Hi, everybody! (Hi, Dr. Nick!)
As Dana already covered, we pretty much abandoned the blog this summer in the interest of spending as much time as possible outside. No regrets there. However, we have been to a bunch of restaurants in the last couple of months that I’ve meant to post reviews for, since we decided a while back to make Friday our “dinner date” night. I figured it would be easiest to do a capsule on all of them in one post. Then I decided to
milk it for all it was worth split it into two posts, because it was getting long. I expect to return to the usual format going forward (beginning with tonight’s visit to Cornerstone), but here are short and sweet critiques of five different restaurants in the Burgh, with five more coming in my next post.
In order to reach the $30 minimum to use our discount from City Dining Cards, Dana and I got separate appetizers – though, as usual, I helped her finish hers off. After all, can’t review what I haven’t tried, right? (Really I’m just a glutton). The red bean dip had a nice flavor (I detected a good amount of curry, among other spices), but the texture was a little too mushy for me. I mean, it’s bean dip, but still. My smoked drumsticks could have used some sauce – they weren’t bad by any means, just a bit bland. For entrees, Dana went with the caramelized walnut salad (goat cheese, red onion, arugula, balsamic vinaigrette), while I opted for the Hot Italian sandwich. Dana loved her salad. My sandwich was decent, but I regretted not going with the brisket instead, and I found the salsa that came with the side of chips to be massively disappointing. Service was good, and when it turned out that Dana’s app was half off during happy hour and brought us below the $30 threshold, they took the discount card anyway. Rating: 6.5/10
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: To hit the $30 minimum, Dana and I got separate apps – bean dip for her and wings for me. This time it was a white bean dip, which Dana liked but I found kind of gross. My honey sriracha wings were tasty, though. They were a bit small, but there were eight instead of the half-dozen specified in the menu, so it probably came out in the wash. Because we are clearly old people (cf. opening sentence of this capsule), Dana and I ordered the same thing for dinner…well, sort of. She got the vegetarian version of the banh mi sandwich, while I got the pulled pork, because this is America. I forgot to ask for mine without aioli (aioli is something that I always find more appealing in theory than practice), but I liked the sandwich a lot anyway. Except for the part where I managed to get three jalapeños – a strange addition to a banh mi, frankly – in a single bite and nearly died. That sucked more than the bean dip. But everything else was good. Rating: 8/10
Double Wide Grill
Dana and I had been here several times already, but with my brother bringing his family out for a weekend in Pittsburgh (a visit long-awaited and eagerly anticipated by yours truly), I realized that there is a startling lack of non-chain restaurants with kids’ menu in our area. Double Wide was one of the few places I could think of that could accommodate Chris’s carnivore diet, Dana’s vegetarianism, and my nieces’ innate, insatiable lust for chicken fingers and macaroni n’ cheese. Perhaps recalling my earlier error at Blue Dust, I went with the brisket sandwich with sweet potato fries, while Dana enjoyed her usual vegan pulled pork. I’m not as big of a fan of the Memphis sauce (used for beef and chicken) as the Carolina (pork), but that didn’t keep me from inhaling my sandwich – the level of hunger that can be achieved when you spend the day trying to keep up with little girls is astounding. The fam all seemed to enjoy their food as well. We finished the meal by sharing a slice of chocolate peanut butter pie. Rating: 8/10
As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a high standard when it comes to pizza that most joints in this city don’t come anywhere close to satisfying, but this place is always mentioned in discussions of the best pizza in the city, and was vouched for by a native New Yorker. As was the case with Slice on Broadway back in May, I went with my buddy Ryan, after we attended an awesome cooking class (a birthday present to me from Dana, and one which I will further discuss in a future post). Noticing that roasted red peppers were a normal topping, rather than a double-priced deluxe like at most other pizza shops, we decided to get a pie with those and capicola. Our girlfriends, who were spending the day hooping, asked us to bring them one with onions (like Dana, Eva doesn’t eat meat). I’m pleased to report that Fiori’s lived up to the hype. Rating: 9/10
Gaucho Parilla Argentina
I’ve been here four times since Ryan introduced me to it in the spring, and that is not enough, because this is bar none my favorite restaurant in the city. I quit the job I had in the Strip District before they opened last winter, which is probably a good thing on the whole, because I would have been broke and morbidly obese from eating lunch there every motherfucking day. A filet mignon sandwich? On really good bread (a rarity in Pittsburgh)? With roasted red peppers and sauteed onions? And chimichurri? With three other bomb-ass sauces (ajo, cebolla, and pimentón) freely available on the counter? For 12 bucks? Fuck and yes to all of that. As a bonus, unlike a lot of restaurants, there is a palpable sense that the employees enjoy their work and are having fun. How many other places have you seen with a cumulative five-star Yelp rating after 200+ reviews? I haven’t even tried any of their other stuff, apart from the roasted potatoes (which are excellent, but the sandwich is so filling that you don’t need to order anything else). It’s not because I don’t want to; it all sounds amazing. I just can’t pass up the filet. On my next visit, I should probably get something else to go. I should probably get everything else to go. This place fucking rules. Rating: ∞/10
Enjoy the weekend! Ours is looking pretty busy, so the second part of this post probably won’t be up until Monday at the earliest. But hey, at least we’re posting again.