Follow-up: Il Pizzaiolo

By | March 21, 2006

Il Pizzaiolo
703 Washington Rd
Mt Lebanon, PA 15228-2004
Phone: (412) 344-4123
Mon-Thu 12-10; Fri-Sat 12-11; Sun 12-9

Well, well, well….maybe they didn’t read our review after all! Went back to Il Pizzaiolo again this weekend (did I mention that I am obsessed?) and EVERYTHING’S CHANGED!!! Well, not everything, but they changed the menu, both in items and in structure. What’s changed? Brace yourself…

First and foremost – some dishes are now gone from the menu forever. Quite a few actually! No more are the tortelloni, the primavera, the seafood, and the exotic mushroom pastas. Also missing are the carbonara and the pasta with zillions of different meats in it, including sausages and brijole (a kind of delicious steak tube that is an Italian specialty). These two dishes disappearing came as a disappointment to our good friends Val and Nicole, also dining with us that evening. They said that brijole is able to be found in other places in Pittsburgh though (I’ll try to get them to comment on that). The waitress informed us that the chef is trying to streamline the process of pastas in preparation for the spring and summer season, when they open their beautiful outdoor seating area and their business doubles. She said the brijole took too much time to make, and aside from that they just got rid of the least popular dishes. For the record, all the pizzas and other dishes recommended in previous reviews are all still available and as delicious as ever.

In addition to removing a number of dishes, they added at least two. One was a sausage, rapini, and white bean with pasta dish that the waitress highly recommended, and I can’t recall the other one. It turns out that none of us got any of the new dishes! Personally, I felt compelled to get something I loved just in case they decided to get rid of that too! Val tried the other remaining sausage dish (not the one with rapini and white beans, but the one that remained from the old menu). It wasn’t the spicy dish that the old sausage and brijole pasta had been, so he asked for red pepper flakes. I think he liked his pasta just fine, but was still a little heartbroken over the disappearing brijole pasta. However, as it happens, this remaining sausage dish is a favorite of another friend, Rachel FS. She has also been to the restaurant since the menu-switchover and says that the dish is actually a little different – instead of mozzarella bits the dish now contains provolone! I can’t confirm this, however, as I don’t recall what the menu said. They also added some appetizers, but I am not clear on which ones are new and which are old. We got the traditional meaty antipasto, which was ok, but not as exotic as the vegetable antipasto which is out of this world.

Another important note is that the salads and soups are now a la carte. $4 extra, as a matter of fact! We all got a salad or soup in addition to our pasta. I do think the salad is slightly bigger than it was before, however the soup is the same size, but it seems tastier somehow. Bread still came with the meal (see comment section below).

And finally, the wine menu is a little different too! Only good things here though. The selection is the same, but they’ve added a nifty little taster section where you can get a group of three wines and do your very own taste testing. As far as I could tell, the wines are grouped by color, then by region. You get 2 ounces each of the three preset wines, which is a nice amount. I had a red Toscana selection that included a wonderful Chianti and a sample of an $80 bottle of wine that was $80 delicious. I definitely approve of this menu change.

However, all of these changes add up. If you go out for pasta, add a salad, and have a taster of wines, this bumps up your dinner from $$ to $$$, so beware. I don’t really blame them I guess. While I can’t claim that Il Pizzaiolo has ever been ‘cheap’, I can say that it was an absolute deal for the value. It was like landing a mint Ferrari for $10,000 out of some rich bastard’s bitter divorce battle… but in luscious pasta form. Now you’ll be paying closer to what it’s worth. It might be necessary, as the restaurant has become so popular as of late that they are working at complete capacity most nights of the week. And the waitress is right about the business doubling when the outdoor seating area opens, adding stress to an already small kitchen. They need something to cull the crowd a little bit, and raising prices will provide just that. I also wish they’d start taking reservations. Personally, I think they should just buy that Italian place next door, Giovanni’s, and take over the whole block – I think the only people who go there are people sick of the long wait at Il Pizzaiolo anyway!

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