Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dinette

SP & I had planned to have a special dinner out Saturday evening to celebrate one year since we moved into our house. However, for various reasons, we postponed our celebration until next weekend. I changed our reservations and next weekend we will be dining at one of our favorite restaurants - more on that place next weekend!

Meanwhile, we decided to go out for dinner Saturday anyway. A quick dinner, not a 4 course meal with wine & coffee & lingering. We consulted our list of 'Restaurants We'd Like to Try' and decided to try Dinette. Dinette is in East Liberty, near Whole Foods. More specifically, it's between the liquor store/bookstore area and A Taste of Chocolate chocolate store and above a FedEx Kinko's. Happily, there's a free parking lot in front of Dinette, so there's no hassle of driving around searching for on street parking.

We had heard a lot about Dinette and we'd read the reviews in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, City Paper, and Pittsburgh Magazine. We knew that the menu changes and that Dinette uses local, seasonal, and organic ingredients and that it is committed to sustainability. We knew the wine list changes frequently. And we knew that, supposedly, the pizza was terrific.

Saturday was busy & errand-filled; we had only eaten Panera food and that was before noon. We were both hungry when we got home around 4 pm. We thought we had heard that Dinette can get quite crowded. So since we wanted food sooner rather than later, we decided to try to get there around 5 pm, which is when they open for dinner, and hopefully avoid a long wait (which seems to be the case almost no matter when you go out for dinner at a restaurant in the South Hills/Robinson area, which is where we live).

Much to our surprise, we were the first and only people in Dinette around 5:10 pm. Sure, it was early for dinner, but... I have to say, it was a bit unsettling being the only people there while the 5 or 6 employees hovered around the bar/hostess areas.

Dinette is small but it's very bright and shiny! Of course, we were there when the sun was shining through the windows and illuminating the bright orange chairs and shining off the glass tables. There was a very cute tiny vase with 2 flowers on the table.While we tried to decide on a drink, our server filled our water glasses from a chilled glass bottle of water, which she left on the table so that we could refill our water glasses whenever we desired. This is very good for SP, who tends to drink a lot. She also brought a small glass filled with tall, skinny breadsticks which were very, very tasty.Another surprise: Dinette does not offer iced tea as a beverage. SP & I are huge iced tea drinkers. I do not drink soda. I decided to have a glass of the sparkling rose ($9). SP decided to have a Diet Coke. Sodas do not come from a soda fountain but rather the bottle is brought to the table.I enjoyed my sparkling rose, though I confess that as all sparkling beverages do, even just one glass goes right to my head and makes me all fuzzy!!! Note SP's cool straw - it was metal! It looked like a bendy straw with the detail on it, but it wasn't. Very cool!

We decided to not have any appetizers because we didn't want to stuff ourselves and we figured that if each of us ordered a pizza, that would be plenty of food and we would probably end up stuffed anyway!

I asked our server if the olive tapenade contained garlic. She immediately answered no, which not only made me very happy, but also surprised me as I am used to servers needing to scurry off to consult with the kitchen. This made my decision easy: I ordered the pizza with grilled zucchini, olive tapenade, pine nuts, ricotta salatta, and fresh mozzarella ($14).SP chose the pizza with prosciutto, arugula, parmigiano reggiano, and fresh mozzarella ($16).We both enjoyed our pizzas. And of course, we traded. The crust is wonderfully thin but it wasn't soggy at the tips of the pieces like some thin crust pizzas. We both preferred the prosciutto pizza. There was something so wonderful about the salty prosciutto, the cheese, and the peppery arugula that was so darn good. The zucchini pizza was quite tasty, too, but a bit more sedate. I could taste the olive tapenade and sort of wished there had been more of it on the pizza as I love olive tapenade (the non-garlicky kind!). The zucchini could maybe have been a bit thicker - sometimes it almost seemed as if I couldn't really taste the zucchini.

Dinette also provides a tiny, cute bowl filled with pepper flakes.

Why did I include the prices in this review? Probably because I read some online reviews that complained about the price of the pizza for what you got. I suppose $14-$16 for a pizza is a bit pricey, but then again, a small gourmet pizza delivered from Pizza Milano is $12.99 and a medium $16.99. We knew, going in, what the cost would be and what kind of pizza to expect. The pizzas were enough food for us - we were stuffed. We even brought 3 pieces home for lunch today. If you have a ravenous appetite and like your pizza piled high with 5 cheeses, red sauce, and topped with pepperoni, sausage, peppers, etc., this is not the place to dine. These are thin crust, gourmet, 'foodie' pizzas.

Would we go back again? Yes.

When we left around 6:15 pm, there were only 2 other occupied tables. We were surprised, especially after seeing a few online reviews that mentioned a long wait. Maybe most people go there later in the evening and not so much at dinner time? We hope it was just a slow weekend (the Whole Foods looked awfully empty as well - usually when we are there it's packed) and that Dinette stays around for a while, unlike Richard Chen, which I think was in the same area and which we did not get to before it closed.

On the way to dinner, we had discussed going to Te Cafe or Dave & Andy's after dinner. We were so stuffed that we decided to simply head home. As we started home, I suddenly had a Dave & Andy's craving. I needed ice cream. I'm not sure why - I was quite full, but it was like a blinking beacon beckoning to me. So SP stopped off in Oakland and got me a yummy chocolate ice cream cone at Dave & Andy's. He didn't want anything. So then I felt a bit... piggy. But that didn't stop me. I am a bit ashamed to report that, despite feeling stuffed with pizza, I ate the entire cone on the drive from Oakland to Robinson. And there wasn't any traffic.

1 comment:

  1. I've considered trying this place since reading the reviews, and actually walked past realllllly slowly on Friday trying to get myself to go in. My only problems with it are the facts that 1) I have no one to go with (problem with me, not the restaurant), and 2) $14+ seems like waaaaaaaaay too much for me to spend on a meal (I usually keep my meals <$5, haha).
    Loved the pics, though, and you made me hungry for arugula!

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