I had the opportunity to eat at Stagioni in Bloomfield yesterday with 7 friends. I was very impressed with the quality of the food and will be returning soon. I am always happy to go with a group of people since all of my friends are sharers. The waiter was kind enough to bring a pile of side plates to our table so we could all pass around samples of the delicious fare.
We started with a variety of appetizers - my favorite being the littleneck clams in a wonderful tomato broth. We also had the spiced fig tart with was rich and served with a hunk of pretty nice Gorgonzola and microgreen salad. Finally, we shared the calamari also in a delightful rich broth. There were two choices of bread - sundried tomato and rustic italian - both were ok but were still kind of "spongy" in my opinion. I am not sure why Pittsburgher's love spongy bread. They did, however, soak up the clam and calamari broths so not a drop was wasted. We moved on to salads and several couples could not resist the special salad of the evening - roasted beets and goat cheese. The beets were fresh and chilled after being cut into nice size bites. The balsamic drizzle added just a little extra sweetness and the goat cheese was sufficiently warm so it melted in my mouth. One couple decided on the bibb lettuce salad and another on the mixed field greens. Both looked nice but I tried a bite of my friend's acorn squash soup which was perfectly thick and nicely spiced. I could see eating this soup paired with a salad for a comfort lunch especially during this cold spell we are being subjected to! The entrees were the stand out of the evening and I believe we would all agree the Beef Braciole was the favorite. It was cooked to perfection in a tomato broth and served over homemade tagliatelle pasta. The pasta had a nice firmness to it but I think it could have been a little thinner. Other than that - wow! I chose the Braised Short Ribs over pureed parsnips. Again, the beef was fall off the bone perfect. My husband chose the Lamb Shank - delicious and sweet. It was served over pillowy gnocchi and with caramelized cippollini onions. I will go eat the porcini gnocchi at another time as my entree. These were the best gnocchi I have had in Pittsburgh. The Lobster Risotto was rich and filling. It was served with a large slice of blue cheese which added to the decadence. Needless to say, my friend took some of this dish home with her. Finally, two friends chose the angel hair pasta with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella. The dish was fine although the tomatoes were forgotten in both dishes. A generous bowl of them were delivered to the table moments after the entrees were delivered so it all worked out. We then sampled all of the desserts - ricotta cheese cake, creme brulee with raspberry compote, a divine chocolate mousse with a salted square of dark chocolate tucked on top, and an apple crisp tart. All were nicely prepared - the mousse was most in demand.
Our waiter seemed little overwhelmed at times but did a pretty good job. Spoons were not available right away and questions about the food were brushed over. He did provide the stack of plates for sharing and kept our wines glasses full.
The only real complaint I have is the noise and bright lights! Again, my preference is low lighting. The walls were pretty bare and the small space was filled with noise - especially because every table was filled. We had a hard time hearing each other at times. Some noise dampening could turn this awesome restaurant into an even nicer experience.
The owner stopped by our table to chat which, to me, is always a nice touch. She was personable and nice to talk to.
I recommend giving it a try - oh yes - it is BYOB as well.
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