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Pittsburgh - You have $100 for 2 people. Where do you go?

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Panini Guy Feb 29, 2012 06:09 AM

Not much talk about Pittsburgh here lately, so thought I'd start a new thread.

For my wife and I, the answer continues to be Salt. There are some places we haven't been to yet and would like to try that may change our minds. But of the newer places we did try, after each meal we'd talk about what our total bill would've gotten us at Salt and how whatever it was we just ate seemed like far less value (and tastiness) than what we would've had at Salt for the same price.

As to the $100, we typically don't get dessert. So it's a glass of wine (OK, I may have two), an app and an entree each. At Salt that usually comes in around $80, add tax and a 20% tip and you're right around $100.

I'll add that we both appreciate a variety of tastes in our meals and we get bored after a few bites of a big chop or steak, which apparently makes us oddities in these parts.

So where do you go with your $100 for two? And what makes that a good value or a good experience in your book? Taste? Quantity? Scene?

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    Augie6 Feb 29, 2012 08:05 AM

    My Fav. place right now is Dish Osteria (s side).. I grew up with Italian food and it can be very hard to really get me excited for anything in that realm. However, DISH consistantly proves me wrong with every meal and app I have gotten there. The changing menu helps bring in new flavors and ideas.

    Not to mention it is very nice to bring a date.. I think you could eat and drink well for under 100..
    It might not be anything too special but always a good meal

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      Effort Feb 29, 2012 09:46 AM

      Root 174, it is BYOB.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Effort
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        Panini Guy Feb 29, 2012 10:33 AM

        I wasn't considering BYO but that does allow one more flexibility on how to spend $100. Haven't been to Root174 yet but have heard good things.

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        INDIANRIVERFL Feb 29, 2012 10:10 AM

        Roman's in the Strip and get the mussels. I am more inclined to return to old stomping grounds for the food than I am for seeing a bunch of old fat farts at my 40th high school reunion this summer.

        And do you follow Munch in the Post gazette?

        4 Replies
        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
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          Panini Guy Feb 29, 2012 10:32 AM

          Munch - the guy who talks in code and has never given a bad review to anybody... that guy? I find him absolutely useless. Sorry.

          1. re: Panini Guy
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            INDIANRIVERFL Feb 29, 2012 10:51 AM

            Don't be sorry, I value your opinion. Down here the critic's review seem to be in conjunction with a new ad campaign. Sorry to see it is the same there.

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
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              Panini Guy Feb 29, 2012 04:03 PM

              Munch isn't the real critic, China Millman does the reviews for 'finer dining', and she's quite good. I have no idea why the PG even publishes Munch other than to appease people looking for cheap eats.

          2. re: INDIANRIVERFL
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            Augie6 Feb 29, 2012 11:31 AM

            Indianriver-- Depending on the last time you were in PGH, there was been a lot of very good places opening up

          3. cowboyardee Feb 29, 2012 11:15 AM

            It seems to me you're giving a pretty high estimate for Salt. Course, depends on which wines and entrees you order. Obviously, I agree that it's a great value considering the quality.

            Some of my favorite cheap places in Pittsburgh:

            Smiling Banana Leaf in highland park. The curries are delicious, the space is very inviting and cozy, and the prices are quite low considering the quality of the food that comes out of their kitchen. It's BYOB.

            Oishi Bento in Oakland. The kalbi is fantastic even though they seemed to have scaled back on how much fat is left on the meat (that's a negative for me, but I'm sure others will appreciate it). The udon and bibimbap are both respectable. The maki rolls are one of the best examples of why Americanized sushi isn't necessarily a bad thing - I especially enjoy the rice, which is reliably warm and well seasoned. It's barely more than a take-out hole in the wall, but you can get a great meal for well under $50/person. I have no idea what the alcohol policy is.

            I enjoy Piccolo Fiorno, and I think you'll get good food and good value there if you stay away from most of the pasta entrees, which can be hit and miss and tend to be pricier. I assume you're already familiar with them since they get a lot of mention here though.

            Point Brugge often has been good the few times I've been there. Not any cheaper than Salt, but nice if you want a change of pace. Their kitchen seems to have a lot of finesse, and it's a good place to find technique-heavy cooking for a decent price. It seems to be a better place for beer than for wine. I haven't been to its sister Park Brugge yet, but I've heard some good things.

            4 Replies
            1. re: cowboyardee
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              Panini Guy Feb 29, 2012 04:06 PM

              cowboy - I was figuring for two people $18 wine, $18 apps, $44 entrees, which gets to $80. Add in $5.60 tax and a $16 tip and you're just over $100.

              Thanks for the tip on Oishi Bento. Didn't know about it. Agree with you on Smiling Banana Leaf and Point Brugge. Personally prefer Il Pizzaiolo over Piccolo Forno, but I can see the appeal.

              1. re: Panini Guy
                cowboyardee Feb 29, 2012 04:22 PM

                I misread you. I thought you were figuring at just under $100 per person at Salt (I have no idea how much the avg glass of wine is there since I've never ordered one). Your figures look about right for the average meal there.

                Haven't been to Il Pizzaiolo. Another neopolitan-style place, right? Must try. BTW have you been to Dinette? I was only there once but the pizza was pretty good, and they had a really awesome salumi plate. I'll admit one of my favorite things about PF is just their sandwiches and soup for lunch, both of which tend to be delicious and very well priced.

                Truth is I always feel a little weird giving Pittsburgh recs since I live a good while south of the city and I don't get out to Pittsburgh restaurants as much as a respectable chowhound regular should.

                1. re: cowboyardee
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                  Panini Guy Mar 1, 2012 04:59 AM

                  If you know anything good in the stretch from Washington to Morgantown, let's hear it... we go down that way often.

                  You'll probably like Il Piz. I think Ron, the owner, pays more attention to ingredients and the crusts are more consistent than PF. Been to Dinette once, loved it, but so many new options for other places we still haven't been to, so pizza usually not on the priority list.

                  1. re: Panini Guy
                    cowboyardee Mar 1, 2012 09:02 PM

                    I've got some bad news for you: in between washington and Morgantown, it's been slim pickings, best I can tell. If anyone has any recs for me I'd be happy to hear em.

                    That said, here are a few bright(ish) spots:
                    - My Son's Rib Shack on route 19 near the Jefferson Exit off 79 is an enjoyable greasy spoon. Some of the barbecued stuff is pretty decent (though it tends to be cooked longer and more tender than I like). The rest of the stuff (burgers and the like) is up to par for roadside stand/diner type food, which is better than a lot of the stuff I've tried in the Waynesburg area.
                    - Still in Waynesburg, Hot Rod's House of Barbecue is worth a look. Not great barbecue, but not terrible, and anyway - Pittsburgh doesn't seem to have especially great barbecue either (that I've seen)
                    - Not a restaurant, but the Waynesburg farmers market has some good stuff. I'm talking about the brick and mortar store. It's worth checking out on principle just because the guy who runs it is so nice (i know the mods get worried whenever you mention any interpersonal dealings with businesses, but it's such a small shop that any regular customer can't help but become friendly with the owner, who's always there). The lamb is especially great.

                    When I go out to dinner, I usually wind up in Morgantown. I could give you some recs for morgantown, if you eat there much. I haven't explored the Washington side of 79, so I can't help you out much there. None of the places in or around wburg justify going too far out of your way, sadly. I do a lot of home cooking.

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              ninrn Mar 1, 2012 09:07 PM

              Bona Terra in Aspinwall is great.

              1. Rodzilla Mar 2, 2012 12:58 AM

                I think I'm probably the biggest Salt fan boy around. I know I'm the biggest one living in San Diego :D

                I was the same. I prefer more "inventive" dishes. Taste and quality always come first in my book - I actually prefer Salt right at 5 before the crowd hits.

                I think Salt will always be at the tops of my list for upper casual. A tad pricier and a bit more formal of a feel is Spoon - the food is consistently awesome and 2 for 100 shouldn't be a problem.

                When Notion opens back up, go - but spend the extra money for a tasting. Skip one of your other dinners out and save, you'll have a lot of fun.

                I've had some very good dishes at Root 174, and the menu is another fun one.
                Bite Bistro is worth a visit - a bit more straight forward, but very good, nice scene.
                Recently Cure impressed me - the dishes are a tad more straight forward but everything was really good.

                Still, I'd go with Spoon. Ask if you can add a supplemental foie course if it's not available. Great food, very nice/relaxed setting and still in your price range.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Rodzilla
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                  Panini Guy Mar 2, 2012 05:15 AM

                  Haven't been to Spoon, so thanks for giving the thumbs up. Funny thing is whenever I suggest something in E.Lib, my wife always retorts with, "Why don't we just go to Salt instead." It's that big in this house.

                  Leaving Cure for that time when we're in a meat frenzy. I have to get past Chef Racicot's attitude to give Notion a fair shot. I'm sure it's good, but I have issues with the guy I won't get into here.

                  You do get around. Wish I knew SD besides Bird Rock, Urban and that fish taco place next to the trolley stop at the convention center.

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