Sienna Mercato

942 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222(412) 281-2810 siennapgh.com

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This place has got a lot of balls. Sorry. Couldn’t resist. But in all fairness, it is true. Three floors of them. Meat balls. Turkey balls. Veggie balls. Risotto balls. Even pecan balls for dessert. All served up in a create-your-adventure style menu broken down by ball, sauce, Panini, hero or just plain ole saucy balls. They have other stuff too, but balls are easily 90% of the menu.

So, being that I was meated out from hedonistic culinary pursuits in the days prior, I decided to go with the veggie balls on a Panini with smoked mozzarella and arribiata sauce. And like the knight says toward the end of The Last Crusade, “he chose…poorly.” Which I did. Very lack-luster at best. But I’m not about to throw Sienna under the bus, after all, I was master of my own domain (not the Seinfeld version).

On the flip side, I made up for it with the pecan balls which are essentially three very large balls of Turkey Hill vanilla ice cream rolled in chopped pecans and places on a bed of hot fudge. Crazy friggin’ simple and really friggin’ good. Granted I’m not so sure the ice cream itself was so good that it needed a special credit on the menu. I’ve had far better from the supermarket, like Steve’s of Brooklyn for example, which blows the feathers off Turkey Hill.

For cocktails, they do a solid Manhattan, albeit a touch on the sweet side (I know what you’re thinking, ice cream and Manhattans? This is how you cut back on the gluttony?). And speaking of sweet, the servers are all very warm and friendly, taking great pride in the bevy of balls they bestow.

2 teeth

Tarallucci e Vino

15 E 18th St. New York, NY 10003 • (212) 228-5400 • taralluccievino.net/the-restaurant

 20100224Tarallucci E Vino Sandwich

Flying under the radar of many a foodie lurks this surprisingly good Italian chameleon (not stallion). Great sandwiches. Great brunch. Terrific desserts. And, supposedly one of the best cups of coffee in the city. I’m not a coffee drinker, but my wife is and so are my friends, and I trust them… at least when it comes to coffee. The hot chocolate is pretty spectacular too.

Some lunch highlights to consider are the octopus salad starter. So tender and light you’d have to be an octoracist not to like it. I also recommend the grilled zucchini panini, but have them add proscuitto. And to finish, get the mini flourless chocolate cake. (aka Belgian brownie, aka awesome).

On the breakfasty side of things, the Nutella and banana french toast is worth a shout. As are most of the pastries.

So, if you’re looking for a nice casual bite to eat around Union Sq. and the Coffee Shop is packed and you’re not in the mood for Republic, head over here. It’s better anyways.

4 teeth