I have been living in Pittsburgh for a year and I'm looking for some interesting, off the beaten path restaurants. I'm tired of the nouveau cuisine attempts to compete with the larger cities. Where can I go for a great meal, interesting atmosphere, nothing showy, trendy, just plain old good food?
You should do a search for "Pittsburgh"-- there are many good threads with lots of good suggestions. However, a few highlights:
In Bellevue, try Vivo. Not cheap but worth it.
Bona Terra in Sharpsburg.
Legends of the North Shore on the North Side (duh)
Sassy Marie's on the North Side
Josza Hungarian in Hazelwoodm
Bloomfield Bridge Tavern for Polish in Bloomfield
Ma Provence in Squirrel HIll
Tram's in Lawrenceville for Vietnamese
Abay n East Liberty for Ethiopian
Oishii Bento in Oakland for Lunch bento
Can you name some places you didn't like so we have a better idea where to steer you?
I really had some nice meals at Mexico City on Smithfield St. The red mole sauce was outstanding. If you want something out of the ordinary you can find it on the menu as well as the tried and true staples of Mexican standards. The burrito is huge and tasty. This is not your typical chain restaurant, it's definitely worth a try.
Max's Allegheny Tavern for German, we prefer their Sunday brunch.
Alla Famiglia in Allentown for Italian, expensive but very worth it. Expect several fresh fish dishes, a few over the top steaks, several pastas, and sever different daily specials. About $60p, BYOB.
Pizza Visuvio <sp?> on Carson Street in the South Side for excellent pizza.
Udipi Cafe in Monroeville for great southern Indian.
I've been to Mantini's once and enjoyed it.
Cafe Richard in the Strip is just excellent. Literally everything I've had there from the scones to the sandwiches have been great. The chef of Nine on Nine owns this place, he's at Cafe Richard regulary in the monring, no doubt the reason for the consistently great food.
The food at Cafe Richard is excellent, but the service is appalling. My husband and I ordered two sandwiches at the same time and sat down to wait for them. Mine came about five minutes later. Twenty minutes after that, my husband's sandwich arrived. Another time, I ordered a quiche and was asked to sit down to wait for it. I did, ate my quiche, then tried to pay for it. I asked every employee I could find to ring me up, and each one said "just a minute." Finally I threw $5 on the counter and walked out. I won't be eating there again.
Mantini's I have been to twice, and was very happy both times with the food and the service. I particularly enjoyed the grilled shellfish.
I rarely see it mentioned here, but Andora up on Mt. Nebo Rd. in Ohio Twp. should be on the short list of good places. Not flashy but solid food, service and even a respectable wine list.
Other reliables on our list (we're in So. Hills):
Franco's Trattoria (Dormont at Mt. Lebo line)
The Library (McMurray)
and now, Bistro 19 in Mt. Lebo
Sorry you had bad service at Cafe Richard, but in there defense it's not really a sit down restaurant. It's more in the fashion of Panera Bread, order your food at the counter, then wait for it to be done. They'll bring it out to you as a courtesy, but they don't take your order at the table, no drink refills, etc. If you went in expecting a waitstaff, then I understand your disappointment. If your order any of the baked goods that don't need to be prepared while you wait, you'll be in and out in minutes.
I understand that I am not to expect table wait service, but even at Panera they manage to get two sandwiches from the same order finished at roughly the same time. I would happily have stood and waited for the food but they TOLD me to sit down. I also went looking for my husband's sandwich ten minutes after mine had been presented-- I asked two people behind the counter, both of whom basically ignored me. One of the counter people was talking on her cell phone. That's beyond the pale, if you ask me. even for a "casual" place.
I live in San Francisco right now, but plan to be back in Pburgh in a year or so. While in Pittsburgh from 2000-2006 -- some places my husband and I liked ;
cafe du jour on the south side
La Filipiano in Lawerenceville
Kaya in strip (sometime hit or miss, but mostly good)
Indica (nicer scale Indian in Oakland)
Point Brugge in Point Breeze - a little trendy but good mussels, salads, frites
Bangkok Balcony - Thai in Squirrel Hill
Girasole in Shadyside
Agree with Bona Terra
Red Room in Easts LIberty -- also pricey but very good and nice bar
Zarra's -- old school Italian but pretty good
la filipiana (byob) in lawrenceville...hands down the best thai-ish cuisine around, and it's CHEAP, but not lacking in decor or service. if you can go in the late spring/summer, sit out in the garden area. it's pretty darn cozy for being right along butler street.