Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
This will be the 2nd night of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week and D’s Mother will be joining us tonight as well.
Tonight’s restaurant is Girasole (Italian for sunflower) on Copeland St. in Shadyside. This restaurant has been around for over a decade, but most people in the area still don’t know about it. In fact, most people walking down Walnut St. probably wouldn’t even know it was right there, tucked in the basement of a cute building right across the street from a Starbucks. Calling this place quaint is an understatement! Owned and operated by the Gerasole Family (not spelled the same as the restaurant) this 48 seat joint could be tucked away on a side street in Rome and not be out of place at all. The food and wine list here are old school/classic Italian, if you are looking for foams, sous vide, or awkward food combinations, you are in the wrong restaurant. They serve both lunch and dinner here and are closed Mondays. Menu changes seasonally, features a couple apps and salads and some pastas that are on the menu through out that season. Each day features a daily Fish, Meat and Chicken dish.
We start the meal with the Bruschetta- lightly toasted bread smeared with creamy ricotta cheese and chopped fresh plum tomatoes with a light drizzle of olive oil. A pretty standard Italian app but there are a reason certain dishes become “classics”, order it and you will see what I mean. We also impulsively ordered the mussel app (after seeing it delivered to the table next to us). Mussels steamed in a spicy tomato broth with whole cherry tomatoes topped with parmesan cheese. An unexpected dish, but very much enjoyed!
Next up was the “Girasole Salad” (sorry no picture, we jumped right into these!). A bed of fresh spring mix with gorgonzola cheese, carrots, onions, sunflower seeds and garbanzo beans all tossed in an awesome sunflower vinaigrette. You could also go with a Caesar salad or the soup, both ok options but the Girasole Salad is what you want, trust us.
For entrees, we decided to order the trio of specials (meat, fish and chicken) and just share them. The meat special was a good size piece of sirloin cooked perfectly (that would be MEDIUM RARE!!! No exceptions.), served atop a creamy leek and Parmesan cheese risotto with grilled radicchio lettuce. The steak was excellent as was the risotto, the radicchio was a little burnt but still ok. The fish was an excellent filet of swordfish. It was firm, yet a fork could cut right through it. The fish was topped with a tart Greek yogurt and served over roasted farrow with sautéed spinach and mushrooms (this was our favorite out of the 3 entrees). The chicken was grilled, served with a potato and carrot puree along with Brussels sprouts cooked with pancetta and then covered with a garlicky cream sauce. A great dish but they could have used a little less sauce, but who really gets upset over too much garlic cream sauce? We were fine with it, especially dipping out bread in the extra sauce.
Dessert is again, typical Italian, but that doesn’t mean you should skip them. We shared an amazing Tiramisu, light, sweet, creamy with a hint of coffee liquor. Along with the tiramisu we have the dark chocolate gelato, it a rich chocolate ice cream, do you really need a description? It was delicious!! It was served with a few fresh blueberries, the ice cream didn’t need them but it was a nice touch.
This was another great meal, and D’s Mom agreed. This place has great ambiance, a little loud for some but that’s what your typical Italian bistro is, tiny, loud and serving great food. So the next time you are craving a great Italian meal made fresh and served in a beautiful setting, please skip the Olive Garden and other chain restaurants and give Girasole a call, you will be glad you did.
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