Alla Famiglia is a fine dining Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh's Allentown neighborhood that has stood the test of time. While it used to be a tiny spot in a multi-story house with an open kitchen, in the past few years it has expanded to the adjacent building.
Although the vibe may have changed, this is still one very popular spot for a classic and over-the-top Italian meal.
An Extravagant Night Out at Alla Famiglia
A first glance at the appetizer menu gives you an indication of just how extravagant this place leans: you can purchase a string of pearls or men's watch presented with oysters and caviar – that is, if you've got six grand lying around.
The remainder of the appetizers are more classic Italian: caprese salad, cured meats and cheeses, olives, a giant meatball (one of the more famous dishes), calamari, mussels, and beans and greans, to name a few.
We started with the wagyu carpaccio which was rich and melt-in-your-mouth topped with truffles, lots of fresh black pepper, and some peppery arugula. This was one of our favorite dishes of the evening.
Bread was also served which was a little stale but was accompanied by olive oil studded with garlic and pepper flakes, a walnut spread, and a pepper and cheese mixture. And this was only the beginning!
Family Style Salad and Pasta at Alla Famiglia
Next came a salad and a pasta both served family style. These courses come with all entrees, so just be aware and pace yourself. It's a marathon, not a sprint.
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The salad was a delicious mix of sweet (raisins and roasted red peppers) and pungent (olives and gorgonzola) topped with walnuts. As I'm allergic to nuts our server was kind enough to have a separate salad prepared just for me without the walnuts (and was also large enough to likely feed the whole table).
The pasta course was cavatappi with a vodka sauce that was rich, well-seasoned, and was amazing drizzled with a house hot pepper oil brought to the table in a bottle.
After All This, Dinner
By this point we were pleasantly full and in any other situation would have gladly been done eating. But we still had our entrees: scallops topped with foie gras for me, and a massive veal chop for Jeremy.
The scallops were so sweet and were cooked perfectly to retain their juiciness. The seared foie gras on top was rich and decadent (the theme of the evening). A blend of lots of different kinds of mushrooms and spinach in a wine reduction comprised the sauce. The sauce was so earthy and rich that it would seemingly not go with something as delicate as scallops, but it was surprisingly delicious and right at home complementing the sweet meat. It even made the scallops taste meaty.
Jeremy's impressive veal chop had the same sauce, which was fascinating that the sauce was so versatile. You can choose from four different sauces and preparations for the chops, and all are in the $68-72 price range. This may seem like a crazy price point, but these chops are massive – I'm pretty sure Jeremy's leftovers fed him for three or four days afterward.
We wish we would have had room for dessert, but alas, the drawn out meal with multiple courses had taken its toll.
Alla Famiglia is known for a good wine list and it is quite extensive. There are a range of price points, but we went with an affordable Montepulciano. We considered bringing our own bottle but with a corkage fee of $25 it didn't make much sense.
The service throughout the meal was helpful and unobtrusive, if somewhat casual given the fact that our final bill (with tip) exceeded $200- perhaps our largest restaurant bill to date.
In fact, the price is our major sticking point here as $200 for any meal is pushing it. Even when you factor in the family sized pasta and salad (a $15 charge for those who split entrees) and the bottle of wine we split between friends, the entrees themselves were still at quite the premium over alternative spots in the city.
Worth it? That is up for you to decide. But if you visit Alla Famiglia for a meal, you're going to be in for a feast.
Weekend Reservations are Almost Impossible to Come By
We should note that it is incredibly difficult to get a reservation at Alla Famiglia.
They have an online booking system, but it shows that the restaurant is booked up every single weekend night for months and months. We tried to call several times to make a reservation during business hours, but no one ever answered the phone or returned our voicemail messages. That left us with having to book on a week night via their website, which we did so successfully.
If you're looking to impress, Alla Famiglia is indeed a great spot for doing just that. While we can't help but note the change in atmosphere with the expansion of the restaurant, the food remains classic and delicious executed with a dramatic flair.
Alla Famiglia is located at 804 E Warrington Avenue in Pittsburgh's Allentown neighborhood. Note that Alla Famiglia charges an additional fee ($15 in 2018) to split portions to cover the salad and pasta course. This fee is not charged to those who order menu items as the pasta and salad course is included.