Ashley Newman | Staff Writer
If you’ve ever walked through the Strip District with someone familiar with the area, chances are you’ve stopped at Lidia’s. It has been a Pittsburgh staple for nearly two decades. Unfortunately, the iconic Italian restaurant is set to close this September, though an official date has not yet been released.
Lidia’s first opened in 2001 and has been a favorite for the Strip since. Lidia Bastianich brought her food to Pittsburgh in March, 18 years ago. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Bastianich chose Pittsburgh during her mission to venture out of Manhattan. New York was the home of her first three restaurants, including the famous Felidia. In an attempt to try out smaller cities for her new restaurants, Bastianich settled on Kansas City first, then Pittsburgh.
The restaurant’s official website states that “Lidia’s brings the authentic and warm hospitality of Italy to Pittsburgh.” It was best known for its pastas, breads and wines, as well as its daily pasta tasting.
Though the restaurant’s namesake and owner, Lidia Bastianich, has had a full career, it was not always positive, especially in recent years. Alongside Mario Batali, Bastianich was a co-owner of the B&B Hospitality Group. They worked together for 20 years before Batali was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Amidst the wave of the #MeToo movement, Bastianich began cutting her ties with Batali in May 2018, about six months after the accusations. She now co-owns the restaurant group with her son, with both B’s in B&B Hospitality Group standing for Bastianich.
Bastianich herself frequented the Pittsburgh restaurant quite often. When she was in town, she would often seat guests herself or stop by their table later to make sure everything was perfect. She treated the guests as family and openly welcomed them into her family’s successful business.
Bastianich’s life is practically the definition of the American Dream. She was born in Pula, Istria, when it was part of Italy and came to New York City at the age of 12, according to PBS. She opened her first restaurant with her then-husband Felice Buonavia, in 1971. It was successful enough for her to open a second restaurant and eventually open the critically-acclaimed Felidia, appropriately named after a mash-up of her then-husband’s name with her own. From there, she continued going up.
According to her official website, Bastianich went on to author over a dozen books, mostly cookbooks and a few children’s books. A few of her cookbooks are best-sellers. She won an Emmy in 2013 for “Outstanding Culinary Host” for one of her television shows. Along with books and television shows, Bastianich also has her own line of sauces and pastas that are sold in stores. She now manages all of this with her two children, Tanya and Joseph.
While the Pittsburgh branch is closing, Bastianich will still be very busy. She co-owns Lidia’s Kansas City and Felidia with her daughter Tanya; she is a co-owner of Becco and Del Posto, two other critically acclaimed restaurants in New York City; and she is a partner of the famous Eataly in six locations, including locations in the U.S. and Brazil.
Bastianich has not made an official statement on the closing of her restaurant yet. While she certainly will still have her hands full with everything else on her plate, Lidia’s will be missed by the people of Pittsburgh.