Saturday, August 27, 2011

Restaurant Review - Yo Rita

hubba, hubba
Every so often, one gets a hankering for some robust, spicy, messy delicious Mexican inspired food.  What was formally known as "Iguana Grill" on the corner of 12th Street in the South Side of Pittsburgh used to be my hot spot for just such a craving.  They had the most amazing bbq pulled pork burrito that put all others to shame, and a key lime pie martini that made me feel fancy.  Much to my dismay, Iguana Grill closed for several months, but then reopened under a new name, Yo Rita.  On my return visit to the newly dubbed South Side favorite, I was nearly devastated that they completely changed the menu.  How foolish I was, for in this case, change was a wonderful thing. 

From a heavily clad Mexican inspired menu, to a short and sweet variety of tapas style appetizers and cleverly inventive and decidedly delicious tacos, Yo Rita is a one of kind restaurant in Pittsburgh. 

The Chef offers a freshly prepared soup and civiche each day in addition to the seasonal menu items.  On my resent visit to Yo Rita, "The Mister" and I ordered an appetizer to start.  Though a difficult decision with the likes of roasted corn on the cob and cheesy grits on the menu, we ordered Albondigas.  The perfectly portioned first course included four bison meatballs, smoky tomato sauce, piri piri, topped with cotija cheese, accompanied by thinly sliced crispy plantains, and polished off with the hint of the grassy taste of fresh cilantro.  Bison meat, if you've never experienced it, is by all means, a treat - full of flavor and as tender as can be.

Selecting my tacos for the evening was no easy task with the array of mouth watering, artistic options to choose from.  Here, take a look for yourself: Yo Rita Taco Menu.  My first choice was the Roast Corn with habenero cream cheese, pipitas (kind of like pumpkin seeds), pickled watermelon rind, tomato and scallion.  The corn was carefully roasted and al dente, and the starchy sweetness had the familiar taste of perfect August harvest.  I was worried that the habenero cream cheese might over power the rest of the flavors, but it was just just the right amount of heat so that I could taste the flavor without burning my taste buds.  I had to pluck one of the pickled watermelon rind to taste it on its own.  Wow.  It was tart and watermelon sweet at the same time and gave this taco the added layer of depth that it needed.

For my second taco, I chose the Strip Steak with sofrito, aged cheddar, pineapple and scallions.  Remember the tenderness of the meatballs I mentioned earlier?  The chef applied the same care and attention to the strip steak.  Melt in your mouth good.  I don't often order steak tacos when I go out, because 9 times of 10 I find that the meat is very tough - too tough to bite, and then you end up eating the entire piece all at once, leaving you with a meatless taco.  The Strip Steak taco at Yo Rita's however, was nearly falling apart in its perfectly-seasoned-cooked-to-perfection goodness.  The aged cheddar offered this taco a rich depth of flavor, and the pineapple delivered a sweet surprise to each bite.  In short, it was awesome.

Kudos to the entire team at Yo Rita, from the courteous wait staff, to the talented chef, and the attentive bar tenders, to the management who are clearly doing something right.  Yo Rita's is a Pittsburgh favorite of mine, and after your first visit, it will likely be one of yours as well.


Yo Rita on Urbanspoon

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