Group celebration in Pittsburgh?
My friends and I are going out to celebrate a 30th birthday. The crowd is quite knowledgable about food, but not snobby, and not without financial constraints. Basically, we need somewhere that can accomodate a sizeable group, has good quality food, and preferably some atmosphere, and takes reservations, for no more than $40 pp. Upscale would be ideal, but upscale with a big group is always hard, so that's not a deal-breaker. Anything Big Burrito is out (Kaya would be the best candidate, but we've been too many times), as is Cafe Zinho (too hit-and-miss, no reservations). Below is the current short list (we've not been to any of these places): votes pro, votes con, and additions most welcome. Thanks!
You might want to try Six Penn Kitchen. I was at a birthday party there a couple weeks ago for about 20 people and it was great. They have a small private room upstairs that can fit a pretty good size group, if the weather is nice they also have the rooftop bar.
Bigelow Grille is another option, they have a fair amount of space and I think they have a new menu.
Personally I would skip Tusca... nice place, but I have found that none of their food is ever seasoned, very bland.
I had a group dinner (9 people) at Tusca - the new tapas restaurant on the South Side (near the Joseph-Beth bookstore) and it was very nice. They have tapas and entrees on the menu. Lot of tapas selections - everything was delicious. They also have a great wine list with 30 bottles for 30$. Here is a link http://www.tuscapgh.com/
Oh - they also have valet parking 4$
I've found Typhoon to be on the overrated side. Which broke my heart, because I would love a good new Thai restaurant in that area, but Typhoon isn't it. It's okay, but nothing I'd recommend for a special occasion. Casbah's always a good idea, but maybe not if Big Burrito is out.
On the off chance that you rejected the Church Brew Works based on lack of reservations, it might be worth noting that I've found them willing to make exceptions for a large group in the past. A few years ago I did birthday dinner there with about 15 people and there was no problem calling a couple of days in advance and having them save a place for us, even though they don't usually do reservations. As a bonus, we got to sit at the altar, which was a fun change of pace.
Not on your list - but for good food/private room, I would highly recommend the wine room at Il PIzzaiolo (Enotera) in Mt. Lebo. It's a separate building behind the main restaurant with a well-stocked wine bar with knowledgeable bartender, a fireplace and seating for probably 30 or so. If your party is big enough and it's not a Fri/Sat, you can probably have the whole place. Full menu is available. Wine list is primarily So. Italian, all regions represented and selections are very good. Food is upscale pizza (e.g. arugula & prosciutto) and pasta dishes. Ron just had a new oven installed this week. We've done a couple things there and have been very satisfied. You can even take the T to the Mt. Lebo station and walk the block and a half, so no need to drive out.