Edible Ink: Steve Lanzilotti of Talia Cucina & Rosticceria
By Matthew Hacke
Steve Lanzilotti’s love of cooking and love of tattoos started at a young age. “As a real little kid, I was always in the kitchen with my grandparents. And as soon as I turned 18, I was at the tattoo shop,” he says with a laugh. The Pittsburgh native’s German, Italian, and Polish roots meant that growing up, he was always trying out new dishes in the kitchen, as he fondly recalls. “My great-grandmother on my mom’s side — the German-Polish side — was the baker. You went over to her house and she always had five different pies and two different cakes freshly made. It was awesome,” he says. “My dad’s side of the family — the Italian side — had Sunday dinner every week. So, I remember being involved with food and appreciating it at that age.”
Even though Lanzilotti was always in the kitchen and drawn to food, it wasn’t always a focus. When he was considering his future after graduation, though, his interest in cooking resurfaced. “I tried going to college, but it didn’t work out,” he says. “So then, I turned back to cooking and said, ‘Let’s give it a go.’ I went to culinary school and have been involved ever since.” Over 15 years later, Lanzilotti is now the executive chef at the newly opened Talia Cucina & Rosticceria in Downtown.
While he has yet to take a break from cooking, Lanzilotti has taken a ten-year hiatus from getting tattoos done. “I started getting tattoos at 18 and I was finished with my seventh tattoo [my most recent one] by 22. I got everything done in a four-year span,” he says. “I haven’t gotten another tattoo in about ten years — for no specific reason. I think it was because I didn’t want to start getting a bunch of things that I was going to regret later on and had no meaning behind them.”
Now, he’s ready to get back to it and is currently planning his next piece of body art. But, like many aspects of his life and career, he wants to take his time to plan it out thoroughly. “I do want to get more tattoos, but it would just be a matter of time, money, and meaning.”
Number of Tattoos:
The first tattoo I got was a star. I was 18. I was just a young kid who wanted something and stars were in at the time, so that’s what I got. It wasn’t anything sentimental.
I’ve been thinking about getting a spoon tattoo because I always carry a spoon with me in the front pocket of my shirt. I’ve had one spoon that I’ve had for the last 12 years. It’s not lucky, per se, I just picked it up one day. I’m always either tasting things or cooking things with the spoon — which I make sure to clean [laughs]! There have even been times I’ve had to use the other end of the spoon as a screwdriver! I would like to finish up my left arm, so my next tattoo would be there. I want to even out the tattoos on my right arm with my left arm.
Favorite Tattoo artist:
I go to Bob at Accents Ink in Castle Shannon. He did my first tattoo when I was 18 and has done the six others, too. He actually went to high school with my aunt. He was a business guy — a big banker — who said this isn’t for me and now he’s covered, head to toe, in tattoos and has his own shop.
The Chinese symbols on my left arm. There were meanings behind them when I got them, but you never know if they’re the true meanings when you get them done in a tattoo shop [laughs]. It could mean something completely different. They were motivational words at the time that I liked.
Drawn to Asian-inspired art and the stories and myths they represent, Lanzilotti added to his dragon and koi fish tattoos to create a bigger scene. By blending the two with images of water and adding lotus flowers, sky scenes, and a samurai mask, the theme was complete. “For being as old as these tattoos are, the colors have stayed well-preserved,” Lanzilotti says. “Sometimes tattoos of this size and color fade, but they have aged well, which I’m pretty happy about.”