Pazzo Ristorante's dedicated chefs and servers dish out a menu's worth of home-style Italian cuisine. An appetizer of marinara-battered zucchini planks ($7.99) pleases taste buds with its architectural soundness, and delicately sauced steamed mussels ($11.99) promote after-dinner partying by doubling as castanets. Dinnertime promises a choice selection of nautical eats, such as the seafood gnocchi caprese ($18.99), a multi-textured medley of potato gnocchi, tomatoes, mozzarella, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Mouthwatering pasta dishes unite noodle and sauce in edible masterpieces, such as the tasty Cajun chicken bruschetta ($15.99) tossed with tomatoes, garlic, and basil over angel hair pasta or the perennial favorite of James Bond, bow ties à la vodka ($14.99), a mélange of prosciutto, onion, and fresh basil in a vodka-cream sauce.
After running five Italian restaurants across the course of his career, chef David Ayn was well equipped to assemble the menu at Davio, where simple and soulful southern Italian dishes reign supreme. Inspired by the intense heat and flavors of the southern Italian Peninsula, Ayn introduces veal chops and steaks to the coal grill, peppered with caramelized onions and imported olive oil. While seated at the common area of "Davio's Table," families share heaping platters of antipasto, family-style plates of seasonally rotating seafood, and a single sweater knitted for six people.
The chefs of Lunardi's Ristorante bring the flavors of Sicily and Milan across the Atlantic to top plates of succulent meats and pastas with parmigiana, pesto, and marsala sauces. Their creations add pops of color to white marble-topped tables that, along with the dining room’s art-covered walls, impart a feeling of being well taken care of before a waiter even sidles up to the table.
For more than 50 years, Beto’s Pizza has pampered Pittsburghers with a hearty menu of unconventionally prepared pizza alongside an array of hoagies. The pizzeria's signature pie-making process entails adding shredded provolone cheese and generous layers of toppings ($0.50 each) to every slice or cut ($1.25 each) after the dough and sauce have been baked. A full pizza contains 28 pizza rectangles ($34.11), each boasting an inimitable texture of hot crust and half-melted cheese that serves as an interactive alternative to tasteless geometry textbooks. For less saucy fare, patrons can try a steaming steak hoagie, capped by a layer of bubbling cheese ($5.39 for a half; $10.69 for a whole). A high-powered veggie telescope grants herbivores access to a planetary bowl of tossed salad, available with orbiting sides of fried cauliflower, mushrooms, and hot peppers ($3.89+).
The cooks at Nobby's Pizzeria sprinkle hand-tossed crusts with tangy, homemade sauce and aromatic cheese made from a smoked provolone blend. In addition to classics such as pepperoni and sausage, they adorn seven signature pizzas with creative toppings ranging from ranch and buffalo sauce to capicola and olives. Their menu also includes other Italian-American staples, including meaty hoagies and ricotta-covered calzones.
In the most basic of terms, kitchens are places where ingredients come together to create a satisfying whole; the marriage of Pat and Brigitte Joyce, co-owners of 17th Street Cafe, proves that this pairing of complements is not always limited to the food. In 1988, Pat was starring as the café's executive chef when Brigitte joined his kitchen staff. Over their years working together, their love simmered on slow, low heat until they were finally married in 1995. Seven years after tying the knot, the couple jumped at the chance to own a piece of their shared history and took over 17th Street Cafe, which they now operate as a labor of love on many levels.
Today, two staple entrees—the pork chop au poivre and the veal with crab—are the lone holdovers from the original owners' menu. These favorites of long-time regulars join a revamped menu crafted from sustainable and organic ingredients whenever possible. Pat's current favorite—chicken- and asiago-stuffed pasta "pillows" served in an aioli sauce—exemplifies this new approach, which tends to add an innovative twist to traditional fare such as pasta, seafood, veal, and chops. Lunch also hosts a wide array of fan favorites, including the stuffed Portabella–a large mushroom cap filled with zucchini, sweet peppers, onions, carrots, artichoke hearts, domestic mushrooms, and spinach topped with asiago cheese. Chefs Ed and Lance craft creative burgers to sate midday appetites as well. Longtime patrons opt for the Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner burger, cooked to order and topped with peanut butter, a fried egg, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, and tomato.
Inside the dining space, chocolate-brown and gold walls flank dark oak tables, lending the space a Mediterranean look that has been featured in several film and jeans commercials. Location scouts aren’t the only guests to have taken notice of the delicious entrees and cool ambiance—players from the Pittsburgh Penguins can often be spotted dining on puck-sized veal cutlets at nearby tables.