Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sienna Sulla Piazza

Last weekend, we went to see The Lion King. It was the first show of the 2013-2014 PNC Broadway Across America season. Even though we both have seen it before, it was still great to see and marvel at the costumes plus, we changed our seats this year and we like our new location much better. After the show, we headed over to Market Square for dinner.
We had reservations at Sienna Sulla Piazza, one of the restaurants I have been wanting to try. We were a little early so we sat at a table in the sunshine and enjoyed Market Square for a bit before heading over and being seated inside. What a difference! It is very dark and intimate inside. It was a beautiful day, so the front facade of the restaurant was open to expand the seating out front to the outdoors. I kind if wished we would have been seated outside because the photos would have turned out much better. Then again, I'm a sucker for exposed brick, dark woods, lanterns and candles, a cozy, warm, inviting, and relaxing atmosphere.
The menu is three sheets of paper on a clipboard. The first page is food, the second is cocktails, beer, and wines by the glass, and the third is wine by the bottle. SP, to my surprise, ordered a glass of sauvignon blanc. To his surprise, I chose a cocktail over wine, it was called a Kentucky Mule, I think, or something like that. It was bourbon, lemon, peach, and ginger beer and it was served like this:
So cute! And so delicious! I forgot how strong ginger beer can taste so I was taken aback by the strong ginger flavor on my first sip. Very good. I think SP was jealous of my cocktail and I think he wants to go back some time just so he can get his own.
Bread with a white bean, mushroom, rosemary puree. It had a strong smell and taste of rosemary and was delicious although I had just one small bite because our server told me there is garlic in it. SP was happy to hoover it up.
Blurry photo of SP's appetizer: Grilled Mediterranean Octopus (roasted red peppers, toasted garlic, sherry vinegar, grilled toast). He said it was very good but he didn't finish his third toast triangle because they were relatively thick slices and he'd already had some bread and he didn't want to fill up on carbs.
I happily filled up on carbs: Tomato Arancini (kalamata, saffron aioli). At first glance I thought they looked like they were too crispy on the exterior, like they'd been cooked too long, because they were a much deeper, darker color than any arancini I've had. Happily, they were not too crisp, it was actually a thin exterior with tasty tomato rice inside, a kalamata buried in the center of the rice, and a lovely dipping aioli. I can't really remember the flavor of the aioli enough to describe it, and I ate it sparingly because of potential garlic, but it added a bit of needed moisture to the arancini.
No surprise, SP ordered Tomato Bisque (San Marzano tomato, basil oil, grilled bread, parmesan). This was so good. It's tomato soup, so it was tomato-y and thick and had cheese and I helped SP eat it because I couldn't stop dipping my bread in the soup.
For his entree, SP chose Maple Leaf Farms Duck Breast (grilled fingerling potatoes, farro, pistachio, spinach, chianti braised blueberries). His duck was cooked just as he'd asked, medium, with a nice char on the exterior, and he really liked the flavor of the blueberries with the duck. He didn't finish the potatoes and farro because it was a bit too much carb for him.
I chose Chianti Braised Beef Short Rib (orzo mac & cheese, parmesan, mascarpone, tomato-basil jam). This was delicious. I ate every last bit. Our server told us this was the chef's specialty. The short rib was so easy to pull apart and just so moist and flavorful. The orzo mac & cheese was deliciously creamy. I couldn't get enough of the jam and while there was just the right amount on the dish, I couldn't help but wish there was a bit more because it was that good.

*Many thanks to our server & to the chef because I mentioned my garlic sensitivity and asked about garlic in this dish and after checking, our server said they could make the mac & cheese garlic free for me.
Dessert. I had already heard the dessert options when they were relayed to nearby tables. Cannoli (3 small ones on a plate, lemon and chocolate). Zeppole. Raspberry tiramisu. I tried to get SP to agree to two desserts so I could try two, but he said he was too full. So I debated. And implored some more. And finally he said to get the zeppole. The raspberry tiramisu will have to wait for another day (and hopefully still be an option).

The zeppole were delicious but filling. SP ate one, I ate two, and we took the other two home and ate them on Sunday. They were rolled in sugar and had hazelnuts sprinkled on and chocolate sauce drizzled over.

We both really enjoyed our meals at Sienna Sulla Piazza. We thought everything was tasty. Our server was great. He checked on garlic for me, even offered to bring some plain olive oil for my bread since the bean puree contained garlic. It was a leisurely dinner and that was fine since we had nowhere to be and we were really enjoying our food and the atmosphere but I am glad we always see our shows before dinner and not after because if we had to get to the Benedum after dinner, I would have been worried by the leisurely pace of the meal. That's one reason we choose to see the shows as matinees, we'd rather have a leisurely dinner than feel rushed, and the other reason is that we prefer to eat after seeing shows/movies, etc., and not before because we both have sensitive stomachs and never know when the sensitivity might strike. We would rather not be uncomfortable or get sick during a show/movie.

Of the four restaurants I mentioned in my Perfect Pittsburgh Saturday post, we've been to three this month. I think I'll give SP a break from the pizza/pasta dinner dates and wait to try the final restaurant later in October or November.

Meanwhile, the final verdict on Sienna Sulla Piazza: we will definitely return.

Sienna Sulla Piazza on Urbanspoon

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