Dining – Cafe Notte – Emsworth – Pittsburgh

Café Notte – 03-26-2010

I love beautiful food.  It’s a fact. I love atmosphere and great service and when we find a place that offers all three AND great drinks, great wine selection AND real coffee, well of course I’m willing to share……Café Notte located on Rt. 65 in Emsworth is quickly going to be a red hot spot for foodies and gastronomes alike.

Debbie & Jerry Santucci have brought to life a gorgeous vision complete with a real wood burning fireplace, an amazing starry ceiling, a warm and friendly atmosphere and a great staff including some that call them mom & dad! Executive Chef David Hurley along with Sous Chef Doug Panessa create spectacular Tapas, Soups, Salads, Lunch & even Brunch!  You’re gonna love this place!  Now let me tell you all about it!

Our evening started out with a round of amazing drinks made by Debbie’s son David Mielnicki.  The experience he gained from working in notorious Pittsburgh hot spots is evident and David serves his creations with pride.  I had one of the best martinis ever and then got to try an Espresso martini that tasted so good it’s dangerous.  He knows his wines and is always available to assist with pairing.  The menu even offers suggestions to help enhance your dining experience.  The wines at Café Notte are not available in retail outlets so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

The first Tapas we tried was the Antipasta, a generous portion of authentic Italian meats, cheese, olives, everything you’d expect in a top notch Antipasta.  Knowing Italian meats, I picked out my favorites and they were all there. The homemade bread was too enticing not to try even though we usually don’t when conducting a review- but, we DID!  I’m soooo showing up there for a bread lesson!  Crab Bruschetta was next- homemade bread topped with a crab & fresh roasted red peppers, perfectly seasoned and topped with grated cheese.  I knew we were in for something special because this dish was presented so beautifully and was so fresh, plus the smells coming from the kitchen were making me hungry!  Next came the Spicy Tuna Tar tare and seriously- I could live on this.  It immediately took me back to Maui where the locals eat a similar raw concoction called “poke’”.  Wow!  Was this awesome!  I was glad that Joyce, our editor had little interest in eating raw tuna and quickly I calculated that I could eat hers.  Paired with a glass of white wine…….Just when I thought I’d reached culinary heaven, Debbie sent out one of her favorite’s- Shrimp Mozambique, 4 spicy gigantic shrimp atop a perfect risotto (and you know I know risotto!)  I’ll just say I thought about this dish the next day with the exotic spices and colorful presentation.  Such a nice portion but that didn’t make me want to share!  Shrimp and Risotto and a fireplace and a starry ceiling,  I fell in love.  And then they brought us the Blue Filet Mignon.   Tender aged filet wrapped around goat cheese, topped with kalamata olive tapenade, served over micro greens with a pomegranate cabernet reduction.  (You know I stuck my finger in that sauce! & I’ll call it “lick the plate” good!)  This is probably THE best tapas I have ever had!  This dish totally speaks for itself and don’t EVER think I’m sharing mine with you.

At this point, we felt like old friends with Michael, our seasoned server.  His friendly demeanor, attention to detail and pride in this restaurant and quality of food certainly enhanced our dining experience.  He even snuck us a sample of the Seafood Bisque (which was to die for!).  The couple of spoons were a perfect serving size when trying so many different things on one night.  The presentation was stellar with little dabs of crème fraiche and a tiny garnish in a wee bowl.  These guys really care about what they’re doing and you’ll appreciate their hard work.  Tapas at Café Notte are $11.99 each and plenty to share but be careful, you probably won’t want to.  Appetizers & daily specials are offered as well as Ala Carte items such as Asparagus, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Polenta Points and Pastas.  Entrees are offered and we were delighted to try the Colorado Lamb Chops ($22.99) served perfectly prepared and artfully presented I think we all fell in love.  The tender lamb made me think of Spring, conscious farming and family tradition and how nice it was to relax with such good food in such a peaceful, soothing atmosphere.  Café Notte is excellent, not in any pretentious, snooty, “wanna be” fantastic way but- they are fantastic, good, real, wholesome, beautiful and best of all family.  We felt so comfortable and welcome that it is definitely worth noting.  I’m looking forward to the patio addition, which should be opened early April, brunch and being part of the family!  Café Notte hosts a Sunday Brunch that I personally can’t wait to get to.  Here’s a preview of just some of the menu offerings- Lobster & Asparagus Benedict ($13.99), French Rolled Crepes ($9.95), Brown Sugar & Honey Glazed Ham ($11.95) and they even have Made to Order Omelets with an impressive list of fillings.  Plus they make real Espresso & coffee drinks!  Lunch is served daily from 11 to 4.  Happy Hour is Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 7 with wine, liquor & beer specials.  Friday & Saturday nights from 10 to midnight you’ll find more drink specials.  Café Notte is closed Mondays.  The kitchen is open until 10pm  weekdays and 11pm on Friday & Saturday.  The bar is open until 2am.   Pay them a visit.  Enjoy La Dolce Vita!

Café Notte

8070 Ohio River, Pittsburgh, PA 15202-1703