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Miss Priss Dishes STORMS

Miss Priss Dishes STORMS 

 

It all begins with a Groupon……

If you’re anything like me, you purchase these deals on a whim when they pop into your email box as if you have unlimited free evenings between now and the expiration date to drive 30 minutes away from your hood to take advantage of a discounted meal. Days and weeks and sick kids and carpool duties pass by before you realize that your Groupon expires tomorrow!  Another “great deal” has come and gone, but at least the establishment legally must give you credit for the dollar amount that you actually spent.  There’s always a silver lining. 

 

So, after a day full of rain (literally and figuratively), I find myself downtown Pittsburgh in desperate need of a pit stop for a ‘wait-out-rush-hour’ glass of wine.  Battling bridges at 5pm on a Tuesday is no one’s idea of a good time.  I’m somehow randomly reminded that I have a $29 credit for a spot with limited hours (weekdays from 11a to 7p) in the Law and Finance building on the corner of 4th and almost-Grant, with a name befitting my day….STORMS.  Street parking in the area is typically left up to a wish and a prayer, but I luck out by finding a spot within 50 yards of my destination.  

 

Upon entering the building, a sign directs me down a narrow flight of stairs on the right side of the entrance, and I immediately get that retro-world feel where I imagine being forced to enjoy an Old Fashioned with Don Draper.  I’m zapped back to reality by a nice hostess who gestures toward the bar upon request, and Bartender Bill greets me with a genuine spirit of welcoming kindness that any great drink-slinger naturally exudes.  I start with a glass of Pinto Noir, of which he doesn’t hesitate to offer me a taste to ensure I’ve made a good choice for my personal palate, and I go into the inquiry of how to best utilize this expired coupon.  Without missing a beat, he says, “Don’t worry about it.  We’re happy to honor it!”  

Have my grey skies miraculously lifted amidst the STORMS?  According to my new pal, Bill, indeed they have.  

 

The original deal was Dinner For Two: two appetizers, two entrees (with soup or salad) and one dessert, all of which I can’t possibly consider consuming on my own. But, as Bill presents me with the special menu, he assures me that he will pack up whatever I don’t finish….no hesitation, and soaring way above and beyond my expectations!  I learn a bit more about him and the owner (his sister, Jennifer, and her husband and head chef, Rob), and I proceed to meet and visit extensively with two lovely career women who land next to me at the bar.  My pit stop turns into one of those beneficial chance-meetings for both business and belly!

 

The dual appetizer of Stuffed Banana Peppers with Sauteed Escarole and Beans sets my taste buds into orbit!  A beautiful partnership of sweet and spicy flavors with generous fresh garlic frightens away the vampire clouds still hanging around from my dreadful day.  It is truly all I can do to save room for the next round as the fresh bread served with chilled butter perfectly absorbs the homemade plum tomato sauce at the bottom of the bowl. 

 

For my main course, I choose Chicken Picatta.  The chicken is precisely hammered and pan-fried, while the lemon-caper combination seems to spring on the tongue, exactly how a picatta fan knows it should be.  This dish is definitely worthy of an encore during future visits!  Knowing that I will be taking the second entree home, I select Penne Farlanese since my daughter, Miss Prissy Pants, could literally devour “noodles in pink sauce” every single day if I’d offer it, especially when served with her favorite “penny” noodle since it’s the perfect choice for holding the hearty tomato basil cream sauce.  

 

Two hours post-arrival, with my stomach stretched to the max, I happily share the Tiramisu dessert with my new friends and head out the door.  Hands full of next day’s lunch AND dinner, I manage to hit the road just in the nick of time before my family sends out the Miss Priss Search & Rescue, but not without assuring Bill that I will soon return with friends!  

 

Fast-forward not more than a week, I longed for the full-bodied flavors of “my secret basement haunt,” and convinced a couple of semi-prissy friends and my anything-but-prissy mom to join me for dinner.  We called ahead for reservations this time but were surprisingly greeted by a friendly but frazzled host/bartender/waiter/busser.  This gal affectionately became known by our party as ‘Superwoman’ as she handled all of the action thrown her way with great confidence.  In hindsight, we wished she had been provided a stronger support team surrounding her in order to offer a bit more attention to our group of experienced diners.  

 

We were seated in the main dining room this go-round and found ourselves pining for a bit more ambiance, but once the Petite Filet and Pasta Scalo were introduced, we instantly became more focused on the blissful flavors rather than our surroundings.  The filet was prepared to medium-rare perfection and the unexpected topping of sauteed peppers, mushrooms and onions added exceptional flair.  Additionally, the roasted garlic tomato cream sauce with ground sausage bathing the penne provided a spot-on consistency which many Italian chefs only dream of mastering.  A few additional dishes were thoroughly enjoyed, yet my memory is blurred due to the blissful nightcap created with the resemblance of a Chocolate Martini prepared by, none other than, Superwoman.

 

With over five years in business, STORMS offers wonderful, quality food and full catering services (the perfect idea for those upcoming graduation parties or first communions).  They’ll gladly open after hours and on weekends to host your private party, rehearsal dinner or fundraiser, so simply reach out to Jennifer for inquiries.  

 

In summary, this spot holds a place near and dear to my heart based on Tender Bill’s endearing way that first stormy night. .  They say first impressions last a lifetime, and I’m hanging onto just that.  If you’re seeking five-star service and buttoned-up details as a place to impress potential clients or out-of-town guests, this might not be your best bet.  However, if you’re a pursuing delicious, reasonably priced meal with casual appeal for a business lunch or early dinner before a game or downtown performance, then I would highly recommend visiting STORMS.  The food is exceptional all the way around, and the days-gone-by feel of the basement bar definitely adds to the experience.  Pop in for a strong cocktail and classic Italian fare (and to say “Hi” to Bill, of course).  

 

Oh, and tell them Miss Priss sent you!

 

 

STORMS is located at 429 4th Avenue in Pittsburgh.  For reservations, call 412-288-4321.

 

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