Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
We have mentioned before about how Downtown Pittsburgh is becoming the hot spot for excellent dining. It is getting to the point now that Chefs are opening multiple restaurants in the heart of the Burgh. The newest Chef to expand his claim to downtown is Chef Matthew Porco (formerly of Mio in Aspinwall, and currently Executive Chef of Sienna Sulla Piazza). This new business venture may be the most ambitious we have seen yet, and has the making of being a gigantic success or potentially a crushing defeat (we are rooting for them 100% though). Phase 1 of this restaurant is open for business and is gaining steam- Emporio: A Meatball Joint has been open for a few months now and seems to be doing very well. If you have to ask what they specialize in at Emporio you should probably stick to dining at home.
Meatballs are the specialty of the house; in fact, meatballs can be added to anything on the menu, oh you order the house salad? How bout topping it with a meatball? They have 4 types, classic beef, spicy pork, chicken and vegetarian (What is the point of a veggie meatball? Exactly, there is no point!). They can be served either on sliders, paninis, or hoagies, our choice was the Saucy Balls- 4 balls served with a variety of sauces.
Tonight we will be joined with our BRB’s (Best Restaurant Buddies) Joe and Natalie. They have been involved in a few of our posts, when we dine out together it is an event/experience! Servers seem astounded by how much we order. Tonight I feel we were actually pretty tame in our meal, for us anyways.
We started out ordering from the Snacky Things part of the menu, as a warm up to the Balls. We went with the Buffalo Chicken Balls, Wild Mushroom Arancini, and the Tater Tot Poutine. All were excellent although we jumped into the arancini a little too fast and scorched our mouths. Well worth it though, Poutine is always awesome when done right, and the tots really soak up the gravy. The Buffalo Chicken Balls had a great hot sauce, creamy bleu cheese and shredded celery curls. These apps never stood a chance, plates we wiped clean in mere minutes.
On to the main event- we ordered the Classic Meatballs with Sunday gravy, the spicy pork with pork Bolognese (pork on pork is always good) and the Special Meatball of the Day, tonight’s offering was a Beef meatball with pepperoni mixed in and the fat from the cooked pepperoni mixed into the Sunday gravy. The special meatball was the favorite of the 3. The pork was good but the use of all-spice/nutmeg was a little overpowering. The classic meatball was better than the pork but not as good as the Special.
With the balls we ordered a side of mashed potatoes and escarole and beans both good but nothing out of this world.
Desserts were a hit and a miss. The ricotta doughnut balls were great, light and fluffy but crispy and covered in powdered sugar. The pecan balls were just vanilla ice cream with pecans, eh. But have you noticed a trend? It’s all about the balls here. Our joke was, “All the balls your mouth can handle”. Sorry about the crudeness of it, but it’s true.
Now in the late spring the 2nd and 3rd floors will be opening up. The Mezzo is on floor 2, it is an 80-seat casual eatery focusing on flatbreads, charcuterie & cheese, Panini’s and different types of risotto. The 3rd floor is going to be a rooftop wine bar/beer garden called Il Tetto and will feature a menu of apps and shared plates. The main feature of the 3rd floor will be the retractable roof. As I said this place has the chance to either dominate the downtown dining scene or it won’t make enough $$ to keep the 3 story giant open! We hope they stay open for a very long time!
If it has been a few months since you have dined downtown you may want to go check it out, odds are there will be new places open you didn’t even know about. Trust us, that’s a good thing.
Emporio: A Meatball Joint
(1st floor of Sienna Mercato)
also on Facebook
942 Penn Avenue
Pgh, PA 15222
Valet available after 6pm