I remember when Market Square consisted of not much more than Chipotle, Starbucks, and PPG Place. Luckily things have dramatically changed for the better with the gradual addition of great restaurants.
On a recent visit we decided to visit Pizzaiolo Primo to check out their Neapolitan style pizzas made with an authentic wood-fired oven, as well as their incredible pastas that ended up being the biggest surprise of the night.
Go for the Traditional Margherita, and House Wine
We made a reservation in advance and were seated in the downstairs area close to the wood-fired oven. The aromas of the pizzas moving swiftly in and out of the oven wafted over towards us, increasing the anticipation for what was to come.
We perused the cocktail and beer menu but knew we had to go with wine. As is common in Europe, Pizzaiolo Primo offers quarter-liters, half-liters, and full liters of their house wines, which were a montepulciano and a pinot grigio during our visit. The house wine options are an economical way to enjoy some decent Italian wine with your dinner, as most of the beverages here are quite expensive. We opted for the montepulciano and enjoyed its mild acidity and fruitiness; it was also a great complement to the pizza.
Pizza options here are simple and very traditional Italian combinations that include margherita, prosciutto and arugula, spicy sausage, or mushrooms, for example. We decided to try the margherita DOC with tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, and basil.
The tomato sauce had the brightness of fresh tomatoes, and it perfectly accompanied the melty mozzarella and anise notes of the basil. I have definitely never seen a pizza crust this thin in Pittsburgh, that's for sure. The crust had some nice black spots on the underside and had a good depth of flavor. One thing is for certain- eat your pizza as soon as it arrives at your table. Otherwise the sauce will turn the delicate crust into a soggy mess (a tasty mess, though), just as it does in Italy.
The Pasta is What Dreams Are Made Of
Although we really enjoyed the pizza, what we still keep dreaming about is the pappardelle e funghi. This dish had so many layers of flavor and they all worked together harmoniously. Deliciously al dente pappardelle soaked up an earthy, slightly creamy mushroom sauce while bits of crispy pancetta and flakes of buttery pecorino were dotted on top. The mushrooms on top of the pasta were perfect, but what was impressive was that the woodsy mushroom flavor permeated the whole dish. The entire dish was rich without being heavy- a perfect meal for winter.
Pizzaiolo Primo is located at 8 Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh.
For more restaurants in Market Square, check out Revel and Roost or The Original Oyster House. Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!
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