It has officially become a tradition for my mom, dad and I to go out to a nice dinner before I head back to school after good, long, much needed break.
Last year, I chose Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, and it beyond succeeded my expectations. This time around, after many internet searches and restaurant reviews, I picked Casbah. It’s located in probably my favorite borough of Pittsburgh: Shadyside.
We got there a little early, so we sat at the bar until it was time for our reservation. My mom ordered her favorite, a martini (and 2 thumbs up from her because they had blue cheese stuffed olives–no thanks I’ll pass!) She said the bartender did a great job. And of course, my dad got an Italian red wine.
When we sat down at our table, our waitress came over to us. After she took our drink orders, my dad looked at the both of us and said how much she looked and sounded like my cousin’s girlfriend. We both immediately agreed. She came back over, and my dad asked her if she was from the area. She told us no, she was from Detroit (where my cousin’s girlfriend Rachel is originally from). Turns out it was her sister! Small world. Ashely was the sweetest girl and she was unbelievably knowledgeable about the menu.
For appetizers, we started off with the bruschetta, which had roasted butternut squash ricotta, shaved Brussels sprouts, Pecorino Romano, currants, and pecans. Overall, my dad and I were slightly disappointed. My mom, on the other hand, loved it…which shocked the hell out of me. I’m guessing she was just really hungry 😉
My dad also ordered the veal and pork meatballs that was served with polenta, roasted tomato, garlic, crispy kale, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. WOW, this was one good meatball. Plus, I loved the addition of the kale. It was baked to a crisp, basically like a kale chip. So good.
For the main course, I was so torn over what to order. I kept going back and forth between the salmon and the butternut squash risotto. After asking Ashley her opinion, she advised me that the risotto was better as a side dish, so I could order a side portion of that with my fish. Of course, the salmon was amazing. The outside was so crisp, but the inside was cooked perfectly to medium rare. It was paired with green lentils and wild mushrooms. I was glad I didn’t skip out on the risotto. It was so rich and creamy, and the addition of the toasted walnuts, brussel sprout leaves and honey crisp apples all balanced each other out perfectly.
My dad too had a hard time deciding. He was stuck between two different pastas. Ashley fixed that by telling him he could order half of one and half of the other. I got a nice picture of him double fisting his dinner.
My mom made our waitresses life easy and ordered the red pepper casereccia with pan seared sea scallops, jumbo lump crab, roasted garlic, and parsley butter. And she ate it all, so I’m taking that as a good sign!
Everyone that knows me knows that I’m rarely going to pass up dessert. When Ashley brought out the menu, right away one item stuck out: the milk sponge cake on top of whipped mascarpone, blueberry compote, served with granola, and crème fraiche ice cream. Great choice Mons, great choice. The cake was moist and dense, and the mascarpone highlighted the flavor of the blueberries just right. The addition of the granola gave it a nice crunch, and the ice cream was the perfect final touch.
Overall, I loved Casbah. The menu was so diverse, which is one of my favorite things about a restaurant. The atmosphere was wonderful as well–so cozy and inviting, and the location is so cute since its nestled right in the heart of Shadyside.
I was so happy to get to spend the evening with my parents before I leave for Kent. And this new tradition has quickly become one of my favorites ❤