Yo Rita

by Rodzilla on April 7, 2011 · 3 comments

There surely is no shortage of Yo Rita reviews. In fact, I may be one of the last restaurant reviewers in Pittsburgh to try the place.  The feedback I’ve seen has been mixed. While some rave about the creative menu offerings, others rant about poor service. Curious about both, I decided it was time for a visit.

Complimentary Chips and Salsa

My good friend Katy joined me for the meal. We walked in right around 6:00 and were promptly greeted and seated as the sole diners in the spot. Our host was also our main server, a seemingly friendly guy. Knowledgeable enough about the menu (though not much in the way of recommendations) and competent. Our drinks were refilled and orders came out on time, but there was little interaction beyond that.

However, the other serve reminded me what I had read about “poor service”. When I asked to be reminded about the type of sauce on the ceviche Katy and I were sharing, he responded in a begrudging tone, “you’ll have to ask him for that.” Wrong answer jack ass. I realize you’re not on the French Laundry wait staff, and I can see the tables lack white linens, but if I asked the teenager sweeping floors at the local McDonald’s about the sauce on my Big Mac I would expect a more polite response.

Let’s move on to the food. The complimentary chips and homemade salsa were little more than filler. I appreciate complimentary anything, but I’ve had better from Tostito’s.

Ceviche - Salmon, plantain chips, onion, cilantro, passion fruit sauce.

We started with the ceviche offering for the evening. The flavors themselves were great and the plantain chips were among the best I’ve had. I was expecting more of a tartare type dice on the salmon, and was a bit disappointed with the random semi-cooked strips.

Mushroom Taco - fried onion, cucumber salad

The Mushroom Taco was the special of the day, and Katy’s first choice. I tried a bite and thought it was the better of her two selections. The baby bella mushrooms were sauteed nicely, and the cucumber salad, fried onion, and tzatziki-esq sauce added both pleasant texture and flavor.

Braised Chicken - chipotle bbq, tortilla chips

The braised chicken was decent. Katy enjoyed the chipotle bbq sauce quite a bit. I liked it, but wasn’t blown away. The meat from the bite I tried was  a bit on the dry side, the liquid you see in the picture above seemingly came from the slaw.

Braised Lamb - piri piri sauce, crispy potato, tomato, cilantro

I was excited to see lamb on the menu, but this taco let me down. Lamb is a traditionally fattier meat, but this was rather dry. Further, when I saw “crispy potato” I was hoping for the papas fritas from the starter menu. Instead I was met with a BBQ chip – and not a particularly good one. As for the piri-piri sauce, it was either missing or too lightly applied to notice.

Rainbow Trout - red chile aioli, roasted corn, tomato, scallion, crispy pork belly

My second taco fared much, much better – and was the stand out of the night for me. The underside of the trout was tender and flaky, with a deliciously crispy skin.  The pork belly pieces were like large, more flavorful bacon bits – their hints of salt cut by the sweetness of the roasted corn. I don’t recall the red chile alioli as being spicy, but the restrained flavor let the other components come through.

One thing I should mention is that all of the tacos were incredibly wet. The moisture did not come  meat juices or or an excess of saucing, but rather a sort of wattery cabbage slaw run off.  When any of them were lifted from the plate they dripped more liquid than you would think the shell could hold.  At one point, as I waited the 20 seconds it took to finish pouring the watery liquid out of my taco, Katy, ever the optimist  suggested, “some people like wet tacos.” Myself, somewhere between a realist and an asshole assured her that wasn’t the case.

My overall feelings for Yo Rita -Mediocre. I think of  the restaurant  as a great idea with faulty execution. A little more attention to preparation, and basic customer interaction  would make for a highly recommendable spot. As they are now, I wouldn’t seek them out.
Yo Rita on Urbanspoon

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BingePittsburgh

I had a much better experience when Sousa was still behind the wheel. The service has always had problems, especially the owner (who was not there when I went) who is known to be quite unpleasant.

I’m wondering if Sousa was the only component that made Yo Rita work. If you don’t have any kind of motivation to put out incredible food in the Southside, you’re going to start shitting out drunk college kid grub without even realizing it.

It seems like the ingredients are still within the original style of Yo Rita. I guess the execution isn’t nearly as good. Lack of training, perhaps?

2 Rodzilla

Incredibly well said.

3 Kim Valentine

Great concept. Sad to hear the restaurant does not live up to it’s potential.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Previous post:

Next post: