The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Mezzo & Il Tetto.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Mezzo & Il Tetto.

Last night was one of those nights. You know the type: the kind of night when everything makes you smile from ear to ear. Pittsburgh was lookin’ mighty fine — the air was cool and crisp, there was a palpable energy pulsing through the city (the kind of energy you can only feel in a sports city with two teams playing at the same time), and Batman’s presence was projected across the sky, loud and clear. I woke up this morning and my stomach hurt. Not from what I ate or what I drank, but because I laughed for hours and hours on end. It was just one of those nights.

IMG_5288

So, thanks to technology and small towns, I ended up at Sienna Mercado with Rob (sans purple sweatshirt), someone I knew from my long-gone days of high school. Sienna Mercado is a three-story eatery with a unique dining option on each floor. The first floor, Emporio, is a meatball joint; the second floor, Mezzo, offers Italian cuisine; and the third floor, Il Tetto, is an open-air (in the summer) rooftop bar.

We arrived an hour before our reservation and took the elevator up to Il Tetto for a drink. We talked and talked and talked until we walked to the second floor restaurant, Mezzo, where we talked and talked some more. And then our food came, and we were completely silent. My pork risotto (braised pork, peas, onion, pancetta, parmesan) was salty and cheesy and creamy and mind-numbingly delicious. Rob’s steak (done rare — the only way to eat a steak) came doused in an oniony, garlicky, to-die-for demi-glace with caramelized onion, charred radicchio and arugula. He compiled the perfect little bite, with just a bit of everything, and watched my eyes widen as the flavors danced across my tongue. I’ve eaten a lot of Italian food, but never anything like this.

PicMonkey Collage

Until next time, Mezzo. Until next time.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Piccolo Forno.

The Pittsburgh Food Diaries: Piccolo Forno.

So far, 2015 has been exhausting. I’m just two weeks in to the new year and the inspirational this is my year feeling hasn’t kicked in. In fact, it’s been more like a you’ve got to be kidding me kind of feeling.

PicMonkey Collage

(Reader’s Digest version: work has been a little frustrating, my car was completely totaled three weeks after it was paid off, and Buxton — God bless her sweet, feline soul — will absolutely not let me sleep through the night. Not to mention, it’s winter, which means it’s cold and icy and I rarely see the light of day.)

best_best_byob_piccoloforno_bk

So, when last Wednesday rolled around, I was desperate for a night out. My brain genuinely needed a break from thinking about work and life, so I decided on an evening at Piccolo Forno, one of my favorite Italian restaurants in the city. (Bonus points for being in Lawrenceville, too.) The Big Man Upstairs must have known how much I needed something to go right, and we were seated right away in this small, quaint, usually-a-two-hour-wait restaurant. Thanks, dude.

image

We ordered the bruschette to whet our appetites, and were served two pieces of wonderfully toasted bread topped with creamy goat cheese and sweet roasted tomato compote, two covered in an earthy cannelini bean spread, drizzled with arugula pesto, and one adorned with a mouth-achingly salty olive tapenade.

image

For dinner, we ordered the Tortelloni di Zucca, a mouth-watering dish of creamy butternut squash filled tortelloni with toasted almond brown butter and amaretti and topped with parmesan cheese. I’ll admit it. Usually, I’m confident that I’ve ordered the best dish of the two of us, but this time, the tortelloni won. Hands down. I kept sliding my fork over to steal little nibbles.

image

That’s not to say that my dinner wasn’t good, too — it was! Great, even. Braised rabbit and roasted vegetables sat atop a bed of pappardelle pasta, topped generously with parmesan cheese. (What can I say, I love cheese. The more, the better.) My first bite into my dinner was a bone, which gave me the heebie-jeebies and put a slight damper on the whole thing. But, bone aside, the rabbit was tender and gamey and the pasta was cooked to absolute perfection.

The wine, the food, and the company was exactly what I needed to calm my soul in the midst of a maddening week. A few days later, I bought a new car (and named her Jane), and things at work have started slowing down… slightly.

10930127_10203305890515566_7491715131615050968_n

We built the rest of the shelves in our living room, so we’re no longer living in a small construction zone, and the fun of redecorating a new space is invigorating. And — drum roll, please — we got a KitchenAid mixer! Bring on the baked goods!

IMG_0697

A Savory Love Affair.

A Savory Love Affair.At  the beginning of this month, I decided that I would only eat carbs on Sundays. (Disclaimer: By “carbs,” I mean bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. You know, the obvious ones. I’m not that crazy.) That being said, when Sunday rolls around, I want something carb-loaded and delicious.

I scoured the internet for an Italian recipe because, well, why not? Thanks to Martha Stewart and Trader Joe’s, I ate this to-die-for meal last weekend.

Ingredients: Parmesan Gnocchi / Olive Oil / Yellow Onion / Italian Sausage / Garlic / Spinach / Salt & Pepper.

Directions: Cook gnocchi according to package directions. / Heat oil and cook onion in separate skillet. / Add crumbled sausage, and cook until brown. / Add garlic, spinach, salt & pepper. / Cook and stir until spinach wilts. / Add gnocchi. / Plate and enjoy!