Category: Around Pittsburgh

Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh Italian Wine Dinners!

Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh, an Italian favorite in the Burgh, brings a chic edge to traditional Italian. The cuisine and the ambiance reflect a twist on the classics, while permiating comfort and style.  I have visited the downtown Pittsburgh restaurant before with friends many times for drinks, a pizza or an antipasto platter with wine, but never had the full dining room experience.

This time, they had me at Sicilian Wine Dinner…

One week per month Vallozzi’s is taking guests on a regional wine tour. The concept is innovative.  The course dinner is offered with or without wine pairings all week, in addition to the regular menu.  This On Demand wine dinner is awesome.  Not everyone in your party has to order the same way.  How much?  The Prix Fixe is $55 + $30 for all of the wine pairings.

Who else was in the restaurant?  Young trendy foodies, dressed to kill.  It was a Friday night.  There were a few generational family tables, and couples of all ages out for date night.  Point being, this Italian restaurant is totally not moth balls and red sauce.  It’s fun and hip and Italian, a rare combo.

This coming week September 19-24th the menu is from the Tuscan region. Let me begin by saying I was here for the food and friends. I dined with The Food Tasters Pittsburgh, Breelicious Bites, and Pittsburgh documentarian Rick Sebak.  If you want to hear about the wine specifics, I’m not sure. The wines were delicious, smooth, and arrived at the table so fast -because we were talking and eating-that I barely got the story. There was so much food! I did get one photo of one bottle.

Those of you who aren’t in Pittsburgh and won’t be traveling to Pittaburgh anytime soon, that’s ok. Have your friends over, grab some wine, and we will cook together ; )

We started with and a glass of Prosecco and an antipasto platter that blew me away! The choices, the quality, the freshness, were unmatched. The mortadella was a favorite!



Primi, was the fried cuttlefish with pepperoncini, lemon, arugula, and a garlic aioli. Very similar to calamari it was something new for me!

This dish…this dish was my everything about the dinner. Before I showed up i had my eye it. Food and smells sometimes take me back to my childhood. I remember my grandparents pan frying zucchini blossoms. I was young, but I remember the delicacy with which they were handled, and the joy that they brought my family. Excellent job, Chef. These were phenomenal.

Eggplant Copanata with a twist!
The twist being a chickpea polenta.

Now for the main courses, yep I’m serious.
Fettuccini al Nero di Calamari
I am not a fan of squid ink pasta, but the flavors were delicious!

Farsumagru- Veal cutlet rolled with ham, sausage, cheese and pan braised with herbs, white wine sauce, eggplant coponata. This dish was ridiculously good! Ummm meat rolled with meat and cheese, yes!

Tonna alla Pelermitana-

Dentice all Forno con Cipolle e Brodo di Carne- Baked Sea Bream

Dolci! Desserts and Limoncello – Sfingi Sicilian Donuts & Cannoli – the gelato was gone so fast I didn’t get a photo!  Those of you who watch the cooking tvshow I co-host Between The Eats know my favorite dessert every is Sfingi. These were incredible!


Thank You, Vallozzi’s for a beautiful Sicilian wine dinner. See you in Tuscany!


Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh
220 5th Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA

Sweet Peaches Pittsburgh!

Sunday Brunch has become a popular competitive sport in Pittsburgh and it is fun for the spectators, or tasters in this case. Possibly going hand in hand with Pittsburgh’s rise to the top of the “foodie” chain, brunches have popped up in restaurants like Root 174, and most recently at Market Square’s Revel and Roost. Local food critics, magazines, and bloggers are putting out their lists for “brunch picks” because it is what people want to know! Robert Miles Downtown Concierge posts his brunch picks on Twitter and here is Good Food Pittsburgh’s brunch list!

A function of supply and demand, Pittsburghers are demanding unique menu items, Bloody Mary bars, and enough Brunch options to land a reservation. Never a breakfast eater, I am now
in love with brunch so thank you Pittsburgh for opening my eyes.

Bacon Bloody Mary @ Bakn!

I ended up at the sweetest spot in Allentown, Sweet Peaches, a few Sundays ago and it was so delish I had to share!


Known for spectacular catering, Bek Hlavach’s Sweet Peaches utilizes creative takes on seasonal local ingredients to wow the city’s event goers palates. Having driven by the charming reataurant in Pittsburgh’s Allentown neighborhood, I knew I had to visit!

I had trouble deciding…

I love a fruit plate! And the coffee though…

Of course I ordered the “Brandy Peach” French Toast! When in Rome…



Obviously I hated it 😉

Happy to have found the sweetest spot! Brunch with Sweet Peaches soon, Pittsburgh!

Sweet Peaches
639 E. Warrington Ave.
Allentown, PA

Blog Swap Breelicious Bites Gives Us Carmi Family Restaurant!

Today’s post comes from Briana White of Breelicious Bites, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Coffee And A Blonde, where I showcase a sweet and sassy asparagus recipe that’s on point with one of Spring’s hottest hues!

Trib pic
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Carmi Family Restaurant located at 917 Western Ave in the Northside opened in 2011. Owners Michael and Carleen King had a catering company, The Catering Kings, for three years before they dove into the restaurant business. I eat at Carmi often. When they first opened I was here almost every week! The food is so ridiculously good and reasonably’s perfect for a girl like me that doesn’t like to cook all the time. My two favorites here are the Chicken & Waffles and Shrimp & Grits. As their slogan says, “If you’re hungry for some real Southern Cuisine, give Carmi a try”.

chicken and waffles2
Chicken and Waffles Photo by: Breelicious Bites

Shrimp and Grits Photo by: Breelicious Bites

Carmi will be celebrating their 5th year in May, to celebrate they are giving a “Thank You Dinner” to the Garfield Gators football coaching staff. Carleen stated, “They are huge mentors to the team, they are the village. The coaches are from the neighborhood and treat the team like family.” The dinner will include speakers such as former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Logan, an investment banker, and one of the parent’s whose children play for the team.

Photo Credit: Breelicious Bites Carleen King, Briana White (right)

On my most recent visit I got a chance to chat with Carleen and ask her a few questions:

How did you come up with the name? “We were thinking of names and Michael came up with it, it’s a combination of our names, Carleen and Michael.”

Why did you decide to open Carmi? “I just left my job at Verizon and we were doing small catering jobs.  We were renting a space in a church kitchen, where we had to bring everything in big totes, even salt and pepper. The catering jobs became more frequent and we were beginning to outgrow the space. I remembered that there was a kitchen attached to the Shamrock that had been closed for years. We came to look at the space and Michael suggested we open a dining room. Although, I was a little nervous, I agreed.”

What is your favorite meal at Carmi? Smothered pork chops, mashed potatoes and fried corn

Smothered chops
Smothered Chops Photo By: Breelicious Bites

Top Seller? Fried Chicken and mac n cheese

What’s your favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh? Savoy’s NEW menu and The Village Tavern and Trattoria

Favorite Food? Lasagna

Least favorite food? Oysters and hot dogs…and anything that has a weird texture

Contact info:


Thank you Briana White!  Visit Carmi Family Restaurant and today!


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Cajun Corn & Clam Chowder!

Ever find yourself doing a pantry raid at 4:30 because you had no time to make dinner? I did this for Mardi Gras, well because I totally forgot and was completely unprepared for Fat Tuesday. The recipe ingredients were looking like clams, corn, potatoes and some vegetables. Chowder! How do I NOLA- it -up?  I got some tips from my friend Ben at Pittsburgh Po’Boy!



A Pittsburgher with Louisiana roots, Ben prides himself in capturing the flavors of Cajun cuisine. His gumbo is incredible and his shrimp and chicken po’ boys make you feel the music of NOLA. Currently based at the Pittsburgh Public market, Pittsburgh Po’Boy’s food truck will be up and running soon! Ben suggested the typical Cajun vegetable profile of celery, onion, and bell pepper. And seasoning with white pepper, thyme, and paprika. He likes to finish his dishes with some lemon juice , but I was out! Even without it, this chowder was still totally ah-Mazing. Thanks for your help, Ben!

Cajun Corn & Clam Chowder

2 ears corn on the cob
3 tbsp. Olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 large potatoes, diced
10 oz. Baby clam meat in juice, precooked
1 Half pint heavy whipping cream
32 oz. Box Chicken stock
4 tbsp. Corn starch
1 tbsp. Red pepper flakes
Thyme,Paprika,Salt/white pepper to taste
6 slices of pancetta, finely chopped and crisped, leave drippings in pan
green onions, chopped for garnish


Heat olive oil and add celery, pepper, onion, and garlic.
Slice corn in strip off the cob, keep the cobs.
When vegetables start to soften, add heavy cream, chicken stock, and corn cobs.
Cover and let it get hot.
Meanwhile, add the corn sliced off the cob to the pancetta pan and char corn.
Add potatoes, charred corn, and clam meat to the hot soup.
Cook until potatoes soften. (If you can cook it longer, great!  I had no time lol)
Season with salt/pepper, thyme, and paprika.
Serve and top with green onions and pancetta.



Visit Ben at Pittsburgh Po’Boy today!


Sicilian Split Pea Soup!

Show winter who is boss with a big pot of hot soup! I think of this soup as a vegetable soup but somehow adding peas automatically makes it…Sicilian Split Pea Soup!


Maybe it is because we rarely add peas to soup. Because they get super mushy, yes. The fix? Add the peas last or start with dehydrated split peas. The broth base can be chicken stock, bouillon, or this recipe can easily be made into a vegetarian recipe. I didn’t have one on hand, but a ham bone is traditionally put in the stock for even more depth of flavor. Stay warm! Enjoy!


Here is the recipe…

Sicilian Split Pea Soup

4-6 cups of your favorite chicken stock
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
4 carrots, sliced into rounds
3 celery stalks, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 lb. ditalini/tubetti pasta
12 oz. peas/ 3/4 cup dehydrated split peas (soaked overnight)
salt/pepper to taste
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. dried basil

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.
Add onion and shallot, cook until soft.
Pour in chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Add carrots and celery and cook for 20-30 minutes until softened.
Season with rosemary, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper.
Boil water in another pot and cook pasta until slightly under, al dente.
Drain and return pasta to the pot, adding 2 ladles of soup broth to keep it from sticking.
If adding cooked peas add them last.
Add 1/4 cup of noodles to a soup bowl.
Pour over 1-2 ladles of soup.
Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and serve hot with a crusty bread.



Winter Pittsburgh Restaurant Week 2016: Try Something New!

Winter Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is upon us. January 11-17.During the week, I make a point to dine at a restaurant that I have never been to before, get out of my comfort zone, and try something new! This time I chose a Brazilian restaurant that has been around for 15 years. How did I not know about this place? Probably because the trip entails two tunnels and multiple bridges! You naaugh how we Pittsburghers are about tunnels and bridges ‘n at!

For a unique dining experience call…Green Forest Churrascaria, totally worth the trip! Here is the basic info, all you can eat meat, a great wine list, and a “salad bar,” that’s anything but salad! The battle is between the multitude of delectable seafood options versus the meat! Unfortunately, one can only eat so much!



The most important thing to know here is green means more meat and red means taking a break!



My favorite meat was the chimmichurri sirloin. Perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth, with a little kick!

The meats continued with prime rib, pork belly, bacon wrapped filet, Skirt steak, pork tenderloin, leg of lamb, and many more!


And if you have any room …

Support a locally owned Pittsburgh restaurant and try something totally new! Green Forest’s restaurant week price is $35.16!


Green Forest Churrascaria
655 Rodi Road
Pittsburgh,PA 15235



The staff t-shirts actually say “I like pork butts and I cannot lie.” How fun is that? Super cool and totally trendy, I still haven’t figured out if the restaurant called Bakn in Carnegie, PA is a diner or a gastropub? I entered with an expectation for bacon overdone-ness. Bacon on everything, in everything, and of course the topping of choice. Although this is somewhat the case, you can definitely eat your bacon on the side if you wish.


Serving as right now’s hot spot for revitalization, Carnegie is finding “new” from food to fashion. From the retail store of A. Ward’s Cheescakes, my favorite cheesecake ever, Fluhme GlamBar, which sounds like a princess’s dream, and every little cute boutique and coffee shop in between, Carnegie is movin’ on up!  Once a main street lined with empty store fronts, the town’s parking meters come at a premium. And now there’s a fresh, hip restaurant called Bakn…

Bakn has a bar. Check. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect! With hours 8am-10pm Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday 8am-9pm, you can get your breakfast for dinner, dinner for breakfast, and everything in between. I started with a Bakn Bloody Mary which contained house Bakn-Infused vodka, spicy bloody mary mix, a pickle, a hot pepper, and peppered bacon.
Absolutely delicious, I tasted a bit of horseradish in mine. Not sure if this was a bartending preference or what, but I loved it.


The Freshly Squeezed OJ is a must try along with the cocktails made with the OJ like Bakn’s Beermosa, Mimosa, Brunch Punch, or the 376 Standstill! Ha!


On to the menu…

Mostly breakfast-inspired, the menu ranges from signature eggs and omelet items to burgers. Being a pork belly girl, what caught my eye were the pork belly options- tacos, cuban, and a reuben. Since I was dining during brunch, I ordered for breakfast, the Breakfast Sandwich #1 Fried Egg, Peppered Bakn, Jarlsberg Cheese, Oven Roasted Tomato, Arugula, and Baknaise on Sourdough and for lunch, the Pork Belly Reuben.



The Bakn Flight was a perfect appetizer, a sampling of all five house bacon flavors of the day- Applewood Smoked, Maple, Boar, Peppered, and Cajun. The Breakfast Sandwich #1 was yummy! The creamy Jarlsberg and fresh sourdough made it! The pork belly Reuben did not disappoint. The pork belly was juicy with a pleasant sauerkraut, nothing overpowering. Baknaise is exactly what you think a bacon mayonnaise would taste like, a pairing light enough to love on probably anything!
I will go back to try the many different versions of pancakes and waffles with and without bacon!
We are so lucky to have local “foodpreneurs” dreaming, making it happen, taking the jump. Thank you! Pittsburghers are loving the dining diversity, the food, the fun!

335 East Main St.
Carnegie, PA 15106

Party of Five: Montana’s Rib & Chop House!

“We are fortunate to have been in Pennsylvania since November 9, 2009” – Montana’s Rib & Chop House

No, Montana’s, we are fortunate to have you!  With two booming locations in Pennsylvania, Charlie Bish decided to open a third in Southpointe’s Town Center block. The Pittsburgh suburb’s business district needed a great steakhouse and Montana’s Rib & Chop House is the perfect addition!


The location has a casual feel with a huge bar area surrounded by big booth seating.  The main dining room is a large open room with white tableclothed tables , and the best seating in the house are the private rooms down the back hallway. Perfect for a private party or business meeting, these rooms provide privacy as well as a comfortable atmosphere.  There is a $300 food minimum for private room booking, but that is easy to do with a party of five or six and wine! If you are like me, you will want to order everything on the menu, and Montana’s is one place you will want to leave lots of room for dessert!!

OK, let’s start at the very beginning..appetizers.

Most popular! Fried Green tomatoes with blue cheese, lump crab meat, and a balsamic reduction. I can totally see why it is the most popular app, majorly delish a  must try!

Calamari- deep fried calamari.  The star of this dish was the garlic aioli.  I love a smooth garlic aioli!!

Soup course!  Montana’s Gumbo, offered everyday, a delicious chunky gumbo with both chicken and sausage! I don’t know why, but I thought it was strange that the Midwestern steakhouse’s soup was gumbo?? It might be odd, but I could not stop eating it!

After a traditional house salad was the steak and rib course…All steaks are served on a 400 degree plate with butter. I kept saying everything reminded me of Ruth Chris (My favorite of the age old Morton’s- Capital Grille- Ruth Chris debate.) We tasted the baseball cut top sirloin, the famous filet.  All were a perfect medium rare and soooo tender.

The Babyback Ribs were incredible.  Just enough char with a light BBQ glaze.  Just how I like them!

Lamb Chops- Delciious! Sometimes I like to order out the few things I don’t make often at home.  This is your dish! Totally yummy!

And the Seafood Course…

Seared Ahi Tuna- I am a humungous seared ahi tuna fan.  However, the crust on this tuna is “blackened” spices and it is very peppery.  Too much for me.  Next time I will ask for no seasoning.  It was perfection and one of the most beautiful platings.

Cedar Plank Salmon – Montana’s Cedar Plank Salmon comes in two preparations.  One being a traditional lemon and the other …wait for it….Jamaican brown sugar glaze! What?! This salmon was ridiculously good.  Cooked to perfection meaning a bit undercooked and was delivered on a flaming plank! My favorite seafood dish of the night!

Shrimp – The shrimp were delicious.  I can’t wait to try them in the Jambalaya next time!

The delciious and totally affordable sides, which never ever is the case at a steakhouse, rocked.  Like spot on, carrot soufflé a take on the sweet potato version knocked our socks off.  Also, the garlic mushrooms and sausage stuffing were awesome additions!

I needed a dolly to wheel me out and it was dessert time! We tried one of each! Not your typical steakhouse carrot cake bigger than our head, Montana’s desserts are exactly what I wanted after eating a heavy dinner.  Choices contained creamy, light, delicious bites.  Exactly what I needed for a little sweetness.


Best Creme Brûlée ever!!  I know, huge statement.  Not kidding.

Pecan Meltaway, Cheesecake, Ice-Cream Brownie Sandwich, Satin Pie, and Apple Cobbler all were amazing! Nothing will disappoint!

The house wines are delicious and affordable- good, but bad.  We were lucky enough to land a bottle of Mollydooker Enchanted Path.  A new favorite! They have their own shake. The Mollydooker shake! Montana’s Southpointe is hoping to do a wine dinner with Mollydooker soon!


Montana’s Rib & Chop House blew all of us away. Yep our entire party of five and that never happens!


Montana’s Rib & Chop House Southpointe
1900 Main Street
Canonsburg, PA 15317

Best Of Pittsburgh Summer Restaurant Week 2015 & More!

The rules of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week are totally simple.
1.) Try new restaurants.
2.) Order something new at one of your faves.
3.) Familiarize yourself with an unfamiliar part of the city! Who knows? You just might go back to eat, to play, to shop!


WARNING: Plan your summer vacation the week before summer restaurant week! My eating has not slowed down at all, actually, I can’t stop. I am typing to you with my toes in the sand at a resort on Grand Bahama Island. I have one bathing suit that fits and my evening wear consists of flowing, beautiful, amazingly flattering maxi dresses.


Let’s rewind…
It all began with the Summer Restaurant Week Kickoff Party!
Yummy bites are served to guests cocktail party style and participating restaurants go head to head for the “best preview” award.


There were many amazing showings. Here are a few of my favorites!


The Wooden Nickel

Matteo’s – I visited Matteo’s for the fist time during summer restaurant week 2014 and 20 times since! I didn’t even take photos because I love everything at this restaurant. Bold statement? Nope, I mean everything. My all time favorite entree at Matteo’s… The porcini cappelletti!

The Porcini Cappelletti... Wow!
The Porcini Cappelletti… Wow!

Bill’s Bar and Burger



And the winner was Pork Belly! Pan, a brand new Asian fusion restaurant in Lawrenceville. I have not had the pleasure of dining, but the Andora restaurant family’s pork belly preview was awesome! Can’t wait to visit!



My first Summer restaurant week 2015 menu? Sunday Brunch at Verde Mexican Kitchen and Cantina! After visiting for Winter Restaurant Week I knew I had to go back!

I had the chilaquiles…again!!! Definitely worth the trip!

Monday night was the PRW Blogger Dinner at Grand Concourse! Oldie but goodie for sure. Ok, I forgot how good! I enjoyed a delicious meal and and wonderful night out with new and old friends.

I shared the firecracker shrimp with my new blogger friend Briana White of Breelicious Bites. Check out her blog! She just hosted a mac’n cheese contest!

Followed by the Summer Chopped Salad


Roasted Sirloin with Sweet Pepper Chutney and Chili Oil


And finished with the Creme Brûlée…

My next stop on the PRW Train was Paris 66 Bistro I cannot believe I have not visited this French gem.


I enjoyed the wine and French baguette.

French Onion Soup…

Steak and Frites
Cooked to perfection!

And the cholocate mousse …

Perfect for a lunch stop, date night, or family dinner, visit Paris 66 and its surrounding growing community of Eastside Pittsburgh!

Friday I dined at Sarafino’s in Pittsburgh’s Crafton suburb. Papa bear to my Matteo’s in Lawrenceville, Joe Caliguire does not disappoint. It was the restaurant’s first time participating in restaurant week. I invited a few of my faves to join me for a totally awesome smorgasbord. Blog post coming soon!!

I swore I was never eating again, but the kids and I were running errand Saturday afternoon and ended up at Firehouse Subs…super yummy! This franchise was started by firemen…and they have built the most amazing combinations!

Here was my choice the Sriracha Beef…

I guess this post is really saying, try something new! Support your local restaurants!
And in Pittsburgh, we are sooooo lucky to have the best!

Walleye Tacos With a Roasted Corn Peach Salsa!

My neighbors are awesome fishermen and who do you think gets a bag of fresh caught fish after the trip? The neighborhood food blogger of course. Ha! Thank you so much! The fresh walleye I was given this week soaked up the marinade beautifully and made a delicious base for some fresh fish tacos.


I made a totally amazing roasted corn and peach salsa by cutting spicy pan roasted corn on the cob off the cob and adding the sweet flavors of a diced peach, a small onion, and a handful of chopped chives. Fresh squeezed lime juice pulled it all together!


Seriously, Pittsburgh might just have a new “thing”…fish tacos!
Fish tacos are most definitely one of my favorite dishes to order out in Pittsburgh.  Believe it or not,  many of our restaurants have nailed a fabulous fish taco entreé! Some of my favorites…Penn Avenue Fish Company, Kaya, Täkõ, and Round Corner Cantina. All totally exceptional! Of course I make them at home, too!


Walleye Fish Tacos
1-1/2 lb. raw walleye fillets
1 lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin



Cube raw walleye.


Mix lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, and cumin in a mixing bowl.

Add walleye cubes, coat with marinade and refrigerate.


Heat a pan and cook walleye cubes until just cooked through- pink turns white and flake with a fork.

Roasted Corn and Peach Salsa
2 corn on the cob
1 peach, chopped
2 pats butter
2 tsp. cayenene pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 tsp.cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 lime


Roast buttered corn in a pan or on the grill until desired doneness.
Sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

Cut corn off the cob after it cools a bit.


Add onion, chives, cilantro or parsley to corn.


Squeeze the juice of one lime into bowl.

Fish Taco Sauce
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. sriracha

Mix together and add more or less sriracha to taste


Build your taco with your favorite flour tortilla.
Add the roasted corn and peach salsa, and top with sriracha sauce.