes. No meat or other protein except as they are used in pizza or pasta.

    I'd give you their website, but it's very noisy.

    I like Lidia's, too. They've been doing extremely well with pasta lately. Their Bolognese is among the best I've had that I didn't make myself. They're a full-menu restaurant, so you'll find some of your "classic stuff." I don't see eggplant parm or veal Milanese on the current menu, though.

    I haven't been there myself, but a friend highly recommends Rico's, in the North Hills. I notice Veal Milanese on their menu.

    1. I would second the Rico's recommendation. It's my go-to for Italian around Pittsburgh. The lunch menu offers the same selections as dinner, at great prices. The bar is fun also.

      My absolute favorite is Alla Famiglia, in Allentown. Very good, but also very expensive!

      1. Dish
        Davio - very expensive
        Il Pizzaiolo

        2 Replies
        1. re: Effort

          I'm going to Dish for my birthday. Any recommendations? I've never been.

          1. re: Jay F

            Anything. It's really good, but I always order the grilled calamari as an app.


        2. Dish is great, it's my default for shellfish/Sicilian. Alla Famiglia might work well for a larger group, but I find it too pricey for just wife and I. Haven't been to Rico's.

          IMO, La Tavola does a good job on classics and it's BYO. Not much to look at - decor/ambience is 60's-ish, but the calamari is among best I've had in Pgh and veal pretty good. Even the pasta sides are good quality with a pretty simple but tasty tomato sauce - thin as in Italy, more tomatoey than sweet.

          I'll qualify that we rarely go out for Italian these days except for seafood as it's rare to find a place that does a better job than we do in our own kitchen. And I'd put Big Jim's eggplant parm up against any Italian place - it's a pretty low bar. Nobody here does what Batali does with eggplant, which is my personal fave way to make parmigiana.

          1. It's not my favorite by a longshot, but if you're looking for an old-school, red-sauce Italian joint with a veal chop as thick as the phone book, J Tambellini in Highland Park is the place for you.

            For my money, E2, just a couple blocks down Bryant St., is better by several orders of magnitude. Stagioni, in the old Le Pommier space on Carson St., is very good too.