PITTSBURGH -- In our bid during the 2017 Stanley Cup Final to find some authentic Italian food, we stumbled onto some authentic Pittsburgh as well.
Meet Jimmy Girasole, gregarious proprietor of Girasole, the innovative and authentic Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh's older but well-kept Shadyside neighborhood.
We heard one guest call Girasole the unofficial mayor of Shadyside.
"Hockey has come into its own in Pittsburgh," Girasole said. "We have watched the Penguins and the game grow into something special here."
Girasole, the restaurant, has been sharing its excellence with the locals for 17 years in a below-street-level space that looks quite like a wine cellar.
Jimmy Girasole is also proud of his connection to hockey, telling our table that he and former NHL defenseman Lyle Odelein -- who played the final season of his 17-year career with the Penguins -- are good friends.
"Me and him are like this," Girasole said. "And he has a ring (as a Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993).
"We play gin all the time. I once beat him 21 times in a row, though he's always telling me I'm not that good."
Family completes Girasole's personal hat trick. His daughter-in-law Jennifer is the restaurant's chef -- something he and she should be very proud of -- and son Vince is an award-winning CBS television reporter in Chicago.
The visit to Girasole during this year's Final was my second.
Five years ago, when the 2012 NHL Draft was held in Pittsburgh, colleague Gary Lawless wandered in for dinner at Girasole and though he didn't remember it, Jimmy treated us like family that night.
This time, with the assistance of our server, Jessica, the group enjoyed it all, from the appetizers to the dessert.
On my own scorecard, I'd give five stars to the orecchiette with the zippy sausage and there clearly wasn't enough chocolate mousse to go around.
Girasole is just a couple of steps off Walnut Street, the heart of Shadyside's unpretentious mix of retail and eateries.
I don't know many cities that have an Apple Store in a neighborhood setting. It usually equates to traffic, but in Shadyside, that relaxed, local feel dominates and Girasole is a clue as to why.