Tacos, as well as Italian favorites, will be on the menu.

Carl Valenti and Edgar Alvarez want every hour to be a happy hour.

That’s why the two restaurateurs teamed up to create Aperitivo Dolce, a soon-to-open Strip District eatery that will feature both Mexican and Italian fare and, as the name implies, affordably priced pre-dinner cocktails.

Located at 2533 Penn Ave., in a building formerly occupied by Gene’s Last Chance, the space will tentatively be open next week for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Once their liquor license is approved, Valenti and Alvarez will expand their menu and hours to include dinner and late-night drinks.

“It’s going to be very authentic, everything fresh, nothing frozen,” says Valenti, a financial manager with a culinary background. “Edgar has been around a long, long time and he’s always gotten rave reviews. So it was a no-brainer to get him on board.”

Edgar Alvarez, the long-time proprietor of Edgar’s Best Tacos, will be head chef at Aperitivo Dolce.
Edgar Alvarez, the long-time proprietor of Edgar’s Best Tacos, will be head chef at Aperitivo Dolce.

A native of Mexico, Alvarez has spent a lifetime in the restaurant business.

For a decade, he ran Taco Loco on the South Side before moving to the Strip and operating a stand outside of Reyna Foods on Penn Avenue and 21st Street. Several years ago, he changed the name to Edgar’s Best Tacos and transferred the business to a brick-and-mortar storefront down the street next to Savoy, where Valenti is a partner.

Alvarez asked Valenti if he could rent parking space from the upscale dining spot, so he could park his food truck. A business relationship blossomed.

As head chef, Alvarez says Aperitivo Dolce will be a casual joint with gourmet cuisine.

And although Pittsburgh’s restaurant market is crowded, Valenti says the staying power of Savoy (which opened six years ago), plus Alvarez’s loyal customer base and Aperitivo Dolce’s location near three new condominium developments, give them a competitive edge.

“Right now, it’s not a bustling place, but it’s getting there,” Valenti says of that part of the Strip. “It won’t be over-saturated like some other markets.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.