The problem with keeping a blog, one where you post as frequently as I do, is that you sometimes get burned out with writing new posts, especially when you already have a full-time job. I love trying new restaurants in Pittsburgh and for the majority of them, I want to write reviews of my experiences dining there. Unlike some blogs I’ve seen, my posts are often a lot longer than theirs, especially in regards to food/restaurant write ups. Brevity is not at all a bad thing, but personally, well I like going into a lot of detail. But all this detail equates to me needing a break sometimes.
I had planned on having this post go live way back in January but yeah, that so did not happen. Cioppino was one of the two restaurants I dined at during Pittsburgh’s 2014 Winter Restaurant Week. It’s located in the city’s Strip District and is actually in the same building that houses a parking garage that we frequently use. So it was one of those restaurants that we passed by numerous times, always exclaiming that “we should go there sometime” yet never did (this went on for years). When I saw they were participating in Restaurant Week, the decision was easily made.
We had pretty early reservations (around 5 PM) but since I finish work at 4 PM and D works in the Strip as well, it makes more sense just to go right onto dinner instead of coming home or spending way too much time at some bar for happy hour. While we were the only people in the dining room for the first 30 minutes (the bar area was pretty happening), service was exceptionally attentive (which you wouldn’t expect any less of in a situation like that).
The decor and ambiance of Cioppino is very much “gentleman’s club” and no, I’m not referring to the name given to strip clubs, I’m talking about the world where the Rockefellers and Carnegies would have once smoked cigars and sipped their brandy. It is, after all, famous for its seafood, steaks, and cigar bar.
I opted to go with the Restaurant Week menu which for $35.14 included three courses-a starter, entree, and dessert.
The starter was Clam Chowder which was topped with smoked bacon, croutons, and chives. I do love me some of this delectable soup.
The entree course was Medallions of Beef that were cooked in a mushroom red wine essence and paired with a potato-turnip puree as a side. I don’t usually order red meat when dining out but did enjoy the taste of the medallions.
My dessert was a Praline Mousse that featured a hazelnut shortbread crust, creme fraiche mousse, macerated blackberries and topped with a honey drizzle. I love chocolate desserts just as much as the next person but am definitely learning to appreciate more the non-chocolate desserts that allow you to end your meal on a positive note and not one where you feel sick.
D ordered a la carte and started with the Caesar Salad ($6) featuring romaine hearts and bruschetta crostini, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. He asked if it came topped with a sardine, to which the waitress replied no unless he really wanted one. (It’s a joke between us because the time we dined at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse he ordered a Caesar Salad and it came topped with a sardine. He was thoroughly grossed out by this. At a table next to us, a teenage girl ordered one as well and the waiter asked her if she wanted a sardine. D was miffed the same had not been asked of him!)
Encouraging him to order something other than the red meat variety, he selected the Scallops ($29) for his entree. They were deliciously big sea scallops and were topped with a rich looking lobster cream and accompanied by risotto.
For his dessert he ordered a slice of the Guinness Chocolate Cake. He had selected it since the price was lower than some of the other desserts on the menu and we both figured that the portion size had to be less. It wasn’t.
And for anyone who’s wondering, Cioppino is of course on the menu as an entree and is available to order for $29.
Cioppino is definitely not the place to go to for a cheap time dining out, but for an upscale meal, I would say it is worth it.