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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto

When you ride the glass elevator up to the dining area of Monterey Bay, you know you are in for a memorable evening. If you haven't been in a while, I recommend stopping by to checkout the new decor. They recently did a massive three million dollar overhaul and the space looks beautiful. It has a very elegant aesthetic that is not common in the Pittsburgh area. I doubt I need to mention the great view of the city from Monterey Bay, but it is astonishing!

Pictured above is the kobe beef tartar on crostini, the salmon ceviche roll with spicy mayo and the veggie roll for the losers. (Just kidding, it was pretty good - I'm just more of a fish man.)

I particularly enjoyed the salmon ceviche roll, but the beef tartar was my absolute favorite. Very flavorful and fresh, I think I ate about half of the platter by myself. In addition to the renovations, Monterey Bay has been making some additions to their menu as well.

It's nice to see that a restaurant that has been around for a while isn't afraid to try new things, just the other week they were offering a ceviche taco at the Pittsburgh Farm to Table Conference that was remarkably good.

The Ichiban skewers pictured above were one of my favorite dishes we tried at Monterey Bay. They made them with bite size pieces of marinated filet, tuna and swordfish. The dish had a great array of flavors and textures and I love anything that's slightly charred.

Monterey Bay also put together some great cocktails for us! My absolute favorite was the strawberry basil pepino with tequila, lime, strawberries and jalapeno. It was a total knockout. I can't thank the staff of Monterey Bay and Eileen French from Revive Marketing enough for such an awesome evening. I can't wait to go back. It's always nice to be pampered.

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vallozzi's - Downtown

Our wonderful spread.

I believe this was my fourth or fifth visit to Vallozzi's for happy hour in the last year. Quite frankly, they have one of the best happy hour setups in Market Square. A spacious bar with plenty of high top seating and room for mingling. Without even taking into account how great their food is, here are some reasons why Vallozzi's should be one of your top choices for happy hour in Market Square if you have a large group.

1. The Oyster House really isn't that good.
2. Nola gets very crowded and it is hard to find a spot at the bar. (You have to be seated at the bar to get happy hour prices at NOLA.)
3. Perle has very strange older singles vibe. (So this might actually be your spot after all depending on what you are into.)
4. Los Velas is not quite as good as Taco Bell.
5. The Yard can be insanely noisy and crowded.

Some of the wonderful dishes we tried included the flat breads, the cured meat plate and the fried risotto balls. Although the flat breads were my favorite snack, I was remarkably impressed by the fried risotto balls. They had a wonderful creamy texture and were a perfect vehicle for consuming Vallozzi's marinara sauce.

I also have to tell you about my favorite drink from the Vallozzi's happy hour menu. It was an Italian drink I've never heard of called sgroppino. I was actually not sure how to say the word so I think I just pointed to it on the menu. Apparently it is a Venetian drink typically made with lemon sorbet, Vallozzi's served them up with lemon rosemary syrup, vodka and prosecco. Three of them is an excellent way to start and end your night!

Vallozzi's Pittsburgh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato