What’s old is new again at Pizzaiolo Primo.
The popular Market Square eatery, which closed permanently in December by its owners at the time due to the pandemic, is reopening for in-house dining on May 11. Hours during the first week will be 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Beginning May 17, hours will be expanded to 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Ron Sofranko Group recently bought the popular Downtown restaurant. Sofranko was a partner in the establishment when it debuted as Il Pizzaiolo Market Square in 2013. Returning to the restaurant will be Richard Sphatt, the eatery’s original executive chef, as well as General Manager Michael Zimmerman and several additional staff members.
“Bringing back the general manager, the original executive chef and members of the staff was important to us, and we’re thrilled we were able to do that,” Sofranko says. “We’re very confident Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene will rebound from the pandemic soon and purchasing Pizzaiolo Primo was a way for us to put our money where our mouth is.”
The menu will be similar to the original Pizzaiolo, feature authentic Neapolitan cuisine, including pasta, Italian wine and pizza. The pies are baked at nearly 1,000 degrees in a wood-burning oven that was assembled by Italian artisans.
The space at 8 Market Square has a European ambiance and can seat more than 90 people throughout two floors, each with its own bar. The interior is getting a fresh coat of paint, upgraded seating and new kitchen equipment.
Over the past 30 years, Sofranko has owned more than 25 restaurants and consulted on the opening of more than 100 others. In 1987, he left a corporate job in geophysics to pursue his culinary passion and is currently a partner or owner of seven restaurants in the Pittsburgh region.
In 2000, he launched Sofranko Advisory Group, a Wexford-based hospitality firm that does consulting, financing and brokering for restaurants, bars, beer distributors and liquor licenses.