Saturday, April 14, 2012

Village Tavern & Trattoria

Our two 'favorite' conversations are: "What do you want to cook for dinner?" and "Where do you want to go for dinner?" Unless I've recently been inspired by a cooking magazine/food blog/restaurant review, I can't answer those questions. SP seems to take the 'happy wife happy life' approach and always says he'll make whatever/go wherever I want. That's sweet, but... He likes to put the food decision making on me, and when I point that out to him, he usually responds that he wants to make fish or dine at Thai/Indian. Bleah.

One Saturday afternoon, as he was out doing errands and I was finally reading the newspaper and enjoying a cup of hot tea, a small part of my brain was fretting about the dinner issue. I knew he wouldn't get home until 5 at the earliest. I knew neither of us felt like going into town. And I knew that despite my efforts to respect the plethora of chain restaurants a bit more, I just wasn't up for a 45-60 minute wait in a super crowded restaurant.

So I started thinking of surrounding areas, and for once, I remembered West End. Usually, I forget that we can go in that direction. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's like the Cracker Barrel thing. I never remember there is a CB in Robinson. I never remember that there are places like Cozy Cafe and Village Tavern & Trattoria in West End, which is only 10-15 minutes away.

So that's where we went. Before SP even had a chance to utter the question, I informed him that we should go to Village Tavern & Trattoria. He agreed. VT&T is next to Cozy Cafe, a place we tried back in January during Restaurant Week.

A quick history lesson: I've read that VT&T was once a speakeasy. Then it was Theil's Bar, whose owner was killed during an armed robbery in 1941. His wife ran Theil's for many more years. Next it was Temperanceville Tavern, then West End Park House, then Grill 424, and now VT&T.

The West End was known as Temperanceville until the City of Pittsburgh annexed it in 1872. Apparently Temperanceville was so named because all of the property deeds had a stipulation that no liquor be served on the premises. Munch's review says that there is a 34 foot long wooden bar in the tavern part, but I didn't peek into the tavern area. It's on the left side, the dining room is in the middle, and the banquet area is on the right. There are 2 entrance doors and once inside you can go left or right, depending on which room you wish to enter.

It's definitely an old building. SP said that when he went down the stairs to use the restroom, it was a steep staircase and the walls were stone. Inside the dining room there were exposed brick walls on which HUGE mirrors hung.
Exposed brick, hooks for hanging coats, bottom of huge mirror
Huge mirror

There are wood tables covered with white tablecloths that are covered with white paper. I assume the paper is for young guests to amuse themselves because there was a round container of crayons on the table as well. It's a cozy interior. There also are garage doors that can be opened in warmer weather, so it's that whole dining inside but feels like dining outside vibe.
We arrived around 6:40 pm on Saturday and were seated right away. The menu had appetizers, salads, sandwiches, wings, and lots of pasta options. We ordered iced teas, SP got a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It's fresh brewed iced tea. We started with calamari.
The calamari were indeed lightly breaded as the menu stated. They were not greasy. They were a wee bit chewy but not too much. The marinara was delicious. Really delicious.
We received a bread basket. SP ate his bread with butter. I dipped mine into his soup, the soup du jour, a seafood bisque:
The soup was delicious. Peppery-paprika-y. I mopped the bowl clean with my bread!

SP ordered Eggplant Parmesan.
There were two huge, thick rounds of eggplant with spaghetti and marinara. The server brought a wedge of parmesan and grated it over his dish until he said,'when.' He said it was very tasty.

I chose the Southern Club - ham, turkey, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, cole slaw, and BBQ sauce:
It was enormous! I had no idea how I was going to fit it into my mouth. When I picked it up and squeezed a bit, the cole slaw oozed, so I set ti back down and decided the best option was to cut it up and eat it with a fork!!! It was very tasty, though I think the bacon was missing. The cole slaw was heavier on the vinegar and lighter on the mayo. A very tasty sandwich. I like that there are three side choices: regular fries, sweet potato fries, and cole slaw. I chose sweet potato fries. They were deliciously crunchy and yummy. Our server offered to bring some apple butter in which to dip the fries, but I declined.
Obviously, I didn't finish the monster sandwich! I took half of it home and SP took half of his dish home, too. We were way too full to even consider dessert.

We really enjoyed our food. This is definitely another place for us to keep in mind for those weekends when we aren't going to get into the city. It seemed like a neighborhood hang out, the guy who we assumed is the owner seemed to know almost all of the patrons. The place & the employees had a very friendly, outgoing, welcoming feeling. It seems like a fun place to watch a game - there were lots of people watching hockey in the bar area and some trickled from the bar into the dining room for dinner.

Village Tavern and Trattoria on Urbanspoon

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