Boyfriend had frequented Il Pizzaiolo in the past and introduced me to its authentic Italian food a few years ago. We save it for special occasions and always leave feeling completely satisfied. Last night was no different.
The restaurant was established in 1996 and, according to their website, is the only restaurant in Pittsburgh to hold a Vera Pizza Napoletana certification. I don't know what that means, but it sure sounds impressive, doesn't it? There are two locations of Il Pizaiola, but I have never visited the Market Square location. In Mount Lebanon, you can expect great service, flavorful food, and long weekend wait times; however, the separate wine bar is more than welcoming.
Last evening, I reserved a table for 7 p.m. and was, unfortunately, unable to specifically reserve a patio table, due to the unpredictability of Pittsburgh weather; however, when we arrived, we asked if an outside table was available. Without waiting more than three minutes, we were ushered to the patio and seated at an intimate table with an umbrella to protect us from the rays of the setting sun.
The patio is small, but not overly cramped and the waitstaff seems to have no issues weaving in between tables with ease. Our server, Colleen, was extremely attentive and friendly. We liked her a lot and the fact that she was sincerely apologetic when she initially neglected to bring our glasses of water. We assured her that it was not a problem in the slightest, but she was exceedingly accommodating in supplying beverages afterward.
While enjoying our outdoor table, Boyfriend ordered a Hoegaarden beer, while I requested a glass of Gragnano Frizzante Grotta del Sole, a sparkling red wine served chilled. Despite bordering a back alley, Il Pizzaiolo's patio is quite private and serene; potted plants and herbs add to the ambiance and make you feel ask if you're in your own backyard (if you have a lovely backyard garden). Unfortunately, sitting outside also means sitting with ALL forms of nature and after about half of my glass of wine was gone, a garden bug decided to go for a swim. Fortunately for me, Colleen quickly brought me another glass and disposed of the presumably then drunk fruit fly.
While we sipped our drinks and feasted on Italian bread and oil, Boyfriend and I decided to order an appetizer of Panzarotti, Neopolitan fried potato croquettes also filled with fresh mozzarella and sprinkled with Parmesan. The starter was a perfect size for two people and I greatly enjoyed the cheesy, creamy goodness with the crispy outside. I'm a sucker for fresh mozzarella.
For our entrees, both Boyfriend and I decided on lasagne. Usually, I don't like to order the same meal as my dining partner, but I am so thankful that I did this time. The large portions of lasagne were delivered to our table with a nice presentation and an appropriate wait time... And they looked beautiful.
After only a few bites, Boyfriend proclaimed that Il Pizzaiolo's was the best lasagne that he's ever eaten. The pasta was layered with both fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, plus a smooth tomato sauce, with both meatballs and sausage pieces. The cheese oozed out between the layers of pasta and easily made this dish my favorite of any that I've had at Il Pizzaiolo.
(Just look at that gooey cheese!)
We ate until we could eat no more and Colleen boxed our leftovers before bringing the check. I felt as though I could have demolished the remainder of my lasagne, but I knew that I'd miss it once it was gone and would develop some sort of violent cheese monster food baby. I promised the lasagne that we'd see each other again and began to contemplate lunch for the following day.
There is a reason that we reserve Il Pizzaiolo for special occasions and that is because it's such a special restaurant with special food. Every menu item that I have had has been more than palatable and has left me saying "that's amore."
There was seemingly no better way to celebrate Boyfriend's birthday than with a fine dinner together at Il Pizzaiolo. So happy birthday to Boyfriend and may this year be filled with delicious lasagne, good times, and perfectly aged Mamwich.