The Italian piazza is famous for bringing people together. It combines the traditional safety and logistical aspects of a town square, protecting pedestrians from motor vehicles, with the comfort and refinement of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues surrounding the square. The Piazza itself can make a beautiful atmosphere where one can enjoy a great meal, which to me conjures images of the great side walk cafes of France or Britain.
Unfortunately, I’m not currently in the great cities of Paris or London, but Pittsburgh happens to have its own wonderful piazza in the form of Market Square. The entire piazza was redesigned and redeveloped in 2009 after years of neglect and now is flurry of activity throughout the year, hosting farmers markets, concerts, and even a pop-up holiday market in the German style. And of course, the entire square is encircled by great restaurant concepts like the one our featured reviewer Camila and I visited, Sienna on the Square.
As I mentioned in the introduction, a piazza is the perfect backdrop to a restaurant, especially an Italian restaurant where the fit is both cultural and atmospheric. Sienna is perfectly positioned on the corner of the square, with enough seclusion and distance from the main activity of the square as to no experience sensory overload but with the full view of the plaza as to enjoy people watching and other visual spectacle. Sienna made use of what was already right in front of it to create a great experience, and they were rewarded for this move by our feelings of good will from the moment we sat down.
I rarely do a shout out to the name of our server at a restaurant, mostly for the reason that very rarely am I so blown away by the standard of service set that I even remember the name. This time is different. Our server Anthony was funny, knowledgeable, professional, yet approachable. He was able to fluidly bring and remove dishes while seamlessly conversing with either one of us and not miss a beat. This is a hospitalitarian who knew his job inside and out and loved every moment of it. Anthony’s service was a conversation with us, a dialogue that we both benefited from and left one of the most positive impressions in my mind of a server ever. There was a small issue with a plate that was brought to us with bacon on it (Camila is a vegetarian) but other than that I was utterly delighted.
The quality of the food at an Italian restaurant can be very uninspired, especially since it is my opinion that many Italian restaurants in the United States are a dime a dozen. While Sienna wasn’t something completely original or mind-opening, it was a solid menu with some great choices.
There was a delicious bread and butter provision (the butter had a creamy tomato and spice flavor) and I enjoyed my gnocchi with asparagus, pancetta, and creamy corn sauce very much. The stuffed meatball was also very good and something I would go back to have again. But I wasn’t dazzled by anything. The fact that everything is made “fresh and in-house” shouldn’t be the bar to reach; that should be the standard. Nevertheless, Sienna still has one of the best Italian menu’s in the city, and the seasonality of the menu keeps things fresh and interesting.
Again, the value for what we received was adequate but also not shocking. If your standard is 60-70 dollars a meal for drinks, appetizers, and entrees, then you won’t bat an eye after dining at Sienna.
Sienna’s rating in my opinion relied slightly more on the service and the atmosphere than the food, drink, and overall value. The food was good, but if I’m going to return, I am coming back for the service of Anthony (and hopefully anyone else who works there) and the feelings of relaxation which come from the piazza of Market Square.
Best part of the experience?
What needs the most improvement?
The only thing perhaps was that the vendor didn’t remember I was a vegetarian after we had joked about it and brought out my salad with bacon on it. So although I should have paid more attention to the special description, to improve as a server, he could remember the small details like having a customer who can’t eat meat. That way mistakes are kept at a minimum and his careful attention would have been noticed.
What kind of place is this (who would you bring here, for what purpose, etc.)?
This place is definitely fine dining. I would come here for a romantic date, to reunite with a friend and make it special, or come with a loved one.
I had vegetarian pasta with carrots. I though it would be such an odd combination, but it was one of the most unique pasta dishes I ever had! It was fantastic!
Camila is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh who hopes to learn as much as she can in the business school. Once she graduates, Camila wants to work in the nonprofit sector to make this world a better place…one delicious meal at a time of course!
Sienna on the Square is an ode to classic Italy with seasonal dishes, an extensive wine list, great for pairings, and located in the scenic Market Square area of Downtown Pittsburgh. You can check out their menu and make reservations here: http://www.siennaonthesquare.com/