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Pittsburgh Recommendations

FoodieLisa Nov 4, 2009 07:22 AM

Hi everyone!

I will be in Pittsburgh working on a film and am looking for some great restaurant recommendations. We are staying at the Doubletree, so anything that is what you would call a stand out place would be helpful.

Here are some type of places that we are looking for (but others are welcome):

Someplace that has a great Fall menu (butternut squash/pumpkin/etc)

Places that are a Hole-In-The-Wall are always welcome! Sometimes those are the best places!

Thanks for your help!

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  1. chinacat1969 RE: FoodieLisa Nov 4, 2009 12:20 PM

    I know there are several movies filming in Pittsburgh right now. I pass production on Butler Street everyday since I live in Lawrenceville so I am guessing this is the movie you are involved with. All of these restaurants are in Larryville. All of them are great. If you are working on one of the other films... still go to the list below. Welcome to Pittsburgh!!

    Picolo Forno (Italian) – Lawrenceville – Butler Street - http://www.piccolo-forno.com/ - Amazing
    A Taste of India – Lawreneville – Penn Avenue – Really good Indian -kind of a hole in the wall. Not BYOB
    Tram’s (Vietnamese) – Lawrenceville – 4050 Penn Avenue – A hole in the wall but fabulous! BYOB
    Pusadee’s Garden – Lawrenceville - 5321 Butler Street – Delicious Thai!!
    Tamari – Lawrenceville - 3519 Butler Street – Best in the ‘burgh…for today! http://www.tamaripgh.com/ - Really great Latin Asian fusion…a really nice atmosphere too. Great sushi - try the tartare!!! They may have the seasonal dishes you are looking for.

    Taste of India
    4320 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

    3 Replies
    1. re: chinacat1969
      skoledin RE: chinacat1969 Nov 4, 2009 01:36 PM

      I'll try and provide a little different perspective here... (let the flame wars begin)

      I'm all for promoting Larryville, but this is a little much. I honestly find both Taste of India and Tram's thoroughly unpleasant. You can find much better food just a few blocks up Penn Ave at People's Indian and Pho Minh respectively. My vote for best Thai would easily be Thai Cuisine (Liberty Ave, Bloomfield).

      Picolo Forno is definitely a nice place to BYOB with a group and get some hearty wood-fired oven food if you're in the area. However, I wouldn't consider it amazing by any means, especially with no lack of quality Northern and Southern Italian dining all around the city (Dish, for one very excellent choice on the South Side).

      Tamari really has something going with their cheap Robata and Saporo during happy hour, but I wouldn't consider it exemplary, especially for sushi. Much better quality fish can be found at Plum (East Liberty Pan-Asian), Umi, Chaya, or even the Original Fish Market or Andy's stand at Wholey's.

      For local, seasonal ingredients (fine dining), I can highly recommend Legume, Bona Terra, Vivo, and to some extent, Casbah, Kaya, and Eleven.

      I don't mean to offend anyone, but I guess we all have our different tastes, and I think it's important to have reasonable expectations, especially when visiting, given the fairly limited competition/variety here in Pittsburgh.

      Lisa, I hope you have a great time in Pittsburgh, and don't forget to check out our city's greatest and most common asset -- dive bars. Preferably ones that serve pierogies, kielbasa, and other Polish delights, usually with a solid side of music too (Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, Gooskies, etc.).

      Bona Terra Restaurant
      908 Main St, Pittsburgh, PA 15215

      565 Lincoln Ave, Bellevue, PA 15202

      229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

      Taste of India
      4320 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

      Pho Minh
      4917 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

      Thai Cuisine Restaurant
      4627 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

      Umi Restaurant
      5847 Ellsworth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

      Original Fish Market
      1000 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

      1. re: skoledin
        42duffy RE: skoledin Nov 4, 2009 03:09 PM

        Wow, this is fun but not much help for our visitor. We recently dined at Taste of India and were pleasantly surprised it survived the recent hospital transformation. The food was good, the prices were fair and the service appropriate. However I've also always enjoyed Peoples Indian. We've eaten many times at Trams and admit the atmosphere and service can be quirky. I'll acknowledge the food had become inconsistent but our most recent visits were good. For Thai I must insist you try Smiling Banana Leaf on Bryant Ave. in Highland Park. Very good food with a pleasant small dining room. We've had great meals, including pumpkin ravioli, at Girasole in Shadyside. Some have commented it's gone down hill. A few spots from June's Pittsburgh Magazine are:
        Church Brew Works, Bangkok Balcony, Kaya, Braddock's at Renaissance.

        Taste of India
        4320 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

        Church Brew Works & Restaurant
        3525 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

        733 Copeland St Ste 1, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

        Bangkok Balcony
        5846 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

        1. re: skoledin
          chinacat1969 RE: skoledin Nov 5, 2009 03:59 AM

          I am sorry you feel that my post is "a little much". I was clearly highlighting a neighborhood that I thought FoodieLisa may be spending time in. That was my intent. Sorry you took it in a different way. There are many great restaurants around the city. I see you mentioned a couple of them in your suggestions. Cheers.

      2. RetiredChef RE: FoodieLisa Nov 4, 2009 08:00 PM

        Greetings Lisa,

        I have been in Pittsburgh for 2 ½ months on business so I have made the rounds.


        Thai Cuisine (already mentioned on Liberty)
        Nicky’s Thai Kitchen – just north of the city.


        This may come as a shock with a city full of Italians – but all of the places I have tried range from pathetic to barely passable. The only one that stands out is on top of Mt. Washington with a beautiful view of the city. Now before anyone can beat me to it, you will here to stay away from these view restaurants because the food is sub-par and the prices high. I would agree totally except for this little gem - Isabela On Grandview. If you want a view and the best Italian in Pittsburgh (NOTE: I said best in Pittsburgh, not the best – period) than this is the place. http://www.isabelaongrandview.com/

        Best High End Dining

        Nine on Nine – slightly better food
        Eleven – slightly higher end feel.

        Hole-in-the-wall’s that are uniquely Pittsburgh

        Fat heads Saloon
        Franktuary – Hot Dogs
        Pamela’s – Breakfast Diner – must try bring ca$h they don’t take CC.

        Fall Menu – of the high end dining will have it – but try these to

        Bona Terra (guarded recommendation – some of the dishes are over-complicated


        Cool places

        Dinette – pizza bistro, personally think their Pizza is better than Picolo Forno
        Chruch brew works – food is so so, but it’s a converted church that is now a brew pub, pretty unique just for the atmosphere.

        Indian food (my personal favorite)

        Pittsburgh is not very good in the Indian food department, so if you are used to really good Indian just skip all the Indian in Pitt.

        A couple of comments on other places mentioned or ones you might hear about.

        Casbah is Mediterranean food, expensive and 6 of us left very under whelmed and shocked at the price to value ration.
        Kaya is Caribbean food, it’s OK if you haven’t dined in Miami or the Caribbean but if you have there are better places to eat – imho.
        Sonoma Grille – skip it
        Six Penn – maybe for lunch but skip for dinner, not very good.
        The Carlton – Pretentious with food stuck in the 1970’s

        Hope this helps.

        Bona Terra Restaurant
        908 Main St, Pittsburgh, PA 15215

        229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

        Nine on Nine
        900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

        Thai Cuisine Restaurant
        4627 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

        , Pittsburgh, PA 15203

        Tessaro's Restaurant
        4601 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

        3 Replies
        1. re: RetiredChef
          Daveman84 RE: RetiredChef Nov 9, 2009 12:20 PM

          some of the best Indian can be found down McKnight Road at Taj Mahal or downtown at Indian Spices.

          Taj Mahal
          7795 McKnight Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

          1. re: RetiredChef
            Rick RE: RetiredChef Nov 9, 2009 01:11 PM

            Try Alla Famiglia for Italian if you are up to trying one more Italian place.


            1. re: RetiredChef
              Panini Guy RE: RetiredChef Nov 10, 2009 05:52 PM

              RC - a bit harsh there on the Carlton, no? In the 7 years I've lived here I've never seen Beef Wellington or Sole Meuniere on the menu. Maybe they're a little behind in the innovation dept (perhaps 5 years, certainly not 30 years)., but the kitchen is well trained and can actually cook what's on the menu, which is more than can be said for some other recommendations. Plus best wine selection for value in the city. Yeah, you have to shower and remove your baseball cap to eat there. Hardly in the same league of pretentiousness as say, LeMont.

              As to the OP.... for whatever reason, seems that suburban Indian beats city Indian. Most of what you'll find here is South Indian. Tamarind Savoring India in Greentree is the best I've had here. I understand there's a place called Bismillah out in Monroeville that specializes in Kashmiri/North Indian/Pakistani, but haven't heard a thing about it.

              Agree on Gooski's/Bloomfield Bridge. Uniquely Pittsburgh and pretty decent food. The types of places a hardworking film crew would probably appreciate. If you've got a group that needs to totally pig out for cheap, Big Jim's in the Run.

              Also agree on Dinette for pizza. Finding I like it more than Il Pizzaiolo these days, which is saying something. The pizza at Church Brew Works is actually pretty good as well.

              Not wild about any resto's sushi/sashmi offerings. Most of my local experiences include some terrific bites and some lousy ones at the same place (e.g., a phenomenal piece of salmon followed by forgettable yellowtail). The best unagi I've had here was in a taco at Yo Rita. If you ask me, the closest really good sushi place might be in Toronto ;-)

              Like many here, I'll cook Italian at home. The only reason to go out for it is when a place has access to ingredients I don't. And for that reason, I'd suggest Dish. Retired Chef has a good point in that many of the best "current" Italian dishes can be found at places that don't specialize in Italian (had a wonderful lamb ragu at Iovino's recently).

              My favorite Thai is Silk Elephant. I find the menu and the smaller plates more interesting than most sit down Thai places. I have not yet been to Nicky's or Smiling Banana Leaf, although folks I know who love Thai enjoy both.

              For seasonal stuff, certainly can't beat Legume. Although many places will feature seasonal crops. I recall last year we went to 17th St. Cafe during "Squash Week". It was pretty hard to avoid getting something not made with squash.

              Big Jim's
              201 Saline St, Pittsburgh, PA 15207

              Church Brew Works & Restaurant
              3525 Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

              Tamarind Savoring India
              2101 Greentree Rd, Carnegie, PA 15106

              703 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

              Iovino's Cafe
              300A Beverly Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15216

              Yo Rita
              1120 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

            2. d
              Daveman84 RE: FoodieLisa Nov 9, 2009 12:19 PM

              Sushi Kim downtown, also check out their Korean BBQ AYCE

              Best Thai Hole-In-Wall type places are Thai TYK near Edgewood and Smiling Banana Leaf in Highland Park

              Gotta second Dinette and add La Cucina Dolce out in Monroeville for a real nice and fresh take on Italian with a seasonal menu. and the Verona Village Inn for huge portions of good food. Lydia's would combine your hankering for Italian and season menus.

              Fall Menu
              Legume and Nine on Nine

              La Cucina Dolce
              4366 Old William Penn Hwy, Monroeville, PA 15146

              Nine on Nine
              900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

              Verona Village Inn
              551 Wildwood Ave, Verona, PA 15147

              La Cucina Restaurant
              600 S Blakely St, Scranton, PA 18510

              Sushi Kim
              1241 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

              1. y
                yammers RE: FoodieLisa Nov 11, 2009 03:36 PM

                Sushi - Plum, Tamari or Chaya. I think umi is way overpriced for very small pieces of fish (sorry umi lovers!) Chaya is great but I think Plum has the best atmosphere and I like their sashimi a lot.

                Thai - no one has mentioned Typhoon yet? I love typhoon's pumpkin curry with chicken and their pad thai. Different price bracket (higher) than smiling banana leaf (my other favorite), but it is worth the price.

                Italian - Dish in Southside, Girasole in shadyside. I haven't been to alla famiglia, but i consistently hear great things about it! A lot of people aren't fans, but my husband and I live walking distance to enrico's and we have always had great dinners there.

                Fall menu - eleven, legume and bona terra all are seasonal. as mentioned above, i LOVE typhoon's grilled chicken pumpkin curry.

                Other favorites -
                Casbah - i know another poster didn't like it, but i live walking distance to here as well and i've probably been there 20 times and I really think their mac and cheese and double cut pork chop are super awesome.

                Tamarind (craig street) - i haven't had super awesome indian in pittsburgh, but I like tamarind the best. it's in this cute restored house and their butter chicken is yummy

                Cafe Zinho (shadyside) - eclectic atmosphere and great food. I like the duck a lot. BYOB

                Hole in the wall:
                - tessaro's
                - trams (sorry! i do like it)
                - korea garden ( i like their japchae and bulgogi)

                Oh and someone posted about Isabelas on mt. washington. it's been a while since i've been there, but I completely agree...really enjoyed that place!

                229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                733 Copeland St Ste 1, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

                Southside Cafe
                21 Crooked Ln, King of Prussia, PA 19406

                Cafe Zinho
                238 Spahr St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

                1. j
                  jggabel RE: FoodieLisa Nov 12, 2009 01:40 PM

                  I will offer up 2 suggestions for the Southside as that is the area I am most familiar with.

                  Yo Rita-
                  I know you did not mention mexican but this is much more than that. Yo Rita has unique combinations and they just updated the menu for fall. Food is great as are the drinks.

                  Good Italian in a cozy space. I hear the chef has changed recently which may explain an overdone duck breast I had a few months ago but aside from that one time I have always left happy.

                  Southside Cafe
                  21 Crooked Ln, King of Prussia, PA 19406

                  Yo Rita
                  1120 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

                  1. goldy12 RE: FoodieLisa Nov 12, 2009 02:39 PM

                    I have a different opinion on dinette. I went there for the first time after reading all the rave reviews and was sorely disappointed. My husband and I each got a pizza and a soft drink. Our bill was just over $40 and I was still hungry after I left! The food wasn't terrible, but I definitely didn't feel like it was worth $40. I appreciate the local and sustainable aspect of the restaurant but I felt the price/value relationship wasn't worth it.

                    1. p
                      pgwiz1 RE: FoodieLisa Nov 12, 2009 02:51 PM

                      Not listed as one of your cuisines, but go to Mallorca on the south side. Delicious Spanish food. Very very Tasty.

                      Other random foods in Pgh that I miss: La Feria - Peruvian. It's not a restaurant per say, but a cantina. They have daily Peruvian specialties (get that instead of menu sandwiches). It's in Shadyside, above Pamella's.

                      Being in Pittsburgh, def. go to Pamella's at some point for brunch. More of a college hang out, but the line is out the door. Very very good.

                      Mallorca Restaurant
                      2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

                      La Feria
                      5527 Walnut St, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

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