How to impress a NYC hound in Pittsburgh?
I have a friend meeting me in Pittsburgh in a few weeks (we are both meeting up at a conference) and she is a true hound. Loves food of all stripes and I'd love to surprise her with some real Pittsburgh native food items (think Bourdain's visit to Cleveland but this time in Pittsburgh).
Any suggestions (all ranges, items, and ethnicities) appreciated.
Here are some ramblings to get you started and I'm sure you get more feedback:
Explore the Strip District including breakfast at Pamela's or DeLucca's but get coffee at La Prima Espresso. Stop by Penn Macaroni Co & Enrico Biscotti. For lunch in that area check out Kaya. In Squirrel Hill there is a long-standing "Pgh" Pizza shop called Mineo's, excellent asian takeout at Zaw's and dine-in asian at Sweet Basil/La Filipiana. Not too far from the is Green Mango in Regent Square. or Point Brugge Cafe in Point Breeze. On the Southside, where Carson St. is a long main drag there are many different eating establishments in Cafe Du Jour. in Lawrenceville, which also is a long narrow neighborhood there is another Sweet Basil, Coca Cafe & Tram's Vietnamese.
A "nice" neighborhood is Shadyside with good coffee at Coffee Tree Roasters, Mulberry Gelato upstairs from excellent northern Italian Girasole. Enjoy the 'Burgh!
Geeze duffy, you named a whole bunch of my favorite places in your post and the op couldn't go wrong with any of them. One place I'd like to ad is Enrico Biscotti for lunch. He makes incredible home cooking style italian food that my italian mother call' s peasant food. It's hearty and delicious. For the coffee, La Prima is good, but I've been enjoying 21st Street Coffee more lately. They're located right next door to Pamela's. My personal vote for breakfast would be Pamela's over DeLucca's.
Yes- Cafe du Jour -Southside...also Dish - Southside. Ummm- conference leads me to believe you will be downtown (dahn-tahn). Try Nine on Nine, Seviche, Eleven, or Sonoma Grille f(or happies)....(don't go into the dining room. Scary plastic flowers in flower boxes) Amazing wine selection. If you are adventureous as far as leaving the downtown area...go to Point Brugge in Point Breeze (cab or car). It is not that far (10 minutes) but great Belgium beers and moules and frittes. La Filipiana - is a yes - two years ago I would have said Trams....something has changed there. Coca Cafe - very cool (check out Sugar and Pavement if you like to shop!!) Have fun!
Nothing personal, but I feel obligated to fill in between the lines here.
The Red Room, in my opinion, is all style, no substance.
Church Brewery is a tried-and-true tourist treat (say that 3 times fast), but, again, for the ambiance rather than the food or drink. The other night I sampled a few brews, and was rather disappointed. Their pizza's pretty decent, but the main courses leave much to be desired.
And the sandwiches from Fathead's I can't stand at all! They're enormous, but that's not an indicator of quality. The ingredients are far from fresh or original. But the menu is entertaining.
I'm loathe to end on such a negative note, so here's a rec for the OP's question: one "real Pittsburgh native food item" that you seek is a Primanti's sandwich. It's a local institution. There are several locations. Another is "Italian wedding" soup, but I don't know of a standout place to have it.
IMO, the best two things in the Strip are:
1. Dear Heart's cheese counter at Penn Mac - best cheese selection west of Murray's
2. Parma Sausage - if your guest has never had cured - but uncooked - pancetta, definitely order a little and have them give you some sample slices.
All you'd need is some bread and some olive salad or something (both also available at Penn Mac) and you'd have a meal rivaling anything else on Penn Ave.
Could also try a fish sandwich at Benkovitz... not many fish places in Manhattan still offer fried fish sandwiches. And the prices won't shock a NYer.
There is little decent coffee in Manhattan north of 20th St. so a traditional espresso macchiato poured by Matt at La Prima or a cup of Rwandan auction coffee on 21st Street's Clover would be something novel for a typical Manhattanite.
If in Shadyside, add Oh Yeah! Ice Cream on S. Highland to your list.
And for a quick snack downtown - try Franktuary. It's hard to find and it ain't much, but it's good.