Wine can conjure images of rolling vineyards and subdued string quartets. While there’s nothing wrong with that, Tim Gaber likes to do things a little differently. As the owner of the Strip District’s Pittsburgh Winery, Gaber fully embraces the possibilities of an urban winery.
Gaber opened Pittsburgh Winery in 2012 after years of perfecting his skills as a winemaker. Not tied to a specific vineyard, Gaber is able to source grapes from the best growers he can find, using premium California and Chilean varieties to make his crowd pleasing wines. Those wines, which include a lightly oaked Chardonnay and a spicy Malbec, are available at restaurants around town and at the Penn Avenue winery, which occupies a former bank building.
Though the wine is reason enough to pay them a visit, the basement at Pittsburgh Winery doubles as one of the city’s most interesting concert venues. Gaber, an accomplished musician who has played with a number of Pittsburgh bands, assembles a diverse lineup of bands and artists to play the intimate downstairs space.
When he’s not busy mashing grapes or booking bands, Gaber and his partner, Syma, make time to check out Pittsburgh’s newest restaurants.
The best meal I ate last week was at Morcilla, newly opened by the incomparable Justin Severino. When we’re not going to shows or hosting them at the winery, Syma and I try to go to as many restaurants as possible. There seems to be something new popping up every month—lucky for us this one is within walking distance! Everything we tasted was absolutely delicious, the service was impeccable and the décor was right up my alley (very cool lighting). The majority of the menu is small plates, so it was great for sharing. We were able to sample each portion of the menu without feeling overstuffed.
We started with the deviled eggs that we saw on display as we entered the restaurant. It was a perfect little bite to start with—a jazzed up version of a nostalgic classic. The Bacalao en Aceite (salt cod) was some savory goodness and the Queso de Cabra (smoked goat cheese croquettes) were oozing with amazing flavor. I am always a big fan of oxtail and Morcilla’s certainly did not disappoint. It was served on a crostini for the perfect amount of crunch. For the main course we had the Pato Escabeche, duck leg accompanied with burnt grapefruit and pears that contrasted the duck’s rich flavor. We also tried the Pincho de Bistec, smoked grass fed NY strip that was cooked to perfection.
The 2012 Tempranillo Ostatu Crianza (Rioja) I chose paired well with all the Spanish flavors. It was vibrant and lush with bright cherry, fresh rose notes and a long spicy finish. We finished the meal off with churros we dipped in Nutella and ice cream. Not only was this the best meal I ate last week, it was the best meal I’ve had in a while. I can’t wait to return and work my way through the rest of the menu!
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