by: Steve Montellese
How often have you eaten at a restaurant with a name that’s an adjective, much less a name that could also be an adverb? Blue is just that place and is one of the few really wonderful restaurants in Pittsburgh’s North Hills owned and managed by Jason Eisenreich. The menu is simple and elegant spanning a wide range of tastes.
Blue has a beautiful bar area where you’ll find the excellent and friendly bartender Kim Hammill. The drink menu is spectacular and I managed to sample the special holiday drink, the Candy Cane Martini made with Godiva white chocolate liquor, vodka and Peppermint Schnapps. Served for a limited time only, so don’t miss it. The wine selection by the glass was unusually extensive giving everyone something to suit their palate.
We sampled four appetizers, two salads, four of the entrees and a dessert all prepared by Chef Jay Whittenberger who also paired each course with an appropriate wine. Wine pairings are ultimately an individual choice, but these went well with the courses and are a good place to start. First was the Lobster Risotto ($9), which was paired with a light and refreshing Vino Verde wine ($8.75) from Portugal. The risotto was prepared with huge chunks of succulent lobster and was outstanding.
Then came what Blue calls the Mediterranean Tasting ($7), which contained Tabouleh Salad, Mixed Olives and Sesame Hummus. This appetizer was nicely paired with a Fuchs, Gruner Veltliner wine ($8.75) from Austria.
The Cheese Course ($10) consisted of three excellent cheeses; Morbeir, Cambozola and Tartufo paired with a French Chardonnay ($10.50) by Talmard. Typically French Chardonnay doesn’t have the oakiness of the American variety which worked well with these cheeses.
Next came the Bacon Tasting ($9) a really fun appetizer consisting of three types of bacon – Wild Boar, Pancetta and Neuske which Chef Jay paired with a great Beaujolais wine.
The two salads were next. First the delicious Caprese salad ($7) containing tomatoes, mozzarella and red onion topped with a balsamic and fig reduction sauce. Prosecco (which is a dry Italian sparkling wine was an excellent choice to compliment this course.
If you like Brussels sprouts you have got to try the Brussels Sprout Salad ($7) with Blue Cheese and Bacon Vinaigrette Dressing. It was one of the most interesting and delicious salads that I’ve ever had. To make it even better, it was paired with a Spanish Tempranillo wine ($10.75) which was silky and smooth.
Then came the entrees…
The first was the Ahi Tuna ($28) perfectly prepared with apple and fennel slaw, seared just right on the edges.
Hanger Steak ($26) also known as the butcher’s steak has become more popular as of late. There is only one per cow and it was the piece of meat that the butcher often took home for himself. It hangs near the liver and is said to possess just a hint of liver flavor. It is a wonderfully flavorful cut of meat and was marinated and prepared with Chinese beans and rice. The wine served with the steak was an Italian Negroamaro, by Salice Salentino ($9.00) which stood up well to the hanger steak.
The Cavatelli Pasta ($24) with duck confit, grilled scallions, wild mushrooms, ricotta salata with smoked pepper cream was surprisingly different and superb. The Montepulciano ($7.75) served with the course was a really nice compliment working well with the duck and sauce.
And finally, always the crowd pleaser, the Grilled Rack of Lamb ($29) served with wild mushroom risotto was simply delicious. Cooked just right it was flavorful and tender and was wonderful with the El Portillo Malbec wine ($8.50) that it was served with.
To finish off this wonderful tasting was the chocolate mousse dessert served with Cockburn’s Fine Ruby, port wine. Together they went down soft and delicious. There is nothing like good chocolate with a nice glass of port!
Besides fine dining and an amazing wine & martini bar, Blue has several other attractions. On the last Wednesday of each month, Blue hosts, what they call, a Strolling Wine Tasting at 6:00pm, which sounds like a fun evening to try. Tuesdays are Diva Tuesdays featuring the best female vocalists in the area, from 8-10pm. Another reason to check out Blue is their Friday happy hour. Complimentary sushi is served and we hear its amazing, so get there early.
Also, Blue is expanding the dining and bar areas, taking over the adjacent store’s space. The plan is to have this open by the end of December. Blue should definitely be on your list of places to dine…. located in the North Hills at 1701 Duncan Avenue Allison Park, PA 15101 – phone: 412-369-9050 – Reservations Recommended.
Friday and Saturday 4:00pm-11:00pm
Bar open until 2am