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Nov 16, 2009 01:04 PM

Looking for safe dinner for 8 in Pittsburgh

I'm looking for a restaurant in Pittsburgh for 8 people Saturday night during Thanksgiving weekend. Something safe and somewhat inexpensive (preferably <$15 entree or even less, definitely nothing in the $20s). Open to area of town, though near Squirrel Hill is a mild plus. Sadly no "ethnic food", e.g. Chinese, Thai, Indian are all out. Various inlaws and newly introduced significant others will be present.

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  1. Would pizza at Mineo's in Squirrell Hill work? Maybe Gullifty's? Gullifty's food isn't awful, very good desserts. If everyone is having a good time I think pizza followed by a walk up the hill to Gullifty's for dessert would be great and give everyone plenty of time to catch up.

    1. Given the price pionts and the for "safe/non-ethnic", the choices get rather slim unless you're going to include chains.

      Not sure if Italian is considered "ethnic" in this context, so the following recommendations offer decent variety with an emphasis on meat and pub foods, while also being somewhat interesting and "Pittsburgh-ish" while offering numerous choices within the price range.

      1. Church St. Brewery
      2. Tessaro's
      3. Atria's
      4. 17th St. Cafe
      5. Harris Grille

      Or you could just throw up your hands and go to Max & Ermas or Cheesecake Factory. Hate to say it, but if you've got picky eaters in that crowd, a chain may be the best option.

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

      1. I would have to agree on the Max and Erma's/Cheesecake Factory comment. Everyone should find something there. And going the to either the Shadyside M&E's location or the Southside Works Cheesecake Factory will provide nice areas to walk around or do some shopping.

        Other non-chain 'safe' places could include Elbow Room (Shadyside) or Folino's (Italian - Southside). Reasonably priced and you could certainly do worse. Also Del's in Bloomfield (more red sauce Italian- American) isn't a bad place - I actually like the homey feel and old school antipasti salad.

        1. I'd prefer to avoid a chain. I should also mention that this is a replacement for a Thanksgiving meal (since people are not arriving till Friday and for various reasons, the traditional home-cooked meal on Saturday was cancelled), so if there is some place that serves a quasi-Thanksgiving Dinner that Saturday, that would be perfect, though not necessary.

          Italian could be fine. Maybe Mexican or Spanish would be okay too, I'm not sure. Tessaro's sounds like a place I'd hit on my own. As for the pubs, do any of them smell of stale beer? Since half the people don't drink, I'm not so keen on them, though I personally could certainly use the alcohol. They sound like some of the best options so far, though.

          5 Replies
          1. re: moss

            I am thinking Library on Carson is a good fit. They have moderately priced entrees and sandwiches which are good basic food ( It is a nice space. Squirrel Hill is a tough place if you don't want to go ethnic.

            1. re: moss

              Sure would have helped to mention this is a Thanksgiving meal replacement!

              1. re: Rick

                I didn't mention it because it's become just a dinner out. But if there is some place Thanksgiving-appropriate, that could tip things in its favor. And location is totally flexible since several people will be driving anyway.

                1. re: moss

                  Piccolo Forno in lawrenceville fits your requirements. About 10-15 minutes from squirrel hill.

                  Church Brew works if you stick with the wood fire pizzas (pierogi pizza!) can be done for $15 or less and is a neat space (altar is the brewery)

                  I like Union Grill in Oakland and that is 5 minutes from squirrel hill. They do have "thanksgivingish" stuff like turkey devonshire. I like their burgers, pierogies and waffle fries.

                  Piccolo Forno
                  3801 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

              2. re: moss

                "Pub food" =/= "pub". Just a type of lighter/smaller plate type of food as opposed to a typical $$$ entree.

                None of the places I mentioned would have a "stale beer" atmosphere - all are convivial, clean and pretty good while being reasonably priced. Even the non-drinkers might appreciate Church St. Everyone loves Tessaro's burgers. 17th St. Cafe is more seasonal. Atria's does both pub food (pot roast nachos!) and sit down entrees for those who want something more substantial. Harris Grille is very local and while good, it's possible y'all might feel a bit like outsiders.

                Personally I'd skip the Mexican around here - the only decent Mex places (e.g. Round Corner) will be jammed. Although you could try MadMex, which is more TexMex/eclectic - lots of not spicy things there and very popular (several locations). Not much Spanish/Portuguese here (Mallorca/Ibiza/Cafe Zinho/Zao) and those tend to get pricey (even Ibiza, which is tapas - 3 or 4 small plates and you're in the $20 range).

              3. I agree with the Atria's recommendation. They usually have some sort of fall special that would be very home-cooked like. I think the nearest Atria's to Sq Hill is in Fox Chapel and they're pretty good at handling large groups, I had a group of 10 there last spring for a graduation dinner. The Union Grill in Oakland is also home-y but also more compact so I don't think it's as conducive to groups over 4-6 people.