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Hot Spot: Pizza Milano

Restaurant feeds sports fans Italian favorites

Published: Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09

Pizza Milano Bar and Restaurant has been proudly serving the Pittsburgh community for over 10 years.

Its prime location at 1304 Fifth Ave., within walking distance from the Mellon Arena and Consol Energy Center, makes it Pittsburgh's unofficial tailgating spot for Pittsburgh Penguins fans and people looking for a great time in a lively atmosphere.

Opened in September 1998, Pizza Milano serves fine Italian cuisine and specializes in 16 signature gourmet pizzas. The restaurant was formerly known as Pizza Corleones and the bar was in the adjacent building known as Duke's. It was not until 1998 that owner Sianan Ucargonul bought both buildings, knocking out the wall between the restaurant and bar and renaming it Pizza Milano.

There are five other locations of the Milano restaurant chain in the Pittsburgh region, and all are owned by the Turkish community of Pittsburgh. However, Pizza Milano on Fifth Avenue is the first of the five locations.

When the Penguins are home at Mellon Arena playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it may be a hockey night in Pittsburgh, but, for many fans, their hockey night does not begin until they stop in to eat Milano's original pizza and other Italian specialties.

"On hockey nights before the game, the atmosphere here is exhilarating," Terrie Rhin, a server at Pizza Milano since its beginning, said. "The music is playing, the flat screen TVs are on with sports and the customers are pumped. It's fun!"

Rhin moved to Pittsburgh in December of 1998 and was in need of a job. Her daughter, Katie, who was already a server, encouraged her to start working at Pizza Milano. Rhin immediately fell in love with her boss, co-workers and the people of Pittsburgh. She is excited to be part of a tight-knit, loyal business.

"We're one, big family," Rhin said.

On a normal game day, around 5 to 7 p.m., there are swarms of people with Penguins jerseys, black and gold and tons of smiles to go around. The restaurant and bar's capacity is approximately 500, but because of its popularity, many customers order take-out. If customers cannot make it out to the restaurant, they also have the option of delivery.

"It's crazy here on game nights, but people love our food and find [a] reason to eat here," Ucargonul said. "We do our best all the time and always try to put a smile on a customer's face."

Penguins season ticket holders and loyal customers of Pizza Milano, John O'Rourke and Jon Maschak, have been coming to the restaurant since O'Rourke attended Duquesne University in 2001.

"It's kind of loud, but it's a great atmosphere," Maschak said. "The prices are reasonable, and, compared to pizza in Italy, where I used to live, it tastes great!"

Pizza Milano's "Taste of Italy" printed on the front of their menu is considered by some customers an extremely accurate name for the dish. In addition to their signature pizzas, they also serve a variety of fine Italian cuisine. These include calzones, specialty pastas, hoagies, wedgies, gyros, tiramisu and cheesecakes for dessert.

Pizza Milano is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. They do not have weekly specials; however, they do cater to students in the area, providing them with college coupon specials.

There are a total of six college specials that can be used any time of the week. The two most popular specials are a large 16-inch cheese pizza with a one-liter drink for $8.99 and classic hoagie with a one-liter drink for $8.99. All other specials are also $8.99 with a variety of choices from the menu, available for pick-up or delivery.

Ucargonul likes to give a break to college students in the area. He wants to give them good food for a reasonable price.

"If there is one thing I want Pittsburgh to know about Pizza Milano, it's that we sell quality food here and stand by our promise," Ucargonul said.

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