Mt. Pleasant is more pleasant than mountainous. So if you are looking for an escape or retreat from the weekday woes and the copious invitations to summer obligations, then take a trip out to Greendance Winery and Nino Barsotti’s Restaurant to wine and dine.
I have been going to Greendance for a few summers and am always impressed by the lush landscaping and oasis setting of this winery.
The main building houses the wine selection, wine tasting, light snacks, gifts and souvenirs, and the restroom. (Side-plate: Pittsburgh Plate always informs its readers of the necessary restroom experience. At Greendance, the restroom is nice, small, and clean, but there is only one single occupancy, so plan your drinking accordingly!)
The friendly and knowledgeable staff will make suggestions and give you background information on the wines. There are sweet, fruit wines like Wild Blueberry and Peach. There are dessert wines, like the new Cocoa Vino and Lemoncello. You will also find whites, from dry to sweet like Riesling 08 to Vidal Blanc 09. There are blush and rosé wines such as White Zinfandel. Finally, there are reds from dry to sweet like the Cabernet Sauvignon 09, Merlot 08, and Maréchal Foch 10. Cost is reasonable and most wines are between $12 and $20. Wine tasting is free and is limited to 6 samples by PA law, but that is enough to ensure every palette is pleased with all of the options.
Once you determine a wine you like, purchase a bottle, grab some snacks like hummus and salsa (and gluten-free chips) and head out to a table to catch the live band or sit and enjoy the sounds of nature. Certain bands draw a crowd like Abacus Jones, who has a following because of both their catchy original songs and fun cover arrangements. There is live music every weekend during the summer, and bands add to the care-free experience. Once you find a table, this is where you sit, relax, and experience the scenery.
(Side-plate: You can pack your own picnic for Greendance, but they check your bags, and you will need to sit out further at the picnic tables or the lawn. You cannot, however, bring your own wine! Also, notice in the picture at left that Greendance holds celebrations like weddings along with hosting their own events during the season and even throughout the year. Click here to view their calendar.)
When you’ve finished your first round of goodies (and maybe your first bottle of wine), head back toward the main building and take a right. Toward the back, to your left is the Sand Hill Berries hut. If you have never had a Sand Hill Berries’ pie, your life is incomplete. (Side-plate: If there are many guests at Greendance when you arrive, you might purchase your slice of pie before you sit down because they do have a limited quantity each day!) Also, around back there are a couple of smaller shops to buy jams and gourmet snacking dips.
Once the snacks are no longer fending off further hunger, take the drive to Nino Barsotti’s, a few miles from Greendance. When you pull into the parking lot, you will notice more gift shops! Who doesn’t want a souvenir or another nic-nac after several glasses of vino? Off to the left of the entrance is the outdoor seating, where I recommend you dine.
If you are eating gluten-free, it is a good idea to call ahead and prepare the chef. You might even look over the menu online to consider your options! Because gluten-free pasta is not widely available in restaurants, I recommend the Pasta Pomodoro. I asked to add shrimp (which brought a raised eyebrow from our server), and my strange request was granted. The sauce was excellent. It was fresh and just sweet enough. The pasta was cooked perfectly. And, yes, I enjoyed the addition of my shrimp! There was even gluten-free bread!
Again, like Greendance, this place is all about relaxed atmosphere and ambiance. I recommend that you sit outside and relax. Don’t rush and don’t expect to be rushed. This is a low-key, relaxed restaurant. This is an Italian restaurant, and it reminds me of European dining. The experience at Nino’s reminded me of eating abroad, al fresco, and with friends where it’s not just about eating but is an evening affair of casual sophistication. Essentially, it is the opposite of rushed American fast food. Take your time. Enjoy your guests. Savor the food. Talk and laugh and forget about time.