If you like Italian cookies, scones, or coconut macaroons , or strawberry balsamic vinegar tortes, or chewy focaccias still warm from the oven, or artisan pizzas topped with sausage from the local Parma sausage company, you will love Enrico Biscotti Company. This tiny storefront bakery, which Larry Lagattuta opened in 1995 as “stress relief” from his corporate job with Lucent Technlogies, has become a foodies’ Mecca in Pittsburgh’s most seriously food-focused neighborhood. And Larry quickly gave up his nine-to-five job so he could come to Penn Avenue every morning at three to start baking.
As you stroll along Pittsburgh’s Strip District, inhaling the wondrous aromas of aged proscuitto and fried fish sandwiches, fresh fruit and strong espresso, the smell of Enrico Biscotti will wallop you at 20th Street. Through the screen doors wafts the smell of a plum-filled crumb cake or a loaf of cornmeal biscotti as it is cut for its second bake. Inside the tiny store, you confront an array of jars that contain about two dozen different kinds of extra-large, hand-cut biscotti, including classic anise-almond and black pepper walnut as well as white chocolate with macadamia nuts. If ever you walk in and Larry’s macaroons are still warm from the oven, buy some and eat them instantly! Macaroons are a regular part of the repertoire, sometimes dipped in chocolate; but they are not always available. When warm, they are food of the gods. Other than a large repertoire of biscotti, the inventory at Enrico cannot be predicted. Larry is one of those cooks who bakes what he likes to bake that day, all by touch and feel, the way he learned when he was a boy growing up in Pittsburgh from his mother and aunts.
Behind the bakery, via a short sidewalk, there is a second part of Enrico Biscotti, a European-style café where Larry makes individual-size pizzas in his brick oven and little meals for snacks. Here too is the espresso machine, as well as a handful of tables both inside and outdoors in a sort of makeshift patio along the sidewalk. We know of no nicer place to start the day with strong coffee and biscotti, or to have a leisurely lunch on expertly-made true-Italian food.