Seeking Good Seafood and BYOB in Pittsburgh
I'm looking for restaurant suggestions for a nice, somewhat romantic birthday dinner with most entrées comfortably under $30:
-seafood-focused or usually offers a few good seafood entrées (perhaps with a Mediterranean focus?)
-BYOB, OR has a quality affordable wine list (such as a list of '$35 bottles' like Lidia's has).
-East end is preferable but not a requirement.
To give a sense of our taste/price range for a nice dinner out, our go-to places are usually Point Brugge and Kaya.
Fairly tough set of requirements you've set down there for Pittsburgh, but two places that came to mind are Legume and Toast (both East End). At the moment, there isn't a ton of seafood on either menu, but I seem to remember seeing more in the past, so you may want to check their changing menus close to when you're going. They definitely fit the bill for small/intimate and reasonable wine prices and/or BYOB.
I almost hate to say it, as it's a little cheesy, but the view is superb (romantic) and the seafood fresh and cooked reasonably ok - Monterey Bay Fish Grotto on Mt Wash? May be pushing the budget a bit, but I think any really fresh seafood probably would be.
Hopefully someone else has some better suggestions than mine, I just figured I'd start the ball rolling with some possibilities. Your requirements sound like a place I'd want to go to as well.
Monterey Bay's going to really push the budget, but it might be worth it for that setting.
The other fish-oriented places that come to mind are actually upscale chains: McCormick and Schmick's, and Mitchell's. These probably meet the entree price requirement but not necessarily anything else. The fish is good though. I prefer Mitchell's, generally, but it's at the Waterfront whereas there are two choices in the city for McCormick's: one downtown and one at the South Side Works. I can't think of another local restaurant that really focuses significantly on seafood. (I mean in a good way, instead of a more Red Lobster sort of way. ;-)
What about Plum (in the former Richard Chen space)? I don't know if this would really fit since it's Asian, which is a far cry from Mediterranean. But I just read this review http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09323/... and here's the web site http://www.plumpanasiankitchen.com/ The menu has plenty of seafood on it. Trouble is that whole issue with the car crashing in; that doesn't create a particularly romantic atmosphere starting with entering through the side door, etc. ;-) (Read the article; a car crashed into the front about 6 weeks ago. Maybe it's fixed now though.)
I think Cafe Davio on SS would meet your price and BYOB requirements. It is italian but has a nice selection of seafod dishes - a shrimp and scallop dish, crabcakes, sole and sea bass last time I was there. Environment is not particularly luxurious - but food and ingredients are top notch. It was opened by prior chef at davio's in beechview (i think).
Pittsburgh Fish Market at the Westin might do the trick with a seafood theme but is not BYOB or particularly cheap.
I am consitently disappointed with McCormick & Schmick's.
2516 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Thanks for all these suggestions--I wouldn't have thought of these places. I actually live around the corner from Plum, CrazyOne, so we go there fairly often:) I think Monterey Bay is a great idea--I've actually never been there even though several trustworthy folks have recommended it to me.
The fish/shellfish entrees at Dish are very reliable. They typically have a salmon preparation and a frutti del mar linguine on the menu plus one or two seafood specials. Generally done up in a Sicilian style, so that fits the Mediterranean requirement and in the $18-$25 price range. Would also look at Mallorca for shellfish - usually a lot of offerings and well under $30 if you're not doing lobster.
Cafe Du Jour (1107 Carson - Southside) could fit your requirements (save for being in the East End). Usually 1 or 2 seafood preparations on their small menu, BYO, cozy but casual. I have had both salmon and scallops there. FYI, it is cash only. Not overly romantic but small and usually filled with couples.
I don't think you can go wrong with Bona Terra in Sharpsburg. It hits all of your requirements besides location. The chef is changing the menu almost every day to go along with what he finds freshest, and his menu features the most comprehensive gathering of seasonal and local produce I've found in the city so far. I've never had a bad meal or heard of anyone else not enjoying their experience. Also, because it's a small restaurant that is off the beaten path, you always have that feeling of having discovered a hidden gem. It is also wholly BYOB, so their corkage is low. (I think it's $5 but I havent been there in about a year... ask if you make reservations... you'll need them if you plan to go!)
To give you an idea of other restaurants that I view as excellent, but still "second best" to Bona Terra, I would hit up Casbah, Dish, or Red Room if I wanted to spend more money and have food and service that was slightly less special.