Why You May Not Recognize Italian Village Pizza At Waterworks Mall

The local chain is revamping several of its Pittsburgh-area storefronts over the next few years.
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ITALIAN VILLAGE TRATTATORIA’S RIGATONI SALSICCIA | PHOTOS BY KRISTY LOCKLIN.

It takes a village to reinvent a restaurant. 

The owner of Italian Village Pizza, a local chain founded in 1980, partnered with Derek Ott of Derivative Mixology to overhaul three of their fast-casual spots, expand the menu and launch a full-service bar program in them. 

The first Italian Village Trattoria opened on Dec. 20 at 938 Freeport Road at the Waterworks Mall, near Aspinwall. just a few storefronts down from the eatery’s original site. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Locations on McKnight Road in Ross and Old Mill Boulevard in Washington County will get makeovers in the next year or so. 

“We wanted to do upscale-quality food at an affordable price point,” says Owner Frank Veltri II. 

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Veltri brought in veteran chef Richard Sphatt, a New York native who helmed kitchens at Il Pizzaiolo Primo, Il Pizzaiolo of Mt. Lebanon and the now-closed Molinaro Ristorante & Bar. 

Now, in addition to pizza, subs, calzones and wings, the restaurant offers guests an array of appetizers, soups and salads and specialty dishes with pasta (including gluten-friendly options) made daily in-house. Customers can order at the front counter during the day, but in the evenings, the dining room table service. 

To help warm up on a frigid December night, I ordered the rigatoni salsiccia with hot sausage, banana peppers, onions, white wine and marinara and garlic bread on the side. It was just the right level of spiciness and the fresh pasta made me forget I was dining in a strip mall. A friend’s ravioli pomodoro with cherry tomatoes was also a tasty take on a classic. 

Other menu items that caught my eye included penne boscaiola: pancetta, wild mushrooms, onions, cream, butter and parmigiano and oven-baked zucchini Parmigiana layered with mozzarella parmigiano, basil and marinara over spaghetti. 

If you’re not looking for a fancy pasta meal, the trattoria offers a variety of Italian-style fries such as the cacio pepe topped with aged pecorino, black pepper and sea salt. Carnivores looking to add veggies to their diet can opt for the meatball salad, which is mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, mozzarella and creamy Italian dressing with crispy fried meatballs on top. 

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Italian Village’s wings are still available at market price, and there are New York-style and specialty pizzas sold by the pie or the slice.

Ott brings years of behind-the-bar expertise to the company. The California native moved to Pittsburgh in 2015 and soon established himself as a premiere mixologist. 

In 2020, he started Derivative Mixology, a consulting firm that helps everyone from average joes taking private lessons to high-end restaurants and bars beef up their booze game.

He opened Spirits & Tales in Oakland as bar manager in 2019 and continues the relationship by hosting on-property mixology classes. He served as opening bartender for Downtown’s Bridges & Bourbon, which helped him develop his passion for bar/restaurant consultation. Ott trains bar staff on the correct techniques and glassware, which, he says, is even more important in the post-pandemic world.

“There are a lot of people out there who have a desire to bartend and employers who are desperate to put a body behind the bar without training them properly,” he says. “When service takes a hit, quality takes a hit.”

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The opening cocktail menu features classics such as the Old Fashioned and Negroni. Ott also formulated the Sicilian Sunrise made with vermouth bianco, cocchi bianco, elderflower liqueur, cocktail syrup, fresh orange juice, Prosecco and Peychaud’s Bitters. 

Italian Village now has an extensive wine list, a wide selection of brews by the bottle, 13 rotating draft beers and both a Prosecco and two sangrias on tap.

In the future, Ott hopes to open his own bar/restaurant. For now, he’s happy revamping Villages throughout Pittsburgh. 

Categories: PGHeats