The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Piccolo Forno.

So far, 2015 has been exhausting. I’m just two weeks in to the new year and the inspirational this is my year feeling hasn’t kicked in. In fact, it’s been more like a you’ve got to be kidding me kind of feeling.

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(Reader’s Digest version: work has been a little frustrating, my car was completely totaled three weeks after it was paid off, and Buxton — God bless her sweet, feline soul — will absolutely not let me sleep through the night. Not to mention, it’s winter, which means it’s cold and icy and I rarely see the light of day.)

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So, when last Wednesday rolled around, I was desperate for a night out. My brain genuinely needed a break from thinking about work and life, so I decided on an evening at Piccolo Forno, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. (Bonus points for being in Lawrenceville, too.) The Big Man Upstairs must have known how much I needed something to go right, and we were seated right away in this small, quaint, usually-a-two-hour-wait restaurant. Thanks, dude.

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We ordered the bruschette to whet our appetites, and were served two pieces of wonderfully toasted bread topped with creamy goat cheese and sweet roasted tomato compote, two covered in an earthy cannelini bean spread, drizzled with arugula pesto, and one adorned with a mouth-achingly salty olive tapenade.

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For dinner, we ordered the Tortelloni di Zucca, a mouth-watering dish of creamy butternut squash filled tortelloni with toasted almond brown butter and amaretti and topped with parmesan cheese. I’ll admit it. Usually, I’m confident that I’ve ordered the best dish of the two of us, but this time, the tortelloni won. Hands down. I kept sliding my fork over to steal little nibbles.

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That’s not to say that my dinner wasn’t good, too — it was! Great, even. Braised rabbit and roasted vegetables sat atop a bed of pappardelle pasta, topped generously with parmesan cheese. (What can I say, I love cheese. The more, the better.) My first bite into my dinner was a bone, which gave me the heebie-jeebies and put a slight damper on the whole thing. But, bone aside, the rabbit was tender and gamey and the pasta was cooked to absolute perfection.

The wine, the food, and the company was exactly what I needed to calm my soul in the midst of a maddening week. A few days later, I bought a new car (and named her Jane), and things at work have started slowing down… slightly.

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We built the rest of the shelves in our living room, so we’re no longer living in a small construction zone, and the fun of redecorating a new space is invigorating. And — drum roll, please — we got a KitchenAid mixer! Bring on the baked goods!

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