Refreshing!

Vivo Kitchen on Urbanspoon

When I think of Gelato and the flavors that it can be ordered I think of Strawberry, peach and even Mocha. Then, one day I decided to have dinner at Vivo and Sewickley and they introduced to me a Tomato Basil Gelato that will seriously knock your socks off!
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This homemade creation is done the old fashion way and is made with real tomato’s and basil. The basil is very refreshing and the tomato is sweet and almost tastes like strawberry. I highly recommend asking for it this summer, you won’t regret it!

PhotoBlog: Vivo Kitchen in Sewickley

Last night PghTasteBudA and I enjoyed a casual night in Sewickley during their Night Market. Luckily we had reservations, because the place got packed!  Foursquare even gave TasteBudA an Eastern European badge for his check-in.

The most noteable dish of the evening was the homemade tomato-basil gelato dessert.  If you can’t picture those two ingredients in dessert, go to Vivo; they will certainly change your mind.

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Vivo Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Abay Restaurant announces plans to close

AbayRestaurantIt brings me great sadness to share with our friends that the owners of Abay have made the tough decision to close its doors as of the end of this month.  Restaurant owner Jamie Wallace released a statement on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Given how much development there has been in the neighborhood and the fact that beautiful apartments are being completed literally across the street from us, it might seem like the worst time to step down. But, honestly, we’re tired.

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Photo of us from our very first wine exchange, hosted at Abay Restaurant

Abay Restaurant was the host restaurant of the very first Pittsburgh TasteBuds wine exchange in December 2009, back before we even called ourselves the TasteBuds.  The wonderful experience we shared with our close friends during that holiday dinner inspired us to create the Pittsburgh TasteBuds as an event experience to introduce wine novices like ourselves to wine and to take advantage of the wealth of BYOB restaurants that Pittsburgh has so many of.

Abay opened their restaurant to us and welcomed us into their family.  We took great pleasure in our experience that Abay is one of only two restaurants that we’ve hosted more than one wine exchange at.  Our 13th wine exchange was also held at Abay in February 2012.

Part of the reason people have such strong opinions about restaurants is because they are personal to them. The dining experience is an emotional one. Guests have had first dates with us as well as celebrated new jobs, anniversaries, graduations, and birthdays. We’re humbled to have been a part of all of those life achievements. We’re equally humbled to still have a 4 star rating on Yelp and a 90% rating on Urbanspoon.

The restaurant has and will continue to flourish as a cultural beacon in the east end of Pittsburgh until the very end.  Please take a moment to post a kind note on their Facebook or Twitter.

A Casual June 2013 Wine Exchange

Many have asked “when’s the next wine exchange” and although TasteBudA was twisting my arm to take the summer off – I think it’s important to keep the tradition of the bi-monthly wine exchanges alive.  So, we’ve agreed on a happy medium.

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Our next wine exchange will be a little more casual at Pho Van in the Strip District.  We’ve been meaning to get to a Vietnamese restaurant for some time, since we raved about our first experience. This will be a perfect venue for a more casual experience.  The average meal at Pho Van is well below the cost of our typical wine exchanges, so we’ll not be preparing a menu, but simply taking reservations for the crowd.  With the date only 3 weeks away, we hope that you’ll be able to join us for a casual night in the strip district.

Summer Melt at Brownstone in Toronto

Northside Sandwich Week – June 17-23

Northside will soon be celebrating their second “Northside Sandwich Week” and I’m excited to say that their Sampler event falls on a day when I am available to attend this year.  NSW is June 17-23, 2013 with their Sampler event on Thursday June 20.

Northside Sandwich Week

I look forward to seeing what components or flavor combinations restaurants will choose to highlight.  When it comes to the world of sandwiches, the sky is the limit.  Unless you are gluten-free.

Summer Melt at Brownstone in TorontoMy favorite summer sandwich to date has got to be the open faced chicken sandwich melt I had in Toronto topped with strawberries.  Can a northside restaurant top that? Challenge issued!

Close your eyes at Mullin’s Diner, you might enjoy the food

imageLet’s be real for a second. Pittsburgh is a blue-collar town with some pretty cultures that still honor the older times. For some reason, on an absolute whim, I decided to go to Mullin’s Diner one morning for a late breakfast. Luckily I was with two friends, if I were with TasteBudA, I’m sure he would have insisted we turn around before even sitting down.  Walking in, you feel like you are eating in a Pep Boys next to the guy changing your oil.  It isn’t overly clean or inviting, but after 3 steps into the door none of us felt like turning back now.

It seems like a place overrun with regulars.  As we walked in, it felt like all eyes were on us.  The waitress was surprised that we needed to look at a menu – literally 1 menu.  That’s all we got between the 3 of us.  After the shoddy service and atmosphere lowered the bar so low, it was a welcoming surprise that our food was pretty good.  Though I’d have been scared to look into the kitchen the prepared our food, the eggs, sausage and homefries that I ordered were hot and didn’t need seasoned. My friends equally enjoyed their cheesy eggs with toast and cheeseburger with fries.  Looking at the burger – sure it looks rough – but it was clearly hand-pressed and cooked to temp.  I’d probably return and get one of those to go.  Eating a nice burger on the grassy northshore might hit the spot one of these days.

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Mullin's Diner on Urbanspoon

Hanes Tavern, an underrated FourSquare “Dive Bar”

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After bowling in the Greater Pittsburgh USBC BA City Tournament at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell with a friend, we asked for a local lunch suggestion. My doubles partner heard “Tavern” and said let’s go there.  After pulling into the parking lot, we knew we’d be in for an adventure.  While the exterior looks like a dive bar, the interior looks like a 70s Italian restaurant. With plastic over the tables and wax dripped, wine bottles for table decor, we lowered the bar for our food expectation.  We noticed when we checked in on Foursquare, that it was even classified as a dive bar!

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My doubles partner, J.M. ordered a personal size pizza with mushrooms and half a meatball hoagie.   I ordered a tossed salad and the pepperoni rolls appetizer.  Arriving first was my salad and the size of the salad reminded me of the table-sized serving you get at Olive Garden.  With the first bite, I turned to J.M. and proclaimed that their Italian Hoagie must be awesome because the dressing was perfection.

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J.M.’s pizza and my pepperoni rolls arrived and we knew right away that this “dive bar” must be an overlooked gem.  The pizza (pictured first) and absolutely amazing.  My pepperoni rolls were served as air filled bites with a pepperoni and cheese center.  What made them even tastier was the garlic baked into the middle.

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So, while I take a break from my lunch to write this post, I recommend to anyone in the area to give this place a shot and don’t judge it by its appearance.
Hanes Tavern on Urbanspoon

Summer Events

As the Pittsburgh TasteBuds we pride ourselves on finding great restaurants with delicious food and working with them to bring our group for wine exchange dinners at a convenient price for all. But, we have learned that the one thing we are missing are trips to local Pennsylvania wineries. Below are scheduled dates for winery trips.

June 1st: In June we are planning a trip to Lago Winery in Jamestown, PA…right by Pymatuning Lake. We are having discussions with Lago to see if we can work any deals with them, but you will be able to sample wines, buy bottles and drink them on site, buy cheese and meat platters and they have awesome wood fire flat bread pizzas. Afterward, come take the short drive down the street to Conneaut Lake Park to ride the all famous Blue Streak roller coaster for just 3 dollars per ride!

July 20th: In July we will travel to Narcisi Winery. This will be the The Pittsburgh Tastebuds first trip to Narcisi. Updates to come!

August: We are looking to visit Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar. Official date and updates to come.

Please remember to watch for updates here on our website, facebook and twitter.