After spending the day Downtown on Wednesday, I met up with a former coworker for drinks and appetizers at Sienna Mercato (942 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh). Although I hadn’t been there before, I’d eaten previously at their sister restaurant a short distance away, Sienna On the Square. I remembered that my meal — with The Girl, before last year’s One Direction concert at Heinz Field — was very, very good.
(These are pictures from Sienna on the Square. I wish I could remember what we had, but I do know it was damn good. Anyway, I’m using these because I need a related picture for this post but I didn’t take pictures at dinner on Wednesday and I didn’t want to take an image off of Sienna Mercato’s social media without asking permission first.)
Anyway, yes. Back to the present day and Sienna Mercato, which has a tagline of Good. Times. Three. This restaurant is unique in that they have three dining establishments under one roof.
Emporio: A Meatball Joint features gourmet meatballs, soups, salads, etc. as well as a full bar with 32 draft beers, wines, and cocktails. It’s located on the ground floor. Upstairs, Mezzo highlights Italian fare including house made charcuterie, wood-fired pizzas, savory panini, creative pastas, and fine wines. Finally, Il Tetto is a rooftop beer garden and a perfect atmosphere for an outdoor gathering. They offer drafts, wine, cocktails and light fare.
My friend and I opted for Emporio because of the happy hour specials; we ordered wine, thinking it was cheaper than it was based on misunderstanding our waitress’ explanation, but no big deal.
Emporio is known for their gourmet meatballs. Choices are classic beef (“grandma’s secret”); spicy pork (chili pepper, herbs); vegetarian (mushroom, white beans and cauliflower); and chicken (parmesan and herbs). Only the chicken version is gluten free, which my friend chose and which presented me (a gluten free vegetarian) with a dilemma. I hedged my bets on the meat being more problematic for my crazy messed up stomach and went for the vegetarian.
I will say that the vegetarian and gluten free distinctions are very clearly marked on Emporio’s menu (and yes, I could have selected something GF, but I really, really wanted a meatball.)
A sauce comes with the meatball and guests have their choice of marinara (vegetarian and GF); pork bolognese; creamy parmesan (vegetarian); chicken gravy; government cheese (vegetarian); mushroom gravy (vegetarian); arribiatta (vegetarian and gluten free); tzatziki (vegetarian and gluten free); spinach-almond pesto (vegetarian and gluten free) and chicken-chili. Adding serving options are as sliders, paninis, grinders, or over a side — including a gluten free pasta.
I was undecided between the tzatziki, the marinara, and the spinach-almond pesto and wound up selecting the tzatziki, again on my friend’s recommendation. (She has never steered me wrong in the almost 3 years that I’ve known her.)
The meatballs are presented in a little silver bowl with a small flag that says “Emporio.” SO FREAKING CUTE. You can see it here.
As my friend and I talked and ate and drank our wine, I realized I was hungrier than I thought. We perused the sides, deciding on a basket of tater tots. These arrived piping hot and crispy. Our waitress was very pleasant and very accommodating throughout the meal.
Sienna Mercato was a perfect place to catch up after work while enjoying a drink and snack-type dinner. The meatballs more than earn their reputation. Next time I’d plan to try them over the penne and with their vegetarian, gluten-free marinara sauce or the pesto.
All in all, a wonderful dining experience which I recommend and look forward to repeating.
This is post #68 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.