Marisqueria is owned by Claudio Pereira and his partner Francisco Buxareo. (Pereira's father owns Mallorca, an iconic Spanish restaurant on the city's South Side.) Not until the restaurant was featured as one of Pittsburgh's daily groupon deals did I become acquainted with it. It's located in Aspinwall, a borough on the Allegheny River. While it's only about a 20 minute drive from downtown, it's not an area we frequent which is why the restaurant went unnoticed on my radar for about six months.
The restaurant, while not overly large, was ample spaced. The walls were painted paprika and gold and bathed in a subdued light, a welcome respite from the overly hot temperatures outside. I had called to make a reservation the day before and upon stepping inside and giving my name, we were immediately led to our table by Francisco himself. My only critique of the restaurant was that our table had no lighting save for a very dim candle; it made reading the menu almost impossible without squinting and me being unable to distinguish between the pineapple and cheese on my cheese plate. While I do fine in more dimly lit restaurants, this was too dim for even my tastes. It was most unfortunate since our table seemed to be the only one in the dark.
Immediately upon being seated our water glasses were filled and rolls and butter placed on the table. Francisco himself then rattled off the day's specials, entirely too many to remember save for a few, unique sounding standouts. The menu is in Portuguese and English and is quite extensive. There are twelve appetizers (fresh Iberian octopus broiled with Portuguese blue cheese, Portuguese cod fish cakes) in addition to two soups and four salad selections (I missed out on the salada de palmitos, hearts of palm salad) which I was most disappointed about.
We each ordered a glass of their red wine sangria which was terrific. Although as the ice melted it definitely diminished the strongness of the drink, it was still a great selection for a hot summer night.
To start I went with the prato de queijos com fruta (Portuguese and Spanish cheese with fresh fruit) for $14.95. This was more than enough for two people to share but as D had his heart set on the gazpacho, I didn't want to insist he share mine. I didn't ask what types of cheeses they were, preferring to simply taste and try them all. There was one that was so gooey it required a utensil; this was not a favorite. The cheese board came with grapes and pineapple chunks.
Entree include an extensive selection of meats, poultry, and fish dishes. I opted for the frango a piri piri which is chicken in a piri-piri sauce for $15.95. Piri-piri is a hot and fragrant sauce found in both Portuguese and African cooking (in Portugal's former colonies such as Angola and Mozambique). The sauce was hot but not too much so that my weak stomach couldn't handle it. It came with rice and sauteed vegetables.
D went with the bife a portuguesa, pan-seared New York strip steak served with ham, a fried egg, and fresh-cut round fried potatoes for $22.95. I didn't sample any of his but he cleaned his plate and seemed to like everything including the fried egg which he was the least bit apprehensive about.
Marisqueria Meditarranean Bistro
225 Commercial Avenue