Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Taste of Italy. In Pittsburgh.

I had dinner with my mom and her friends last week. A-MAZ-ING! We went to a home in Bloomfield – one of the many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, also known as our Little Italy.

The first floor is a little store called Merante Gifts and the upstairs was set up for one of the most fabulous wining and dining experiences I’ve ever had. Maria – the owner and hostess – prepared a meal for us from appetizers to dessert, explaining each recipe and her tricks of the trade as we went along.

It all began with a feast of delicious appetizers that could have been a satisfying meal all on their own. My personal favorite was the brie wrapped in puff pastry with apricot preserves, almonds, dried cranberries and apples. It was actually really similar to the brie in a bread bowl concoction Fiance and I created this winter (I can share our recipe if anybody is interested).

Then it was on to dinner, starting with cool Italian gazpacho, which was a perfect blend of veggies and herbs served in a cool heirloom tomato broth.

Also on the menu:
  • Pasticcio di Gnocchi with béchamel, prosciutto, peas and pancetta completing the dish (and the gnocchi was homemade, of course)
  • Filet Mignon wrapped in puff pastry
  • Grilled summer vegetables
  • Roasted beets and oranges over field greens and arugula
After all of that, my tum was about ready to burst and I was pretty positive I couldn’t swallow another ounce of food. Then Maria brought out the Limoncello cake.The cake looked amazing and tasted even better.

Maria left us with a recipe for everything and I can’t wait to try a couple out on my Italian fam.


  1. This is so strange... I linked to your blog from another, and happened to realize that (like me) you are from Pittsburgh and enjoy cooking. I looked through your past entries, and found this one. Can you believe that I have also dined in Maria's kitchen at Merante Gifts??? I now live in NC (my husband is a USMC officer), but when I was home over the holidays, we took my parents on a 'Burgh food tour, and it ended there. They have since gone back for a cooking class together.

    Anyway, this was a VERY long-winded comment, but I just want you to know that I enjoyed looking through your blog. New follower here!