Located in Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh, Pizzaiolo Primo serves up delicious, homemade Italian cuisine and fresh-squeezed juices.
Last month was my Association of Luxury Suite Director’s conference. Every summer it’s in a different city, and this year was in Pittsburgh. Before this trip I don’t remember the last time I visited Pittsburgh, and I admit I wasn’t too fired up about a return trip. However, I was very impressed; the city has undergone major redevelopment, and is now a destination city.
The conference ended on Wednesday, and a group of us gathered for one final lunch before heading home. Well, the guys were heading home…I stayed one more evening. We walked to Market Square, which is just 2 blocks from our hotel. We had spent quite a bit of time in Market Square during the week, for both meals and funtivities. Market Square is full of restaurants, so it’s a very lively area all hours of day and night.
We walked around the Square twice, considered numerous options, and finally settled on Il Pizzaiolo. Well, it turns out that the Market Square location changed names to Pizzaiolo Primo, and this change happened within the last month. The menus seem quite similar, so I’m not sure the reason for the name change.
Pizzaiolo Primo is a very cool place, with Tuscan-themed decor. There is a patio out front, the same as all of the restaurants in the Square. The restaurant has 2 stories; the main floor has a few tables, as well as a huge wood-fired stove in the back corner. Upstairs is a full bar, as well as additional tables.
We sat upstairs, and the bartender was our server. I’m not usually a fan of that, because their attention is split between the tables and making drinks for the whole bar. However, he impressed me with his knowledge, detail, recommendations, and help. I also noticed the way he interacted with the staff, and I’m guessing he’s the manager and/or owner.
The Pizzaiolo Primo menu is quite simple, featuring appetizers, salad, pizza, pasta, specials, and meat. With the pasta, the menu items on the right side of the page are all homemade; the pastas on the left side of the page are the freshest dry pasta available. The pizzas are all 11″, thin crust, and hand-rolled twice daily. Pizzaiolo Primo fresh-squeezes their juices, and we saw the bartender in action as we ate.
Bread and oil come to the table first
The bread is room temperature. I always prefer warm bread, but this one is delicious. The oil is rich, and excellent.
We started with salad, and they are all served in large portions. We got one each of Caesar and mixed greens, so that we could share.
The Caesar salad is outstanding. The dressing is light, and very flavorful. So although there was quite a bit of dressing on the salad, it does not taste heavy. When we ordered, the bartender asked if we wanted anchovies; we immediately answered NO in unison, before he even finished the question.
The mixed greens salad is delicious as well, but is heavy on dressing. I like the combination and quantity of fresh vegetables in the salad, and I continued to pick at the vegetables until the entrees arrived.
Kai got the tagliatelle Bolognese
I tasted a bite, and it is excellent. The sauce is rich and delicious, and you can tell that the pasta is homemade.
Everyone else in the group wanted pizza. We discussed options with the bartender, and he recommended that we split 3 of them. The pizzas are cut into quarters, and he offered to cut each pie into 6 pieces to make it more convenient for us. We got Quattro Formaggi, Margherita, and Salsiccia E Rapini
The white pizza is by far my favorite of the 3. The cheese was bubbling, and the mix of cheeses creates such a wonderfully creamy and silky texture. I’ve never had gorgonzola on pizza, but that will definitely change. I could have easily eaten the entire pizza myself.
The Salsiccia E Rapini is excellent as well. The sausage is homemade, it has a nice kick, and is bursting with flavor. The red sauce has a slight acidic kick, from fresh tomatoes, and is very delicious. The only improvement would be to add more basil for more flavor.
The margherita pizza is good, but was my least favorite. However, I tried the margherita pizza last and therefore it wasn’t as hot. I need to try it fresh from the oven, to give an accurate review.
I considered returning to Pizzaiolo Primo that evening to sample the cocktails made with the fresh-squeezed juice, but after 4 days of funtivities, I needed a break.
Will I go back to Pizzaiolo Primo? No question. I don’t really have a reason to go back to Pittsburgh any time soon, but a weekend trip to check out more of the city is not out of the question. Which of course will mean a repeat visit to Pizzaiolo Primo.
For reviews of more restaurants in Pittsburgh, please click on the photos below!