Friday, April 11, 2014

Donato's Fox Chapel... It's Inviting

Until recently, Donato's (46 Fox Chapel Road, 15238) had been one of those places that I had driven past a couple of hundred times always wondering if it was any good but never stopping to find out. Fortunately, they had a booth at History Uncorked Poptastic! at the Heinz History Center and one bite of their meatball had me easily convinced that I needed to prioritize a trip to Fox Chapel. Coincidentally, I had also been meaning to make dinner plans with JAG, who lives in Fox Chapel; the stars were aligned! And here is what I think.
Donato's is really nice. Like, the really-nice-without-being-too-stuffy kind of really nice. With dark wood under our feet, crisp white linens that complemented the high white ceilings, and a touch of classic red vinyl on the large booths that surround the dining room's perimeter, Donato's is inviting. In addition, there is a bar that is separate from the main dining room, and a kitchen that encourages a glance (or two) of spectating.

Mushroom Bruschetta (complimentary)
This bruschetta was crisp, and the mushrooms were tender and flavorful. I was glad that there was only one on my plate because I could have eaten far too many, far too easily. 
House Made Meatball ($4, red sauce)
Just as I enjoyed this meatball at History Uncorked Poptasic!, so too I enjoyed this one. It's tender, juicy, and has just enough red sauce to enhance the overall effect. I highly recommend getting one (or more) with your meal.
Wedding Soup ($3, cup)
Traditional in every aspect, Donato's Wedding Soup is delicious. The broth was rich without being too salty, the pasta was al dente, and the other ingredients were plentiful without being overwhelming. It was the perfect prequel to the primary part of my meal, Donato's Salad.
Donato's Salad ($7, heirloom lettuces, grape tomatoes, ceci beans, gorgonzola, pepperoncini, olives, roasted shallot vinaigrette)
In the interest of saving room for dessert and indulging in a glass of wine ($11, Heavyweight Red Blend), I ordered a salad for my main course, which was a great decision. Donato's Salad was fresh and fulfilling. It's a fairly large portion, so I would order it again as my main course rather than with an entree. The gorgonzola with the vinaigrette was a perfect pairing.
Caesar Salad ($6, hearts of romaine, parmigianno, anchovy)
JAG opted for the Caesar Salad as her main course and described it as a good portion, although being a little dry. She thought that the house made croutons were good, the anchovy was tasty, and the shaved parm was a nice touch.
Red Pepper Red Velvet Cake ($11, cream cheese icing, strawberry)
With my usual after-dinner hot tea, I ordered the pastry chef's special Red Pepper Red Velvet Cake. Although I am not a huge fan of cake, I simply could not resist trying such a concoction for myself. This sweet treat was dense, with layers of cream cheese and a light strawberry puree accent. The red pepper flavor was light and only noticeable toward the end of each bite. If you are inclined to try innovative twists on classic desserts, I recommend this one (and it's portioned for sharing).

Overall, I highly recommend Donato's for a dining experience with friends and/or family (or even for a third or fourth date). The service was impeccable and the restrooms were clean (and had nice music, which is not important I know... but actually to me it is); I plan to return sooner than later. Who's with me?

(3.5 stars, 3.5/4)

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