After reading many a glowing review, I finally made it to Dinette. Sheesh, why did it take so long? All in all, a lovely little place. Plus, if you internet stalk the chef, she's seriously cool. She wrote her thesis on the negative impact of urban renewal on East LIberty back in the day, and now her restaurant is there. Really cool.
We started with some marinated olives and a plate of salami. Great presentation. A diminutive bowl of olives (the bright green ones taste like flowers!) and a platter with just a few slices of salami. A serving small enough to make you slow down and savor your food. A welcome change.
I was really hoping for the pizza with shaved brussels sprouts, cherve, and lardons, but it wasn't on the menu. Fortunately, the fingerling potato, lardon, chevre, and poached egg sounded just as tempting. This pizza is worth every penny. The crust is exquisitely crisp and thin under the toppings with a toothsome bite when you get to the crusty edge. Suffice it to say I am absolutely delighted that Dinette is in my neighborhood and cannot wait to see what the pizzas look like in the spring when the arugula and pea tendrils come on line.
The chef/owner is obviously knowledgeable in wines, and I've heard great reviews of the quality of her inexpensive line up. However, my sole critique of the place, is that the beer list is not well developed. The entire list (5) leans toward pilsners and lagers. It's not a bad list for beer drinkers who like domestics or for hop-heads, but it leaves us malt preferers out in the cold. (And no, the Penn Dark does not belong in the dark category. It's just a lager colored brown). So my recommendation is to get some advice from a beer connoisseur and get that list balanced out. I'm far from expert, but in my humble opinion for a list of 6, I'd go with:
- 1 bland / lager type (The $1 cans of Iron City on the menu would do nicely)
- 2 hop-head selections (e.g, pale ale, IPA, amber)
- 2 darker, malty selections (e.g, nut brown, porter, stout)
- 1 Belgian
I noticed that the chef has selected all PA beers, which I admire, but I notice that the wine drinkers aren't similarly shackled. Just expanding to some regional breweries (NY, DE, OH) would improve the options.
I wouldn't go to such great lengths to critique a beer list, except that I am secretly wishing the chef reads this board and might consider making a few changes. I seriously would not be able to stay away from this place; the food is exceptional. Do not wait. Go there tonight
p.s. I love the tableware choices (vases=perfect), but beer in a faceted water glass doesn't work as well. Can we get some pints? Pretty please?
Had the opportunity to go there Friday night in the company of Spike and Isaiah from Baltimore's Woodberry Kitchen and a couple of other mutual friends. We had five pies (I ordered the fingerling, but sampled the radicchio, the anchovy, the mushrooma and prosciutto/arugula) along with olives, salumi, fritto misto and a fantastic farro/arugula salad I want to recreate (and it's already off the menu).
We came in a half hour before closing, stayed probably 90 minutes and were never given the evil eye.
Even more than the food, which was terrific, was the fact that everyone in the place - EVERYONE - could tell you details of where things were sourced, and if they didn't have the exact answer, they'd get it. A level of service and competence that is all too rare around these parts.
Can't wait to go back.
Btw, if you really need that beer after dining, there's a Sharp Edge witihn walking distance. We had ICs to start and went for wine with the pies. No bad choices there..