Allegheny West restaurant builds family-like bonds over 22 years

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Photo by Brady Langmann

The DiMatteo family and staff poses inside the Allegheny West restaurant.

By Brady Langmann

For Giorgio DiMatteo, owner of Giorgio’s Place at 908 Western Ave. in Allegheny West, it’s all about family.

And it’s a pretty big one.

“All our customers we know here. We’re like family, really,” DiMatteo said. “I care about them, I really do.”

When the restaurant’s patrons call over the phone to order – many of whom have been regulars for over a decade – they’ll catch up with Giorgio, who’ll take time to talk to them even if it’s busy.

With these family-first values – not to mention the delicious, homemade Italian food – DiMatteo has made Giorgio’s Place one of the top eateries in Northside over the past 22 years.

Before his establishment became a fixture on Western Avenue, DiMatteo had several experiences growing up that gave him knowledge of the food industry and prepared him for his later career as a restaurant owner.

Born in the small village of Pizzoferrato in southern Italy, DiMatteo grew up farming with his family, and traveled to Pittsburgh when he was in middle school. As a teenager, he left for Atlantic City and worked at pizzerias on the town’s boardwalk. After five years, he came back to Pittsburgh, where he managed pizza places in Brookline, South Hills and Northside during the late-1980s.

DiMatteo’s moved from his original location on Chapel Way after his lease was up, which then prompted him buy and own his own restaurant at his current home.

“I love the Northside – everything is happening here and no one even sees it. And the reason why they don’t see it is because they come in quickly and they leave quickly,” DiMatteo said. “They just miss the beauty about the history of the Northside.”

After setting-up in his new location, DiMatteo slowly built his clientele into the loyal crowd it is today.

“I decided to stay inside and just take care of the people inside and take care of the businesses,” he said. “So they have a good feeling with us and who we are, and get to know them.”

Today, DiMatteo is just as close with his staff as he is with his customers. DiMatteo’s mother makes the sauce, his sister prepares various dishes and his nephew has worked there since he was a teenager. The rest of the group is made up of friends and Northsiders; some have been there for 10-plus years. DiMatteo stressed the importance of working with others who share his discipline and morals.

“I like hard-working people; I like people that have good family values. That’s very important to me. It’s so hard to find those people,” DiMatteo said.

With DiMatteo and his clan in the kitchen, many of the menu’s items are homemade and represent what the DiMatteos grew up eating and cooking themselves at home. The restaurant’s signature dishes are their homemade lasagna, gnocchi and pizza. Instead of the conveyor-belt cooker used by most pizzerias, Giorgio’s Place uses a brick oven, which makes for an extra-crispy crust.

“It’s nice, simple Italian food, homemade food,” DiMatteo said of the cuisine. “If you want a good homemade meal, I wouldn’t go anywhere but Giorgio’s Place. And if I lived around here I’d eat here every day without turning on the stove at home.”

DiMatteo plans to keep the menu largely the same, and for it to continue to be a tasty, low-cost option for busy families, served up in a friendly atmosphere for regulars and newcomers alike. He’s just happy to have his family, friends and a great community all in one place.

“Nothing but a positive experience, you know I have some of the best customers. When you think about everything going on out there, they come in here and it’s always with respect and that’s what they get back, is respect.”

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