If it’s Sunday, the Talarico’s are eating “maccheroni" for dinner. It’s a cultural tradition that most Italians will recognize and one that Katie and Beth Talarico inherited. Nearly every Sunday, they would join their parents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins at Grandma Ida and Grandpa Frank’s house. Dinner was never elaborate, but always amazing. On Sundays, the meal consisted of simple spaghetti or rigatoni topped with Grandma’s sauce, a recipe that had been passed down in the Talarico family for at least a century. For special occasions, it was a slightly more elaborate lasagna or “baked macaroni,” a version of rigatoni al forno unique to the Talarico family. That was Sunday dinner: simple, fresh, traditional Italian food like their great grandfather, Giusseppe Talarico, ate as a boy in Sersale, Calabria before leaving Italy in 1913.
As young girls, Katie and Beth learned the art of winemaking, helping their dad, “Papa Joe” Talarico, make Vino da Tavola, a dry red table wine reminiscent of the wine Joe’s grandfather would’ve had on his table. Over time, the Vino da Tavola became a regular part of Sunday dinner. Their passion for wine prompted the girls, along with their parents, Joe and Deb Talarico, to begin Papa Joe’s Wine Cellar, named in tribute to their father and their great-grandfather. With their commercial winery license, they began selling wine made from grapes grown in California, Italy, and South America at expos and farmers’ markets.
As Katie and Beth continued the exploration of their ancestral cuisine and winemaking, the vision of a restaurant serving traditional, rustic Italian food and wine began to take form. Following their graduations from the University of Pittsburgh, the girls nominated their mom to find a venue for Piazza Talarico and Papa Joe’s Wine Cellar. In less than a week, Deb discovered the ideal location near restaurant row in Pittsburgh’s trendy neighborhood of Lawrenceville.