Mama Mia! It’s the ‘Burgh’s best Italian

By Colleen Seidel

Lucca Ristorante 317 S. Craig St. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213 (412) 682-3310 Hours: Lunch Monday ‘-… Lucca Ristorante 317 S. Craig St. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213 (412) 682-3310 Hours: Lunch Monday ‘- Friday 11:30 a.m. ‘- 2 p.m.; Dinner 5 p.m. ‘- 10 p.m. $$$$ Does not accept Panther Funds Lucca Ristorante, located on Craig Street, is a short walk from campus but miles away from campus food. In fact, in the culinary world, it’s on an entirely different continent. The upscale atmosphere of Lucca’s does well to complement its upscale offerings of five-star-worthy Italian cuisine. From the wait staff to the wine, everything about Lucca’s echoes fine dining, and it’s a nice respite from the blandness of everyday eating. If the weather’s nice, choose to sit on the front balcony for a pleasant ambiance while working your way through a full-course meal. Even if it rains, you’d be hard-pressed to have a bad experience at this Oakland gem. Joe Mama’s 3716 Forbes Ave. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213 412-621-7282 Hours: Monday ‘- Sunday 11 a.m.-12 a.m. $$ 1/2 Accepts Panther Funds An Oakland staple, Joe Mama’s has offered cheap Italian food to masses of hungry college kids for years, and there’s no chance it’s likely to stop anytime soon. With daily blue plate specials and creative pasta monikers like ‘Hug Yo Belly Gemelli,’ Joe Mama’s keeps the food and fun always on. And if you’re really craving some late-night carbs, the restaurant offers certain plates half-off between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. It certainly beats studying.’ Piccolo Forno 3801 Butler St. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15201 412-622-0111 Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11 a.m. -10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. $$ ‘frac12; Does not accept Panther Funds Italian for ‘little oven,’ Piccolo Forno is the place to get as authentic Italian food as one will find in Pittsburgh. It’s worth the 54C bus ride from campus to Butler Street, in the heart of Lawrenceville, for a delicious choice of antipasti, generous helpings of pasta or any one of their house specialty pizzas. Bring a whole group for a fun, out-of-the-ordinary birthday celebration or just the ‘rents when they come to visit and ‘want to see Pittsburgh, dear.’ Either way, you’re gonna find tasty Italian cuisine at affordable prices. And don’t skip out on dessert ‘mdash; the homemade gelato or tiramisu are worth the trip in and of themselves. Lidia’s Pittsburgh 1400 Smallman St. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222 (412) 552-0150 Hours: Monday-Thursday 5 p.m. -9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 4 p.m. -10:30 p.m; Sunday 11 a.m. -2 p.m., 4 p.m. -9 p.m. $$$ Does not accept Panther Funds One of the acclaimed restaurants of Lidia Bastianich, host of the public television cooking show ‘Lidia’s Italy,’ Lidia’s Pittsburgh brings the best of traditional Italian dishes to the table. For dinner, you can try a tasting of three separate pastas, which change dail,y or sink your teeth into hearty entrees such as veal, lamb shank or pork, along with the standard chicken and fish dishes. A fresh mix of salads and sandwiches are offered for lunch, also. Easily accessible in its location at the heart of the Strip, Lidia’s offers top-notch cuisine to hungry Pittsburghers with a touch of class.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ Buca di Beppo 3 East Station Square Dr. Pittsburgh, Pa. (412) 471-9463 Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. -10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. -11 p.m,; Sunday 11 a.m. -9 p.m. $$1/2 Does not accept Panther Funds This fun Italian eatery in Station Square knows how to cook up palate-pleasing food with a bit of kitsch. Bedecked in funky photos and fake statues galore, Buca’s is sure to please for an entertaining night on the town. Although the restaurant recently downsized some dining options into single servings, it’s recommended to take big groups as most of its dishes are available ‘mdash; and more delightful ‘mdash; only in family-style portions. Here, you can pass the wine, pass the food and know the true enjoyment of a big Italian meal shared with many. Girasole 733 Copeland St. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15232 (412) 682-2130 Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. -10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m. -11 p.m.; Sunday 4 p.m -9 p.m. $$$1/2 Does not accept Panther Funds Sunken down in the underbelly of Shadyside ‘mdash; if Shadyside has an underbelly ‘mdash; is the quaint, homelike Girasole. Appropriately located beneath a gelateria off of Walnut Street, Girasole is not conspicuous in its appearance but stands out for the variety of flavors and seasonal dishes it offers on its menu. Consistently filled with patrons enjoying one-of-a-kind pasta, seafood and traditional entrees, Girasole only takes reservations, so it’s recommended to get on that list early.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ Alexander’s 5104 Liberty Ave.Pittsburgh, Pa. 15224 (412) 687-8741 Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. -10:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. -11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. $$ 1/2 Does not accept Panther Funds In the heart of Pittsburgh’s Little Italy ‘mdash; that is, Bloomfield ‘mdash; sits Alexander’s. The recipient of several ‘Best of the City’ awards by area newspapers, this restaurant offers Italian food like the Italians do it: simple, but delicious. A favorite of the locals, you’ll never see Alexander’s empty. With quick service and a full menu offering lots of choices, it won’t take long to find something you like at Alexander’s.’ ‘ Pizzutti’s 709 Bellefonte St. Pittsburgh, Pa. 15232 412-687-1022 Hours: Monday-Saturday Lunch 11:00 a.m.-2 p.m.; Dinner 5-9 p.m. (10 p.m. Friday and Saturday) $$$$ Does not accept Panther Funds The perfect place to bring your Valentine, this uber-romantic spot sits hidden away from Shadyside’s business district. You have to walk a couple blocks off of Walnut Street to find the tiny restaurant, but the choice of classy cuisine Pizzutti’s offers ‘mdash; everything from steak to seafood to homemade ravioli ‘mdash; and intimate atmosphere are enough to warrant the wandering. There’s no hurry to rush through a full-course meal here, and don’t be shy about lingering after to see what’s for dessert. Just don’t forget the wine ‘mdash; the place is BYO ‘mdash; or the cash, as the restaurant doesn’t take credit cards.