Federico Fellini once said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” I say add beer to the list and the statement is foolproof. And when it comes to pasta, I’m sticking with ItalYINZ all the way. To be honest, I never met an Italian pasta dish that I didn’t like. So we asked our foodie friends and family to suggest their favorite Italian restaurants. il Pizzaiolo kept coming up over and over again. So we took the hint and looked into it. Wow am I grateful we did. After further investigation, it just so happens that this particular Italian restaurant has one of the most extensive stock of authentic Italian beer in Pittsburgh. SOLD. We were there faster than Sauerkraut Sal in a Pirates pierogi race…
Here’s a little bit of background on the place. il Pizzaiolo opened in 1996 by Pittsburgh native Ron Molinaro. The restaurant prides itself on masterfully cooking Neapolitan style pizza using old-world techniques and the highest-quality ingredients. Nearly everything on the menu is hand-made. And if it’s not made in-house, it’s imported from the best artisans, cheese-makers, and salumeria around the world. Even their Mozzarella di Bufala comes directly from Naples every Thursday. Photo by Il Pizzaiolo
Il Pizzaiolo has a handsome handcrafted, wood-fired brick oven that cooks their pizzas at 1000˚for less than 90 seconds. This, along with their perfectly leavened dough, San Marzano tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil- makes the most authentic Neapolitan pizza possible in the ‘burgh.
Here’s a recap on what our night looked like…
Our server (and Italian beer expert) Sarah greeted us with a warm loaf of homemade Italian bread and thoroughly went through the beer list to help us chose the perfect brews.
We decided on…
BIRRA DEL BORGO GENZIANA Lazio- A top fermented amber ale brewed with gentian, a bitter flowering plant. The gentian roots are infused during the last 2 minutes of the boil.
LE BALADIN NORA Piemonte- This Egyptian inspired brew is spiced with ginger, myrrh, and orange peel … very complex. Tastes like it came from the Cave of Wonders!!!
We ordered the FRITTO MISTO: arancini, frittatine and panzarotti. In Naples, buying fried street food dates back centuries. This typical fried food can be bought in little shops, street vendors and peddlers still to this day.
Arancini –Sicilian and Neapolitan fried rice balls. Two are made with rice and mozzarella and the other two are made with saffron, bolognese, peas & carrots
Panzarotti –Neapolitan fried potato croquettes with fresh mozzarella
Frittatine – Fried bucatini pasta, béchamel, pecorino. This is like a fried ball of gourmet mac ‘n cheese!
Tutto Polpette Hand-made veal, pork and beef meatballs, marinara, pecorino romano cheese. Probably one of the best meatball dishes ever created. Yup, I said it.
Bucatini Allamatriciana- Guanciale, white onion, white wine, chili pepper, marinara. Bucatini is like a thick spaghetti but it has a pin hole down the center which creates a firm, el dente bite. Guanciale is pork jowl and when it’s cooked down, it adds a very delicate texture and incredible flavor to the sauce. A very classic dish!
Cavatelli Con Rapini- Hand-made cavatelli, rapini, fennel sausage, pecorino, tomano, garlic, white wine, and extra virgin olive oil. This dish is perfect marriage with its sweet sausage and bitter rapini. I did not want this dish to end. ever.
Dolce and Digestivi
Tiramisu- This rich Italian dessert is made with mascarpone, a buttery rich, slightly sweet Italian cream cheese and soaked lady fingers.