Cucina Bella may mean "pretty kitchen" in Italian, but it means something else entirely at the local Cucina Bella Restaurant: fresh and delicious.
"All of our menu items are the freshest they can possibly be," said Carmen Pirain, owner of Cucina Bella. "The bread is delivered daily from Breadworks, the salad greens are organic and local, the meat is fresh from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in the Strip District and the desserts are imported from Italy."
Cucina Bella, located at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue right on the border of Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville, welcomes customers with its vibrant colors and crisp decor. Even more inviting is the menu, which boasts 19 different types of six-cut pizza, ranging in price from $10 to $16, and six kinds of panini, including the piraino, which consists of spicy salami, prosciutto, salami, provolone, roasted red peppers and extra virgin olive oil and sells for $8.95.
Appetizers include an antipasto plate, which consists of salami, roasted red peppers, artichokes, spicy salami, fresh mozzarella, olives, prosciutto and shaved parmigiano reggiano. The small plate is $11; the large is $18. The pepe fresco is fresh banana peppers that are oven baked in Carmen's secret sauce. This dish is $8.
There are four kinds of salads on the menu, including the caprese, which consists of fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil for $8, and the rustica, which is a mixture of greens, prosciutto, artichoke, lemon and balsamic dressing for $10.
New to the menu are two chicken dishes, chicken rossano, which is grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, fresh lemon, capers, and parmigiano reggiano, and chicken san remo, a taste of grilled chicken with prosciutto, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, parmigiano reggiano and balsamic glaze. Pirain said he plans to add pasta dishes to the menu soon, as well.
In a menu with so many options, it is hard to find a favorite, but his customers seem to have their picks.
"Customers seem to favor our arugula, margherita and 4 formaggi pizzas," Pirain said. "They also love our homemade meatballs."
Cucina Bella opened in April 2011, and business has been steady, Pirain said. He opened the restaurant working at Cestone's Pizza, which he owned and operated for seven years, and was located across the street from Dormont Pool.
"I was ready to take things up a notch when I opened Cucina Bella," he said.
The restaurant also has outdoor seating available for 20 people. It also is BYOB, and accepts reservations for parties. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 4 to 10 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.