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fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

Fl. 2 with Camila Kaurer Garcia

Fl. 2: Where the Culinary Magic Happens

fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

When the Fairmont Pittsburgh decided to close their restaurant, Habitat, which opened at the time of the hotel’s opening in 2010, I was surprised but understanding.  I was told by the Fairmont’s director of operations, Meghan Earnshaw, that 7 years for a luxury hotel restaurant concept is a long time, and that a new restaurant is necessary to stay competitive and profitable.  I find this to be especially true in a market like Pittsburgh, where competition in the Pittsburgh restaurant scene has been fierce over the past few years after dozens of new openings throughout the city.

fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garciafl. 2 with Camila Kauer GarciaWith the closing of Habitat in June, the Fairmont spared no time or expense in getting their next concept up and running.  The entire space closed from June to late October, and all hands were on deck to get “fl. 2” (pronounced “floor two”, the location of the restaurant on the second floor of the hotel) up and running.  The result is a beautifully sophisticated space with a delicious menu to match and a lot of local collaboration.  I’m glad I could share the experience of fl. 2 with veteran reviewer Camila Kauer Garcia.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere of fl.2 is both gorgeous and at the same time a little confusing.  The space has a lot of simplicity and modernity in its fixtures, with lights, mirrors, and soft colors like beige and cream that don’t distract yet from the experience.  However, some choices like the floral-patterned plating and the color of the upholstery reminded me more of my grandmother’s house than a luxury restaurant.  That being said, there was obvious intention in these choices, I just wish the story that fl.2 was trying to tell would have been a little clearer.fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

Service

The service at fl. 2 was of course excellent, and even with the high expectations that I had set for the Fairmont, they managed to meet and exceed them.  Our server was prompt and pleasant, engaging us in conversation and entertaining our questions effortlessly.  I also need to do a huge shout-out to Meghan again for being an excellent host and channeling true hospitalitarian vibes in the style of Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality.  Top marks!

Quality

fl. 2 with Camila Kauer GarciaOnce again, top marks for quality on pretty much every level.  There is a fairly robust raw bar available and on the whole, everything was tasty.  I probably went a little overboard with the raw bar, but I did want to try a variety of dishes.  The beef tartare was good, but you definitely have to be in the mood for it.  I also really enjoyed the flavors of the cured kampachi.

In my mind, the stars of the show lie in the main courses, and between pork belly and the chickpea fricassee, they were both packed with flavor and extremely pretty to look at.  The weakest of the bunch was the pork terrine, but I suspect that was due to overloading on the raw bar items.  It was just a little bland in my mind, despite the pesto and mustard sauce, which instead of adding flavor, made the dish a tad salty.fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

In addition, I would like to say that there were several dishes I wish I could have tried, including the cast-iron ribeye, which has been praised as one of the best items on the menu, and some of the desserts like the Japanese cheesecake.  Overall the menu is eclectic enough to have variety but not so broad that it doesn’t communicate a modern flavor palate.fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

Value

fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

Dining at the Fairmont isn’t a cheap experience, but the value is pretty impeccable: superb service, quality food at fair portions, and in a setting that exudes luxury without the hoity-toity attitude.

Rating

8.4/10

Translation

Once again, for a new restaurant with certain kinks to work out, this is a great score.  Advice from me would be to work on the story that fl. 2 is trying to tell, and once the themes of that story are established, weave them into the “plot” (the specific dishes and interactions with guests which create their experience).  Fl.2 can only get better in my opinion.

Camila’s Take

Best part of the experience?

I absolutely loved the attention we received.  From the minute we walked in and the staff took our coats, to the waiter being super personable and speaking Spanish to me, to the staff walking over to our table to check in and see how we were doing, it was all fantastic.

What needs the most improvement?

fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

Nothing stood out to me as needing improvement!

What kind of place is this (who would you bring here, for what purpose, etc.)?

Fl. 2 is a posh place.  This is the kind of place you take people who appreciate food and are willing to spend a little more for the attention in service and culinary innovation that you experience and taste.

Describe your meal for us.fl. 2 with Camila Kauer Garcia

It was here that I tried beef tartare for the first time.  It was excellent.  I tried it with a kind of cheese and crackers which was a type of appetizer I could see myself coming here for regularly.  I also had a hummus dish and I was blown away that I was tasting garbanzo beans in a whole new way.  They were the best chickpeas I had in my life and its creamy and smoky flavor my favorite dish that night.  I also had the pork belly, which is a dish for people who don’t think twice about eating a layer of pork fat.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t entirely for me, and I wasn’t able to enjoy the flavors that the pork fat provided because there was simply too much of it.

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!

fl.2 is one of the newest and hottest restaurants in Pittsburgh, taking residence in the Fairmont hotel in downtown.  A local, seasonal menu is the focus, combining the best of the region with bold deviations that reinvent traditional American fare.  Check out fl.2’s menu and make reservations here: http://www.fl2pgh.com/

 

 

DiAnoia's Eatery with Brittany Schultz

DiAnoia’s Eatery with Brittany Schultz


What’s really great about going to a restaurant that’s brand new is that generally one receives an elevated level of customer service, in order to make sure that the restaurant is putting their best foo(“d” or “t”) forward.  What’s even better is if that restaurant is Italian and as someone who knows their home-style Italian cooking, a new Italian restaurant means fresh, flavorful food that will make you want to come back over and over again.  I believe DiAnoia’s Eatery in the Strip District of Pittsburgh accomplishes that goal to a high degree, and I will be looking forward to returning again!  I was fortunate enough to be invited to DiAnoia’s with one of my best friends Brittany Schultz, along with her some of her other friends and family, for a classic Italian meal.Interior of DiAnoia'sInterior of DiAnoia'sInterior of DiAnoia'sInterior of DiAnoia's

Atmosphere:  The atmosphere, while not quite screaming traditional Italian, was artsy and modern and definitely had Italian inspiration.  The light fixtures were random but it worked for me and I absolutely loved our table: a solid piece of wood straight from the trunk of a tree but smoothed and polished until it became shiny and servable.  In addition, there wasn’t so much noise that we couldn’t hear each other, a problem at many traditional Italian restaurants (of which I am a contributor, you know us noisy Italians…)

Service: The service was incredibly, if not overly, friendly, maybe because this was one of the opening days of the restaurant.  However, if the level of service we received sticks long after that opening, then DiAnoia’s has a recipe for hospitality success.  We were personally thanked by the owner and executive chef, and our server was quite knowledgeable about everything we ordered (and believe me, we ordered a lot!)

Quality: The quality of everything was definitely above average, although not everything was superb.  The appetizers we ordered were ordinary, as was the table wine for the everyone.  However, the bread came out very warm (seemingly a lost but necessary art at many established eateries), and my Cinghiale (fricelli pasta in a red sauce with wild boar shreddings) was outstanding and the sauce was very rich.
The dessert platter was visually appealing, although the individual pasteries were hit or miss on the taste factor.Linguini and wine at DiAnoia'sCinghiale at DiAnoia's

Price: This restaurant has a price point for anyone looking to eat out, and while one could go super extravagant at DiAnoia’s, it’s also very possible to have a very tasty meal on a budget (especially if you don’t do a pricy bottle of wine.)Dessert at DiAnoia's

Rating: 8.2/10

Translation: This is a lovely spot for a not so traditional but more adventurous Italian experience.  I would definitely love to return at some point, especially to see how the owners are doing (there’s a very interesting story as to how the restaurant came into existance: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/dining/2016/11/01/Strip-District-welcomes-new-restaurant-DiAnoia-s-Eatery/stories/201611010022)

Brittany’s Take:  The overall flow of the restaurant was the best aspect.  Everything about the atmosphere and the ambience just raised the caliber of DiAnoia’s and made it seem like a real fancy restaurant without all the effort.  The one thing that took away from this place was the lack of traditional Italian elements, particularly the missing, sharable antipasti plates.  Overall, this is a great place for more intimate occasions, where you know everyone at your table and you can be yourself.

Chelsea Pacella’s Take: The ambiance makes me thing of fresh, farm raised, organic food.  The bright colors, white walls and lots of square doors and window with black trim are not the trappings of a traditional Italian restaurant (or the garage door walls for that matter).  The meal itself was absolutely 10/10, but I would never want to eat it next to garage doors.

Brittany Schultz is a Senior Marketing and Business Information Systems Major with a Certificate in Leadership and Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh.  She is originally from Limerick, PA.

DiAnoia’s Eatery is a new Italian bistro and deli that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in addition to coffee, pastries, and specialty cocktails and wines.  This place literally does it all so check out their website and make a reservation today:  www.dianoiaseatery.com