|"I don't dig on swine." -Jules|
Sienna Mercato is in this beautiful building downtown next to August Henry's Saloon on Penn Ave. It is refreshing to have a bar located in the Penn Ave Tourist Corridor that I don't hate. Sharp Edge is expensive, August Henry's is plain awful, Seviche is colorful but passe, Sonoma Grill is where dads drink and Ten Penny is bunch of pretentious bologna. Mark's was my go-to until they replaced it with a piece of crap reception area.
I honestly never thought Pittsburgh would have a meatball restaurant. It seems awfully gimmicky, but it works. The Emporio meatballs are not cheap, but the happy hour deal isn't bad at all. Half off all drafts until 6 pm, but sadly no food discount. As for the meatballs, expect to dish out $3.50 a pop.
The wonderful thing about Emporio is the plethora of choices. You can choose from four different meatballs: beef, pork, veggie and chicken. Then you choose one of nine different sauces: Sunday gravy, pork bolognse, creamy parmesan, chicken gravy, government cheese, mushroom gravy, aribiatta, tzatziki and pesto. That means that you can potentially try up to 36 different combinations. That's a different meatball everyday of the month!
I went with the pork meatball with pork bolognse, the beef meatball with aribiatta, and the chicken meatball with government cheese. The clear winner was the beef with aribiatta. It wasn't a super-spicy oily aribiatta like the kind in Italy, but it had a nice spice level that would not offend most palates. The pork bolognse had hints of allspice and cinnamon but was otherwise unremarkable. The government cheese was absolutely amazing! A rich gooey texture loaded with generic cheese flavor. I have to give a special shout to the girls of EatPgh for recommending I try the government cheese as it is easily a sauce I would have otherwise overlooked.
Finally, I have to say that the staff did a terrific job. The bartenders in particular were very diligent and attentive. I'd say they were easily better than any of the clown bartenders at the other above mentioned bars in the Penn Ave Tourist Corridor. (PS, I'm trademarking Penn Avenue Tourist Corridor so don't use it.)