Lawrenceville will soon be home to a new authentic Italian restaurant, complete with a walk-up counter, large outdoor patio, wine bar, and, of course, homemade Italian food.
Sisters Katie and Beth Talarico grew up in a big Italian family where they would meet every Sunday night for dinner. These were the sort of big family meal that you can only fully understand if you’ve ever been to one.
“Everyone sits at the table, and you don’t have any space,” says Beth. “Everyone is fighting each other for bread, that sort of thing. Sometimes there would be six of us, sometimes there would be 30. My grandma would never sit down until everyone was on their second plate of food.”
These meals – and the family recipes that fueled them – were the inspiration for their new restaurant, Piazza Talarico, which will open soon on Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville, just one block from Arsenal Cider.
The Talarico family hopes to invite customers into the space, and welcome them as part of their big Italian family.
“This has always been our dream,” says Katie Talarico. “This is all we have ever really wanted to do. We have always come back to this.”
Their dreams will soon become a reality, as the restaurant is just a few months away from opening their doors.
Piazza Talarico is drawing inspiration from classic Italian restaurants for their Lawrenceville space. Just as counter bars, where guests walk up and order an espresso or glass of wine are common in Italy, the restaurant will feature a walk-up wine bar that will almost run the length of the restaurant.
The wine being served will also stay in the family, as producing wine is something that Beth and Katie’s father, Joseph Talarico, has been doing for almost 35 years. Sourcing grapes from California, Italy, and South America, Katie and Beth say they “grew up” assisting their dad with his wine production.
Piazza Talarico will be the official outpost for “Papa Joe’s Wine Cellar,” Joseph Talarico’s wine business. Guests will be able to order wine by the glass or carafe from the built in “wine on tap” system at the bar. Papa Joe’s will be serving classic favorites, as well as unique varietals like Tannat, a red popular in Uruguay, and Frascati, a white from a small town outside of Rome. If guests like something, they can purchase a bottle to take home.
Beth Talarico will be taking the lead in the kitchen, serving guests the special Talarico family recipes.
“I learned most of it from my grandma and my dad,” says Beth. “I tell people I am grandma-taught.”
The menu, which can already be viewed online, is straightforward Italian food, with several pizzas, appetizers, paninis, pastas, and a lot of tomatoes and cheese
“The menu is simple, but we think simple is better,” says Beth. “We want to serve what is fresh. That is the Italian way.”
Two items that are sure to become customer favorites are the “Grandma’s Sauce,” pasta, and the Talarico family special of “Baked Maccheroni,” a rigatoni dish with Grandma’s sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and boiled eggs.
While the restaurant will be counter service, guests will have the choice of sitting inside, or on the two-tiered outdoor patio. The name, “Piazza,” which means open gathering square in Italian, rings true with this outdoor space. Complete with a peach tree and small produce garden, church bells can be heard from the patio, helping to give the illusion that they’re dining at an Italian trattoria.
Piazza Talarico is joining other Pittsburgh restaurants like Casellula, Dinette, Mixtape, and Bar Marco by employing a “no tipping” policy, and paying their employees living wage. Revenue will be split among the employees, and the restaurant will also provide health insurance, and eventually a 401k.
The restaurant hopes to be open Tuesday – Saturday for lunch and dinner. Once a month Piazza Talarico intends to serve brunch, perhaps around the schedule of the Steelers or Pirates games.
Mostly, the Talarico family is excited to welcome Pittsburgh into their family.
“We are so excited, but everyone we know is equally excited and that is what fuels us. Everyone doesn’t need to be that excited, but they are,” says Beth.
Piazza Talarico is aiming for a September opening. More information on the space can be found online.
Piazza Talarico (3832 Penn Avenue)