An Erieite Appetite: Pio's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria

Pio's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria is a short 10 minute drive from Mercyhurst CollegePio’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria is a short 10-minute drive from Mercyhurst College

Price range: Average $5.99 +

Quality: 5 out 5

Since 1970, Pio’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria has been delivering Erieites like Mercyhurst College’s Bill Welch homemade soups, salads, gourmet pizzas, appetizers, subs, sandwiches and Italians dinners.

“They have great meatball subs, great pizzas of all sorts but especially the white cheese and broccoli, and they have wedding soup to die for,” Welch said.

Pio’s is located at 815 East Avenue, only a 10-minute drive from Mercyhurst College’s main campus.

On a cold Sunday evening, my friends and I journey to Pio’s with only one thing on our mind, piping hot Italian wedding soup.

Pio’s Restaurant is a take-out, delivery, and sit-down restaurant with an authentic Italian and small-town appeal. It is a definite hang-out for sporting teams after a game or families with a “Friday night, pizza night” tradition.

I felt like I was in a scene from the movie “Goodfellas” because personal family portraits and professional sporting pictures decorate Pio’s interior walls and red-and-white checkered tablecloths cover every table and booth.

Only two customers were seated upon our arrival so we were able to sit in a booth.

The menu was loaded with traditional Italian and American food options, but I knew exactly what I wanted – hot soup. Not only was it chilly outside, but it was also cold inside the pizzeria. Soup was a must if I wanted to survive and not die from hypothermia.

Pio’s offers Pasta E Fagioli, wedding soup, chili and tripe in cup, bowl, pint and quart sizes.

Interestingly, my friend inquired about tripe soup and our waitress shook her head in a “No, don’t try it” gesture. She went on to explain that tripe is the lining of a cow’s stomach. Most people would be disgusted and turned away from such an option, but no, not my friend, who happily ordered a cup.

In addition to soup, we decided to share a large 14-inch Barbeque Chicken Pizza which has grilled chicken, BBQ Sauce, Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese and red onions. Priced at $15.99, we thought we could split the costs.

Apparently, tripe is a commonly consumed food in my friend’s home country of Ethiopia. The thought of it though made my stomach stir.
Less than 10 minutes passed before our soups arrived. The wedding soups arrived first with the tripe arriving last.

By observing the wedding soup, I automatically knew it was legitimately homemade because of the fresh chicken, plump carrots, juicy noodles, and spicy sausage balls. It tasted like homemade chicken noodle soup except better. Definitely one of the best cups of Italian wedding soups I have ever sipped. Kudos to Mr. Welch!

My friend and I were thoroughly impressed and believe it was well worth its price of $2.99.

Although I refrained from trying the tripe, my Ethiopian friend said it became more and more delicious with each spoonful.

About 10 minutes after our waitress cleared our empty soup cups, our pizza arrived.

My first observation of our pizza was non-appetizing because of the stark contrast between the yellow Cheddar Cheese, the bright red BBQ sauce and the chunks of grilled chicken. However, my first impression was changed after one bite.

Though messy to eat, this pizza was better than California Pizza Kitchen’s staple BBQ Chicken Pizza because of the unique and spicy BBQ sauce, the bread stick-like crust and fresh red onions and grilled chicken.

My friends immediately dubbed Pio’s the best pizzeria in Erie. They are proud to say goodbye to traditional delivery services like Papa John’s and hello to Pio’s Restaurant and Pizzeria.

Pio’s is conveniently open Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Pio's interior decoration makes it look like a scene from Pio’s interior decoration makes it look like a scene from “Goodfellas”

Homemade wedding soup from Pio's is perfect for Erie's cold, rainy days.Homemade wedding soup from Pio’s is perfect for Erie’s cold, rainy days.

If you are ready to try something new, try Pio's tripe soup.If you are ready to try something new, try Pio’s tripe soup.