Sunday, March 4, 2012

Big Jim's In the Run - Top Value

Big Jim's in the Run is honest and unapologetic.  It's not quite a dive bar.  It does have a working class, shot-and-a-beer, feel to it but the Italian entrees are not the kind you would expect in a corner bar.  This is what I imagine it must have been like to eat with Paulie in Goodfellas.  If you need a burger and fries, they can do that but, where Big Jim's really shines is in its pizza, pasta dishes and enormous stromboli and calzone.

The portions seem to tailored to those weighing more than 400 pounds and with daily calorie requirements in excess of 10,000.  The prices are extraordinarily reasonable.  Given the portion sizes, the $2 plate-splitting fee seems a little out of place.  If you like leftovers (as I do), order a full dinner.  If you don't like leftovers and you can't eat like Kobayashi, share.

Big Jim's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 25, 2012

No Kind Words for the Map Room

After reading such divergent reviews of the Map Room, I decided that the only thing to do was to give the restaurant a fair test. Things did not begin well.

Upon entering the nearly deserted restaurant, I noticed the garish maps that, presumably, give the place its name and I shuddered.  Next I encountered a frantic, frizzly-haired little woman who, I would come to discover, owns the Map Room.  She was dismissive, rude and abrasive.  I ordered a draught beer.  The little woman must have believed that I was not very thirsty because she filled the pimply, chunky mug only three quarters of the way.  The Belhaven (what there was of it) was good but I did not order a second.  I didn't think I wanted one and a half beers for the price of two.

The menu was short and there was nothing special sounding about the specials so I ordered the Black Strap Stout Barbecue Bacon Burger, medium well.  Unfortunately, the restaurant must of judged me to be both thirstless and in a hurry because the meat came to the table rare.  I eventually got the attention of my server (after a full fifteen minutes) and sent the health hazard back to the grill.  It came back well done.  To my mind, juiceless is preferable to bloody ground meat so I suffered through half of the burger.

In the end, I ate half a meal, drank three quarters of a beer and paid 120% of the bill, vowing never to return.  If you're like me, you will read this review and try the restaurant in spite of it.  For my adventurous brethren, I have three and a half words:  "you'll be sorry."
Map Room Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon

Mallorca - Delightful Spanish Fare is Close to Home

Dying for high quality European cuisine without the bother of airfare?  Pittsburgh has an 
absolute gem: Mallorca.  

One would not expect the South Side of Pittsburgh to such splendid dining but tasting is 
believing.  The wine list rivals any in the region.  If you can, try the Montecillo, Gran Reserva 
AviƱa Monty of Riojabas.  The available vintage was simply fantastic.  Still, the wine is 
merely the silver lining of this platinum dining experience.  To begin, I recommend the Chorizo 
A La Plancha.  It's hearty, savory, spiced taste is certain to pique your appetite.  The Solomillo 
A La Parrilla is a filet mignon, served perfecting broiled with all of the succulent fresh savory 
aroma unharmed.

After that, if you've managed to restrain yourself, the dessert offerings are also exceptions.
Try the Chocolate Marquis if you believe yourself to be worth of its sweet richness.

Finally, the service is highly disciplined, well mannered and perfectly timed.  For Pittsburgh, 
this restaurant may represent the high-end of the billing scale but you get something for that.
Mallorca earned this blogger's highest endorsement.

Mallorca Restaurant
2228 East Carson Street
(412) 488-1818
Mallorca on Urbanspoon