Located on Reynolds street in a quiet little section of Pittsburgh is an amazing little restaurant named, Pino's Contemporary Italian Restaurant and Wine bar.
The friendly persona of the eatery, is only equaled by the pleasantness of the staff. If you have never been to this section of Pittsburgh, Point Breeze is a well kept secret. Everyone is friendly, and the little block long shopping section of business are cute and bursting with charm.
My wife works close by, and every time I pass this place, the aromas emanating from it make my mouth water. So today, I decided to take my wife and son inside for dinner. The decor is warm and trendy. The wooden bar with brass rail is very pleasing to the eye. The well lit spirits behind the bar are tempting to the palate, and if I wasn't driving I would have most definitely sampled some of their diverse wine selection.
Our server, Mary greeted us and sat us at the beautiful stone top tables. Adorned with multi colored frescoes, the tables add a whole other level to the ambiance that fills Pino's. From hand made pasta dishes to fresh to table appetizers, this place has something for everyone.
My son, who is 6, spots the spaghetti and meatballs right off the bat. Our server, Mary was kind enough to explain that the portion would be massive. "I can eat it Daddy!" he says with the type of confidence only a six year old can muster. My bride orders the fried calamari, and my eye is drawn to the tempting whispers of the Margherita pizza.
The hand made pasta with "all beef" meatballs is only what I can imagine eating if I had grown up in an Italian household eating recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. The tomato sauce is well seasoned and not acidic. The pasta is cooked to perfection, and has explosions of texture that can only come from freshly made pasta. The meatballs are evenly cooked with an abundance of flavor that only enhances the already delightful dish. My son ate the entire dish by the way. I was lucky to even get a bite in.
When it comes to seafood, I'm a bit of a snob. Having served in the U.S. Navy, I was spoiled to being stationed on bases that were on the ocean, so we had access to "Fresh" seafood, that was caught THAT DAY. The more "inland" you go into the country, the more frozen things like seafood becomes.
Not at Pino's. The fresh calamari is out of this world! Battered in a secret recipe, that according to staff took many tries to achieve until the chef reached perfection; is fried in peanut oil and served with lemon and a tomato dipping sauce that is hands down, damn near heaven sent.
The crunch, the floral accent of basil, the brightness of the San Marzano sauce and the creamy delight of the fresh mozzarella all come together into the perfection that is this Margherita pizza. Perfect for sharing or even indulging ones self, this pizza is a must try!
I can only imagine how everything would have been elevated by one of the wines that are available at Pino's. I can honestly say that, although not a place I could afford on a regular basis; Pino's is a definite destination that should be on all Pittsburgh "Foodies" lists of places to eat.
I give Pino's of Point Breeze 4.5 Stars.
Having served in the U.S. Navy for many years, I have traveled around the globe. Exotic destinations, fascinating cultures and of course; AMAZING FOOD!
Spending a good portion of my enlistment on the west coast, Mexican cuisine is a staple in everyday life out there. From mom 'n' pop bodegas, to hole in the wall Mexican eateries and lets not forget the usually surprising taco trucks. Mexican food is everywhere out west.
So needless to say I am a fan, however moving back to the Pittsburgh area, I find the choices for latin cuisine wanting. There are many big corporate chain restaurants that serve "Mexican style" food. (Not really. Their menus are a pathetic attempt at the exciting flavors and bizarre food combinations that TRUE Mexican food offers)
So while I was attending 3 Rivers Comicon 2 weeks ago, I took a break from signing autographs and stepped outside for air. The vibrant facade ornamenting the restaurants front really catches your eye. I thought to myself, " I have to try that place. I've been looking for a Mexican place to eat..." So today, I took my wife and fellow "foodie" on a date. Destination? Old Mexico Mexican Restaurant in Century III mall.
Our first impression as we walked in was of how tidy the place was. Festive and fun, but it was also very clean. I don't mean in a bleach aroma kind of way. I mean, you can tell that the facility is well maintained. No dust, no stale beer smell, just warm and inviting.
We were greeted promptly and sat at our booth. Our server Alberto came to our table with fresh and hot tortilla chips and two types of salsa. The regular house salsa and a cilantro and lime salsa. Which is amazing! He took our drink orders and let us view our menus.
My beautiful bride, not having really been in a REAL Mexican restaurant before, was asking questions about some of the menu items. I explained what was what and she was able to decide. Pictured above is her order. A Carnitas Chimichanga with beans and rice. Carnitas is closely comparable to pulled pork. Just with way more flavor and preparation. The tender meat melts in your mouth as the crunch of the chimichanga adds a fun texture that blends smoothly with the guacamole, salsa, beans, rice and sour cream.
I ordered the carne asada burrito with white rice, cheese, tomato and lettuce covered in a spectacularly seasoned queso fresco sauce. Carne asada is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Carne asada is a well seasoned flank steak cut into strips, there is no substitute. The flavors and spices danced in my mouth. Everything blending together to form a taste bud fiesta.
One bite, and I was back in Oceanside California, sitting at a cantina, eating burritos, drinking cervezas, hanging out with my Marines and watching the pretty girls as they roller skated by at the beach. The memories and good times flashed through my mind with every single mouthful I took. Now THIS! IS REAL MEXICAN FOOD!!!
Look, I love Pittsburgh. Born and raised here. But when it comes to authentic cuisine, a vast majority of the Three Rivers residents haven't a clue. People, Old Mexico Mexican Restaurant is the REAL DEAL! Go! EAT! ENJOY! I will most definitely be back!
Old Mexico Mexican Restaurant - 5 STARS *****
CEO Spike Bowan is the Pittsburgh based Actor/Director/ Author/ Creator of the Alternate History Genre/Fiction saga "War in the Backyard".
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