Jonathan and Brandy Vlasic have always had a passion for restoring old buildings.
They own the historic Alla Famiglia restaurant on Mt. Washington, and purchased a historic farm house in Eighty Four, which has been a work in progress.
When Jonathan and Brandy heard that the former Classroom Restaurant in Peters Township was available, there was little question in their minds what their next project would be.
“It was appealing to me because it was this 100-plus-year-old schoolhouse,” Jonathan said. “Alla Famiglia is 130 years old, and we live in a 220-year-old farm house. We like things with character.”
After completely refurbishing the building, the Vlasic couple opened Arlecchino Ristorante in September, which the couple said gives the restaurant a complete new look, while maintaining an intimate atmosphere for fine Italian dining.
Nearly 1,800 square feet were added to the back of the building, the parking lot was expanded, and a new bar was completed in the building’s loft. The goal was to create an atmosphere within the building to convey the message of excellence.
“You can’t get the atmosphere and persona like you can in an old building," he said. "This is more representative of who we are and how we do things.”
The things the Vlasics said make Arlecchino most different begin with food preparation, and the selections that are listed on the menu, which is created daily.
“We make everything right here, and everything is from scratch,” Jonathan said. “We grind all of our meat for meatballs, we make all of our own sausage, our breads and our pastas. All of our food preparation machines have been imported from Europe and we have the professional people who are able to operate them.”
To Brandy, Arlecchino fills a special niche for dining in the South Hills.
“Everything is made from scratch, and the whole thing makes it a family feeling anytime they come to the restaurant,” she said. “We want it to be (for customers) like they’re coming into our home. We want customers to sit for a few hours and enjoy themselves.”
The Vlasics said that in the future, vegetables grown on their farm may one day become part of the ingredients used in the recipes at Arlecchino.
Arlecchino’s lunch menu features homemade soups and deli-style sandwiches to dine in or take out.
While lunch and dinner service is a large part of Arlecchino, the restaurant also caters to the morning crowd with pastries and bakery items that are available beginning at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday.
Jonathan said the morning café has become a another special niche for customers—offering Lavazza cappuccinos and American coffee, homemade pastries and breads.
“Jeff Hirsh (pastry chef) is an incredibly talented pastry chef who makes everything from scratch,” Jonathan said. “The eggs, flour and shortening are all mixed and baked right here.”
The morning menu consists of a wide assortment of cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, muffins, Danish cookies, breads and traditional pies.
“The morning atmosphere consists of customers who want to come in, sit down and enjoy coffee, cappuccino and the fresh-baked goods, or those who want to come in, pick something up and be on their way,” Brandy said.
Arlecchino has also expanded to provide various types of sheet cakes and birthday cakes, and offers catering for parties and special events.
“We’ve really become a full-service bakery,” Jonathan noted. “We can provide just about anything a customer wants.”
Arlecchino also plans to offer accommodations for holiday luncheons during December.
Other key members of the Arlecchino staff are executive sous chef Mark McMannus and chef Joe Krzyzanowski.
Reservations for dinner, which are taken starting at 5 p.m. daily, are strongly recommended. Arlecchino is open daily from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to close Monday through Friday; Saturday at 8 a.m. for bakery and marketplace items only; and is closed on Sunday.
The restaurant features happy hour specials daily starting at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday—3 p.m. on Friday.
Call Arlecchino, located at 133 Camp Lane in McMurray, at 724-260-5414 for more information. A menu is available at the hostess area.