BYOB Scouting at San Lorenzo in Lawrenceville

TasteBudA and I dined with a couple of friends in Lawrenceville at a new restaurant, San Lorenzo Ristorante. Excited at the prospect of a new BYOB restaurant, I decided to go off-diet and understand what this restaurant is really made of.

The restaurant is bigger than it appears from the outside, probably seating 40 comfortably. We were greeted promptly and sat at a quiet table. Our waitress immediately asked if we wanted our wine bottles opened. Of course, we did.

Browsing the menu, we opted for a trio of appetizers to share at the table before setting sights on the entrees. Calamari, meatballs and greens-and-beans.

The Calamari rings were cooked with a mixture of olives and capers in a tomato-wine broth. The broth was good, but unfortunately very salty. The meatballs were the size of tennis balls so the appetizer portion of two pieces was fine to cut and split at the table. On the contrary of the calamari, the meatballs were lacking something. They were good, but lacked the seasoning or flavor you would want to be wowed. The greens and beans were okay. Unfortunately Matteo’s set the bar very high with that dish and while San Lorenzo prepared a good dish, I wanted the slightly spicier portion from Matteo’s.

Our entrees, pictured throughout, arrived piping hot and we descended upon them and conversation let up.

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PhotoBlog: Church Brew Works

I can’t believe I’ve never eaten at Church Brew Works – until now. We met a couple friends for dinner on a Friday evening and it was packed.  With great conversation and company, I enjoyed the CBW Beer Sampler, cheeseburger pierogies and the meatloaf. The meal was quite filling – as most beer meals are – and I had a great time.

Church Brew Works Beer Sampler
Church Brew Works Beer Sampler of 8 beers
Pierogi of the Day: Cheeseburger
CBW Pierogi of the Day: Cheeseburger
Church Brew Works Buffalo Meatloaf
Church Brew Works Buffalo Meatloaf

TasteBuds Pick: Best New Restaurant 2013

October 2013 Wine ExchangeMaybe we’re still on the high from a great wine exchange event last night, but I think it’s safe to say that the TasteBuds Pick for Best New Restaurant in 2013 is Matteo’s in Lawrenceville.

Last night, we gathered with friends, new and old, for our 23rd Wine Exchange at Matteo’s where we enjoyed one of Lawrenceville’s newest gems. Matteo’s staff and kitchen went above and beyond to ensure that we had a wonderful time. The wine exchange left folks learning about the parts of a boat and hopefully also introduced folks to new wines and varietals.

Pork Osso Bucco
Pork Osso Bucco
Bruschetta Tilapia
Bruschetta Tilapia
Matteos Pumpkin Tortelloni
Pumpkin Tortelloni
Extra Sauce for the Osso Bucco
There was even some extra sauce for the pork osso bucco, so it was offered to us tableside.

Cider House Rules

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The 1st ever Pittsburgh Mead and Cider Festival will be held Saturday April 27, 2013 at the Old Iron City Brewery from 1pm-4pm

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’ve never actually seen Cider House Rules, but I can say that Arsenal Cider House in Lawrenceville really does rule! Though were had visited in its first year of operation, we recently returned with some great friends to find that the selection has grown and so has the popularity.While the Cider House itself only sells the cider by the growler, visitors can sample up to four different variations of cider for free (valid 21+ ID required).

There were a couple “still” varietals which resembled an apple wine, but more “carbonated” options which were more beer-esque (think of the 16 oz. Hard Cider you can buy at the beer distributor).  TasteBudA was drawn to the apple-fruit fusions of plum and peach, while I found the apple-mead selections to be less complex and enjoyable.

The four of us indulged in the sampling before deciding we were enjoying what we were tasting and wanted more.  So, we required a growler to continue our afternoon.  Growlers, like with beer, are refillable and you can get a punch card to earn frequent-filler-rewards.

The decor is completely dedicated to the history of the Lawrenceville Arsenal located right across the street on 39th street.  As we sat for a while and chatted, the number of folks who came in to simply refill their growlers was astonishing.  Not only did we lose track of time and enjoy and entire growler in-house, but we refilled it and took a fresh growler to go.

Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar on UrbanspoonLike Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar on Facebook for information on the local bars and restaurants where they have Arsenal Cider on tap.  And keep an eye out for the 1st ever Pittsburgh Mead and Cider Fest which will be held Saturday April 27, 2013 at the Old Iron City Brewery from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Spring Fling - April 2012 Wine Exchange

Spring Fling wine exchange announced

Spring Fling - April 2012 Wine ExchangeThe Pittsburgh TasteBuds are pleased to announce the April 2012 wine exchange. As recommended by several folks from the group, we will be going to Piccolo Forno on Monday April 23, 2012 at 7:30p.m.. The theme of the event will be a Spring Fling, so guests are invited to dress for the warm weather and enjoy some Italian fare and great wines with friends.

The menu for the event is planned to feature some of Piccolo Forno’s finest dishes including an array of three antipasti (appetizers), a primi (pasta) course, secondi (entree) course with two meats served with two contorni (sides).

ANTIPASTI (Appetizers)
A spread of Bruchetta, Stuffed mushrooms and Pizzettes

PRIMI (Pasta)
Vegetable Lasagna Toscana

SECONDI (Entrees)
Pork Spare Rib Cacciatore Style with Soft Polenta
Second entree coming soon

CONTORNI (Sides)
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

We welcome friends and family to join us to celebrate a wonderful spring atmosphere and partake in our signature wine exchange. The meal is in-total $30, paid as a $5 RSVP ticket and a $25 restaurant bill. Tickets are available for purchase at http://www.showclix.com/event/207008.

Coca Cafe, a balance between breakfast and lunch

Coca Cafe is a local brunch hot spot with a more modern, food-forward menu than the likes of traditional breakfast fare like Pamela’s or Dorstop. On a sunny weekend morning, we ventured to Lawrenceville to discover what all the buzz was about. If it wasn’t so humid a day, I’m sure we would have asked to sit in the small outdoor seating area, but on this occasion was opted to stay indoors.

Cafe Americano in a festive zebra print mug

Upon entering and getting my coffee, it was clear that this was a very artistic cafe – my Espresso Americano even came in a zebra-print mug. The Sunday Brunch menu offers a mix of breakfast and lunch options.  I treated my coffee as my breakfast and opted to go straight for lunch.  My Turkey Rachel Panini came with a nice side salad.  It was a very balanced plate with pleasant flavor highlights.  The coleslaw in the panini was amazing.  It made the sandwich a hit in my mind.  The turkey and cheese was warm which counterbalanced the cool, moist coleslaw.  The brightness of the salad and the orange (yes, I eat my garnish) completed a nice meal. I left quite satisfied.

Turkey Rachel Panini

Coca Cafe on UrbanspoonOverall, I think my experience was much like my experience at North Star Cafe in Columbus, Ohio.  The atmosphere was very pleasant and the menu hit the right spots for me.  I will warn you that the prices will appear a little on the expensive side, but are well worth it in the ingredients and service.

PhotoBlog: Tamari



Beef tongue tacos (TasteBudB’s new favorite dish)



Tamari in Lawrenceville is a hidden gem with many fresh new menu options that make it one of our favorites in Pittsburgh. Kudos to Allen and the Tamari staff for their continued excellence.

This 2009 and 2010 “Best New Restaurant” designation still stands and is well deserved.

And if the rumormill holds true, we should all stay tuned for a new Tamari location coming soon to the Pittsburgh region!



Sushi and Sashimi Platter

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Mango-apple Salsa with Lotus Chips

Tamari on Urbanspoon