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Isabella on Grandview

What do we know about Isabela on Mount Washington? I'm considering a romantic Valentine's dinner there...seem like a good idea? Also, do they always have a fixed price menu? Do they build in options for vegetarians, or should I request vegetarian when I call for the reservation?

Any other recommendations in Pittsburgh for a romantic dinner out? Thanks in advance for your advice and suggestions!

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  1. I have never been to Isabella-- DH has, and says it is a wonderful space but the food is not worth the price.

    For romance, I would recommend the Hyeholde in Moon Township. The food is excellent, the service excellent, the wine excellent, and the ambience unique and lovely.

    www.hyeholde.com

    1. i loveeee isabella's. it's sooooo romantic and cozy. i have been there twice for valentines day, once for NYE and once with friends a month ago. excellent service, incredible food, beautiful view. I love that it is so small...i think only 6-7 tables total? everyone has a wonderful view of the city.

      Go and you won't regret. Since it's prixe fix, I always have the chef choose...and it's never been a bad decision.

      1. I can't remember if there is always a veg option. I would call and ask, they can probably create something for you.

        1. Like all Mt. Washington eateries, you pay for the view, not the food. IMO, if you're stuck on Mt. Washington, you have a better shot at a better experience at LeMont for not all that much more mostly because I think the food is about equal, but the service at LeMont has been more attentive in my experience.

          The most romantic meal I've had in this area was at the Century Inn on Scenery Hill (about halfway to Uniontown). That was a call ahead to the chef to arrange something unique and included a stay in their B&B across the street. But it was top notch. Have heard nice things about the Back Porch as well, but haven't been.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Panini Guy

            The Back Porch is remarkable. I can not understand how a place as good as that manages to be/survive in Lower Spears. From our experience with Thanksgiving reservations, I think I would book early for Valantines Day.

            I see Le Pommier in the South Side has a fixed price menu for that day. Small, cozy, comfortable. Is that romantic?

          2. I respectfully disagree with lemont. If you think eating with 200 people is romantic....than I agree. Lemont is massive. most of the seating doesn't even allow you to see the view, except what you can see over other people.

            In addition, unless you are in love with gold gilt...everywhere...it just seems "old" to me. Granted I am in my late twenties, but for me, I don't think atmosphere can even be compared considering isabella can only seat about 20, if even that many.

            Lemont has solid traditional food, not creative.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yammers

              LeMont skews old, no arguments there. But I'd hardly call the food at Isabella's - or anyplace on Mt. Washington "creative". I suppose I'm assuming your definition of "romantic" includes excellent service and attentiveness of the staff. For that I'd give LeMont the nod.

              But for romance, service AND excellent (and creative) food, I'd skip Mt. Washington altogether.

            2. If you're heading for the Mt. please at least look into Monterey Bay. It may not be quite as "romantic" but great view and dependable food. It is seafood so inquire about Veggie options

              1 Reply
              1. re: 42duffy

                I agree with Monteray Bay...it's not as small intimate as Isabella, but if you request to be right next to the window the view is spectacular and it feels quite private. The food is much better than LeMont if you are looking for something more creative.

                I've also heard that LePommier on the South Side is a nice romantic spot, as well as IBIZA (my friend went there the night her finace proposed). I also really enjoy the top level of SOBA (ellsworth) for a romantic dinner; it's very quiet and the lighting is dim and there are only a few tables up there.

              2. Here's the P-G article from last year about Valentine's Day options on Grandview. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06040/... Writer concludes that Isabella edges out LeMont or Monterey Bay for the experience up there. I have yet to dine up there on my own dime, but I've twice been to the Georgetowne Inn with some people from work and the boss paying. Seems odd that he likes that place because he generally has a little bit of decent taste in restaurants. Hey, the view is fantastic there, but the food is boring, kind of menu that stays the same forever and not in a good classic way.

                Anyway, personally I'd consider taking a chance on Isabela once, based on some positive write ups. If you're going to go for that one, yes, I'd say tell them you are one or both veg and they will prepare for that. http://www.isabelaongrandview.com/ I'd also like to try Monterey sometime.

                Still, you certainly are choosing from a small selection of mainly mediocre places because of the view. If you're not married to the view (hey, the view could be very important in this, or not, just depends on your preference), you might find romantic dinner elsewhere. I'd say absolutely Hyeholde is a great choice if you forgo the view. You still get a view of sorts there, of the pretty natural surroundings, trees and such, and an interesting dining room. I went for Thanksgiving, which is not a romantic occasion, but certainly the place is fitting for V-day. If you're really cooking fanatics, you might try the Chef's Table which is in the kitchen. ;-) http://www.hyeholde.com/ But maybe you'll want to save that for your second visit.

                Whatever you decide, book now for Valentine's Day for any of these places.

                1. Well I'll have to disagree about Monterey Bay for the service. I was there a few weeks ago and had some pretty poor service. Granted there was a great view but waiting 20+ min for the waiter to come and take my drink order is a big minus in my view. Last time I was at LeMont was for Prom 20 yrs ago so I'm no expert there. I do agree with Isabella as a good choice. As with the others, the view from the hill is what you pay for up there and I haven't had a bad meal yet.

                  1. Isabela's (one "l") is one of my favorite Pittsburgh restaurants. Romantic?- yes. Offer Vegetarian? - yes. Comparing it to Back Porch is insulting. Comparing Back Porch to Houlihan's is more appropriate. Lemont's over-the-top tuxedoed waiters and chandeliers are a bit much and their food is only OK. Isabela's is much more imaginative and intimate.

                    Their price fix menu is unique in Pittsburgh, fairly priced, and gives you several options for each course. I love the wine flights matched with the food. It feels more like a Chicago or Philadelphia top notch restaurant. Go - you won't be sorry. Then go down to Bossa Nova for an after dinner drink.

                    1. I notice this is your first ever post. Are you the amateur P.R. flack for Isabela's (one "l")?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: yayadave

                        No I am not an amateur PR flack. It is my first ever post though. Don't make me feel bad about getting into the discussion, yayadave. Do you really think Back Porch is better than Isabela's? I do agree with you about Le Pommier however.

                        1. re: glen sandusky

                          I don't know that the Back Porch is better than Isabela's. But I did think your gratuitous slam was ... ahhh, Houlihan's? Not really.

                          My trips to Mt. Washington usually take me to Tin Angel or Monterey Bay. I looked at Isabela's web site and I'll definitely put it at the top of the list for a visit. Umm, the menu made me hungry, really.

                      2. Thanks for all the great comments! Many interesting options to choose from...I'd definitely like to try Hyholde, and I've heard good things about other restaurants mentioned here, too. I currently have a reservation at Isabela, but I have a few more days to finalize that decision. The dinner at Le Pommier is awfully tempting, too, and wine prices are a bit more reasonable for me. Am I wrong, or is $95 for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot yellow label a bit steep? (Seriously, I could be wrong.)

                        Thanks again for all the insight!

                        1. i think which ever one you pick, you'll enjoy. have you seen both menus? could you ask them to fax a copy and then you could make a decision off of that?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yammers

                            I've seen their menus...but it *all* sounds so good! Oh well. More nights to eat out than just Valentine's, and I'm sure I'll make it to both eventually. ;)

                          2. then it sounds like wherever you go you will have a wonderful evening!

                            1. Isabella's was highly recommended to me. I took the recommender to task and she replied, oh I went 3 years ago it was better then. It could not have been worse. The only thing positive I have to say about the restaurant is that the view is fantastic. But if you want good food and good service forget it. The food all tasted the same as the same basic sauce was used for 3 of the courses in the fixed menu. They do not, and cannot do a vegetarian dish. Which implies that the chef's are one size fits all, with no ability to create, which in my opinioin is the definition of a good chef. We were a party of 5, and as I had chosen the place I had to put on a brave face, but truth be told I was thoroughly embarrrassed by the poor fare on offer. The fish dishes were barely mediocre. If you want to have a lovely meal in pleasant surrounding then this place gets it half right. My advice is steer wll clear. There are many other options available in Pittsburgh that cost no more, some cost a lot less, that have the surroundings and the quality of service and food to make your evening complete. If you have already booked here I would go so far as to say 'CANCEL'.

                              1. So sorry to hear your bad experience. Honestly, i was there in December and took a couple that came from out of town that are major foodies (NYC) and they loved it. No one was a vegetarian, but it was very good for all of us? I'm not sure what they served you, but i'm sorry it was such a crappy experience. it's definately too expensive for crap.

                                1. I just came accross this site so I am a first time user, poster. I moved to Pittsburgh in June 07 and have had a hard time choosing to go to some restaurants in P-burg because of the lack of a good rating guide here, which leaves a lot of opinions open to scrutiny. I do believe that the draw in Mt. Washington is the view; with that said and with no other restaurants on the Mt to compare to, I think that Isabella's is a good meal for a decent price, even the wine tasting is a good value, with decent wait staff that know wines. I think the food is prepared excellently, but not cutting edge cuisine. How does that compare to others in the Pittsburgh area? I've eaten at most of the big buritto places and they don't really appear to be cutting edge, in fact they seem to mirror their menus, bizzare as that is. I, my wife, and my in-laws, who spend most of our free time either talking about, preparing, or eating food, all agree that Isabellas is by any means, a good menu, with a spectacular view. True the place could use a little change in decor, the food was much better than I had hoped for when I read the other posts. My family comes from NYC and we've eaten at many famous and delicious restaurants, and we all had a great experience at Isabellas. If you haven't been there, try it, you might like it. It is small and we went on a Saturday night, and it was empty, so chances are you will have a romantic dining experience. The 7 courses with wine is the way to go.

                                  1. My GF and I just got back from Lower Speers, where we finally sampled the much heard-about The Back Porch. We liked it, a lot. The ambiance was delish (we sat right next to the fireplace (gas, no crackling, alas), the service was excellent (attentive, but they left us alone for just the right amounts of time), and the food was done very well. I went with the Tuscan Chicken....perfectly cooked and very flavorful. Nice wine list, though by the glass was a bit pricey. We spent about $90 with tip, so it wasn't something we'd do every week, but it was still a very nice experience. The only negative I can state concerned the desserts...they were tasteless and the slice of pie my GF ordered was about half the size of the one on the selection plate we were shown, which would've irritated me more, had either of our desserts tasted good.

                                    As someone else mentioned, it's hard to imagine how this restaurant stays in business, with that location.