Friday, January 4, 2008
Feel this mojo
There has been a lot of buzz about Mojo Bistro just north of Pittsburgh, Pa., in Bellevue, even though the restaurant/coffee house has only been open for 11 months. Reporters from the local big-city newspapers have been gushing about its interesting assortment of Thai/Southern U.S.-flavored soups, salads and sandwiches. So, I decide to take the drive along Route 65 to the borough for a late lunch to judge for myself whether the place is worthy of all this attention.
The owners, Paige McGarity and her husband, Matthew Lydic, opened the restaurant in an old bridal shop in a duplex at 172 Lincoln Ave., and, while it's a challenge to find, the place is pretty darned hip. The inside has warm-toned walls covered with mirrors and shelves, and sports a tin ceiling painted white, hardwood floors and mix-matched tables and chairs. I'm salivating.
After studying the menu, I select bruschetta ($6) and an asparagus panini (8.50) and wait and wait while thinking about my hunger. The chef jogs to the basement for a loaf of bread. The waitress apologizes three times for the delays in the kitchen. A postman enters with a wind of cold air and delivers a smile with the mail. Then, an older couple joins the 10 or so customers in the room.
My bruschetta finally arrives, stacked high with caramelized onions, prosciutto and aged cheese. It's excellent. So is the asparagus rolled with ham and toasted with pine nuts and cheese between two slices of seasoned bread. I am impressed by the edible garnish of two mini cheese sticks with a tablespoon of marinara sauce.
If you’re looking for tasty, unusual food served with style and ambiance, Mojo Bistro will not disappoint you. But the security cameras, which were not hidden among the fake plants, freaked me out. Who on earth wants to be seen on youtube pigging out or stealing flatware?
Also, beware of a lack of heat in the dead of winter. Even the cashier was clad in a scarf and white down coat. It was cold enough in there to keep the lettuce chilled in the accompanying side salad sprinkled with walnuts and poppyseed dressing. The leftovers were enough to convince me to take home a doggy bag to reheat the grub. It was too good to leave behind.