Last night I had the opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh Restaurant Week Launch Event which was held at Pino’s, a small and charming family owned Italian restaurant that’s located in Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhood of Point Breeze.
It was the second blogger event that I have attended now and was definitely different from my first one (the blogger brunch that was held this past January during the Winter Restaurant Week). The purpose of it was to basically give bloggers a sneak preview of Pittsburgh’s Summer Restaurant Week before it’s formal announcement of dates and themes which was today. Unfortunately, none of the bloggers that I had met and conversed with at the blogger brunch were at last night’s event. Most of the people there seemed to know each other which is hard when you’re a newbie like myself and also not a major social butterfly (even when there are spirits involved). I did meet Nicole whose blog “Mediterranean Baby” has a slew of drool worthy food photos and some great sounding recipes to go with it.
The launch event consisted of a happy hour that Restaurant Week sponsored and then there was dinner although that was separate. By rsvping to the event each person received a drink ticket which was good for either a certain price glass of wine or a “rum punch” which definitely had a kick to it but was still very good. Some of its unique ingredients (besides rum of course) included cardamon and rooibos tea. We learned from one of the owners of Pino’s that the bartender who was working has been “instrumental” in bringing the craft cocktail “revolution” to their place.
I don’t want to say too much about Pino’s because due to my never having dined there before, I definitely want to return for an actual meal and properly blog about it. But some of the hor d’oeuvres they had for the bloggers included a white sauce pizza, veal and ricotta meatballs, roasted vegetables (these were particularly delicious), roasted mushrooms and mussels. I tried everything except the mussels…just can’t do it. As we were semi-starving when we arrived, we ended up ordering a bowl of the Italian fries not knowing that later on they would be having sides of the same fries placed on the bar for bloggers to eat. So unfortunately our fries overload contributed to not staying for dinner since between the hor d’oeuvres and then the monstrous fries portion, we were both stuffed. We did end up getting a plate of the rigatoni with lamb Bolognese and the salumi board to go since we still wanted to try some of the restaurant’s other dishes.
So…what will take place at this year’s Summer Restaurant Week which will happen August 11-17.
The theme of this year’s Summer Restaurant Week will be “world class meals at a Pittsburgh price.” I have my gripes with the city but I will say that from a cost standpoint, it’s cheap compared to other metropolitan areas in the country. And the whole “world class meals” statement has to do with the fact that in the last year, Pittsburgh has generated A TON of positive press about its food scene in major publications like Bon Appetit and Food and Wine magazines. (In its December 2013 issue, Bon Appetit named Pittsburgh the “next big food town” for 2014.)
For the first time since it began, participating restaurants in Restaurant Week will be grouped by cuisine. As someone who loves delving into the culinary word of other countries through trying new foods, I was really happy to hear this. While Pittsburgh has no shortage of upscale restaurants, I do wish some upscale non-continental/American restaurants would open too. With the exception of a few establishments, if you want ethnic in Pittsburgh, you go to a cheap, casual spot. Hopefully as Pittsburgh’s food scene continues to grow, so will its options for certain cuisines and dining styles.
Since today is only the first day of spring, I do not whatsoever want to think of the middle of August since that means that all the awesomeness of summer is more than half over. But, last night was fun all the same to get “into the mood” where the upcoming restaurant week is concerned!