When it comes to Italians, food is love. Perfect, delicious, palatable love. And it’s the kind of love that usually comes in the form of hearty, multi-course meals spanning over several hours. With plenty of wine to go around, of course. Dining is at the heart of Italian culture. They take their time to eat; enjoying their company and fostering the endless conversations that pop up along the way. These Scotch-Irishers right here had the amazing opportunity to savor this old-world dining style last week at Sarafino’s Restaurant.
Sarafino’s Restaurant is one of Pittsburgh’s rare gems for authentic Italian dining. Situated in the heart of Crafton, Sarafino’s charming dining room is adorned with classic family portraits, which provides a uniquely warm and inviting dining environment. I truly felt like I was having Sunday Supper over at a large, very loving, and somewhat loud Italian family’s home.
It was a special occasion. That night, Chef Joe was unveiling the authentic Italian dishes he recently mastered during his month spent in Italy. And we, a handful of other bloggers/writers along with the Caliguire’s family and friends were the first ones to sample the fruits of his culinary expedition. Life was good. Real good.
For this special night, the restaurant combined the tables into 3 large tables, which accommodated 20 guests each. It was BYOB, so countless bottles of red wine were generously passed around the table. We happily shared our offering, Nora, an Italian beer, and Pilzilla, a favorite local brew. For these beer bloggers, BYOB definitely means bring your own beer.
Once we had some time to drink and catch up, the first glorious course arrived; PIZZA. The pizza had a perfectly seasoned dough, with one of the best tomato sauces I’ve ever laid lips on. The mozzarella cheese was creamy and rich, and the fresh basil on top was utterly divine. Perfect dish to excite my pallet for what was to come…
Next, we dined on grilled artichokes with lemon. Wowza. I wish all fried food tasted this glorious…
Then we sampled chicken liver pâté on polenta squares. It was exceptional. I’d smear this stuff on anything and EVERYTHING; bread, a burger, my fingers…. the possibilities are endless with this amazing spread.
Next, we tried the stewed squid bruschetta. Seafood heaven on a crusty slice of bread.
Then, we tried the penne with mint, prosciutto, and parmesan cheese. It was wholesome and rich, with a hint of freshness from the mint. A truly unique flavor combination that just so happens to work beautifully together. Then, we sampled the homemade pasta with braised rabbit. For me, there’s nothing better than homemade noodles with a hearty, soul-warming meat sauce. It was absolutely astounding.
I kid you not, This Italian dinner multi-course meal is the real deal. The dishes just kept on coming and coming and we just kept on eating and eating… Between dishes, we all took a breath and learned about the family heritage from the pictures on the walls.
Once we got our Italian family line sorted out, it was time for the roasted pork with rosemary potatoes. There was such a homey taste to that dish.
In my opinion, they saved the absolute best for last. The stewed wild boar over polenta won my heart. The spice blend was utterly addicting, I could’t stop eating it. And I was way past full at this point- so for me to have to restrain myself from eating the entire platter, means it was truly that good.
We ended the meal on a sweet and fresh note with poached fruit, ice-cream and a biscotti cookie. Sweet, sweet bliss.
I think the Italians are on to something here with meal time. The wine, the conversation,the undeniable love put into each dish is something I definitely want to be a part of all the time. But, as a tiger cannot change it’s stripes, I cannot swap out my own heritage. But for that night at least, I felt Italian. We drank, we laughed, we ate far too much, we stole each others’ seats, we hugged, and we made plans to visit soon. The meal was simple and sublime; homey and high-end . Bellissimo e perfetto (kiss fingers and toss away hand gesture).
Salute to Joe, Kellie, Tony, Dean, Barb, and little Sarafino Caliguire. Sarafino’s is an incredible little spot in this world and we so look forward to our next Italian “family” meal soon. And Pittsburgh, you can look forward to seeing these mouth-watering dishes on the menu in the near future.
Sarafino’s Restaurant is located at 40 E Crafton Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15205
Cheers N’at– Devon and Tim
*Big thank you to John, Rick, Tasha, Terri, and Alex for the inspired conversation and for sharing your wine. You guys are awesome.