Archive for the ‘Glorious Food’ Category

Del’s Italian Restaurant and Bar, Bloomfield PA: Review

Del’s Bar & Ristorante DelPizzo is located in the Bloomfield section of the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Del’s Italian Restaurant is owned by third-generation Delpizzo family. In December 2011, Del’s underwent a “Restaurant: Impossible” make-over; a Food Network series that sends Chef Robert Irvine into “America’s most desperate restaurants” and infuses them with new ideas, new decor and new hope for the future.

As dedicated Food Network fans, Mark and I were excited about the opportunity to see a “Restaurant: Impossible” make-over first hand. It had been many many years since I had been to Del’s, and Mark had never been there. My memory of what Del’s was like before the make-over is too distant to serve as any comparison. I do know that Del’s has always had a reputation for providing very good, authentic Italian food and to my knowledge had a thriving business with regular clientele. I was very surprised to learn it was a candidate as one of America’s “most desperate” restaurants.

January 7, 2012–my birthday. We set out for an early dinner, arriving and finding a parking spot in the designated section of the shopping center parking lot across the street from Del’s. It’s always nice to find parking spot in these little urban towns around Pittsburgh without incident! Del’s has a bar on one side, with restaurant seating behind the bar and in a separate room beside the bar. We followed another couple into the restaurant and approached the empty hostess station. Workers bustled about but it took several minutes before the couple in front of us was approached and seated. Then several more minutes before a harried-looking, not particularly happy young woman approached us, saying “How many? Two? Follow me” and lead us to a table. Our menus were slapped unceremoniously–and precariously–on the edge of the table.

We took some time to observe the decor and postulate what was pre-existing and what Chef Irvine had implemented. We decided the aqua colored walls, the red light light fixtures and the red shelving lined with pottery all bore the marks of Chef Irvine’s doing.  The gold faux-marble table tops were probably not new, and we determined the chairs had been painted. The photographs on the wall were encased in red frames, matching the light fixtures. The carpet we differed on; I thought it looked old and Mark thought it was probably new…a dark green cross-hatch patterned carpet.

Our waiter (“Mark”) was a nice young man. He brought us drinks from the bar (Sam Adams winter lager for Mark, a glass of Riesling for me) as we looked over the menu. The menu had a number of choices and a few of the daily specials, printed on a separate sheet of paper, indicated that they were “Restaurant: Impossible” items. Mark’s menu, by the way, was missing the list of specials; it held the paper clip where the list ostensibly should have been. Neither Mark nor I, however, ordered one of the “new” menu items. Mark chose the Pesto Crusted Salmon with a salad, and I selected the Ravioli with Artichokes and Walnuts with wedding soup. Bread was served to us first….cold, Italian bread with butter packets. Alas, we had no tableware and our waiter apologized and brought us each paper-napkin wrapped knife, fork and spoon. We also asked to be provided water.

Susan’s meal: The wedding soup was not what I expected but was not bad. There were no meatballs; instead, there were large hunks of chicken. It came in a cup with a good bit of the soup sloshed onto the saucer and a packet of saltines resting in the overflow. I had one piece of the cold bread; I had no desire for more. My entree arrived and initially didn’t look like much: four raviolis in a cream sauce. It was actually pretty tasty but quite salty, and I have a high salt preference. Three raviolis filled me up; they were larger than I originally thought. As it was my birthday, we asked to see the dessert menu. Our waiter brought us a plate with several choices and I selected the Vanilla Almond Torte. A large serving was presented to me, drizzled in a cherry sauce. It was the best part of my meal, and I could only consume half of it. I suspect, however, that it was not made onsite. I could be wrong; there was no printed dessert menu to provide me more information, nor does the website discuss desserts.

Mark’s meal: Mark’s salad contained lettuce, onion, cherry tomatoes and large slices of carrot with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It was a satisfactory salad. His entree, Pesto Crusted Salmon, was a good portion size served over fettucine. There was no “crust” to the pesto which had been heaped onto the salmon. They had attempted to get the pesto sauce to crust which resulted in parts of the salmon being overcooked and dry. For dessert, a vanilla bean cheesecake which was drizzled with a cherry sauce. Mark gives the cheesecake a “4 out of 5” rating. The taste of the pesto sauce from the entree lingered, however, throughout dessert and even on the drive home.

Overall, our experience with Del’s was unremarkable. Certainly not the worst we have ever had, but also not the best or even very good. We had hoped for more, given Del’s long history in the area and the recent make-over. I’m glad we went and it was fun playing Food Network critics, if only to each other as audience.

In pursuit of “our place”

Mark and I have been trying local restaurants in pursuit of a non-chain establishment  that provides consistently good food, service, and atmosphere at a non-ridiculous cost.  Ideally, we’d like to find a place within five miles of our home.  Thus far, we haven’t been terribly successful.  It appears we need to expand our territory.

I will be posting reviews of the places we try. Last night, for my birthday, we went to Del’s Italian Restaurant and Bar in Bloomfield. We were pretty excited (well, I was) about this as the Food Network’s “Restaurant: Impossible” had just done a re-do of the place last month (episode to air on February 29, 2012). My review is in a separate post.

We don’t go out too often so this part of my blog will be slow-moving. But there will be more to follow!

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

I used this recipe as a base for a buffalo chicken pizza:

http://www.food.com/recipe/our-favorite-buffalo-chicken-pizza-256105

I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough.  I think I need a “moister” dough for this recipe. It was quite good but the dough was a little dry. Not a fault of the recipe, obviously, I just need a regular white dough, I believe.  I used shredded sharp cheddar as that is what I had on hand. I didn’t have green onions but I chopped some fresh chives from my herb garden and tossed them on.

My pizzas tend to be made from ingredients I have readily available so I look for a recipe for whatever idea strkikes me and then I take it from there. I meant to use the cremini mushrooms I bought the other day, too, but I got distracted by a phone call from Teresa as I was making the recipe. So I forgot!

Sausage Pizza

With limited time and ingredients tonight, I made a simple sausage pizza. I had no pizza sauce on hand so I used tomato sauce doctored with oregano, garlic, basil, salt & pepper, white sugar and a dash of cayenne pepper. I had two sweet Italian sausages, in casings, in the refrigerator. I stripped them of their casings and pan fried the sausage, breaking it up into bits.

I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough that I rolled out on a floured surface. This created a thinner crust and allowed me to roll the edges for nice crust edge. I oiled the pizza pan with olive oil, flipped the rolled dough onto it and rolled the edges for the crust. I spread the pizza sauce on the dough, carefully keeping it within the crust edges. I squeezed some of the oil out of the sausage (which I had allowed to cool a bit) and spread it on the sauce and then generously covered in shredded mozzarella. I would have used some veggies if I had them on hand (olives, green peppers, mushrooms) but I did not.

The pizza was baked at 425 degrees for 14 minutes. It was quite tasty, though Mark thought the sauce could have used more garlic. I had 3 pieces! Mark had 4. So one piece still sits there in the kitchen….

Pancetta & Pesto Pizza

I made this one on April 14, 2011. It was pretty good but requires some tweaking. Next time I’ll use more pancetta.

  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce, approximately (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons black olives, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes, diced (I used canned, drained diced tomatoes because that’s all I had on hand; sundried tomatoes  would be good)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup pancetta, diced (totally guessed on quantity…it was a package)
  1. Prepare pizza dough per package directions, spreading on pizza pan and allowing to rest.
  2. Spread pesto sauce over pizza dough.
  3. Sprinkle with sliced olives, shredded mozzarella, diced tomatoes and pancetta.
  4. Bake 450 degrees for 12 minutes or until pizza dough is cooked through and cheese is melted.

RECOMMENDATIONS: add some oregano; use more mozzarella cheese and use entire package of pancetta. Grate some parmesan cheese over pizza prior to baking.

Garlic Hummus Pizza

In Pursuit of Pizza

Today’s experimental pizza was a bit of a divergence for us. It’s a vegetarian pizza and I used a recipe on Allrecipes.com as a base and added my own touches. We definitely liked it. I’d give it at least 4.5 stars; I’m not sure why I withhold 5 stars. Maybe just a tad more tweaking. I need to think on it.

Garlic Hummus Pizza
1 whole wheat pizza dough (Trader Joe’s, 16 oz)
1 cup garlic hummus spread
1 1/2 cups sliced bell peppers, any color (I used red)
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup sliced black olives
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, or combination of cheeses–your choice

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Roll out pizza crust and place on a pizza pan or baking sheet.
Spread a thin layer of hummus over the crust.
Arrange sliced peppers, black olives and broccoli over the hummus, and top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until the crust is golden brown and cheese is melted in the center. Slice and serve.

Applecot Sauce


Applecot Sauce

Originally uploaded by nsaid

Sunday was a trip to Trader Joes on Penn Avenue in East Liberty. Mark had never been there so I got to share that with him. Yesterday was his first trip to Delallo’s, so I’ve been happy to share these little “grocery” experiences with him.

I wanted to continue my culinary fun so we picked some nice pork chops, dried apricots and apples, fresh green beans, and some plain couscous (not to mention the dark chocolate covered blueberries to complete our blueberry weekend, haha). Sunday dinner then was Grilled Apple-Brown Sugar Pork Chops, Savory Couscous, Italian Green Beans and the Applecot Sauce.

The applecot recipe comes from an older cookbook entitled “The Modern Family Cook Book” by Meta Given. The edition I have was published in 1945. I made this recipe for my daughters quite awhile ago and they enjoyed it. I wanted something fresh and summery so I made it again. I did have a few variations…I added some cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar to the recipe and after cooking & cooling, I hit it up in the food processor to chop it so nicely. Quite tasty!

Mark grilled the pork chops after I marinated them for a couple of hours. We really enjoyed them! The green beans were cooked and quickly sauteed in butter and garlic, with seasoned bread crumbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese added at the end. The couscous also involved garlic and minced onions cooked in butter, some chicken stock and chopped parsley. Nice dinner. Teresa was home for dinner tonight. A nice glass of Riesling rounded out the meal.

I do love my culinary adventure weekends! I do love sharing them with Mark as well as my daughters and their boyfriends.