On a recent snowy night (has there been any other type of night recently?) I ventured to Stagioni, at 4770 Liberty Avenue. Stagioni is actually housed in the old space of Café Roma, a short lived Bloomfield BYO. I actually enjoyed some decent meals at Cafe Roma but was excited to check out the new restaurant, menu, and general ambiance. A recent PG review also had me looking forward to the meal.
Stagioni is BYO with a per stem corking fee of $3. The place was empty when we arrived. A few more tables had gathered by the time we left, but it was a rather quiet evening. I did notice the marble table-tops throwing off a decent amount of noise, even in the sparsely populated dining room. This was not a problem for us but could be on a crowded night. The space is minimally decorated and rides the line between romantic and bistro.
Our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable and we started the meal with the house-made mozzarella. Very nice. It was milky and soft and chewy – in a good way. The mozzarella came with some arugula, olives, and prosciutto. A so so piece of Italian bread was also served. It was a little cold – warming it may have helped.
For my entrée, I ordered the free range chicken with panzanella. I really loved that panzanella. Panzanella is bread salad. If the bread didn’t shine while eating the appetizers, it was perfect in the salad. The bread was cubed and dressed in a lemon vinaigrette, tossed with olives, greens, and roasted red peppers. It reminded me of the amazing chicken we had at Café Zuni in San Francisco. The chicken was also cooked nicely – very moist. I did pick around the skin b/c it was not quite as crisp as I may have desired.
Other entrées eaten at the table were rabbit braised in chardonnay and house-made beef braciole. Everyone enjoyed their meals. All entrées appeared (and tasted) well thought out and had great complex flavor.
We had no room for dessert but I hope to return here again. I love the local ingredient spin and changing menu Stagioni has adopted. I feel like I have not eaten at a spot like this in Pittsburgh in awhile – fresh, satisfying, and employing attention to detail. Prices were also fairly reasonable, especially considering the quality of the dishes – I am not sure any entrée exceeded $18. This is a perfect cute date night spot or place to gather with a group of friends. Check it out!
UPDATE: I returned to Stagioni in August of 2010 and enjoyed another great meal there (homemade pasta with eggplant). The space is still tiny but I really like this spot!