One of my biggest regrets writing eatPGH: Not including Alla Famiglia into our book.
But last night I paid a visit to this Italian restaurant in Allentown and I believe I have officially reached food nirvana. We often get asked at book signings where the best Italian food is in this city. And, I’m here to tell you it is at Alla Famiglia. I double dog dare you to prove me wrong. Seriously, some of the best food I have eaten in this city. Period.
When you go to Alla Famiglia, be sure to make a reservation and ask to be seated on the first floor at one of the handful of tables that look into the open kitchen. In this open kitchen, chefs prepare all of the meals, from pasta courses to meaty entrees. Smells of robust flavors fill the room, flames shoot up high above the sizzling pans on the stove, and the chefs call out to you, asking how your meal is and if you need anything. When you dine at Alla Famiglia, you are engaging in a dining experience of multiple courses of food served at a pleasant, non-rushed pace. It’s a lovely, engaging, and filling experience, something I recommend each of you experience for yourselves.
Upon arriving at Alla Famiglia, my table was not ready, so my party and I were sent up to the Trenta Cocktail Lounge, located on the second floor. We enjoyed a round of cocktails and met owner, Jonathan. He filled us in on the menu and even allowed us to taste one of the signature house pasta dishes: pasta with cheese, fresh cracked peppercorns, sea salt, and olive oil, served and tossed inside of a cheese wheel. Picture that! (because I didn’t get a picture of this awesomeness).
Once our table was ready, we were greeted with a table full of accouterments for the breadbasket of white, Italian bread. On the table was a spicy “Holy Oil,” cecci bean gustoso, and a goat cheese and olive spread. Also on the table was grated cheese that our waiter, Clint, said we would use multiple times throughout the course of dinner. He was totally right.
One of the appetizer specialties at Alla Famiglia is the gigantic meatball stuffed with fresh mozzarella and served in a bed of tomato sauce. This is definitely a must-try appetizer that can not be passed up.
Just a warning, appetizers here are made to serve about four people each, so getting just one to share with your table will be plenty. Each entrée at Alla Famiglia is served with a salad and a pasta course, so be sure not to fill up on too much Italian bread and appetizers beforehand. I definitely recommend you pace yourself during your dining experience because you are going to get A TON of food throughout your dinner.
Crisp pieces of romaine lettuce fill a bowl with a variety of goodies, including roasted red peppers, candied walnuts, several kinds of olives, and a light, sweet dressing.
The pasta of the day was the Alla Famiglia Vodka Sauce (which you can buy pre-bottled at the restaurant). The pasta is not made in house, but purchased from Penn Mac in the strip. A spicy chili oil is served in a bottle with the pasta in case you want to amp up the spice level.
Now, I am not a fan of pasta. Strange, but true. I have to tell you that Alla Famiglia has won me over with this simple vodka pasta sauce. Seriously, I’m devouring my leftovers of this pasta course as soon as I’m done writing this blog post.
For my entrée, I went with the Filet Mignon Gorgonzola: center cut filet roasted over hot coals and finished with a Gorgonzola cream and port wine reduction. Probably the best filet I have ever had. I say probably in case there is a better filet out there, which I doubt. The char from the hot coals provided a crusty outer layer to the buttery, meaty inside. The Gorgonzola cream provided a rich and salty flavor that was balanced by the sweeter wine reduction.
I just couldn’t do it. After all of these courses, glasses of wine, and bread. I just couldn’t. But, I’ll be back Alla Famiglia. This place is known for their non-traditional raspberry almond tiramisu. I’ll totes be back to try that.
At Alla Famiglia, I reached food nirvana. This will definitely be the first restaurant I write about in our next book.