Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
It is once again Pittsburgh Restaurant week. For more details go to www.pittsburghrestaurantweek.com Over 60 local restaurants are participating, most serving special prix fixed menus at great prices! It’s a great week to try somewhere new or even just visit one of your favorite spots. Just like last time D and I will be dining at 3 new restaurants. Our first stop is Cioppino in the Strip District; D’s Mom will be dining with us this week like last year.
We have been meaning to get down to Cioppino sooner than this, not exactly sure why it took us so long. It has a great location; right on the other side Marty’s Market. The restaurant is very beautiful; it has a steakhouse feel, but it’s a little more refined. There are tons of dark woods, candlelight, and an autumn color scheme. If you would like to enjoy a drink pre or post dinner, stop in the bar, dimly lit with leather seating, a few tables, it has a great speakeasy feel. There is also a cigar bar; sadly D and her Mom are not fans of them so we skipped it (I may need to go back down there myself for a stogie and a nice scotch).
D and I shared a bottle of wine; on Mondays they offer a small list of bottles at ½ price. This past year Cioppino won the Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator and they also have a Sommelier on-site. So needless to say, ordering wine here is a wise choice. Along with the wine we ordered a couple appetizers. The pork pate was good (Cure and Legume’s are still our favorites), they served it with baguette slices, pickled veggies and mustard; pretty standard stuff, but still tasty. We also ordered the fried calamari served with garlic/lemon aioli. It was good but what really was delicious was the preserved lemon peel they fried with the calamari; it was the first time we had seen that.
Cioppino like most of the establishments participating in this year’s restaurant week is offering a 3 course pre-fixe menu. D and her Mother went with this option. It started out with a bowl of Clam Chowder, which was very good; it was light and creamy consistency and had the right amount of seasoning. I ordered the Greens & Goat salad as a starter. It was awesome tons of crisp bacon served over a bed of greens tossed with a goat cheese dressing and homemade croutons. Any salad that contains equal amounts of lettuce and bacon is A-OK in my book!
The entrée on the Restaurant Week menu was Filet Medallions served over a potato-turnip puree with roasted mushrooms and red wine essence. The steak was delicious as was the accompaniments; however the portion was a tad small (we think it was because it was a pre-fixe menu, but still). I opted to order the dish for which the restaurant it named, Cioppino, which is a fisherman style stew that originated in San Francisco, but can trace its roots back to Italy. The Cioppino here had, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, Dungeness crab, sea bass, and mahi mahi with a tomato fennel broth. The dish was amazing tons of great seafood and a great piece of grilled bread that was begging to be dipped in the broth.
As per usual we were getting pretty damn full, however dessert was included in the 3course menu so we had to partake. The server presented us with praline mousse atop a hazelnut shortbread cookie with macerated blackberries and a crisp with honey and sesame seeds and blackberry whipped cream. Although this dessert contained no chocolate it was still great; the mousse was light and melted when it hit your tongue, the cookie and crisp added great texture and the blackberries had a slight tartness that balanced everything out.
The meal was solid from start to finish; the service was great (the pace of the meal was a little slow, not sure why the dining room was empty) and the wine was delicious. We didn’t need any more reasons to get us down to the Strip District but Cioppino has given us yet another, especially now that I want to hang out in the Cigar Bar. This was a great start to the winter session of Restaurant Week. Our next stop will be Vivo Kitchen in Sewickley.
also on Facebook
2350 Railroad St.
Pgh, PA 15222