Follow-up: Gypsy Café (Dinner)

By | April 24, 2006

Gypsy Café
1330 Bingham Street
Southside. Pittsburgh. PA
412.381.GYPSY (4977)
Sunday Brunch 12-4
For dinner hours, check:

I have a previously posted review for Gypsy Café in which I detail the consistent deliciousness of their brunches, but where I also make a statement about their dinner dishes, which I found to be fairly boring.  At the time, I had only been there for dinner once, and I made a statement to the effect that I’d post a real review for Gypsy Café as a dinner joint once I’ve been there a couple times more.  Well I’ve done it and the results are in: it’s hit or miss and still kinda boring.

I know it sounds harsh.  It isn’t like the food is bad – it just doesn’t set my neurons aflame with joyousness when I eat it.  It sort of has that Kaya-thing going, where the descriptions all sound delicious but then the food doesn’t live up.  It isn’t the extreme let-down of Kaya though – maybe because the prices aren’t so high (although they’re still too high) and the food is slightly better (although it’s still not great).  In any case, let me go into more detail.

First things first, I have to address the hummus situation.  They used to have this amazing sun-dried tomato hummus, which I could go on and on about.  They always have three to offer, but somehow the sun-dried tomato version has dropped off the bottom of the list.  Now there is some roasted garlic, spicy feta, and scallion flavors, none of which can hope to compare.  I wouldn’t bother with the hummus unless it’s sun-dried tomato (although if you still wanted hummus, the best of the current three offerings is the roasted garlic).

Another ‘first’ thing (as in appetizer) that we ordered recently was the flaming Saganaki cheese appetizer.  We were all pretty excited for this one.  Our friend Jill B. married a man because of his flaming Saganaki cheese!  It can be powerful stuff!  But, Gypsy’s was only ‘ok’.  The real problem was that there was too much crust and not enough cheese.  I mean, the breading was a total 2/3 of the appetizer.  The cheese itself was barely there in comparison.  I probably wouldn’t get this again.  (However, I do like food you can set on fire!!)

Second things second, the dishes themselves were all hit or miss.  The Apricot Glazed Pork Loin, Sea Salt and Spice Rubbed Strip Steak, and the Campanelle Spring Confetti Pasta could all be described as only ‘pretty good’.  The spanikopite was a safe-play to order and was as good as most spanikopiti that I have had, but nothing special.  I will also add to the list of ‘pretty goods’ their Szekely Goulash.  ‘Twas ‘ok’, but it still had some sort of problem I can’t put my finger on.  And, as a refresher to my last review’s mention of dinner, the chilled cumin cucumber soup could most aptly be described as ‘strange’, and the gnocchi were only ‘ok’ (so many other places do it better,  I wouldn’t even bother here).

I do want to mention that there is a saving grace for the Campanelle Spring Confetti pasta, which is that it was truly chock-full of vegetables.  If you are trying to eat lightly, this dish could be delightful; however heed my warning of the sauce.  It was described as dill butter with sesame seeds and lemon zest, but it seemed a lot more like lemony lemon lemon sauce.  I think this bothered our friend who ordered it, having to eat the whole dish and all, but I didn’t mind it too much as a one-bite taster.

Finally, some good news!  There was one dish ordered that I thought was pretty darn good: the Gypsy Spring Asparagus, Ricotta, and Salmon Cannelloni, topped with a dill béchamel sauce.  I love salmon with dill béchamel, and I love ricotta, and I love cannelloni, so this dish sounded like a sure-thing.  I didn’t order it myself (for fear of a let-down, given the track record of Gypsy Café), but my friend Nicole A. got it and she allowed me a big ole’ bite.  MMM. It was deliciouso!  It was all the things I had hoped it would be!  Plenty of ricotta, plenty of sauce, yummy salmon – trés superbe!  This is the kind of dish I am talking about, the kind that sets my neurons on fire!  The kind I might day-dream about or start getting a craving for.  The kind I will remember fondly, along with the fabulously good time I was having with friends or family.  However, I was once again a one-bite taster in this case, and I have a hard time imagining being able to eat more than a quarter or half of the dish due to its richness.  That is an easy problem to solve though; take it home!  If I go back to Gypsy for dinner again, this is definitely the dish I’ll be ordering!

So, my conclusion is that dinner is so-so.  Never is it bad, but usually it is mediocre for the price.  The only dinner dish I’ve tried there that I think was worth the price is the Salmon Cannelloni.  It is a great display of the ingenuity of Chef Jim, when he can pull off his creative ideas.  I just want to specify once again that this review applies only to dinner – BRUNCH IS GREAT.  I do sometimes wonder why Gypsy is better for brunch than for dinner.  I guess Chef Jim’s keen interest in unique dishes translates really well to breakfast in a way that it doesn’t for dinner-time fare.  Whatever the case may be, I still like Gypsy Café for the friendly and funny chef and staff, the atmosphere, and the brunch.

Spring Salmon Cannelloni
Sun-dried tomato hummus (if they have it)

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