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Best Fine-Dining/Refined Italian in Pittsburgh.

Will be in Pittsburgh in 2 weeks and we're looking for some lunches and dinners. Planning to hit Il Pizzaiolo and Primanti Bros for lunches. Dinners are up in the air, but thinking Nine on Nine one night and perhaps Dish the other night. I guess my question is whether there is someplace better than Dish on the Italian front, or better than NoN on the fine dining front.

Cheers.
http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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Nine on Nine
900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Pizzaiolo
703 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

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  1. Welcome to Pittsburgh! I follow your blog - love it!! I have been to many of the restaurants that you have reviewed.

    My tops pics for the city:
    Nine on Nine
    Eleven
    Alla Famgillia - Best Italian
    Dish - Great Italian, love the atmosphere
    Mio Wine Bar - located in Aspinwall

    If you are willing to travel to Mt. Lebanon for Ill Pizzalio, then you must try Kous Kous cafe. It is very good. Perhaps you can try Kous Kous for lunch.
    Another spot for a great lunch (located in the Strip) - Penn Mac Fish Company. A hidden gem, for sure!

    Bakeries - you must visit Food Glorious Food. The best bakery in the city. I recently returned from Paris and this is my only "fix" in the burgh.
    If you are in the strip you can also try Enrico Biscotti's - try the nutella ravioli.

    On a side note - the new hot spot will be Salt of the Earth(opening this month). The chef is very talented. The best in the city. Please check to see if it is open when you visit Pittsburgh.
    Let me know when you have your itinerary and I can provide you with more tips.

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    Nine on Nine
    900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

    Food Glorious Food
    5906 Bryant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    21 Replies
    1. re: six dower

      Cheers - essentially we'll be getting into town on Monday and leaving Wednesday evening. Already have reservations for Falling Water at 3:00pm and Lautrec at Nemacolin at 7:00 on Tuesday.

      We'll have a car and plan on seeing the Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory (both closed Monday) and the Aviary (probably Monday.)

      For lunches I was thinking Primanti Brothers, Ill Pizzalio, and perhaps Casbah.

      For dinners Nine on Nine, Lautrec, and Dish.

      Good info on the bakeries - was thinking Pamela's or Coca cafe for a breakfast, perhaps, as well.

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      Casbah
      229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

      Nine on Nine
      900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

      Primanti Brothers
      200 Executive Dr, Cranberry Twp, PA 16066

      1. re: uhockey

        Alla Famiglia is the best Italian.
        Ill Pizzalio is overrated in my opinion. It was very good in the past; however it has fallen a bit within the past year. If you want pizza, try Dinette in Shadyside.
        The best spot for lunch is Avenue B, located in Shadyside.

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        Avenue B
        5501 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

        1. re: six dower

          Just to clarify for the OP, I'm pretty sure six dower meant Penn Ave Fish Company, not Penn Mac Fish Company. I agree, it's a great lunch spot. I'd vote Pamela's, I've never had anything else like it in the country.

          1. re: Rick

            At this point thinking:

            Early am Primanti Brothers, Ill Pizzalio for lunch, Mio Wine Bar for dinner.
            Pamela's, Lidia's for lunch, Lautrec for dinner.
            Coca Cafe, Casbah for lunch, Nine on Nine for dinner.

            I know Lidia's is of a lower end than the others, but mom really wants to go (she is a big Batali fan.)

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            Casbah
            229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

            Nine on Nine
            900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

            Primanti Brothers
            200 Executive Dr, Cranberry Twp, PA 16066

            1. re: uhockey

              Sounds like a great list, but I would really consider going to Alla Famiglia if at all possible.

              1. re: Rick

                I don't really eat veal or beef and their secondi seem almost exclusively cow-based.

                1. re: uhockey

                  He always has a fish special. He only buys what's fresh and so doesn't list it on the menu. I usually end up ordering one of the daily seafood specials. You can even call in advance and request something in particular. His crab cakes are exceptional, and he'll gladly put them on the menu with advance notice. I've never been disappointed with any of his seafood offerings.

              2. re: uhockey

                I am also a fan of Lidia's. Love her show on PBS.
                Try subbing Avenue B for Casbah. Check out the menu online. They also have many daily specials. Casbah is great however Avenue B is one notch above....IMO.
                I am not a fan of Primanti's. Have you been to Panini's is Cleveland?....same concept, similar sandwich.

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                Casbah
                229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                Panini's
                317 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

                Avenue B
                5501 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

                1. re: six dower

                  Never been to Panini's - just feel like Primanti's is one of those things you need to try once. :-)

                  I love Casbah's lunch menu, hence the interest in there.

                  Avenue B's online menu seems extremely limited.

                  http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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                  Casbah
                  229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                  Panini's
                  317 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

                  Avenue B
                  5501 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

              3. re: Rick

                Thanks Rick for correction. Trying to write a report and update my chowhound :). I have been to Pamela's several times - due to friend's request - and hated it each time. I have tried most of the menu and I can not find one item that is enjoyable. Which dish do you enjoy?

                1. re: six dower

                  We always get the pancakes. My favorite is a short stack with chocolate chips added. Parents like the chocolate banana pancakes and the strawberry pancakes. The lyonnaise potatoes are great too. I should probably clarify that the pancakes are the thing to order when going to Pamela's. Their other food isn't bad, but isn't worth going out of your way for. We usually stick to the Strip District location, maybe their quality varies now that they have so many outlets. That being said, not everyone likes their style of pancakes (my aunt and uncle hate the place). Not many people dislike it though, judging by the lines on the weekend! Definitely a place better enjoyed on a weekday.

                  1. re: six dower

                    I have to agree with Six Downer - I'm not crazy about Pamela's either - I think it's wayyyyy overrated. I like my pancakes fluffy, not crepe-like, but that's just my personal preference. I'd rather go to Deluca's if I'm in the Strip.

                    Or even better, another breakfast place in the Strip that I can't remember the name of - a non-descript white building (almost a hole in the wall-type place) that sits off the main street. Shoot. Can't remember the name.

                    1. re: librarianjen

                      Jo Jo's. The nondescript building is an old gas station. ;-) I've never actually been, but I've heard about the Jo Jo Special omelet. Just that when I happen to be in the Strip AND going out for breakfast food (which really isn't that often), I end up going to Pamela's because I can't make pancakes like that, and I like them. ;-)

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                      Jo Jo's Restaurant
                      100 24th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

                      1. re: CrazyOne

                        Jo Jo's - that's it! Thank you. It was a really really good breakfast. My brother says some of the Steelers eat there on a regular basis. Great food, very un- frou-frou which I like.

                2. re: six dower

                  So - what is the story on Food Glorious Food? Seems as if the bakery is only open for a couple hours a week from the rumours I've heard?

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                  Food Glorious Food
                  5906 Bryant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                  1. re: uhockey

                    Saturday's only from 10:00 - 5:00. Sorry, I thought they were opened during the week. Next visit, you must come on a Saturday!

                    1. re: six dower

                      Thanks for the rec of Food Glorious Food, what a great place! I went there this morning and everything looked great and everything I tried was great.

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                      Food Glorious Food
                      5906 Bryant St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                      1. re: Rick

                        I am glad you enjoyed! What did you try? The biscuits have won many awards....they are the best!

                        1. re: six dower

                          Everything looked so good I had a tough time making up my mind. I had a croissant bread pudding that had hints of vanilla and orange and was just excellent, and I ordered a vanilla and a chocolate cupcake. These cup cakes are SO much better than the other local places that specialize in cup cakes. Normally I prefer all things chocolate, but I actually give the nod to the vanilla cup cake here. So moist and buttery, with a delicious soft icing on top all encased in what I think was a white chocolate shell, outstanding. I didn't notice the biscuits, are they savor or sweet biscuits? I also need to point out that the prices are very reasonable and the portions generous. My two cupcakes and a generous serving of the croissant bread pudding was only $7. There was a constant flow of customers and I got the feeling the place would be sold out by early afternoon. Too bad they're not open during the week!

                          1. re: Rick

                            Bummer - I'm sure I'll find plenty of good things to snack on, though.

                3. While the service may not be fine dining, Alla Famiglia is hands down the best Italian in the City.

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: burghgal

                      Have you been there yet burghgal? I'm surprised no one else jumped on this thread beside me and six dower.

                    2. re: Rick

                      All Famiglia is just ok in my opinion. It is definitely not anywhere near worth the price they try to get. And I know people say that you can split an entree because they are large in order to keep the price down... but what fun is that?! Part of the enjoyment of dining with others is getting different things so you can try a bit of everyone's. If I wanted to eat the same thing as everyone else, I would stay home and cook. I have never been able to leave that place without spending at least $75 a person, and that's if I'm bringing my own wine. I wouldn't really consider anyplace in town as being exciting as far as Italian goes. In my opinion you have about 10 or so places that are all about the same (good not great), a lot of which have been mentioned here. Considering that, I would go with someplace with a little atmosphere and much better value.

                    3. Alla Famiglia got quite a favorable review in today's PG.

                      http://www.postgazette.com/pg/10175/1...

                      1. We ended up settling on:
                        Primanti Bros / Il Pizzaiolo / Eleven Chef's Table.
                        Pamela's / Lidia's / Lautrec
                        Coca Cafe / Casbah / Bona Terra (incredible customer service both via phone/e-mail)

                        Will report back, at length.

                        Thanks to all!

                        http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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                        Bona Terra Restaurant
                        908 Main St, Pittsburgh, PA 15215

                        Casbah
                        229 South Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

                        Pizzaiolo
                        703 Washington Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15228

                        1 Reply