You are here:

Del’s Restaurant and Bar, Bloomfield
Date November 15, 2010
Author creative

Del's Restaurant and Bar, Bloomfield


Del’s Restaurant and Bar, Bloomfield

On my continued search for authentic Italian food in the city of Pittsburgh, I stopped at Del’s in Bloomfield on Sunday evening with my family and friends.

The restaurant looked nice from the outside, decorated conservatively with large windows, seating for 10 or so people on the patio, and fresh flowers – so far so good. Del’s Italian Restaurant is actually one of two establishments – on the left is Del’s Bar, a small gathering place for locals to unwind, talk and enjoy some appetizers.

So, this is it I thought, I’m finally going to have some real Italian food! As I looked over the menu my excitement grew… Eggplant Parmesan, Chicken with Ricotta and Provolone, Caesar Salad; it all sounded good. As we were trying to decide on entrees, I asked our waiter for an order of marinated carrots- an Italian classic. The carrots came, and I quickly grabbed a few… chomp, chomp, chomp. They were soaked in a seasoned vinegar mixture that made them extremely tasty. The carrots weren’t overly-saturated; they still had a crunchy bite to them. We quickly gobbled up the remaining carrots and ordered a few dinner salads. I chose the house salad with bleu cheese dressing, and my sister asked for the Caesar salad. Fresh Italian bread was placed on the table. The bread was fresh and yeasty- but was served with those little plastic butter packets- ugh. For the amount of money we were spending, ($13.00 to $18.00+ per entrée) one would think the ownership would splurge and serve real pats of butter with the bread. We placed our orders: Eggplant Parmesan, Linguini with Clam Sauce, regular Pasta with Marinara, Rigatoni, and Chicken with Ricotta.

My salad was good- the greens were fresh, and the bleu cheese dressing seemed homemade. Still, the dressing for my salad was served in a plastic cup with a lid, cheapening the experience. The Caesar salad was mostly oil, with little or no anchovy flavor, and almost no parmesan cheese.

Our entrees came out looking good; the portions were large, and the food looked fresh. I took a bite of my chicken, and was very surprised- all I could taste was sugar… lots of sugar. It was inedible. I looked around the table and noticed something- all of our dishes, with the exception of the linguini with clam sauce, had the same red sauce on it. I thought that was odd. Thinking I may had gotten a bad bite of sauce, I tried another… nope, still too sugary to eat. At this time, everyone at the table started looking at each other. “This sauce is really sweet.” Everyone concurred.

I didn’t want to ruin dinner, but I couldn’t eat anymore, so I just pushed my plate away. At this point I noticed that everyone else had done the same thing. Our waiter stopped by and asked why we weren’t eating our meals. I told him that the sauce was too sweet, and he assured he would make things right, as he ran off to get the owner. A woman appeared shortly thereafter, and squealed, “I hear there’s a problem with the food.” “Well,” we replied, “The sauce is a little too sweet.” This is where things got interesting. The owner, and I presume cook (these are her recipes after all), became very defensive. “What, the sauce is too sweet? I sold gallons of this sauce today, there’s nothing wrong with it! I’ve sold way too much to think there’s anything wrong with it!”

At this point she was gesturing at the dining room with her hands in the air as if to point out all of the happy diners that were in the midst of enjoying her tomato-sugar concoctions. We asked if she had tasted the sauce lately. “No, of course not… I can’t try the sauce… I can’t eat everything, look at me.” We weren’t sure if she was trying to be funny. I thought to myself… I’m a chef; I always taste everything before it leaves my kitchen, how can this woman not taste her food? Even if she’s not working in the kitchen, as the owner she’s responsible for everything that leaves the kitchen.

She continued – “If you don’t like the food that’s ok, it’s a personal thing.” She said that over and over again… it’s a personal thing, as if to imply it was our fault that we (all five of us, none picky eaters!) didn’t care for the food. At this point she told us that a whole vat of sauce was just made that day, it was fresh, and what was she supposed to do, throw it away??? Here’s what I wanted to say: First of all, there was no garlic in this marinara sauce. All marinara has garlic in it, it’s a key ingredient. Secondly, why are there green peppers in this sauce? Marinara doesn’t contain green peppers. Lastly, why are you yelling at us instead of running to your kitchen to taste the marinara sauce?

The only good that came out of this experience was our waiter voiding the bill. Our server, this poor young kid was so worried that he had turned white, and was sweating. I assured him that none of this was his fault, and gave him $20.00.

The owner was not apologetic. She didn’t care if she ever saw us again. Will I return to Del’s? Never.

Chef Chuck Kerber

Del’s Bar & Restaurant
(412) 683-1448
4428 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224


See More From This Category Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

24 Responses to Del’s Restaurant and Bar, Bloomfield

  1. Elle says:

    I had to chuckle when I read the review by “Chef Chuck.” I grew up in an Italian neighborhood and some
    put sugar in their sauce, some didn’t. I happen to love Del’s. After living out of Pittsburgh for 10 years,
    in the Midwest, one of the first places we headed was Del’s. Chef Chuck used blue cheese dressing
    on his salad….come on you’re in an Italian Restaurant use the house Italian!!!!!!!

    My favorite meal at Del’s is salad,broiled fish and a side of pasta. The desserts are great and the
    wait staff and owners treat you like family. Maybe “Chef Chuck” should try Olive Garden????

    • Chef Chuck says:

      Thanks for the comments! I am well aware that some people use sugar in their sauces to help the caramelizing process along (I have before), but there’s a big difference between a “hint” of sugar, and several cups. Our entire party couldn’t eat our meals, and the owner was rude. Maybe the prep cook misread the recipe (if they have one), or was just having a difficult day. Still, I know Italian food, and this was far from it.
      Thanks for reading Tess!

      Chef Chuck

  2. Vincent says:

    Not surprised about the waiter turning white- or your experience with the owner, Mary Anne. She is pretty famous around Pittsburgh (esp to those in this business) as being an absolute TERROR to her staff. She comes in the kitchen nightly to scream at her staff, humiliate and belittle. As can be expected, the turnover rate is HIGH.
    The rumor is that she was taken to court a year or so back for being “racist” or making prejudicial remarks to her staff. Come in around 9pm some night and ask to sit near the kitchen. You will almost CERTAINLY hear her SCREAMING and calling staff “f@&king idiots, retards, lazy f$#ks, etc. Its really a shame she has such loyal customers, because it just enables her to abuse the staff that go in and out her proverbial rotating door. After hearing her on one of her power trips not once, but TWICE- I had enough. My wife and I will NOT be back. And not just because of the overpriced food.

    • Chef Chuck says:

      glad to hear I wasn’t the only one with a horrible experience! thanks for your input-
      Chef Chuck

    • Anonymous says:

      I worked as a server at Del’s for a little over half a year and can tell you that all of this is true. I made good tips, but it was not worth being screamed at for hours everyday to the point where I broke down and cried more than once. Finally one day I couldn’t take it anymore and walked out the front door in the middle of my shift.

    • Mark Anthony says:

      Marianne Del Pizzo is a Foul-mouthed, less than Stellar human being… Her reputation has preceded her, as reflected in the turn-over in staff. not to mention that garbage passed off as edible food… She is notorious for continually cursing, intimidating, and insulting staff…

      Del’s Restaurant is Italian food for people who haven’t the slighted notion of what Italian food is…

  3. francis says:

    Had pasta, Marinara and hot sausage there about 5 months ago, more water on the bottom of my plate than sauce on top! Had to ask the waiter to drain the pasta, it was literally dripping on me off the plate! I to, ate some of it, but I just lost the appeal of eating and just wanted to go home! Its SAD what Del’s has become it was at one time one of my favorties! No, I doubt very much if I’ll ever go back!

  4. Joanie says:

    I have been eating dinner at Del’s for over twenty years in addition to going to parties in their private room. I have always found the service to be impeccable and the food to be authentic and declicious. I have become acquainted with several of the family members that share ownership of this restaurant and find them to be aptly adept at changing with the times by incorporating theme nights, entertainment and even kareoke nights. Their bar is also gorgeous and well stocked. The owners are also very dedicated to the Bloomfield community and work extremely hard to contribute to its longevity. I will continue to recommend Del’s to out of town family and friends and consider them to be one of the longstanding businesses that reflect hard-working Pittsburghers that love their culture, food and their city!

  5. pittsburghsteve says:

    This was my favorite place when I first moved to Friendship (2006). Overtime, it became my least favorite. The salad with house dressing and french onion soup are still very good. Everything else has become swill and the service is beyond terrible.

    Once, I was refused a side of pasta with my entree because “the kitchen refused to make it”. Waitress’ words, not mine. Eventually, I convinced the waitress to bring me something. She came out with a plate of bow ties that, like the person above commented, had a pool of water underneath.

    I have also heard the owner screaming at people a couple times, which is really sort of obnoxious. It is a shame because it was my favorite restaurant at once point.

    • TT says:

      Hope you were in the right restaurant-Del’s Has NEVER in 62 yrs, served a Bow Tie Pasta!

      • pittsburghsteve says:

        TT – I am quite sure of where I was. I am 100% sure I was served soggy farfalle. I suspect you might be in some way affiliated with the restaurant. If so, perhaps you do not know your place as well as you think you do.

        I used to go to Del’s once a week. After 4 or 5 bad trips in a row over the last two years, I decided to try to find a new spot to eat Italian.

        The service was always bad, but the food used to be good. The salad is great, the soups are great, but everything else fell off. I have no reason to lie! The spaghetti el dino, chicken diablo and sausage and peppers were some of my favorite meals. For whatever reason, the sausage and peppers was removed from the menu, and I was told on two occasions that I could only order the spaghetti el dino on the weekend. On two occasions, I apparently ordered a menu item that was 86ed and the server did not tell me until serving everyone else at the table.

        I could go on and on about why I have not been back to eat in a couple of months, and if you wish to hear more, I’d be more than happy to tell by a private medium. It took an extended series of poor service and below expectation meals before I finally said “enough is enough”.

  6. Jack P says:

    My wife loves Del’s & in the last year we have had 2 birthday parties & got married there on Oct 1. I’m personally not that crazy about it having grown up on homemade Italian food, I don’t like many Italian restaurants. They got a make over by Restaurant Impossible last night, so we are looking forward to going tonight maybe. The one thing I truly don’t like is their mafalda sauce. The marinara mixed with alfredo. Thanks for the review, I was wondering if maybe I was the one with the problem. But I do have to say Mary Anne was the greatest. Our outdoor wedding got rained out & she called us the day before & actually closed the dining room so we could use it as our backup for the wedding. If the food was as good as she was, the place would be outstanding. She has always been good to us, even when we complained about the food.

  7. BG says:

    I just read that you will be re-reviewing Del’s after it re-opens following it’s Restaurant Impossible makeover. I hope that you find it changed for the better, but as a former employee, I have my doubts. I hope too, that the pressure to please the show and it’s producers won’t result in a review that Del’s does not deserve. You described the cheap appearance of the tubs of plastic dressing with lids. I don’t believe we were supposed to leave the lids on when serving salads when I was there (which wasn’t long before your review). And had Marianne noticed that, she would have screamed bloody murder at your waiter, or fired him most likely. I’m not surprised he was turning white with fear and sweating that night, I’m sure he was shaking in expectation of Marianne’s berating him later, for one reason or another.
    Vincent’s comment above is an accurate depiction as to how that place is run. It is true that everyone in Bloomfield knows that she acts extremely crazy in how she treats the staff there. I’m surprised they have customers still, especially loyal ones, to be honest. The belittling and humiliating during her screaming tirades happen every couple of nights, obscenities included. Most people don’t make it past a week or two of training. I was senior to over half the staff after working there only 2 and half months. I’ve seen her lose it, again and again. She’d ridicule and scream and emotionally and verbally abuse the staff for forgetting to put the pastini in the wedding soup, or throwing away uneaten bread instead of recycling it, or for throwing away those disgusting plastic butter packets after clearing the bread baskets from the table. She thrives on this cycle of screaming and abuse and so the “high turnover” of servers works well for her. If there are always new people, then there are people making “newbie” mistakes, and with more mistakes, more reasons to scream and yell.
    I realize that this isn’t the entirety of what a real restaurant review is about. A person’s dining experience isn’t wholly dependent of what is -really- going down back in the kitchen. (Although, again, Vincent is right, if you pick the right night some time around 9p, and have a table close to the kitchen, you WILL hear the screaming.) The menu is extensive and I’ve seen just about every thing on it. It’s truly hit or miss. A few things are great, but so many things are so bad it’s, well it’s disgusting. (Also disgusting? The conditions of the basement, and of the coolers where so much of the food was kept, and the counter space (the tiny amount of it) in the kitchen. It was so crammed in there, I don’t know how people working there weren’t injured more often.) As for the menus, I found there to be more more enticing items available for lunch than for dinner. Their fried fish sandwich is great. The marinated carrots are also quite good. Their pizza is OK. But as for the real Italian dinner stuff? In almost every case, there are 5 other Italian restaurants in Bloomfield that do it better. Take a simple bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce. I’ve seen the excess water in those bowls of poorly drained pasta. What kind of authentic Italian place can’t pull off a basic bowl of spaghetti? Oh, and I would never, ever, EVER eat the Sunday breakfast buffet. Just trust me on that one.

    • TT says:

      This is in response to BG, you probably still work at Del’s as I read between the lines. Its a free country & the 1st amendment states our Freedom of Speech, and the Internet has provided a new era of finger pointing, good and bad. You ‘FOODIES’ out there can criticize the Food all you want. When the Hospitals in the area, allowed Drug Reps to Cater Outside food to the Docters and the Staff, they ALL Ordered from Del’s ALL YEAR LONG & Especially during the Holidays. Del’s was Catering in excess of Thousands of dollars of food per week for 18 years(food couldn’t be too bad if they kept coming back) Then UPMC Stopped ALL OUTSIDE FOOD VENDORS & they now have to use UPMC Food ONLY. Then St Francis Hospital Closed & the same with West Penn & the economy took a Hard Hit. The Weather also dictated the High Cost of Food-From Produce to the Flour the Pizza is made of, to the cost of delivering the food all went up like 75%. So Del’s like other Small Business Owners, got Hit Hard too. And I’m sure alot of ‘Small Business’ Owners, starting yelling a little louder at incompetent Servers.So like it or Not-Del’s is here to Stay.Every year a Server gets angry at Marianne & with malicious intent, goes from website to website to tell their version of what they want you to think happen. They seem to leave out, their part of what REALLY Happened! There are 2 sides to Every Story, as the Old saying goes. Just no one has the time to go out and battle them all. I made the time today to address this, beacause it was brought to my attention and we think we know who this may be.So Touche’ to you BG!

  8. Jack P says:

    Went to Del’s last night & had the Chicken Cacciatorre. Without a doubt the best meal I have had there, if not anyplace. The waiter recommended that over the Osso Bucco. Only complaint was I got something hard in the dish & thought I broke a tooth. So that put a damper on it. Luckily it was on my last bite. My wife had the Chicken Parm, and it was the same as it was before. Bland, too crunchy, and a bit burnt. Our daughter had the Penne with Mafalda (ew) and loved it. The waited said the day after Chef Irvine left, they went back to the old menu but are keeping some of his recipes for a while. Hopefully we can make it back before they stop serving them.

  9. TMat says:

    Chef Chuck,

    You’d be happy to know that I am and have been extremely close with the chef you are talking about for as long as I can remember. She is extremely good hearted and does not deserved to be talked about in some sort of blog. Dels food is amazing as well as the Delpizzo family!

    • TMat says:

      Chef Chuck,

      Please delete my previous post, as I respect all of the restaurant reviews that you do. I just can’t help but become defensive over my favorite restaurant in town! Take care.

      • Chef Chuck says:

        You are free to express your opinions here- this is an open forum. I appreciate that you like my reviews, and also respect the fact that people may disagree with me. I think it’s nice that you’re standing up for your friend. if you would still like me to delete your posts I would be happy to do so.
        Thank you for reading!
        Chef Chuck

  10. Sara says:

    They recently had a makeover, did you know that? I’ve never eaten there, but I know the owner. She’s a customer of the company I work for and she’s not rude… she’s loud and Italian. ALL Italians are like that, I would know… I was raise one. Family’s from Sicily. She’ll be on Restaurant Impossible on February 29th, and wouldn’t you know it? ALL of her employees have thrown her under the bus. She’s a very nice lady, just a lot on her plate. It’s not easy to always seem cheerful when you’re working 50+ hours a week and dealing with employees who could care less to help you in the store. They used to take advantage of her. Chef Ramsey made her fire the deadbeats, and she’s been doing so much better.

    I hope some day you DO go back since the makeover. It’s not easy to find REAL Italian food unless you find an Italian family and ask to be invited for dinner.

    Good luck though!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *