Executive chef David Indorato aims to make his daily fare as breathtaking as the view from Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, high atop Mt. Washington.
The panoramic city view from the dining room, lounge and wine cellar windows of the restaurant is tough to beat on a plate. But it can be a challenge for diners to choose which is more delightful — the signature Maryland Crab Cakes, Rodi Grille House Salmon or Ahi Sashimi, or counting how many different Pittsburgh landmarks you can see on a clear day?
Indorato — a graduate of the New England Culinary School in Montpelier, Vt. — came to Monterey Bay Fish Grotto last August after positions as the opening chef at Baum Vivant in Shadyside, executive sous chef at the former Downtown Hyatt Hotel, executive chef at the Fluted Mushroom at Heinz Hall and on the staff of acclaimed caterer Michael Lench.
The restaurant, owned by Glenn and Lisa Hawley, features fresh fish flown in from the East and West coasts, Hawaii and destinations in between. The menu changes accordingly from day to day, reflecting what’s best and in season.
Since taking the kitchen helm in 2004, Indorato — a Pittsburgh native — has made some adjustments to the predominately fish and seafood menu and has plans for a more thorough revamp.
For guests who prefer something land-based, the chef features chicken four different ways, filet mignon two ways, New York strip and several pasta dishes — as well as daily specials.
The heart of the restaurant’s cuisine is evident in its fish selections, among them Florida mako shark and grouper, Atlantic and wild salmon, Boston scrod, Hawaiian parrotfish, Chilean sea bass, Idaho rainbow trout, Mississippi catfish and West Coast blue marlin. A variety of cooking methods are offered to total about 72 variations, says Indorato, but the kitchen honors special requests, too.
“We have a lot of people who like to mix and match,” he says.
Ahi Tuna Wrapped in Bacon with a Port Wine Sauce
Heat a grill or broiler to high.
Wrap the pieces of bacon around the outside edge of the tuna, overlapping the ends. Secure with a toothpick or wooden skewer.
Place the top of the tuna in the cracked black pepper to coat. Grill or broil, pepper side down at first, for about 2 minutes per side for rare, 3 minutes per side for medium-rare, and 5 minutes per side for medium. Brush the unpeppered side of the fish with a little melted butter just before flipping it over. If the bacon is not cooked when the tuna is done, turn the fish on its sides to finish the bacon on the grill or under the broiler.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into small pats. Set aside and keep cold.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallots and “sweat” for about 1 minute: You do not want the shallots to brown, just to release their juices. Remove the saute pan from the heat and add the port — be careful that the wine does not flame in the pan.
Return the pan to the heat and allow the alcohol to burn off, reducing the mixture by two-thirds. Add the heavy cream and reduce to a sauce consistency or until the mixture returns to a deep red color. Remove from the heat and add the chilled butter, swirling to incorporate and emulsify. You do not want the mixture to return to a boil. If the sauce is too thick, add more wine and heat very gently, until smooth.
Remove the skewer from the cooked tuna and place it on the center of a dinner plate. Dribble the port sauce around the fish.
Makes 1 serving. Additional Information:
Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, 1411 Grandview Ave., Mt. Washington, (412) 481-4414, is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; and for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays. Lunch is not served on Saturdays or Sundays.
The restaurant has a second location, 4099 William Penn Highway, Monroeville, (412) 374-8530. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
Details: Monterey Bay Fish Grotto Web site .
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