With the holidays upon us (AKA I’m packing up yet again for the Dirty Jerz) and a whole new year to come (we’re booked & busy in 2020), I have made it my mission to get to as many new spots as possible before my road trip starts. Luckily for me, with a boom in pasta-filled menus across the city, it wasn’t too hard to get some noodles in front of me these past few weeks.
Here are a few of the spots I hit with a full stomach and hungry company.
New Pasta Concept Emerges In The PA Market: Trattoria Saporito
Location: Strip District
During a time of heavy carb expansion in Pittsburgh, a piece of old school Italy has made a home in the heart of Pittsburgh.
Trattoria Saporito, with a full-fledged restaurant operating in Hoboken, NJ, has opened a spot in The PA Market. With a full wine library, back patio, and the occasional live music, The PA Market is hoping to captivate its customers with more options, especially in the wake of Romulus Pizza al Taglio announcing they will be leaving the space.
Trattoria Saporito is serving up an array of noddle shape and sauce combinations, including al dente rigatoni with a tomato sauce that will remind you of your Grandma’s (or at least mine) to specials like pillowy gnocchi in a hearty bolognese that’s perfect for warming you up in even the coldest of Pittsburgh weather.
Whether you’re more of a pesto connoisseur or prefer to keep it traditional with spaghetti and tomato sauce, be sure to stop by, say Ciao, and try a dish.
When Pizza Meets Pasta: Iron Born’s Newest Standalone Location Is Officially Open
Location: Strip District
With an Instagram full of cryptic “we’ll be open soon” captions and truly drool-worthy photos of noodles and Detroit-style ‘za, Iron Born Pizza has officially opened its doors in the Strip District as of earlier this week. Though IBP is no stranger to the Strip with its original location once located in Smallman Galley, this is the first time they’re rolling out a pasta menu alongside their infamous square pies.
Ryan Peters, previously located at DeShantz Group’s Fish Nor Fowl, has joined the team headed by Pete Tolman. His pasta skills are nothing short of mesmerizing (I mean just look at his Instagram page) and delicious (being his neighbor and having a taste of his homemade lasagna, I can confirm the noodles are worth investing in). The pasta dishes are labeled as “Custom Pasta Bowls” where you can pick your own noodle-type and sauce combo, and you can even add in a dollop of ricotta to make it truly *chefs kiss*. Plus, you already know that meatballs are available to add to any dish.
It’s also important to note that Olive Beals, previously located at Union Standard, has been busy mixing and stirring up the equally as badass bar program. Can you name anything better than house cocktails, twirled spaghetti, and a crispy, cheesy slice of pizza? I’ll wait.
Being a noodle connoisseur myself (and of course, a pizza expert) I am looking forward to seeing the magic this all-star team brings to this restaurant. Pasta is a large trend I see escalating in 2020, especially when it comes to finding a balance between fresh noodles and a balance of a sit-down and takeout dining experience, which Iron Born truly embodies.
Speaking of Fish Nor Fowl, I Finally Made It To Their Table
Location: East Liberty
If I’m being honest, Fish Nor Fowl is one of those spots that I have always said I wanted to try, but never made a reality. Kind of like that one ex that was all about that talk and no action, you know what I mean?
One of my all-time favorite restaurants in the city is Poulet Bleu (speaking of, look out for my 2019 favorites spread in the next print issue) so when it comes to investing in a DeShantz restaurant, that’s usually the one I gravitate towards. However, I was feeling something new, and when a friend suggested we celebrate the holidays there, I was all about those moves.
With Chef Daniel Carlton stepping in after the departure of Ryan Peters, and a new development to their menu to make the scope of offerings more Italian restaurant-like, I can confirm the noodles are worth the splurge, both for your gut and your wallet. Our waiter was especially helpful on portion suggestions, stand-out dishes, and even went along with our jokes (and also was more than happy to split up each of the three different pastas we ordered for the two of us to take home).
Out of the other two restaurants mentioned, Fish’s dishes balance a use of unique and versatile ingredients one would not particularly expect served amongst noodles, especially my favorite dish, the rigatoni: chopped walnuts garnished a plate of wide, short ribbed rigatoni that was tossed with a welcoming amount of braised oxtail and coupled with green apple and pickled celery. I was licking my plate more than usual with that one.
However, I highly suggest not skimping on the starters to share, especially the Butternut Squash Crostini, with bread that I kid you not I was dreaming about last night. I also highly suggest getting your veggies in with the Charred Broccoli, served with crispy breadcrumbs and a super creamy goat cheese. Plus, the ambiance of the space is nothing short of winter log cabin in the woods meets chic greenhouse.