Let’s start with the obvious: a pasta road trip is kind of a ridiculous thing to do. Managing to finish one bowl of rich and creamy pasta is often an accomplishment, not to mention seven or eight in succession.
For that reason, consider this “road trip” to be a treasure map to some of the best pasta dishes scattered in and around Pittsburgh. You can check them off over weeks, or months, or even over the course of a year.
From gnocchi in a bread bowl (real thing), to tableside cacio e pepe, we’ve got your comfort food covered as we head into Pittsburgh’s deep winter.
What type of road trip would you like to see next? Leave it in the comments below!
How to Take the Ultimate Pittsburgh Pasta Road Trip:
Paglia e Fieno at Il Pizzaiolo
This pizza and pasta hotspot now has two other locations north of the city, but the original is in Mt. Lebanon. Il Pizzaiolo first opened in 1996, but it is still as popular as ever, and is commonly hailed as one of best Italian restaurants in the city. Head here when you’re craving wood-fired pizzas, homemade pasta dishes, and freshly prepared desserts (which, for us, is pretty much all the time). While it’s difficult to highlight just one pasta dish, the Paglia e Fieno is a standout on the menu. This dish features both spinach and egg tagliatelle (green and white noodles), peas, cream, parmigiano-reggiano, and a mound of salty prosciutto.
Il Pizzaiolo (703 Washington Rd)
Cacio e Pepe at Alla Famiglia
Alla Famiglia is another classic Pittsburgh Italian restaurant, located on Warrington Ave in Mt. Washington. At this restaurant, everyone feels like family, which is probably why Pittsburghers have been coming back here (repeatedly) since 1998. Many guests stick with the restaurant’s famous veal dishes, but another popular choice is the Cacio e Pepe. This dish is lovingly twisted inside a wheel pecorino cheese until each noodle is covered in cheese, pepper, and oil, and then draped across your plate. Cheese lovers, this one is definitely for you.
Alla Famiglia (804 E Warrington Ave)
Pappardelle Bolognese at Meat & Potatoes
Meat & Potatoes was the first restaurant by prolific Pittsburgh restauranter Richard Deshantz. It was an immediate success, and soon sparked an entire Downtown restaurant empire. Despite all of the new favorite spots (tako, Pork & Beans, Butcher and the Rye), Meat & Potatoes remains one of the best in the bunch. The menu features upscale-American food with many meat-forward dishes. While the steaks, pork chops, and meatballs are all delicious, the pappardelle bolognese should not be overlooked. These noodles are coated in rich sauce of pancetta and pork shoulder, and paired with a side of garlic bread.
Meat & Potatoes (649 Penn Ave)
Pasta Tasting Trio at Lidia’s Pittsburgh
Celebrity-chef Lidia Bastianich has several restaurants across the country, all featuring classic Italian cuisine. Her Pittsburgh location has been an involved member of the city’s food scene since they opened in 2001. The restaurant consistently hosts events and tasting dinners, such as their truffle dinners during truffle season. If you’re looking for a hearty pasta dish, but can’t decide exactly what you’re craving, head to Lidia’s for the “Pasta Tasting Trio.” This dish gives guests an unlimited sampling of the chef’s daily pasta tasting. This allows you to try various ravioli, spaghetti, linguine dishes, and then order seconds (or thirds) of your favorite. If you can manage to save room for dessert, don’t leave without trying Lidia’s famous tiramisu.
Lidia’s Pittsburgh (1400 Smallman St)
Gnocchi Bread Bowl at DiAnoia’s Eatery
Gnocchi? Great. Bread bowls? Also great. Gnocchi served inside of a bread bowl? You must be teasing us, DiAnoia’s Eatery. Perhaps one of the most decadent (and delicious) dishes in Pittsburgh right now, DiAnoia’s Eatery in The Strip District is serving their tantalizing potato gnocchi with meatballs, red sauce, and pecorino romano, all inside of a hearty loaf of bread. This may seem overwhelming when you first learn about it, but we guarantee you’ll be thinking about this dish for the next few days.
DiAnoia’s Eatery (2549 Penn Ave)
Baked Maccheroni at Piazza Talarico
Piazza Talarico is a family style Italian restaurant located on Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, just across the street from Arsenal Cider. The Talarico family, who own and run the restaurant, welcome every guest into their family with their warm personalities, and secret family recipes. This means you get to enjoy family-style Italian cooking inside of a chic, Lawrenceville bistro, or al fresco style on the restaurant’s large patio. The family favorite is the “Baked Maccheroni” with rigatoni, Grandma’s sauce, pepperoni, cheese, boiled eggs. This is a dish you’ve got to try to believe. Piazza Talarico is also the outpost for Papa Joe’s Wine Cellar, the Talarico’s wine business, which means also enjoy wine on tap (you’re welcome).
Piazza Talarico (3832 Penn Avenue)
Mafalda Giancarlo at Joseph Tambellini Restaurant
Sometimes you just want a straight-forward, hearty dish of pasta. Other times you want to be wowed with a modern take on an Italian classic. Joseph Tambellini Restaurant – a longtime Highland Park stample – delivers both of these things. The entire menu is composed of well-prepared Italian dishes, but it is hard to stray away from the handmade pasta selection. The “mafalda giancarlo,” with pine nuts, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and garlic is unlike any other dish we have mentioned on this road trip. It is a flavorsome and colorful dish that, when paired with a glass of wine, transports you to a warm, Italian afternoon.
Joseph Tambellini Restaurant (5701 Bryant St)
Ravioli at Della Terra Italian Bistro
North of the Pittsburgh in Harmony, PA, is another Italian restaurant known for serving hearty classics. Della Terra means “of the earth,” which is the mantra of this farm-to-table restaurant. Because the food is fresh and seasonal, the menu rotates frequently, and always has a featured pasta special. However, you will never go wrong with their ravioli, which is made fresh in house. The menu is currently serving kale and ricotta ravioli, with grana padano, roasted beet and walnut pesto.
Della Terra Italian Bistro (100 Perry Highway)
Did we forget your favorite? We want to know what it is! Leave it in the comments below.