Happy Pasta & Meatballs To You ~ Spaghetti Warehouse Celebrates A Sweet 16

*A meal was provided however, all opinions are my own. See my disclosure policy.

Spaghetti Warehouse

Spaghetti Warehouse

We have been planning a surprise Sweet 16 birthday party for my daughter that is going to be at the Spaghetti Warehouse Pittsburgh.  Our planning expert and the General Manager Benze made the Sweet 16 Surprise Party nothing short of spectacular.  The fact that we pulled the party off without letting the secret out was nothing short of a miracle because it is really hard not to spill the beans! We worked diligently to get the party setup and between trying to make calls while she has been home, and attempting to wrap favors while she paraded through the room we were working in, we were lucky to get it all done without her knowing!  We have even had to make special ‘daddy and daughter’ time so I could get it all together!  We created invitations while my daughter(who is notorious for escaping to her room for a few hours a night without a sighting) decided that night that she was not going to hang out in there.  Instead my soon to be 16 year old  ’needed’ to be up and down the steps 50 times.  Finally, my one son sat on the steps pretending to not be feeling well and fake complain to me, saying he was “in pain” every time she was coming close to the steps.  We managed to get all the invites mailed out and we are expecting 18 guests.

The Night of the Sweet 16 party has arrived, and we have been busy trying to pull together all the last minute details around my daughter being home, ugh!

Benze Spaghetti Warehouse

Jamie(l) My Daughter(c) Benze(r)


As we walk into The Spaghetti Warehouse, I kind of got nervous wondering how we were going to be received or even mention who we were, but Benze was waiting for us at the hosting station, and said, real slick, “Party of 5?” Situation under control and the rest is wonderful Pasta and Meatball history.  We walked through the bedroom sign and down the steps into our party room and here are the results! Have a look at the SURPRISE! Our daughter was fabulously surprised and our girls and family had a great night out with smiles, pasta, salad and plenty of bread!


My children all have birthdays closely aligned to one another in the summer, so after all is said and done, we generally go out  for a family dinner.  This year, as all the kids have entered double digits we decided to tell her that it was a ‘bigger deal’ than normal so the grandparents were going to come along.  We highly encouraged our daughter to get a new dress because we were sick of seeing her old dresses and she was not really cooperative at first and then she decided that it would be a good thing!  My mom took her out shoe shopping and I found the dress.  After everyone was ready to go out for ‘their’ birthdays we packed up into the car and took off for what was going to be a night of surprise, excitement and tears! Spaghetti Warehouse hosts parties from a few to 500 so I knew we were in good hands.


I did not just decide on Spaghetti Warehouse, it was  shopped, planned and all came down to one thing, a person on the other end of the phone who actually cared, and that person would be Benze!  I had called around and spoken to a few different restaurants, including  Buca who I found to be extremely over-priced for a basic pasta dinner, actually double the price with less options and food for the money.  Benze explained parties, menus and what they could do for us, briefly, politely and we booked our party, without any hesitation! He knew the menu forwards and backwards, offered options and did not pressure me, just asked if I wanted to book and I said, “YES!” Benze, Jamie, and their staff Eileen, and Kyle and many others that made our night seamlessly perfect were attentive and really made the girls and my family smile and have a great time all night long by just being super accommodating!


As a child, after going out with my parents we would often end up at the Spaghetti Warehouse sitting in the trolley car and eating tons of bread that was served on wood cutting boards with that delectable garlic butter and guess what last night we dined on the same delicious bread and butter! Loaf after loaf, the girls in my daughter’s party were pulling the loaves apart piece by piece and eating it as fast as it was placed on the table.

bread spag warehouse

As an adult, my husband and I dined there frequently because we wanted a good pasta dinner and years later those great pasta dinners are still being delivered to your table.  Take a look below at this dish of pasta marinara.  Now, as my daughter turns 16, it is the perfect place to celebrate, friends, family and turning of age as the food is delicious  and the service and hospitality are wonderful! The Spaghetti Warehouse offers a great family-friendly, Italian restaurant, with lots of menu choices that will appeal to everyone in your group!

spaghetti warehouse

My Daughter’s Party

We ordered the Red Trolley Line, which consists of  meals of pasta with a choice of sauces, salad, bread and beverage, a very good meal at a very fair price of only $12 a person! You can find all the meal choices on the Spaghettie Warehouse banquet site! What I really have to say is that it is so much easier to let the party happen than to try to create the party and the price is so very ‘frugal’  that it actually becomes easier to take the party out of the house rather than bring it in!  Our hosting staff was Eileen and Kyle.  The girls and our family could not have been in better hands as they made sure the timing was perfect and that we would be done in time for pick up of each of the ladies in our party(by their parents).  We had a few hours to eat, talk, and celebrate and our party rocked!

spaghetti warehouse salad

Spaghetti Warehouse

I got to see her face!

As a mom I was able to watch my daughter interact with her friends, enjoy the minute of SURPRISE and watch her react, welcome her into her new age and actually enjoy the party while the staff tended to the details of beverages, and food preparation.  I sat down, relaxed, grabbed a glass or Merlot and chatted, took pictures and I got to watch my daughter— a true jeweled moment as a parent.  Rather than worrying about getting the right picture snapped and barking out orders to my kids to help, I relaxed,  and I could actually snap the right picture and get a few more just to be sure! Stress-free entertaining makes a party so much more fun and fun is what we indulged in at the Spaghetti Warehouse party!  As an added surprise, there was  a roaming balloon artist in the facility and this meant unexpected entertainment.  Mike Cavataio, of JMS Balloons was in the house, the Spaghetti Warehouse that is and he twisted, tangled, and mused until he created the ultimate bouquet of balloon flowers for my 90 year old gramma that was with us! Take a look at this incredible work!  All the girls requested balloon creations and he kept on working with the girls while the adults kept on talking, it was such an easy night!

spahgetti warehouse

turtle by mikecavataio

Mike Cavataio JMS Balloon Art









As I began preparing this blog, I reviewed the party in my head, and today, as I get the last little sauce stain out of my son’s clothing, I can’t help but think, “pasta wishes and meatball dreams!” Thanks to the Spaghetti Warehouse for a Great Party!

spaghetii warehouse



Don’t Let Gas Prices Drive Your Budget There Is A Safe Way To Save


Don’t let Gas Prices Drive your budget! Gift Cards are the biggest, single trending item this summer.  Gift Cards can help you save big, at the pumps, but are you really saving?  I am wondering if there are really frugal consumers in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, DC, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, and any other state that a Safeway Club is in?  Are you really using the power of the gift card to the maximum?  If you already belong to the Safeway Grocery Club you are frugal, but your savings don’t stop with membership(which is free) they increase because your daily shopping and outings actually earn you discounts towards your future gas purchases and gift cards can be part of this great savings phenomenon at this wonderful retail chain.  The more your frequent your Safeway Club, the more the points add up as purchases equal points and points equal gas discounting bliss!



I am all about finding the best deals and maximizing my dollar before I spend it.  Gift cards are the epitome of  frugal savings which are trending big, across the great USA.  This summer, before setting out to travel, see if a Safeway Store is in the vicinity, and when you stock up the kitchen for that rental unit you are staying in, drive straight to Safeway.  From Washington, D.C to California, Safeway is across the United States and saving the average consumer at least .10 a gallon off gasoline.  Your reward for shopping Safeway includes 1 point for every dollar spent, and 100 points($100) equals .10 off a gallon, which translates to more money to spend on sightseeing and souvenirs! If you prefer to stay away from the heat of the kitchen while you are on vacation, then dine out, but get to the local Safeway, and purchase the gift cards for dining out before you head to your dining destination.  Safeway offers dining gift cards to restaurants of every venue from casual to formal like: Applebee’s, Boston Market, Bravo, Cheesecake Factory, Maggiano’s and so on.  Here’s the gift card gratification: for every gift card dollar ($1) you spend you earn 4 points and $25 earns you a .10 discount per gallon of gasoline at participating Safeway retailers.  Really, who spends just $25  when you are out eating? Grab $50 and save .20 a  gallon.  Many of us flock to locations that are populated by stores, and Safeway is around, so use them to save money while you are on vacation.  Don’t let the gas prices drive your budget because this is a Safe Way to Save! Want to know the locations of the Safeway Club?

How Does A Vacationing Consumer Get the Gas Deals?

If you see a Safeway retail sign, stop! Get to the front service desk and ask for a membership card.  Shop, fill the cart with the stuff you need and think about where you want to eat, and then buy those gift cards! Your card is loaded with the savings, drive to the local affiliated gas station, fuel up and you just saved!


If you live by a Safeway, what the heck are you waiting for ? Get your groceries, cleaning supplies, and pharmacy products all at your store! Shop for the products you need and use your Safeway Club card at each checkout transaction and earn discounts towards that fuel that makes your vehicle go! Points accumulate so you can spend your money as you have it available on products you need, just shop the Safeway Club for all your needs, and maximize your savings.  Dining out? Gift cards make great companions and Safeway has end caps full of your favorite restaurants!


I consider it frugal to take a break from cooking sometimes because it saves time and money(electric, gas) and when it’s time to dine out, might I suggest that you swing by your local Safeway, snap up a few gift cards for the restaurants you are headed to like Brio, On The Border, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chili’s, the Cheesecake Factory and so many others.  You were going to spend the money anyway, so just buy the gift cards ahead of time and make your purchase work for you by saving you money next time you fuel up!  Remember, 4 points for every $1, converts like this: A  $25 gift card to Chili’s earns you .10 off per future gallon of gasoline! End result, one more beer, a free appetizer, whatever way you want to spend the savings!

Get the frugal savings of gift card purchases!



Go Out For Up To 75% Off

My question to you is how come you have not tried this? If you are a true Frugalista this has to be on your bucket list! LOL! This is a great way to go out, enjoy yourself and not spend a small mortgage payment having fun! It is the ‘in’ way to go out and get out with only a small bill! Enjoy this great find! What AMAZON Is not great? This is just another way to get the best and spend less!

Chili’s Email Club – Free Chips & Queso Coupon

Chili’s Free chips and queso coupons. Signs up then and then you will be taken to screen to print Free Chips and queso coupon when signing up for Chili’s email club.


My husband and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary at Lidia’s Pittsburgh.  From beginning to end the night was spectacular and special.

Lidia’s Pittsburgh hosted us in celebrating our 20th Anniversary.  First we want to say THANK YOU and second, I want to share my experience.   

We love to dine out but finding the right place is the hardest thing to do. Sometimes what is great when you have the kids with you is not really as enjoyable when you are without the kids. Our favorite restaurant forever was Piccolo Piccolo and we were saddened when it closed years ago as we would frequent it and could recite the menu. We have tried so many places and really never locked into any new favorites. You know how it is– when you love something and it goes you try to find a similar place at least with the authentic food taste that you recall and when you can’t match it you just stop looking. Now while I realize that Lidia’s Italy Pittsburgh has been here in Pittsburgh for a while it had not been on OUR Radar:) NOW IT IS.

We have found a new favorite place, from atmosphere to food. We enjoyed the fact that so many FAMILIES were dining together, not just parents with their children but also grandparents and larger parties. The environment is welcoming. I want to start out by saying that our waitress ASHLEY T was so ‘ON’ that our night was made even better by the great service we received. We sat in a booth/table in a very private corner which we LOVED. Ashley went through the menu with us. I really did not even need to hear much more when I heard the word Pasta Trio.

Our Primi Course was a salad, a Caesar Salad with fresh bread ranging from sticks to a focaccia bread with Pesto and Black Olive Purees. Absolutely unique and delicious, I think I could have eaten the Pesto and Black Olive Purees alone all evening. The salad of preference at our table was Caesar.

The possibilities for main course were endless as I reviewed the menu, there were Arancini Lobster Risotto Balls, or the Insalata Caprese, and Risotto with Local tomatoes it was all a hard decision, but again my heart was set on the Pasta Trio.

The Pasta Trio is a very POPULAR dish at Lidia’s. This is one plate, that is set up in front of you that is serviced by 3 servers, each presenting you with freshly tossed pastas in 3 varieties. It is unique not only for the great tastes each pasta offers but it unique for its presentation. 3 separate servers bring you a pan at a time and place it on your dish. If you want more of any, it is unlimited refill, I have to admit I had to have a bit more  the sauce was to DIE for.

It was not just the presentation but the food itself, the raviolis filled with fresh mushroom and the basil pesto sauce with walnut simply made the fettucine— a diners’ delight. My husband had a Braised Pork Shank with Barley Risotto  pictured above as it was a MOST GENEROUS portion and fork tender an absolutely delicious meal.

After a meal I thought could not get any better, there was more…. Dessert.  The choices were extensive: ranging from a dark chocolate and nutella custard,to a Tiramisu.  My choice was one I could not make, I had to declare DEFEAT in choosing to Ashley.  She laughed:)  I was torn between Torta di Amaretto(Amaretto soaked cake and Amaretto Ice Cream, with toasted almond ice cream and candied almonds) and Biscotti Misti(mixed house made cookies served with a shot of espresso).  My husband had Crostata al Limone e Mirtilla(lemon cookie crust, basil mousse, lemon curd blueberry gelee, and lemon poppy seed ice cream)

The surprise was BISCOTTI MISTI with a decorated plate : It said .. well take a look at what Lidia’s did for us!

We loved our whole dinner, and we loved our waitress and we loved the restaurant. I could find a different word than LOVED but really it all was LOVED.  Lidia’s  is such a part of Pittsburgh, right in the heart of the Strip District. Lidia’s is for families, couples, gatherings but most of all for those of you who LOVE your food and consider it of high importance to have a carefully crafted meal that tastes authentic and a staff that wants to please!

It is hard to find a great place, but when I find one that is exceptional, I let you know! I hope you check out Lidia’s Italy Pittsburgh.