Edited by Nicole Barley | Photographs by Cayla Zahoran | Food styling by Allie Wist
——— Call us cliché, but we are hopeless romantics! In order to satisfy our craving for all things cute, we went in search of Valentine’s Day specials. Whether it’s a dinner for two at home or out on the town, a sweet dessert treat, or an evening celebrating with friends, it’s all here for the sharing. We also love the fact that local restaurants continue to earn accolades for their ambitious offerings — read on to find out which ones. Muah!
————————— WOW FACTOR —————————
Still making plans for Valentine’s Day? Consider these options! On February 14, the staff at Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar will be greeting couples with complimentary glasses of Prosecco and a rose for the glamorous gal. Their certified sommelier Christian Tripodi will be on-site all evening to recommend the perfect wines to pair with Chef di Cucina Joe Belardi’s featured dishes, being offered Thursday through Saturday.
And check out sister location Osteria 100 those same days for the 4 courses for $40 special! We suggest ordering the Duck Confit Cavatelli with roasted carrots, arugula pesto, a prosciutto crisp, and Pecorino Romano (top of page). Or, if you’re looking for an intimate evening at home, try cooking up a stimulating spread. Their Strip District location, Osteria 2350, is hosting a pre-Valentine’s Day Aphrodisiac Wine and Cooking Class on February 6. Believe us, you can’t miss with the recipe for butternut squash-filled chocolate ravioli served with basil cream and maple ricotta (above). As a yummy finish, Pastry Chef Meghann Walsh has dreamed up the decadent Candy Sampler, featuring dark chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered strawberries, caramel hearts, and raspberry champagne cheesecake pops. The sweetest part? It’s available at all three locations. —Rachel Jones
Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar and Osteria 2350, 2350 Railroad St., Strip District. 412.281.6593. Osteria 100, 100 Wood St., Downtown. 412.586.7743. cioppinogroup.com.
————————— FIXE UP —————————
Looking for a delicious dinner fix? LeMont’s Winter Prix Fixe Menu is our go-to for an elegant (and price is right) night out. The $29.95 deal features the soup of the day, salad, entree (six options, including Trout Almondine and Tips of Filet Bourguignon), the dessert of your choice — either crème brulee or a pecan ball — all paired with that perfect Pittsburgh view.
LeMont, 1114 Grandview Ave., Mt. Washington. 412.431.3100. lemontpittsburgh.com.
————————— LOCAL LOVE —————————
Bacon isn’t just for breakfast anymore — lately it’s been popping up in our milkshakes, flavoring our greens, and even taking a dip in our cocktails. Next, it’ll be on the small screen as the Destination America network premiers its upcoming series, United States of Bacon. The show will document bacon recipes across America — including a stop at Industry Public House for its wild boar bacon! Industry opened last year in Lawrenceville, and some of Chef Lia Davidson-Welling’s most popular dishes feature the exotic bacon. Chef will be showing off bacon-laden recipes, from the Alaskan salmon with sautéed Brussels sprouts and bacon, to the “Farmed Out Burgher” topped with wild boar bacon, a fried egg, and barbecue sauce. Wash it all down with a bacon-inspired cocktail for the complete bacon-gone-wild experience. —Lauren Schmeer
Industry Public House, 4305 Butler Street, Lawrenceville, 412.683.1100. industrypgh.com.
————————— CRUSH ON YOU —————————
We have grape, er, great expectations for The Crush House, a new “café by day, lounge by night” winery at Gervasi Vineyard, set to open summer 2013. The Crush House will feature an eatery serving up casual fare — complete with wine pairings, of course! — and a wine bar designed to impart a Napa Valley-style tasting room experience. Guests will be able to view the new barrel room and winery from “peek-a-boo” views, and tours will be offered to educate visitors about all what goes into the fermentation of 30,000 gallons of wine. The new winery is set to overlook the gorgeous spread of the south vineyard and creek bed below — a.k.a the ideal place to sip an expertly crafted glass of vino. We’re crushing hard already! — R.J.
Gervasi Vineyard, 1700 55th St. NE, Canton, Ohio. 330.497.1000. gervasivineyard.com.
————————— COLD HEART —————————
This cute cake will melt any heart. Filled with layers of creamy gelato, homemade by the chefs at Angelo’s Restaurant, the dessert will satisfy your sweetheart’s sweet tooth. We love the restaurant’s delicious varieties of the Italian treat, including Almond Joy, Peanut Butter, and Tiramisu. In other words, prepare to astound your darling dining partner.
Angelo’s Restaurant, 2109 N. Franklin Drive, Washington. 724.222.7120. angelosrestaurant.com.
————————— PIZZA NAPOLETANA —————————
Prepare to feast your eyes on something hot and aesthetically cobalt blue-tiful in Market Square. An aromatic, savory treasure in Mt. Lebanon, Il Pizzaiolo, is gratifying Downtown diners with its second location — housing one of the world’s best pizza ovens. Owner Ron Molinaro and investor Paul Steigerwald hired Mastro Francesco and Paolo Parente of Forno Napoletano in Naples, Italy, to work 120 hours constructing the wood-fired oven from the ground up. “It’s like a race car — una macchina da corsa,” says Parente. “You must know how to handle it.” Francesco says pizza makers are innovators still respecting tradition. And, since 2007, when the South Hills restaurant’s current oven was built, engineers have improved the cooking chamber and its materials. The men use Biscotto di Sorrento, a type of delicate clay serving as the oven floor — it absorbs heat, but slower than traditionally, and is six times more expensive than what’s typically used. Molinaro’s pizzas cook in 60 seconds, but he waits 90 to appease American taste. “The pizza at Il Pizzaiolo is much better than some of the pizzerias in Naples itself,” says Parente, who’s provided ovens for Ciro Salvo, the best pizza maker in southern Italy. “It goes beyond a business; it’s a passion,” he says. Molinaro adds, “It takes a lifetime. It’s all about fine-tuning the details.” What’s next for the proprietor? “Plans for an additional oven in 18 months and dinner at Francesco’s in Naples,” he says. Me? I’ll see you at 8 Market Square. —Andrea Bosco
Il Pizzaiolo, 703 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. 412.344.4123. 8 Market Square, Downtown. 412.575.5858. ilpizzaiolo.com.
————————— MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER —————————
Mark your calendar for February 12, when WHIRL Magazine and The Modern Matchmaker pair up to host a Perfect Match Party at Savoy Restaurant. Mix and mingle with eligible singles during the Cupid Uncorked: Singles Mixer and Wine Tasting, and chat with Susan Dunhoff, owner of The Modern Matchmaker, all about what it takes to meet Mr. or Ms. Right! RSVP by February 5.
————————— VALENTINE’S DAY(S) —————————
There are plenty of opportunities to share a meal with your sweetie! The offerings around the city go beyond February 14.
HABITAT AT FAIRMONT PITTSBURGH HOTEL will host a Romantic Dinner for Two cooking class, featuring a study of aphrodisiacs and effective preparation of dinner for two on February 2. RSVP ASAP, as space is limited for the interactive workshop. $65 per person. Habitat Restaurant, 510 Market St., Downtown. 412.773.8848. habitatrestaurant.com.
PARIS 66 will host a Valentine’s Brunch, February 17, a Valentine’s Day Four Course Tasting Dinner Menu, February 14, and a Sweethearts Tasting Menu, available February 15-16. The restaurant’s exquisite and authentic French macarons are also an ideal way to say, “I love you!” Paris 66, 6018 Penn Circle South, East Liberty. 412.404.8166. paris66bistro.com.
WALNUT GRILL is offering its Valentine’s Day menu for a full week, February 13-17. Walnut Grill, 12599 Perry Hwy, Wexford. 724.933.8410. 911 Freeport Road, Fox Chapel. 412.782.4768. 660 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. 412.668.0951. walnutgroverestaurant.com.
GIRASOLE has whipped up “Una Cena Romantica,” a romantic take-home Valentine’s Day meal for two. It will include an appetizer, entrees, soup or salad, desserts, chocolates, and a rose. Pick it up any time on February 14. Girasole, 733 Copeland St., Shadyside. 412.682.2130. girasolepgh.com.
THE OMNI WILLIAM PENN HOTEL is offering a pre-fixe menu in the Terrace Room, February 14-16, set to the sounds of live jazz legends Frank Cunimondo & Patrick Crossley (February 15) and Etta Cox Trio (February 16). (We are so ordering dessert, a trio of Limoncello Panna Cotta, Dark Chocolate Truffle, and Mini Marzipan Cake.) After dinner, head upstairs for a stay in one of the hotel’s beautifully appointed rooms — complete with a bottle of Champagne at turndown service. Top it all off with a romantic breakfast buffet for two in the morning. Dreamy! Omni William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place, Downtown. 412.281.7100. omnihotels.com/pittsburgh.
SONOMA GRILLE will be serving a variety of Valentine’s Day dishes, including one with Filet Mignon, short rib risotto, edamame, butter poached lobster, and demi glace. Yum! Sonoma Grille, 947 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412.697.1336. thesonomagrille.com.
————————— SIMPLY THE BEST —————————
Congratulations, Joseph Tambellini! The family-run, Italian restaurant has been awarded one of OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in the United States. “It isn’t easy to provide flawless meals and exquisite service every day, but these winning restaurants make it look as though it is,” says Caroline Potter, OpenTable chief dining officer. More than five million reviews on more than 15,000 restaurants in the U.S. are taken into consideration for the selection process. It’s a coveted honor that every restaurant aims to achieve, and Joseph Tambellini is thrilled to do so after only five years of business. “We are very excited by this acknowledgement from OpenTable diners,” Tambellini says. “We are honored to know that these diners thoroughly enjoyed their overall experience at our restaurant and gave us such high remarks.” —R.J.
Joseph Tambellini, 5701 Bryant St., Highland Park. 412.665.9000. josephtambellini.com.
This Food Tour is featured in the February 2013 issue of WHIRL Magazine.
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