Alta Via Review – Big Burrito Goes Italian in Fox Chapel

Last Updated on by Angie

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Alta Via is the newest concept from the Big Burrito restaurant group that brings house-made pastas and other Italian fare to the Fox Chapel/Aspinwall area. As Big Burrito has been around Pittsburgh for decades and was part of the initial reawakening of the Pittsburgh restaurant scene, we are excited to see the introduction of a new concept from them.

An Unusual Location But Fabulous Food at Alta Via

Cocktails at Alta Via

Although at first the location of Alta Via in an Aspinwall shopping center area seemed a bit odd, as soon as we stepped in the door it made more sense. The interior vibe could have been that of any trendy restaurant in the city limits – sleek and modern decor with an Italian slant, every single table packed, and the place buzzing with energy.

While the noise level was kind of loud, we were tucked away in an awesome little booth table where we got to sit beside each other – a very cozy and comfortable set up.

As with all other Big Burrito restaurants, the cocktail game is solid here. Highlights on our visit included the Postcards from Italy, a refreshing and floral gin cocktail with elderflower, basil, and lemon; the booze-forward Rimedio with grappa, vermouth, orange liqueur, and lemon; and the booziest of them all, the Via Manhattan with Maker's Mark, vermouth, amaro, and bitters.

Salmon Crudo at Alta Via

After ordering, our meal began with the house focaccia served with butter, olive oil, and a course rosemary salt. Our appetizer choice was the salmon crudo, which was definitely a highlight of the meal and included avocado, radish, banana peppers, and orange oil. The salmon was deliciously fresh and the orange oil really complemented the fish well. Pops of richness from the avocado played nicely with the spiciness of the radish and peppers. Overall this dish was a fantastic contrast in textures and flavors.

Mixed Vegetables from Alta Via in Fox Chapel

One of the things we appreciated about the menu here was the nice selection of vegetable dishes. We ordered the broccoli and cauliflower which came out with our salmon crudo and included the roasted veggies with banana peppers, basil, sunflower seeds, and garlic. We would have liked some sort of sauce to tie the flavors together, but overall we still enjoyed the dish.

The Pasta Dishes Are a Must Try

Gemelli with lump crab meat

If we had infinte stomach space, we would have ordered every single pasta dish on the menu. The variety of pasta shapes and the creativity of the ingredients and sauces was really intriguing and made our mouths water just reading the menu. But alas, we had to settle for one pasta dish and we chose a small order of the gemelli. This one came with jumbo lump crab meat, Calabrian chilis, zucchini, and pea shoots. While it may not have been much to look at, this dish grew on us with each bite until we were mopping up every last bit of sauce with focaccia.

The chili flavor was not intensely spicy but rather a delightful warmth that permeated the whole dish. The sweetness of the crab, corn, and zucchini was still prominent in spite of the chili flavor, and it was actually a really beautiful flavor combination. The house made pasta was cooked perfectly retaining a nice little bite.

Alta Via's Florentine Steak

But the piece de resistance was the bone-in strip steak Florentine.

The steak was served with arugula and paper thin slices of parmigiano reggiano, and a charred lemon that was delicious squeezed over everything. The steak was cooked to medium rare just as we ordered it and cut into slices which made it perfect for sharing. This was such a classic dish executed really well, and we would order it again if we could tear ourselves away from all the drool-worthy pastas!

The pace of our meal was a little slow but service was attentive and helpful. Overall we have to say that the small plates, veggie dishes, and pastas are the draw here, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. We are so happy to see Big Burrito succeed with a new concept, and we can't wait to try more of the tantalizing pastas and small plates here.

Alta Via is located at 46 Fox Chapel Road in Fox Chapel, just off of 28.

For more Big Burrito restaurants in Pittsburgh, check out Eleven, Kaya, Mad Mex, or Casbah to name a few!

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