By Andrea Bosco Stehle
Because you can’t spell “heart” without “eat”
Dough For It
Have a relaxing Valentine’s Day at Shady Grove with your better half and a whole gourmet pizza. Made with the restaurant’s signature hand-tossed sweet dough, the pizza varieties are vast with options like Salsiccia with roasted garlic oil, sausage, roasted Roma tomatoes, Asiago, mozzarella, and provolone; and Grilled Veggie, comprised of grilled peppers, eggplant, zucchini, roasted tomato, fresh mozzarella, feta, and pesto. If you’re looking to spice things up, order the Shrimp Fra Diavolo (our go-to!), which features roasted garlic oil, roasted tomato, red onion, mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan, basil, and all the crushed red pepper your heart desires. After dinner, head upstairs to dance the night away — no reservations needed. Shady Grove, 5500 Walnut St., Shadyside. 412.697.0909, eatshady.com.
What’s more romantic than the foyer of the Omni William Penn Hotel? A decadent dinner with your love tucked away in The Terrace Room, of course! Chef Michael Zawojski has whipped up an incredible Valentine’s Day spread for you and yours. Some of his opulent offerings include an exquisite chèvre salad with toasted goat cheese, candied pecans, macerated berries, and lavender vinaigrette; filo-wrapped shrimp with mimosa crème and lavender honey; and Chateaubriand for two, served with Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, asparagus, and pan jus. We had the privilege of sampling the butter-poached lobster tail, an entree in the stellar lineup. It is accompanied by a zingy citrus risotto, roasted beet hearts, pistachios (which give this dish a nice crunch!), and asparagus. End your divine dinner with a trio of rose macarons, chocolate lava cake, and chocolate-covered strawberries, then unwind and stay the night! Says Zawojski, “Cook with your heart. Without love, there would be no food.” Omni William Penn Hotel, 530 William Penn Place, Downtown. 412.281.7100. omnihotels.com/pittsburgh.
A Match Made in Heaven
Romance — and the divine aroma of culinary exploits — is in the air at Andrew’s Steak & Seafood this Valentine’s Day. “When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of a lot of flowers, so we tried to do something a little floral,” explains Specialty Room Chef Phillip Pierson about his first course: oysters on the half shell with lavender caviar and horseradish espuma. This “caviar” started as lavender tea, then, through spherification, took on the shape and consistency of caviar so that it bursts in your mouth. “The lavender pairs really nicely with the horseradish, better than you would think,” Pierson says of the first of four dishes on his prix fixe menu. The entree — a seared and basted 21-day dry-aged New York strip streak, served with shrimp- and tarragon-stuffed lobster, a mushroom ragù vol au vent, parsnip and truffle puree with roasted parsnips, and Perigourdine sauce — is a modern take on the classic surf and turf. Enjoy both dishes, along with a salad course and a dessert assortment of “Lovers’ Petite Bites,” for $125 for two. Andrew’s Steak & Seafood, 777 Casino Drive, North Shore. 412.231.7777. riverscasino.com. — Abby Dudley
Sandwiches… that is. We have Kaya Executive Chef Ben Sloan and big Burrito Corporate Chef Bill Fuller to thank for the menu’s heavenly Fried Chicken Sandwich, which features pickles (because what would a chicken sandwich be without pickles?), cabbage, and Sloan’s housemade habanero-honey mustard sauce for a “tropical” finishing touch. “Sandwiches are all the crazy rage right now in New York City,” says Sloan. “We made four different sandwiches, picked our favorites, and landed with this. The buttermilk marinade helps keep the chicken breast moist. It’s fried at just the right temperature, so it’s juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside. The raw cabbage adds that crunch and stands up to the heat of the sandwich.” But, before you dive in, start with Sloan’s Chorizo Queso Fundido. New to the menu, the dip features Chihuahua cheese, flour tortillas, tortilla chips, scallions, and poblano. For Valentine’s Day, Sloan is introducing a four-course prix fixe menu (with equal vegetarian options) that begins with a raw tasting of Fisher’s Island oysters, tuna tartare, and scallop crudo, or roasted baby root vegetables. He is particularly excited about serving the third-course New York Strip Steak, served with avocado, sweet potato, green chorizo, Salsa Macha, and scallions. And we are particularly excited about eating it! Each course is accompanied by a wine pairing, including a Fonseca Bin 27 Vintage Porto with a dessert of chocolate-covered strawberries. For reservations, call 412.261.6565. Kaya, 2000 Smallman St., Strip District. bigburrito.com/kaya.
The Heat is On
Pump up the spice factor with Alihan’s savory Lamb Sauté, “a dish full of flavors that come from mingling cubes of tender lamb meat with peppers, garlic, onion, mushrooms, and our homemade tomato sauce,” explains Martina Borovcová. And what brings that hurts-so-good heat? Hot red pepper flakes, specially imported from Turkey, “that will keep you hot in this freezing weather.” A rainbow of color, flavor, and texture, this entree combines ingredients to zap some life into your palate and authentically experience the zesty cuisine of the warm, sunny Mediterranean. Alihan’s Mediterranean Cuisine, 124 6th St., Downtown. 412.888.0630. alihanscuisine.com. — Abby Dudley
Dinner for Two
Nestled on a bed of fluffy Spanish rice, twin four-ounce filets make quite the pair. Further adorned with wood-grilled shrimp and asparagus, then drizzled with a rich, creamy Chipotle Béarnaise, this hearty entree, a Valentine’s Day special at Juniper Grill, evokes the complex flavors of the Southwest. “The smoke of the chipotle in the Béarnaise sauce works well with the wood grill flavor we impose on the asparagus, shrimp, and filets,” explains Executive Chef Nicholas Bell. He’s devised additional romantic exclusives for the day, including a decadent surf and turf, a rack of lamb, raspberry white chocolate cheesecake, “and chocolate-covered strawberries, of course.” For a seat at one of Juniper Grill’s tables on the holiday, suggests Bell, “Definitely make a reservation!” Juniper Grill, 2030 MacKenzie Way, Suite 800, Cranberry. 724.591.8850. 4000 Washington Road, Peters Township. 724.260.7999. 4917 William Penn Hwy., Murrysville. 724.519.7746. junipergrill.com. — Abby Dudley
The Sound of Music
Common Plea Catering is making the idea of “dinner and a show” super convenient. Avoid venturing out in the inclement weather post-dinner and dine inside The Mozart Room at Heinz Hall. Common Plea Catering Executive Chef Adam Gooch has introduced a new, full-course menu featuring fine dining options during all shows at the regal space. Using hearty, winter flavors, Gooch creates dishes like roasted heirloom carrots, served with spiced ricotta and an arugula pesto. His seared scallop entree features a decadent truffled potato plank reminiscent of a dauphinois and is made with truffle oil and thick béchamel, and paired with matchstick carrots and lemon beurre blanc. Other noteworthy starters include the lobster cappuccino. “It’s a first-course soup served with an edible spoon and frothed Old Bay whipped cream on top, so it has that cappuccino feel,” Gooch says. He suggests making a reservation for 5 or 6 p.m. for a 7 or 8 p.m. show. On February 13, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will pay homage to Marvin Hamlisch with an array of his love songs in A Musical Valentine. Sounds like the perfect pairing to us! For reservations, call 412.392.4882. Common Plea Catering, 2945 Smallman St., Strip District. 412.281.5140. commonplea-catering.com.
Atria’s Valentine’s Day menu follows the arc of a timeless love story. The meal starts tentatively with the Sweetie Salad, a light dish to enjoy without any need for commitment. The entree raises the stakes, exquisitely and expertly pairing a petite Angus filet with a South African lobster tail — opposites, but oh so attractive. The two are accompanied by a generous supporting cast of creamy mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus, all mingling to create the perfect blend of flavors. Just when you think the meal has hit its peak, the chocolate lava cake is served, equally rich yet impeccably sweet — the end of dinner but the beginning of something else. Be romanced by this whirlwind of an evening with two accompanying glasses of berries and bubbles at $99 per couple from February 12-14. Atria’s, atrias.com. — Abby Dudley
J’Adore Le Dîner
Paris is called the “City of Love” for a number of reasons — the sights, the culture, the language, and of course, the food. Paris 66 Chef de Cuisine Larry Laffont forges traditional French dishes daily and Valentine’s Day is no different. “In France, every day is Valentine’s Day,” he laughs. Start the celebration with your sweetie with the Noix de St. Jacques, a tantalizing appetizer of scallops and crab meat au gratin with béchamel sauce. For the main course, indulge in the chef’s incomparable filet mignon, served with Porcini sauce and paired with a 2010 Lalande-de-Pomerol. Choose a decadent dessert by up-and-coming Sous Chef Jason Witcher, and add a specialty cafe au lait to end the night on a sweet note. Bon appétit! For reservations, call 412.404.8166. Paris 66, 6018 Centre Ave., East Liberty. paris66bistro.com.
Lovers can join Chef Mya Zeronis of Lean Chef En Route this Valentine’s Day for a globally inspired dinner at the Pittsburgh Public Market! Indulge guilt-free in a wholesome vegan dinner that will stimulate the senses. Zeronis has whipped up a flavorful menu, created with aphrodisiacs and super foods like cacao, avocado, cherries, cinnamon, and more. The multi-course dinner will commence with a healthy twist on a Pittsburgh classic — pierogies. Made with gluten-free grain, they will be stuffed with sweet potatoes and kale, then paired with a specialty chai tea. Next, a roasted red bell pepper sherry bisque will be served, topped with a pair of nori hearts. The meal continues with an apple cider- and herb-marinated, thinly sliced beet carpaccio. Baby bella mushroom and artichoke ragout concludes the entrees, served over kale-and-sweet-potato-stuffed buckwheat pierogies. The dinner will wrap up with a decadent dessert — raw chocolate cashew cheesecake accompanied by raw Mexican hot chocolate! Reservations must be made online in advance. “Valentine’s Day is about love, and love should not be exclusive to humans,” says Zeronis. “Animals deserve it, too.” For tickets, visit veganvalentinesdinner.brownpapertickets.com. Pittsburgh Public Market, 2401 Penn Ave., Strip District. — Madison Krupp
Mix it up this Valentine’s Day by thinking outside the box — of chocolates, that is. Instead of that tired (albeit delicious) Valentine’s go-to, enjoy your holiday dose of cocoa in pasta form. Girasole’s Cocoa Fettuccine pairs the flavor with savory cauliflower, leeks, gorgonzola, and pistachios for a dish that’s truly one-of-a-kind — just like your sweetie. Not to be limiting, its seasonal winter menu is full of options for the perfect date night, from succulent Black Truffle Ravioli — Alfredo, prosciutto, tomato, and pine nuts — to its ever-reliable Pesce del Giorno (Fish of the Day). Make the world seem to shine by pairing the cuisine with the restaurant’s selections of exquisite Italian wine. The restaurant is taking reservations from 4-9 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Girasole, 733 Copeland St., Shadyside. 412.682.2130. girasolepgh.com. — Abby Dudley
Bigham Tavern’s exclusive new brunch menu is one to end all other brunch menus. Inventive combinations of sweet, savory, and everything in between make up the selection that could be the product of every brunch connoisseur’s wildest fantasy. “Think of a mix of everyone’s favorites from our regular menu (with wings, of course) added to the ingenious creations of our kitchen,” says Sarah Wilderman, director of marketing. “We are very proud of this!” Standout options to make you salivate on cue include the Honey Bourbon Waffle Sliders, made by loading honey bourbon pulled pork into waffles with a dash of orange zest and bacon in the batter; and the Veggie Skillet, layering shredded hash browns under tomato, roasted red pepper, goat cheese, spinach, guacamole, and two eggs over easy. If you’re worried about too much brunch in too little time, Bigham Tavern can accommodate you! They’ve extended brunch hours from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., every Saturday and Sunday, for an extra hour of indulging. Bigham Tavern, 321 Bigham St., Mt. Washington. 412.431.9313. bighamtavern.com. — Abby Dudley