Not many people get the chance to dine in a restaurant's wine cellar, but at Vallozzi's, diners can book the underground space for a private dinner or dine in one of four other elegant areas. While enjoying award-winning wines, guests can feast on upscale Italian cuisine in Vallozzi's Classic dining room, which awards the eyes with hand-painted murals and romantic lighting. Alfresco dining options include Casa Elena and the patio, where guests can bask in the breeze without picnicking on an airport runway. Rounding out the quintet of rooms and boasting a handmade maple and olive wood bar, Rosso Bianco blends casual and chic with light-strewn tables, wine racks, and flat-screen TVs.
Executive chef Bryan Hutson and his skilled culinary crew craft a seasonal dinner menu of fresh seafood and eclectic entrees at One Eleven within a cozy eatery nestled within historic downtown Greensburg. Taste buds can hobnob with the baked crab cakes ($26) or revel in the aquatic flavors of colossal shrimp with squid-ink pasta ($23). Muffle the moans of tempestuous stomach elves with one of the steak-centric spreads, such as a coffee-encrusted new york strip steak ($25), or plunge tongues into a succulent serving of fresh salmon ($23) paired with premium spinach from Popeye's temperature-controlled locker.
Founded in 1902, when everyone walked uphill both ways, the Bulls have evolved into one of the country's best-known minor-league teams. Boasting a rich history and talented prospects making their way to the majors, the Bulls play in the 15-year-old Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Featuring a 10,000-seat capacity, comfy extra-wide seating, a new video board, and a sublime view of the bull perched atop the 32-foot Blue Monster in left field, the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a superb place to witness the 2009 AAA National Champions run, hit, and skillfully communicate with a flurry of dexterous semaphore. Stocked with young talent, the Bulls will showcase several players in 2010 that are sure to soon end up on a major-league roster. Inspired by 23-year-old Desmond Jennings—who posted a .325 batting average and .419 on-base percentage last year—and 22-year-old, hard-throwing Jeremy Hellickson—who fanned 70 batters and walked only 15 in 57.1 innings—the Bulls are primed for another title run through an action-packed schedule this year.
Owner and chef Omar Mediouni imbues La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar's menu of traditional Spanish and Moroccan small plates and entrees with local ingredients and an appetite for culinary fusion that, according to Pittsburgh City Paper, "combines sophistication and comfort, authenticity and simplicity." Flagpole-addicted tongues warm up with a choice of 16 hot tapas, including the chorizo catalan's spicy sautéed sausage and spinach in a red-wine reduction ($10), and tomatoes, sweet pepper, and eggplant form the base of a duo of Moroccan dips ($8 each). Larger entrees ($16–$28) sneak garbanzo beans, chicken, lamb, and eggplant into piles of couscous or saffron paella rice like parents tucking Easter eggs into an egg carton.
Nestled within a brick house along a neighborhood street in Shadyside, La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar greets springtime by opening its patio to warm breezes and showers of cupid arrows. Inside, a hanging Spanish guitar, lanterns lit by candles, and the wide grin of a bright red hearth contribute to a cozy, eclectic spirit.
Now in its 12th year, the Pittsburgh Wine Festival gathers more than 165 vendors who pour more than 500 diverse wines inside the Heinz Field East and West Club Lounges. Though many of the featured wines hail from countries such as France, Germany, Portugal, Argentina, and New Zealand, others call California, Pennsylvania, and the Pacific Northwest their home. As attendees wander between sips of reds, whites, and ros?s, they sample food pairings and watch live entertainment.
Winery representatives and winemakers pour their diverse libations during the annual Grand Tasting, but also uncork specialty reserve wines at a VIP tasting. Here, smaller crowds grant visitors more time to speak with the vendors, and ask questions about fermentation or how to determine whether a wine will get along with their other bottles. Outside the main events, industry leaders also hold seminars on how to taste wine like a sommelier or pair wines to specific occasions. Additionally, private wine dinners raise funds for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Wednesday-Night Wine Flights merge science and education, two ideas that have been divided since a series of high-school chemistry teachers was arrested for dancing on laboratory tables in 1987. Sample three wines that have been hand-selected to complement three Cassis appetizers. Small-plate possibilities from the menu of French-influenced American fare include dumplings, baked brie on toasted baguette slices, and black-olive tapenade with sliced radish dippers. The owner and head chef selects wine and food pairings a week prior to each flight, so if you'd like to know what comestibles are coming, check the Cassis Facebook page on Tuesday evening, or simply call ahead.