Last Updated on January 31, 2022 by Jeremy
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There are some Pittsburgh restaurants that are straight-up classics. Places that execute their menus with a level of perfection where you want to go back over and over again while also having survived the test of time.
Girasole in Shadyside is one such restaurant.
While it took us many years to finally make our way into this Italian restaurant for a meal, we certainly won't be waiting that long for our 2nd, 3rd, or 4th visit.
A Traditional Italian Feast at Girasole
Our first visit to Girasole was on a Tuesday night where we had hoped to walk in and grab a table without an issue (the restaurant did not take reservations at the time of our visit). At around 6pm, the restaurant was completely packed and we got one of the last tables available- a true testament to the restaurant's popularity.
In an instant, we knew we were in the right place. The basement restaurant felt like a traditional Italian trattoria where everyone is treated like family, and the sunflower decor was prominent throughout the restaurant but didn't overwhelm the ambiance (it was only after we sat down that we remembered Girasole means sunflower in Italian).
We started our meal off with an order of mussels that came out in a very generous portion (enough to feed two to three comfortably). The mussels were a special that included a garlic-herb butter sauce that really worked nicely with the seafood. Sometimes the simplest of ingredients end up being some of the best bites, and that was truly the case with these beauties.
Angie opted for an order of spinach and ricotta ravioli in a tomato cream sauce. This was perhaps the star dish of our visit as the texture of the pasta was delicate but held the filling with ease. The creaminess of the sauce really played nicely with the richness of the filling, and overall the plate was of a sufficiently large portion that left us satisfied but not overly stuffed.
In fact, the texture of the pasta held up with an order of gnocchi as well and really shows a testament to just how good Girasole is at pasta. Perfect little bites every single time.
I, on the other hand, ordered from the Secondo menu and tried a grilled filet with a demi-glace and a side of potatoes. This one was generously sized (by filet standards at least) and cooked to that perfect medium-rare we dream of. The demi-glace ended up being incredibly rich, so if you are wanting a hearty meal, this one surely doesn't disappoint. Admittedly, as someone who loves acid in dishes whenever possible, I cut this one with a few bites of Angie's pasta when she wasn't looking.
At the end of the meal, we only had a few regrets from our visit. First, we really wish we didn't wait so long to finally dine at this one. Second, we, unfortunately, had to depart in a bit of a hurry for a concert and could not have dessert.
When it comes to dining out, well, those are as good of regrets as we'd ever hope for!
Plan Your Visit to Girasole Accordingly
To wind this one down, it is worth re-iterating just how popular Girasole is. As the restaurant is on the smaller side, you'll do well to check their reservation policy before visiting. As of our visit in late 2021, the restaurant did not accept reservations but that could always change.
If reservations are not being taken, do yourself a favor and try and go at a less conventional dining hour to prevent a likely wait. Even 6 pm on a weeknight resulted in a completely full house, and we have to admit was a bit of a shock (despite knowing this one's incredible popularity all the same).
Finally, if you can, try and coordinate your visit for when the restaurant has live music. If you can snag a sat for this, you'll do well to pick up a bottle of wine and enjoy the evening away Italian style. That is our plan for our next visit!
Girasole is located at 733 Copeland St in Shadyside.
For more restaurants in Shadyside, check out our neighborhood guide at the previous link!