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.
Beginning with traditional American flavors, Toast! kitchen & wine bar's chefs elevate those dishes to new heights and create refined versions of familiar favorites. Habanero-spiced cheddar adds a piquant kick to servings of shrimp and organic corn grits, and flatbreads feature hearty toppings such as roasted mushrooms, brie, and white truffle oil. True to its name, Toast! also curates a selection of international wines available in tasting portions, glasses, or full bottles so the whole table can enjoy reading the label aloud.
Crimson walls, dark wooden rafters, and suede banquettes contribute to the space's calming and lounge-like ambiance. That quiet, cozy atmosphere inspired CBS Pittsburgh to place the wine bar on its 2013 list of the Best Bars For A Blind Date In Pittsburgh. As if to encourage refined conversation, framed artwork surrounds the dining room, lit by sconces and pendant lamps dangling above the bar.