by Caitlin Saniga and Sarah Steimer
Caitlin visited Sarah in Pittsburgh for two days and they fit in as much quality food time as possible, visiting the Bethel Park Farmer’s Market and the Strip District. For lunch one day, the ladies (plus Sarah’s mom) wandered into South Side and decided on Mantini’s Wood Fired. Caitlin and Sarah both got the Barbequed Pork Quesadilla for $6.95. It made the $6 Snacks cut, though, because it was meant to be split: It was listed as an appetizer on the menu.
Sarah: I really want to go back to Mantini’s Wood Fired. That quesadilla was too good to forget. I’ve sort of gotten away from meat-based dishes, especially when I eat out, but that was an exception.
Caitlin: I feel the same way. And, while the quesadilla we ordered was full of pork, I felt like it was really balanced by the fresh tomato salsa and smoky apple flavors.
S: I would have felt like a loser getting just a salad when the interior has such a rugged feel with exposed-brick walls and dark-hued woods and … fire. I guess my mom did get a salad, but she redeemed herself by getting the day’s beef brisket on top.
C: Yea, there was no way I’d order just a salad when I could watch/smell/hear the chefs slicing and cooking up the smoky meats. That open-kitchen arrangement was really cool. We probably could have walked up and watched them cook our food if we’d wanted.
S: I’ve read they have pretty good drink specials as well. I saw a tweet by @southsidepgh the one day saying, because it was a full moon, they were selling $3 Blue Moons.
C: They have daily house-made soup specials, too.
S: I wanted to take you somewhere authentically Pittsburgh, and I’d never been to Mantini’s before to verify that it would serve such a purpose. But, luckily, Mantini’s just happened to have authentic Pittsburghers to make up for the fact that it wasn’t covered in Terrible Towels.
C: I was OK with that.
S: I seriously couldn’t have planned what happened better: My mom interrupting someone’s lunch like it was no big deal. The man being so excited to talk about his lunch and even offering (as a joke, I assume) a bite of his meal before he started in on it — announcing that it was just that “Pittsburgh friendliness.” I almost just threw my hands up. It’s everything I try to explain to people about Pittsburgh, summed up in a five-minute exchange between my mother and a stranger. I’m definitely going back. I hear ownership is changing, but I would hope they’re keeping that quesadilla.
C: Let’s go next time I’m back in town.
S: Go Steelers.
Visit Mantini’s Wood Fired in Pittsburgh’s South Side: 1209 E. Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203; www.mantiniswoodfired.com
Photo: Caitlin Saniga
*$6 Snacks is a recurring feature that reviews an area eatery’s snack — for $6 or less. Look at a map of the places we’ve tried.