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Jul 8, 2011 06:34 AM

Good food in good walking neighborhoods in Pittsburgh?

This weekend my son and I are visiting my wife in Pittsburgh, where she's working for a month. She hasn't had a chance to explore the city at all (at ALL), and I've never been, so we are pretty clueless (or: open-minded) about where to go, what to do, and what to eat.

I have heard good (but sort of vague) things about the city and in my head I see us walking around some interesting neighborhood, looking in stores or a museum or gallery or something, and stopping for lunch or dinner in a place that serves good, homey, Pittsburgh-y food (whatever that might mean).

Pittsburghers (Pittsburghians?) - do those kinds of neighborhoods (with those kinds of restaurants) exist? If so, where should I go, and what should I eat when I get there?

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  1. The Carnegie Museum of Art and Museum of Natural History are in Oakland, on Forbes Avenue between Carnegie Mellon U (CMU) and the U of Pittsburgh (Pitt). You can hit the museums, and eat in the restaurant in the modern art wing, or hit one of the many restaurants on S. Craig Street, right around the corner.

    Downtown is kind of dead on Saturday unless there's an event going on, but all I see is the Vintage Grand Prix listed for this weekend, and that's in Schenley Park, between Oakland and Squirrel Hill.

    You might want to walk along Butler Street in Lawrenceville, in the 30s and 40s. My favorite place to eat there is Piccolo Forno. It's closed on Sunday, but open on Friday and Saturday, and they have the best lasagne I've eaten in Pgh that I didn't make myself. It's mainly pasta and pizza. You won't find meat and fish dishes here. But everything else is so good, I never miss them.

    Shadyside's Walnut Street has lots of upscale shopping, including a number of chain stores (Williams-Sonoma, the Gap, some women's clothing stores. You can go to a Pamela's here: best pancakes in town, but they do not serve real maple syrup.

    The Strip District, which is the neighborhood between Downtown and Lawrenceville along Penn and Liberty Avenues and Smallman Street, used to be a wholesale food district, but it has long since become our premier retail food district. Some of my favorite places to eat are here: Penn Avenue Fish Co (my favorite place to eat in Pgh., period), Lidia's (my favorite Sunday brunch), and for food shopping, Pennsylvania Macaroni (PennMac). It's *the* place to shop for cheese and Italian groceries.

    I haven't gotten around to everything yet, but I have to go now. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know. And other people will have ideas. Have a great time this weekend.

    Piccolo Forno
    3801 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

    7 Replies
    1. re: Jay F

      squirrel hill, shadyside... southside as well. this town loves to walk! (as well as eveyrthing jay said)

      1. re: Jay F

        Thanks for the ideas Jay F (and Chowrin). We tried to go to Piccolo Forno but they were closed for some reason, so we ended up at Dish Osteria based on a friend's rec, where we had a really enjoyable meal and good cocktails.

        Most exciting food of the day, though, was definitely the lunch counter at the back of the Polish deli next door to the Penn Avenue Fish Co on the Strip. Maybe the best pierogis - fried crisp in tons of butter - and kielbasy I've had. No frills but none needed. Maybe this is run-of-the-mill food for people who live here, but it was really exciting for us. I could eat there every day for a week (and end it with a nice heart attack on Sunday).

        Had a great time at the excellent Nat'l History museum. All in all a really good day in the city.

        Dish Osteria Bar
        128 S 17th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

        Piccolo Forno
        3801 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

        1. re: GDSwamp

          I'm really glad that you enjoyed your visit. I think your choice of the Polish Deli was great! Thats the kind of place that I love, although I admit, I'm a bit hesitant to recommend that type of place because I'm always concerned that it may be a bit too ethnic, unusual, or local for many people. I think that most Chowhounds (including myself) tend to recommend "safer" restaurants. Sometimes that causes you to miss some of the best places!

          1. re: Burghfeeder

            Ok, well, I haven't left yet, Burghfeeder. Anyplace else I should know about for breakfast before we settle on Pamela's (Cafe Raymond is closed...)

            1. re: GDSwamp

              It's probably too late (I didn't read this until 1:30 pm), but Lidia's brunch is my favorite. Or if you're still here for dinner, try the pasta trio.

            2. re: Burghfeeder

              We moved away from Pittsburgh when I was 10. But some of my best memories are of wandering through all the ethnic markets with my dad, and being introduced to amazing food. Why be safe when you can be spectacular?

              1. re: Burghfeeder

                unless it's "The O", I figure most chowhounds won't mind. If you're recommending a place that is rather schmutzy, just let the folks know.