Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Heart Of Penn Hills

A high school football game brought a few friends (BLT, LMF, JAS, and LRF) and me together on a crisp autumnal Friday night; consequently, we ended up at Pasqualino's Italian Restaurant (13032 Frankstown Road, 15235). We arrived hungry and eager to visit with each other, we tried a little of everything while engaging in robust conversation, and we left stuffed, satisfied, and nearly prepared for the chilly evening temperatures.

Pasqualino's is in the heart of Penn Hills*; this establishment exudes heart in the form its familial and traditional menu and its red sauce. Like any Italian red sauce, Pasqualino's version is a personal experience, with a rich history dating back to 1954 when Maria Pasqualino concocted the pomodoro blend not long after coming to the United States from Italy.

Complimentary warm rolls with butter (or as I call it, "Still Life Carbs with Fat")
Pollo Pesto Specialty Pizza ($7.95 for a 4-cut of pesto, grilled chicken, provolone, arugula)
Chicken Parmigiana over Rigatoni ($10.95 for the large plate of rigatoni, provolone, Pasqualino's pomodoro sauce, breaded chicken)
Pasta Melanzana ($9.50 for the large plate of rigatoni, Pasqualino's pomodoro sauce, breaded oven-roasted eggplant, provolone)
Rigatoni Diavalo ($7.95 for a small plate of rigatoni, Pasqualino's pomodoro sauce, grilled chicken, hot sausage, mushrooms, and banana peppers) 
Pasta Siderno, named after the Pasqualino's hometown in Italy ($10.95 for a large plate of hand-made spaghetti, olive oil, broccoli, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, parmigiano) 
As we enjoyed our meal together, I took some notes on my menu. Here our our collective thoughts...

  • The rolls were served timely and warm; they did a nice job of helping us to keep our insatiable appetites at bay until our dishes arrived. 
  • BLT and I loved the crust on the Pollo Pesto Specialty Pizza. It lived up to Pasqualino's promise of it being "light" and "airy." As for toppings, we would have enjoyed more pesto, and less bland chicken.  
  • JAS wasn't thrilled with the Chicken Parmigiano. While he admits to being spoiled with his Italian grandmother's recipes, he still gives things a fair chance. This dish was underwhelming for him, especially the chicken. He was hoping for a more home-cooked taste, rather than a prefabricated one. 
  • BLT and LRF thought that the Pasta Melanzana was filling and flavorful. The eggplant was expertly crisp and the pomodoro sauce was enhancing rather than detracting from the overall effect. 
  • As for the Pasta Diavolo, although delicious, I expected a more spicy dish. The small portion was just enough and it was something that I would order again. More banana peppers, please! 
  • LMF was the only one of our group to have been to Pasqualino's before. His order of the Pasta Silerno was calculated and it's his standard choice when he dines there. What keeps him from trying other dishes? The combination of the fresh pasta and the vegetables is consistently done well. 
Overall, we liked that there were large and small portion options for nearly all of the menu items especially the pastas. If we would return (and if we weren't on our way to a high school football game), we would take advantage of the option to bring our own wine.* San Pellegrino is great, but wine is better. Lastly, we liked the pricing and we thought that the service was friendly and helpful, let alone accommodating to our relative silliness.

Oh and you know, I will be the first to say that the suburbs have limited options for non-chain dining. To me, Pasqualino's has the heart to keep its customers happy.

Pasqualino's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

(2.5 stars, 2.5/4)

*So yes, you can get any Turner's product to drink if you so desire.
**JAS wants to roll in a 30-pack of Natty Light, a hilarious idea if I say so myself.