Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holy Moly, Girasole!

For years and years, PID and I have had many F.O.R.Ts who've lived (and many who still live) in Shadyside Proper. So imagine my surprise when I thought for a moment this past weekend and realized I'd NEVER been to Girasole! We decided a nice date night was long overdue and trekked back east to change that as soon as possible.

The restaurant is a tiny, 45-seat Italian bistro that packs more charm and tables between two natural stone walls than you'd think possible. If you didn't know that Girasole meant "Sunflower" in Italian before you walked in, you'd quickly learn. They adorn doors, walls and hostess station as a sunny reminder and you can head out with your own specially bottled Girasole sunflower oil if you'd like.

When we arrived, we were told we'd have the "next open two-top" by who we later learned was this Italian family business's patriarch, Jimmy - or "Pie" as he's known to his loved ones.  He seemed a little swamped, because we saw two two-tops go right by without him calling us in.

"Where you been?!" He yelled at us when we asked why we hadn't yet been seated.  When I told him we were right outside the door because there really wasn't a waiting area he shrugged and told us: "Well, these things happen!" Part of me wanted so badly to be sitting with a glass of wine in my hand, but I had to laugh at his outlook on life.

When we were finally seated, Clint Hurdle was shoulder-to-shoulder with PID so we already felt like we'd made a good choice! We toasted to a romantic evening out with a glass of Prosecco and an Italian beer and waited on our starters.

PID ordered a bowl of Cream of Mushroom soup, and that's where our journey began.

Cream of Mushroom Soup - $3.99
The soup was rich and earthy but with a hint of zest that added an unimaginable amount of flavor to a tiny, steaming bowl.  I took one spoon full to taste and PID knew immediately from the look on my face that I was going to ask to finish the cup. He was right. I most certainly did.

We each received a Gorgonzola salad to kickoff our entrees. If you read my blog with any level of regularity, you may know that I have an unhealthy affinity to blue veined cheeses. So, needless to say, I was excited about a simple salad. But add chickpeas, Italian olives and just the right amount of a mouthwatering house dressing and you've got PID excited, too (and that ain't easy).

Finally, it came time for our entrees. PID ordered the Carne del Giorno which happened to be one of his favorites, Osso Buco, on a bed of saffron risotto. The risotto was packed with flavor cooked to perfection, a beautiful balance of creamy and firm. The veal itself was slightly overdone, which drew a bit of flavor from the meatiest parts, but the sauces certainly kept the love alive.

Osso Buco with saffron risotto - $21.99
I knew before I even set foot in the door what I would be ordering. In fact, I'd been waiting nearly 12 full months for the dish. The pumpkin ravioli served in a creamy sage sauce is a dish that literally has a local following. Last year, I was doing research on local restaurants offering Fall menus, and Girasole's pumpkin ravioli came highly recommended. I wound up listing it as one of my top picks for a fall lunch offering, but never had the opportunity to try it first-hand.  Well, the time had finally come.

Pumpkin Ravioli - $17.99
The anticipation had been building for quite some time so, at first glance, the presentation was a bit lackluster. I was really hoping for something far more appealing to draw me in (I'm a firm believer in the mantra that you eat first with your eyes). I truly felt that just a tiny bit more love could have been put into this dish to make it really pop.

But the flavors were certainly there. The creamy sage drowned the zippy pumpkin while managing to balance each other with grace.  My only complaint on taste? It was a bit one-note. After three fairly sizable raviolis, I was done for the night. I suppose not only the presentation, but the overall texture and composition of the dish could have used a little something extra.

Restaurant Information:
Address: 733 Copeland Street, Shadyside
Phone:  412.682.2130
Reservations: You can "technically" call ahead, but don't bother. Just show up at off-peak dining hours or expect a wait.
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner only

Overall Opinion:
Though neither of us were completely blown away by our entrees, they were quite yummy and Girasole certainly delivered on ambiance and service. The dining room appeared cramped, but thanks to lighting and table placement, we barely noticed once we sat down. The staff was friendly and attentive and our server got everything right on the nose, stopping back at the right times to refill our beverages. We'd most definitely recommend Girasole for a romantic night on the town OR for authentic and hearty Italian fare, but not necessarily if you're looking for the hot spots to get the most modern, urban cuisine.

Girasole on Urbanspoon

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1 comment:

  1. Hi..I had pumpkin ravioli's before also..and I agree completely that after 2 or 3, you are completely over it...I think they are better for an appetizer than a entree..


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