Dinette is in East Liberty, a re-newed and hip area of Pittsburgh. At one time, if you squint really hard, you might see East Liberty as the livestock grazing area of Pittsburgh in the 1700s, just like the Boston Commons and Boston Garden was a livestock grazing area of Boston. Now in East Liberty, the only grazing area may be a few weeds popping up between concrete slabs. In between the Revolutionary time and now, East Liberty was built up as the main commerce center in Pittsburgh, and then through sketchy urban planning, and white flight to the 'burbs, East Liberty, like so many urban centers in the 1960s, fell into a decline. And, like so many urban centers now, there is an interest from the suburbanites to come back to the city, to East Liberty. The population in the 'Burgh has been in a steady decline for decades, and the average age in the 'Burgh was 40+ over a decade ago. But now, the population has stopped fleeing the 'Burgh, and young people have moved back in and the average age is not about 35, about the same as the the USA population.
Dinette is chef owned and driven by Sonja Finn, a two time James Beard Award nominee. Dinette is perfect for East Liberty. The price point is right, the ingredients are sources as locally as she can, and the dining room is casual. This is the perfect place for those young suburanites who want to return to the city.
My 'Burgh pals, have lived in the city for many years, and they have been having a good time watching various Pittsburgh neighborhoods come alive again. They enjoyed welcoming Dinette and other restaurants in their neighborhood. Dinette plates are small plates, salads, brick oven pizza all with an average of $10 or so. The concept is to order a bunch of plates for the table and share.
We got a bunch of stuff for the table, olives, fritto misto, ricotta and greens, grilled shishito peppers, chicken wings, carpaccio, arugula salad and pizza. The fritto misto was a seasonal veggie dish, and did not get photographed because we dug into the dish for the decedent crunchy goodness with reckless abandon. Dinette has the grilled shishito peppers dish all the time, and it grilled shishitos drizzled with excellent olive oil and salt. These peppers are delicious. I need to find the peppers and get seed and see if I can grow these peppers myself and have them on hand when I want them. Anyone, anyone reading this blog, do you grow shishito peppers? If you do, let me have a couple to save seed and grow myself. We closed our dinner with a "dessert" plate of the carpaccio, the dish my pals often get because it is their favorite dish. The beef is so buttery and sliced so thin, it melted in my mouth. The accoutrements of egg, greens, horseradish cream and pickled onions are the perfect pairing with the beef.