Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
Lawrenceville is the new place to eat in town; new restaurants seem to be opening up all the time. The only downfall we see from this growth in business is the parking situation. Hopefully this area doesn’t turn in to the new South Side. Parking aside this area offers almost all kinds of dining, from Cure, Piccolo Forno, Tamari, Espresso a mano, Dozens, Round Corner Cantina and many others.
Just this February, Matteo’s added its name to the list of ever growing eateries along Butler Street. Matteo’s is a quaint Italian eatery owned and operated by Matt Cavanaugh. The space features dark hardwood floors, chairs and tables with an exposed brick wall, and the HVAC ductwork used as a decoration as much as it’s used to heat and cool the space. The menu features the standard fare chicken and veal offered in the typical fashion (Marsala, Parmesan, Diavlo, and Romano) along with steaks, crab cakes and multiple pasta options. Friends of ours dined here not long after they opened and told us it should be the next stop on our list.
Now, dining at a restaurant that has only been open a couple months, you need to be a little more patient and understanding because there could be kinks or minor miscues, no restaurant is immune from it. We aren’t saying the experience was bad in any way shape or form, but the front of the house seemed a little overwhelmed and were having trouble organizing the diners at tables and getting the servers on the same page. We over heard numerous people have trouble with reservations; we then learned that they are also no longer taking reservations unless you have a party of 6 or more. I am sure that as the restaurant moves forward all will be worked out and it will run smoothly.
We decided to start out with the Bruschetta, very standard for an Italian restaurant. This bruschetta however had a creamy spread of goat cheese on the toast that was topped with chopped tomatoes in olive oil with herbs. This app was very good they put a nice sweet drizzle of balsamic vinegar syrup. We knew we were going to enjoy the bruschetta but this was particularly good, definitely worth ordering! A friend of ours, Heather said that we absolutely had to try the crab cakes, so we also convinced the chef to let us order just one as an appetizer. D and I feel that the best crab cakes come from 2 places, Andora Restaurant and Monterey Bay Fish Grotto (both share a recipe, although they don’t admit it) so Heather challenged us to see which we would like more. These crab cakes were excellent, there is no denying that, but they are still not as good as Andora’s and Monterey Bay’s. Sorry Heather, some times the truth isn’t what you want to hear.
Matteo’s features nightly dinner specials, we both decided to order from the specials board. D ordered the Lobster and Chive Risotto (any time you put lobster and risotto together, D is going to order it) and it was great although it could have had more lobster for the price (only ½ of a tail) but the rice was cooked properly and the chives were a nice touch. All in all it was a solid dish. I heard Pork Osso Bucco and knew that’s what I would be ordering. The portion for my dish was huge; the pork was cooked perfectly, fall off the bone tender and smothered in onions peppers and a pan gravy. The starch and vegetable were standard, roasted red skin potatoes and zucchini, squash, asparagus cooked in olive oil, nothing great but they were good.
There were a few desserts options, but when we heard the chef’s wife made a rum cake the decision was simple. The cake was perfect, dense and sweet but not heavy, with just the right amount of rum. The twist here was it was drizzled with a berry sauce that was also spiked with rum, we had never thought of that, wish we would have. We almost regretted splitting one piece but we were probably too full to each eat a piece.
They have a full service bar with a small but diverse list of wine, but neither of us was in the mood for alcoholic beverages.
If this place can work out the kinks and survive the dreaded first year of being in business, they will be a solid addition to the Lower Lawrenceville restaurant scene; we give them a solid B- as of now. As long as the food stays the same we think this place should be around for years to come.
3615 Butler St
Lawrenceville, PA 15201
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open Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-11:00pm