Monday, June 7, 2010

Piccolo Forno

SP and I actually planned our Saturday evening dinner date before Saturday at 6 pm last Saturday! There are many restaurants on our "To Try" list but the one that we've been mentioning a lot lately is Piccolo Forno on Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

We knew from many reviews that the wait at Piccolo Forno can sometimes be quite long, so at the risk of seeming like senior citizens, we decided to get there around 5 pm. We were prepared: it's BYOB so, for the second week in a row, we remembered to grab a bottle of wine. We left home a little bit after 4 pm, planning to stop at Costco to look at something before heading into town.

Well if you live in Pittsburgh, you know what the weather was like between about 4 and 5:30 pm last Saturday. We didn't even bother parking at Costco because it was raining so hard we decided it wasn't worth getting drenched to check out some stuff. Visibility when driving wasn't too great. Some idiots were driving without their lights on. And we suddenly remembered our newly discovered laundry room leak (seems it only happens in torrential downpours, which we've had a lot of lately) so we headed home. And sat in the basement looking for leaks and trying to ascertain their origins until around 5:30 pm when we once again set off.

Along the way, we encountered lots of storm aftermath, including this roadblock right around the bend from our house:Not sure what happened at the park, but the water was gushing swiftly from the park and across the road and we didn't want to risk it in our little Civic, especially after we saw an SUV coming the other way drive through and the water reached up to the SUV's bumper. Yikes. So we turned around and tried another way.

We got hung up on Rte 60 along where Sapporo and the Fort Pitt Motel are - lots of rushing muddy rainwater flooding the road and parking lots. At one point a tree was down and blocking the road, so we again had to turn around and try a different route. Forty-five minutes after leaving home, we were pulling into the thankfully somewhat empty Piccolo Forno parking lot. SP went over to check on the wait time: 35-40 minutes. After the effort to get there, we figured, OK, let's wait. Only one outdoor table was occupied, by a very nice older couple who tried to convince us the rain was over and we should sit outside!

We got a little nervous because some people who were waiting before we got there would check on their wait time and discover it had somehow actually increased - ? Some who arrived after us and went in left in disgust at the wait, which I think at this point (6:45 pm) was being quoted as 1.5-2 hours. Yikes! We were seated a bit before 7 pm, which was right within the 35-40 minutes quoted. We were seated at a table right next to a mini kitchen/serving area.

I plunked our wine on the table and our server quickly brought us waters, wine glasses, and opened our wine. Thank goodness - after the past week's basement leaks, kitchen ant invasion, broken lawnmower, peeling sunroom floor, and horrible rain, I really needed a yummy, relaxing meal washed down with some wine!!The one wall inside is exposed brick. It is very noisy inside - we both had to lean in to the table to hear each other, but that sort of made it more intimate! It was also warm inside - perhaps a combination of the humidity, brick oven, and lots of people.

We quickly realized that there were so many delicious sounding meals that we should share everything we ordered. To start, we chose Crostini di Polenta:Oh my gosh these were so tasty! The polenta was not mushy and it was lighter than a crostini. I guess I mean lighter in that they didn't seem as filling as bread. There was mushroom topping, marinated tomatoes, and melted gorgonzola. In the center was a pile of kalamatas and separating the 3 kinds of polenta crostini were strips of marinated artichoke. Yum!

SP ordered the Soup of the Day: Red Pepper & Onion:This, too, was good. Good red pepper taste, not too oniony (in my opinion, being not a huge onion person). Nice crostini in the center. Very good.

We ordered 2 entrees to share. First, Canelloni di Zucchini con Sugo di Verdure:
Baked canelloni filled with zucchini, prosciutto, and ricotta, topped with a vegetable ragu. This was very good. Lots of chunks of zucchini and eggplant, creamy ricotta - so good.We also chose a pizza, Prosciutto e Rucola:There are so many yummy sounding pizzas on the menu that we couldn't decide! We went back and forth a lot before finally deciding on this one because we really like greens on top of pizza! This is a very thin crust pizza, delicious mozzarella, salty prosciutto, and a lovely pile of fresh arugula. We had a similar pizza at Dinette but this one was much better.

We ate half of each entree and got the leftovers boxed. Did our server think we were done? Oh no, not this server! I had been thinking about tiramisu all night, especially after the tiramisu disappointments last weekend, but, to my utter disappointment, they were out of tiramisu!!!!! I was so sad! I consoled myself with these desserts instead:I think this was a daily special dessert on Saturday. A very tasty shortbread crust filled with cream and topped with fruit. It was very, very good - then again, this kind of fruit tart is one of our favorite desserts. We also shared this:
Cappuccino Tartufo. This was very tasty, too, and of course I managed to allow the cocoa dusting to somehow poof onto my white shirt. We really enjoyed our desserts.For the second week in a row, we also enjoyed a whole bottle of wine - yikes! This is unusual for us. I really like the Coppola Malbec - it's very smooth and doesn't leave any of that burning kind of feeling after drinking. It paired nicely with the food we ordered, and again it was warm, so I kept drinking and before we knew it, we had finished the bottle.

Our server was very good. When we asked her to describe, again, the fruit tart, she went and got a piece to show us the dessert. The pace of our meal was nice, too. We didn't feel like there were any long lapses, dishes were cleared promptly, SP's water was kept filled, we were not rushed after dessert even though there were people waiting - they were OK with us finishing our last sips of wine. This is not to say we lingered for a half hour or so after paying, but after paying we finished the wine and SP used the restroom which probably means we lingered for 10 minutes after paying.

We plan to return to Piccolo Forno. We really enjoyed our meal. It's BYOB with $5 corkage fee per bottle. It's loud inside. And there can be a long wait, so be prepared. But in our opinion, the food is well worth the wait


  1. I'm so glad it was good! I have renewed hope in Pittsburgh restaurants! (And really want to go now!)

  2. I'm DYING to try this place! No one ever wants to go with me and it doesn't seem like the kind of place I'd be comfortable going alone. But my gosh, everything looks soooo good! Especially those desserts!

  3. Wow, quite a journey you had! Haha. I really enjoy Piccolo Forno and I am glad you liked it too!