Mambo Italiano in Downtown Pittsburgh
It’s amazing what you discover when you’re just walking around without a plan or any direction. I had intended to meet a good friend downtown for dinner, but we really couldn’t decide on anywhere to go. I decided to get down there a little early and just started to walk around, strolling around the Union Trust Building with its beautiful Flemish-gothic architecture and sitting patiently in the quiet plaza of Mellon Square. Indeed, I was surrounded by restaurants, and I was looking for something modern but not stuffy and expensive. I finally settled on a restaurant in the old Alcoa Building, one that I had my eye on for some time as it was being constructed but that I never had the opportunity to experience until now. And so with this discovery that Talia Cucina & Rosticceria had opened and fit my criteria, my good friend Amanda and I decided to check out this sleek new establishment. Of course, the discovery paid off handsomely.
The atmosphere of Talia was very dark and very loud and differed significantly from what I would normally be comfortable with. However, I understood the modern style and essence Talia was trying to convey, and after my eyes adjusted to the light and the din subsided as people left, the atmosphere became quite enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed looking at the interesting fixtures and art pieces around the room, including jarred oranges and twinkling lights of all different sizes above the bar.
Talia had some of the best service I have ever received in Pittsburgh. Definitely a grandiose statement but any uneasiness about the atmosphere was put to rest by our server, Ben. He was funny, personable, caring, and knowledgeable in all aspects necessary, a perfect ribbon to tie our entire experience together. That is, after all, the point of great service: to facilitate all other aspects of the dining experience. This Ben did with grace and precision of an experienced and authentic waiter.
The quality in so many ways was fresh, unique, and artfully crafted. The latter is definitely the case with the roasted octopus, displayed in whole tentacles with a spicy and tangy sauce spraying out on the plate like ink. Another fantastic menu item was the fresh bread with a selection of butters, including one with mascarpone that just blew me away. I ordered a pork chop for my entrée, and it was exquisitely cooked and easy to detect the freshness of the meat. Finally, we shared a Torta Della Nonna, a cheesecake-esque Italian dessert with citrus, candied hazelnuts, and honeycomb. Needless to say, I was over the moon about it.
I think for what we paid for, the value was fairly good. My pork chop was a little pricy, but it did satisfy my appetite and each bite was truly enjoyable.
I’ll definitely be coming back again soon, if only in an attempt to replicate the fantastic service we had and the delicious meal we shared.
The best part of my experience was definitely our awesome server, and of course the company too! Turning down the sound system would do wonders! Everyone was yelling the entire time, which does not help with hearing your company at all.
As for the type of venue, I would bring friends or someone special, but not kids. It’s definitely an acquired experience so anyone over 21 would be perfect. For my meal, being over 21, I had to order a drink, and chose the lovely Amari. I would have preferred wine honestly, but completely due to personal preference. I tried octopus for the first time! It was good but a bit dry…maybe it is supposed to be that way? The Ricotta Gnocchi was my main course choice. I’m not a tomato fan but it was wonderful. Besides, there is no rule that you have to eat the tomatoes! Samson and I split the Torta Della Nonna and out of the citrus, honeycomb, and candied hazelnuts, the honeycomb complimented it the best.
Talia Cucina & Rosticceria is a modern Italian restaurant in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, serving up fresh food and inspired cocktails in the old Alcoa Building. Find some incredible pictures of their stunning cuisine here http://www.taliapgh.com/social/ and make a reservation here http://www.taliapgh.com/home-1/