By Matthew Hacke | Photographs by Michael Fornataro
The moment you walk into the newest addition to the Alcoa Building in Downtown Pittsburgh, Talia Cucina & Rosticceria, your are transported to the streets of Italy. Whether it be the big, open windows, modern décor, the spacious bar, or the smells of specialty pasta and meat dishes filling the air, the restaurant’s warm and inviting nature lets you know that you are in for a treat. Talia Cucina & Rosticceria, the newest gem in the Vallozzi’s family of restaurants, has been in the works for two years and finally opened its doors in March to critical acclaim.
Helmed by Executive Chef Steve Lanzilotti, Talia Cucina & Rosticceria invites guests to a relaxed, casual atmosphere. “Julian Vallozzi, the owner, said to me that he wanted Talia’s to be more casual and not as upscale as Vallozzi’s. He also wanted this restaurant to have a different take on Italian food. As soon as he mentioned that he wanted the more casual feel and that we were bringing in a rotisserie, I really started to hone in on the menu,” says Lanzilotti.
“These two pieces we have right now are from [street artist] Jeremy Raymer,” Lanzilotti says of the unique art that bedecks the restaurant. “We did a little bit of research on our end about Italian street art. He did these two custom pieces for us.”
The rotisserie that Lanzilotti refers to is a staple of the restaurant in and of itself, as it’s used to create culinary masterpieces that comprise much of the menu. “We have this amazing rotisserie, which was specifically built in France. There are not many of these specific rotisseries in the United States,” says Lanzilotti. The machinery is painted in a stunning coat of red and can be seen from the dining room, blending together with the other elements of the restaurant beautifully. The rotisserie doesn’t just look pretty, though. “As the meats are on there, all of the nice flavor and the fats stay on the meat as it rotates, therefore, marinating it better — as opposed to falling off on a regular rotisserie,” explains Lanzilotti. “So, for instance, when we are making chicken, all of that nice flavor from the chicken skin just marinates itself. The same thing goes for the porchetta, our signature dish. The pork belly has the skin on, so as it’s roasting, it gets crispier and more flavorful.”
Located near the Omni William Penn Hotel and Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh, the restaurant is perfect for people who are visiting or living in the city. “We have the business crowd, the sports crowd, and even the people who live in this building — over 250 tenants — so we have in-house business right there,” says Lanzilotti. “We wanted a very inviting restaurant where people feel welcome.”
In addition to utilizing the rotisserie, Lanzilotti is looking forward to the seasonal menu changes. “Opening up in March, the season is changing so quickly from winter to spring to summer,” he says. “So in the next month or so, I’ll already be looking to do a small change on the menu, not a major overhaul.” These menu changes will include incorporating seasonal produce and meats from local farms and vendors. “We plan on using Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance for all of our produce. I’ve spoken to someone at Serenity Hills Farm and I plan on using them for some things. We currently use cage-free, hormone-free chickens from Central PA for our whole rotisserie chicken.”
Ultimately, Lanzilotti is hoping to change the Downtown landscape with the food at Talia Cucina & Rosticceria and keep customers excited about coming in. “I want to keep the menu exciting,” he says. “If the customer is excited to come in and try something new on the menu every once in a while, then they’re going to enjoy the dining experience here even more!”
Talia Cucina & Rosticceria, 425 6th Avenue, Downtown. 412.456.8214. taliapgh.com.