Can you tell I’ve been in the mood for Italian?! I have to scold myself for not visiting Cibo sooner only because they are in Regent Square and I live in Swissvale. Since Cibo first opened I’ve been wanting to go and finally this week I took the time to make this meal happen.
A few weeks back at the Pittsburgh Magazine Best Restaurants party Cibo was there and I was hooked on their Stuffed Dates. So when visiting the restaurant I had to make sure this meal started with the Stuffed Dates which are ground lamb and fontina filled dates wrapped in bacon and topped with goat cheese. These are excellent and are a must try on your visit, I only wish you get more than 4 (keep them wanting more I guess lol). We also ordered Sautéed Prince Edward Island Mussels in white wine. The mussels didn’t come close to the stuffed dates. The white wine didn’t bring much flavor to the dish at all. We were even a little upset with the quality of the mussels. I would pass on those next time.
Onto the main event of the evening, I ordered the Spaghetti Putanesca. Ever since I started watching Food Network years ago I remember hearing of Spaghetti Putanesca and every show always had a story to tell about this dish. This dish is named after the “ladies of the night” (going to try to keep it PG here lol) and I’ve heard various stories behind the name. This dish was supposed to be quick to make in between “customers” or the ladies would make the dish to try and lure “customers”. Whatever the real story is the dish is quite interesting. Spaghetti with Cherry tomatoes sautéed with hot peppers, capers, and kalamata olives. I’ve never had this dish before and what made me order it was that it is supposed to be a spicy dish. Was it spicy? A little, I could’ve used a little more heat. This dish is unlike any other pasta I have ever had with the peppers, capers and kalamata olives. At first I couldn’t tell if I liked the flavors mixed together, but I decided as I worked through the meal that all the flavors combined created a pretty tasty dish. I may not get the Putanesca next time I go to Cibo, just so I can try something different, but I would definitely give Putanesca a try again.
For my grandmothers birthday the other day the whole family decided to visit Hoffstot’s in Oakmont. I have never been there before, but most of my family mentioned it’s been years since their last trip. Going in I honestly had no idea of what to expect, but was quickly impressed. Hoffstot’s decor was very simple and elegant.
Once seated we all began to contemplate what appetizers to order. I just returned from vacation and wasn’t sure if I was up for any more seafood, but I noticed the heavily influenced Italian menu and decided to go for the Fried Calamari. The menu lists them as “Tender slices of marinated calamari, lightly breaded & deep fried till golden brown. Served with stone crab mustard sauce and lemon.” If you take a look at the picture above, the size of the calamari was huge. I had calamari a few times while on vacation and it was nothing like this. The calamari truly was tender and the breading had a nice crisp crunch. I hate when calamari is served with marinara sauce, just doesn’t do anything for me, so the “stone crab mustard sauce” helped sell me on the dish. This sauce didn’t do much for me either, I didn’t get a whole lot of flavor from it, however the fried calamari by themselves was enough for the dish to hit a home run in my book.
My main course was the Chicken Parmigiana. Hoffstot’s takes a different take on the breading of the chicken parmigiana “Egg batter fried chicken breast baked with Provolone cheese, topped with our own tomato sauce.” The chicken itself was pounded thin and very tender and the tomato sauce was excellent. The only problem I had with this dish is that I missed the crunch to the breading since it was just an egg batter. My cousin ordered the Blackenzola which is a “Filet Mignon lightly blackened in a cast iron then topped with melted Gorgonzola and splashed with a Balsamic reduction.” OH… MY… GOD! I tried a piece of this and it was FANTASTIC! It quickly made me wish I ordered it instead because the filet itself was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth. The melted Gorgonzola on top along with the balsamic reduction increased the flavor from the filet and made this easily one of the best steaks I have ever tried. If and when I return to Hoffstot’s, this will be the meal I order next.
The service at Hoffstot’s was excellent as well, but just to let you know this is not the type of restaurant where you are going to rush in and out. Hoffstot’s is the type of place where you go to enjoy the whole meal, everything takes time and is worth it when it comes time to eat.