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Serious Question...Is Pittsburgh limited to Diners Drive-ins and Dives or are there a few good restaurants?

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My kids go to Pitt and I'm in the burgh a lot. I yet to have a good meal there.

Seriously.

Lidia's...mediocre at best. Elevens...just OK. Paris 66...mediocre is being kind (see my recent post).

I'm not flaming. Is there even one restaurant that could stay open in Philly or NYC?

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  1. Agree with what Mon said, and if you search you'll find your answer. The past few years especially the dining scene has really come alive.

    I lived outside of PGH for most of my life, now after living on the west coast and being lucky enough to eat at some really highly acclaimed places - the dishes I've had at a few restaurants in PGH are still some of the best around. You're going to the wrong spots.

    Salt of The Earth...not sure how you missed hearing about this one
    Root 174
    Cure
    Spoon
    Notion (cross your fingers for a speedy re-opening in East Liberty..and do a search for reviews from people like UlteriorEpicure..or even myself)

    Check out withthegrains or foodcollage for reviews of dining around the city - the former has spent a lot of time in Philly, the latter has been all over.

    the food at these places speaks for itself, but the backgrounds of these Chef's is impressive as well...and the camaraderie that is somewhat unique to PGH where these "competing" restaurants aren't just friendly, but are hosting events together - etc.

    they wouldn't just stay open in cities that are a bit more food-focused, they would be packed.

    Il Pizzaoiola is said to be one of the best Neopolitan pie places in the states.

    Your question is kind of like someone asking if Philly is all places like Geno's, and not searching for Vetri or Morimoto. Please, PLEASE try a few of the places mentioned. I'm guaranteeing your opinion will change.

     
     
     
    2 Replies
    1. re: Rodzilla

      Thanks to all for the recs. I'm finally back in town for more than a moment and got to try a couple of them.

      Soba was great. Asian, particularly Korean food. Wonderful apps, rock shrimp, dumplings, duck buns...mains were ramen bowl, miso cod, korean bbq tuna and pad Thai. All were great. Miso cod was perfect I was told.

      The Porch for brunch was less than I expected, but I expected too much of a student-centered place on campus. It was ...OK. Pizza was a little limp-crusted, burger was OK, smoked trout salad was very skimpy on the salad...more like an app in portion size. Cool to be on the site of Forbes Field.

      Spoon was really good. Foie gras with funnel cake, onion marmalade and pineapple was tasty, but the pineapple was a little strong for the rest of the dish. The Spring Pea Soup was pretty and good as was the lobster app. Halibut was cooked just right, duck was generous and just as it should be, scallops were lovely. And they had a cheese course, God bless them.

      With your help I'm getting a handle on the burgh. Thanks!

      1. re: sal_acid

        Pamela's will do you just fine for brunch (there's an Oakland location "on campus" -- within a short walk at least. I like the squirrel hill location better, which is a short drive/busride *cough* I'dwalkit *cough*)

    2. We have just moved to Pittsburgh (I am from here originally but lived away for 20+ years) from central PA. While we loved our time there, we needed to take frequent "city breaks." So within the past few years we have dined as some of the best restaurants in the country....in Philly we dined at Zahav, Osteria, and several of Jose Garcia's and Steven Starr's places. Recent NYC favorites are Eleven Madison Park, Motorino's, The Modern, and Babbo. In DC we have tried Rasika, Central and Jaleo. I include this info so you understand the importance we place on great food.

      I agree with others that you have not been trying the right places. While we haven't had a chance to visit all of the restaurants suggested above, we have been working on it. I have always trusted Chowhound for recs wherever we travel.

      We haven't done much fine dining so far, but we loved Toast for my husbands birthday. Enjoyed the cozy room and great wine list. Rich, homey food very well done.

      Had great Italian at both Dish and Stagioni. We also had a fabulous meal at Alla Famiglia last year and my husband has been trying to get me back there since we moved. Girasole is a lovely place for lunch or dinner.

      For more causal, but still great food, try Park Brugges. We are hitting their sister restaurant, Point Brugges for brunch today (coupled with our first trip to the East End Co-Op.)

      While not fancy, we loved the unique tacos at Yo Rita and Round Corner Cantina.

      Living on the south end of Pittsburgh, we have had several great meals at Il Pizzaioli, although I do think NYC does the best Neooolitan (try Motorinos!) We also liked Bistro 19, also in Mt Lebanon.

      Have you checked out Pittsburgh Magazine's top 25? Similar recs to what you find here and no mention of Lidias or Paris 66!
      http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pit...

      20 Replies
      1. re: sal_acid

        I would put some Pittsburgh's best against the best of any city that are the same types of restaurant.

        Philly certainly has MORE notable/destination type spots, they aren't necessarily better.

        1. re: sal_acid

          You're serious?
          Pittsburgh is the 3rd most promiscuous city in the country.
          Capita per capita, we got philly beat.
          Pittsburgh is the second most cloudy city in the country.
          We go out to eat a lot here.

          We beat pants off NYC in Asian food, we have out-of-this world eastern european food.
          And burger afficianados fly from philly to eat at our world famous burger joints (Tessaros).

          1. re: Chowrin

            Pittsburgh beats NYC for Asian food? And the best burger on earth is worth the cost of a flight from Philly?

            Next you'll say that the burgh has the best pastrami on earth. And that you should put fries in a reuben instead of kraut..

            That's what's great about chowhound, you learn stuff that you never suspected.

            BTW the oldest philly grandma can kick Sidney Crosby's cowardly ass.

            1. re: sal_acid

              Yeah, we heard all about philly booing Palin. d*** boobirds (that's said with affection!)

              Yup. for many years we had one of the top ten thai restaurants in the country (now we've got more!), NYC was never on the list.

              And NYC doesn't get Pilgrims, for goodness sakes!

              Pittsburgh's jew-food sucks. And it's Italian sucks (go to the Garden State fer that, for goodness sakes!).

              Local yinzers and good pizza don't seem to get along.

              But we do a decent jab at contemporary american.

              1. re: sal_acid

                Sal_acid,

                Often lots of noise here. Bose headphones and/ selective reading can block them out.
                With all of the valid positive things Pittsburgh has going for it I am always surprised by those odd arguments forward here by some. Which in fact only degrade the value of those comments made in ernest by those trying to assist and/or just forward their personal opinions based on knowledge.

              2. re: Chowrin

                Very few cities beat NYC in just about anything.

                I'll give you that Pitt has some good burgers..but Asian food? Maybe Thai, but ot too many authentic Japanese or Chinese places.

                Eastern Euro - yes

                Pizza - Il Pizzaoilo is an outlier and an amazing one. Dinette is a unique style, and if you're a fan of cracker thin crust, you'll love what they do there.

                Contemporary American - hells yes, hidden gem.

                and if you're looking for the best cured meats and charcuterie boards, meet Justin Severino.

                Now if anyone wants to hate a Pittsburgh sports star - let's make it Roethlisberger

                1. re: Rodzilla

                  Pittsburgh seems to have a higher income (or maybe that's disposable income) segment of Asians than nyc... I'm spoiled because I'm in the east end.
                  And I meant Indian in there too...

                  1. re: Rodzilla

                    I won't get into the war (I've lived in Brooklyn for 15 years, but grew up in Western PA -- there's good restos nearly everywhere) but where are the good Eastern Euro joints in PGH? BBT is OK, but I've found nothing that's blown me away. Or that matched my memories of the home-cooking you used to find at Orthodox churches throughout the region.

                    Bonus points for anyone who can point me to LIthuanian food in the greater PGH area (not provisions, proper cooked food).

                    1. re: lambretta76

                      Josza's (Hungarian).

                      But I'd have to ask, what Eastern Euro restos in any city have "blown you away"?

                      There used to be a couple here. Last one was "Old Europe" on Carson that met its demise 5 or 6 years ago. I don't believe there's a market for Eastern Euro cuisine at this point - it's not 'spicy', it's not exotic, it's meat and heavy sauce sauce-centric, and it's not finger food. And there's not a single cooking show featuring it.

                      That's about as close as one gets to a 'no sale' among 35-and-unders.

                      I'm half Lithuanian. If you can mention a Lit resto that isn't connected to a local Lit social club in any city, I'm interested in hearing about it. Only one I'm aware of that's any good (and actually profitable) is Grand Duke's in Chicago.

                      1. re: Panini Guy

                        I was in London back in '98 or '99 and went to a place (whose name sadly escapes me, maybe Wodka?) It was outstanding, kind of a French technique for traditional Polish dishes. Sadly, they also had excellent house-infused vodkas, so my exact memory of that meal is somewhat clouded. Perhaps Easter European will be the next Scandinavia cuisine.

                        There's no great ones here in NYC either, sadly. Karczma is a good Polish workhorse (love the blood sausage), as are Lomzynianka and Krolewskie Jadlo, but what stands out are more the meat markets than the restaurants. I've heard that Hospoda in NYC is excellent for Czech, but I've not been.

                        There is a Lithuanian restaurant here in NYC. Ish. It serves Lithuanian dishes one day every couple of months, this is from the last one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Lithu... The last proper one I knew about was next door to a Lithuanian church and closed in the late 90s/early 00s.

                        But sadly this is all a bit off-topic. Hopefully some farm-to-table chef that grew up in western PA will find a soft-spot for the food of their childhood and bring an excellent Eastern Euro resto to Pittsburgh.

                        1. re: Panini Guy

                          There's also that place in homestead that serves soups on Saturdays... (post gazette had a review of it).

                          And oh, the pierogies! There looked to be a fine place up in Wexford.

                          Eastern Euro cuisine isn't stylish, true, but neither is greek, and they make do.

                    2. re: Chowrin

                      Please tell me where these NYC beating asian places are as we've been driving to Northern Virginia fairly regularly to get our asian fix.

                      1. re: Rick

                        Tried the New How Lee?
                        The Thai Place in Shadyside is classic.
                        Rose Tea Cafe is delish.
                        Bangkok Balcony
                        Udipi

                        for the more expensive set: Umi and Soba and Chaya

                        All that we're missing is ramen (unless salt's has improved...)

                        1. re: Chowrin

                          and don't forget tram's.

                          anyone got any info on Burma Tokyo?

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            Burma Tokyo is definitely a dive, but pretty darn delicious. I would stick to the most Burmese dishes rather than the other stuff.

                            If you've been somewhere like Burma Superstar in SF, this doesn't come close, but as the only authentic Burmese I'm aware of in the burgh, it's definitely worth checking out.

                          2. re: Chowrin

                            Finally got to try the New How Lee, it was really good! Not quite as good as what I've had at Joe's Noodle in Rockville, MD, but still very good. I've been to Udipi but it's probably been a few years, need to get back out there one day.

                          3. re: Rick

                            There isn't a "NYC-beating" Chinese place. But, I do think China Star could hold its own on Canal St.
                            http://www.chinastar-pgh.com/

                            1. re: Panini Guy

                              is that china star related to the one in squirrel hill?

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                i doubt it.

                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                  I believe it is. The China Star on Murray across from the Squirrel Hill Giant Eagle recently changed its name to Sichuan Gourmet. This isn't to be confused with the other China Star, also on Murray, also across from a Giant Eagle (the Greenfield one). http://sichuan-gourmet.com/

                      2. Perhaps I also have missed the wonderful Pittsburgh restaurants. Having relocated to Philadelphia from San Francisco I was so please to find what major food and news publications have described as one of the most vibrant food scenes in the East. The comments come based on the many James Beard Award winners, Best New Restaurant of the Year Awards to name just a few. I have noted, although not interested in joining, a ongoing cross PA battle on most all things. The Burgh is a very nice area with many extremely good qualities but it does suffer from a second city complex thus this constant chatter. Football, Hockey, Baseball?, Basketball, Soccer: I understand the competition. Oh sorry scratch Basketball and Soccer. However based on years of travel to the Steel City, great restaurants, sorry not even close.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Bacchus101

                          Bacchus, do you mind sharing which restaurants you have tried?

                          While I agree that it's difficult for a small city like Pittsburgh to compete with Philadelphia, which is more than twice its size, that certainly does not mean there are no good restaurants. I compare the recent appearance of small, chef-centric BYOB places in the 'Burgh similar to what took place in Philly a few years earlier. Both cities have to deal with the state's ridiculous liquor laws, which make restaurant start ups very expensive. It's is further complicated by Pittsburgh's neighborhood structure, so there is no single dining location. I have enjoyed seeing the revitalization of places like Lawrenceville and East Liberty but for a visitor it may seem like a lot of driving around our crazy streets!

                          We are looking forward to trying the restaurants suggested above as we continue to familiarize ourselves with the local food scene. I hope you will also be able to find some places you like.

                          1. re: Bacchus101

                            Well, Pittsburgh's got a better beer selection than Philly, hands down.
                            And we got our share of James Beard folks wandering around.

                            and years of traveling to pittsburgh? where HAVE you been staying!?

                            1. re: Chowrin

                              You can find great microbreweries in just about every significant American city.You can also find bars with huge selections of anything you want in just about every significant American city. While it may be true that Sharp Edge imports more Belgian beers than any other bar in the US, if you want a bottle of Pliny the Elder or Pliny the Younger - two of the most talked about West Coast beers over the past couple of years - you have to go to Philly.

                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                Side note: I had tried Pliny the Elder in Philly a couple years back and wasn't super impressed. Then just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine spent his honeymoon on the West Coast and brought me back a bottle of Pliny he had bought a day or two before at the brewery. Holy crap, what a difference. It was awesome. The gulf between a stale Pliny and a fresh one is huge. I don't know if I just got unlucky and picked a bad one in Philly or if a lot of the Philly stock winds up being a little older. But if you know anyone making a trip out West, see if they can pick you up a bottle right before coming back.

                          2. You've discovered... that pittsburgh's food media isn't too great. But there are quite a few good restaurants in pittsburgh. Monmauler mentioned several of my favorites. I also like some of our semi-divy Asian food. One of my personal favorites is Oishii Bento, right next to you in Oakland. Another is the Smiling Banana Leaf in Highland park. And there are a few other places I like but I can't comfortably name because I have friends working at them.

                            I grew up in Philly and still have family there, btw. I wouldn't argue that Pittsburgh's restaurants are better than those in Philly, but if you search out better recommendations, I think you'll find Pittsburgh holds its own in several categories.

                            ETA: and yeah, you do kinda come off like you're trolling. I dig the restaurant reviews you've posted, but look around in a few other threads and try out some of the places that are actually recommended here before claiming that Pittsburgh is all DD&D land.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              I'm actually dying to hear more Asian recs, because quite frankly I was starting to believe that State College PA had better Asian places. And I already know about Nicky's...how about good regional Chinese (and please don't say Sesame Inn), Korean BBQ, Japanese?
                              Oishii Bento looks great, thanks for that rec. Would love to hear others.

                              1. re: mb luvs SBH

                                I work in pgh, but have lived a good ways south for several years now, so I don't get around as much as some of the other posters here. In other words, my recs are just places I like, and not others might be able to recommend better restaurants in the above categories.

                                That said, for Korean BBQ and Korean in general, I do like the Golden Pig on Miller's Run rd in cecil. I don't get there as much as I'd like, but it's a good restaurant.

                                For Japanese, I'm partial to Chaya in Squirrel Hill. Their nagiri menu is the best traditional sushi I've had in pittsburgh. And their non-sushi offerings are generally quite good as well.

                                I really like Nicky's Thai Kitchen too, though I hate driving around the North Side, so I don't get out there much. There seem to be quite a few good (and affordable) Thai restaurants in pgh. Smiling Banana Leaf's menu isn't quite as good as Nicky's (though it's close IMO), but if you stop there for an early dinner before it gets crowded, it's just such a nice little cozy hole in the wall with great atmosphere, and really comforting well seasoned food to match.

                                For Chinese... you'd be better off asking someone else for recs.

                                There are a few decent Vietnamese places I've tried. Tram's in Bloomfield and Vietnam's Pho in the strip district are both enjoyable and respectable, though not quite mindblowing. Lucy's in the strip district makes killer bahn mi - Pittsburgh would have a much better reputation for food if hers was the go-to sandwich rather than Primanti Bros' offerings, IMO.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  I've heard nothing but praise for Golden Pig.

                                  Chaya is the best for traditional no frills sushi, but I've now been spoiled by the West Coast where plenty of places meet Chaya's quality. That said, the fact that it competes at all (and favorably) given the area is a testament to the quality.

                                  Umi is another one, I believe Chef Shu trained under Masa in NYC, His style reflects - more garnishes, etc, but the flavors and quality are top notch. You can expect to pay for it, but I think (without visiting) that it would compare favorably with Motorino.

                                2. re: mb luvs SBH

                                  The New How Lee (sichuan)
                                  Rose Tea Cafe (cantonese)

                                  Out near the Temple there's a great indian joint, Udipi

                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                    Thanks, I'll check those out! Especially grateful for an Indian rec.

                                    1. re: mb luvs SBH

                                      You'll find another good one on Murray @ Phillips (the old Kazansky place).

                                      As I mentioned above, Pittsburgh is a holy city, complete with pilgrims.

                                      1. re: Chowrin

                                        I second Udipi, great food, total hole in the wall though but that never stopped me.

                                        1. re: Rick

                                          such a pittsburgh attitude!

                              2. OK, might as well come out of the stands to join this meelee. Having lived in Pittsburgh before there were any glimmerings of foodie culture, and having dined in Philadelphia a bit, one important observation:

                                While Philadelphia is MUCH bigger than Pittsburgh, it's easier to move around in the larger city, less transit time to far-flung neighborhoods where interesting BYOB and local favorites can be found. Pittsburgh takes forever to get anywhere, and has fewer options if your highly touted neighborhood find is overbooked or otherwise needs an alternative. In Philadelphia there are many more options of equal or better quality should your first choice for dining prove to be unavailable.

                                Secondly, much of Philadelphia's population has a long tradition of loving good food and a cosmopolitan mix of ethnic groups with pride in their cuisines. The average Pittsburgher is well known for a disdain for fancy putting on the airs and a love for lots of food, cheap, as well as a greater concentration of immigrants from areas not usually esteemed for foods. The respective cultures count for something, and translates into there being a lower floor and a larger struggle for sustaining good restaurants in Pittsburgh.

                                Good things are happening now in Pittsburgh, but go back thirty years and compare the dining in the two cities at that time. Philadelphia had a lot going for it even then, while Pittsburgh's dining scene was pretty grim. I spend too little time in the 'burgh these days to appreciate all it now has to offer, especially given the comparative travel times in the metro area, while Philly is quicker to get around it, even without having lived there to become familiar with the best routes.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Dan D

                                  +100. Yes, yinzer style food abounds.

                                2. mb luvs SBH

                                  Very intelligent, informative comments , thank you for the voice of reason. I did want to share my experiences as a bit of an outsider. My dining experiences were with clients and colleagues from some of your most notable companies, both as a host and a guest. As mentioned previously I do not care to get too involved, especially since seeing some of the comments that have been posted. Frequently these Pittsburgh hosts would lament the lack of great restaurants and we would end up at a very nice country club dinning room with good food and service, which I enjoyed very much. I had heard many of your points mentioned by both by guest and hosts when in your fine city. You seem to me to be right on point. Thanks for providing some interesting discourse on this,obviously, highly emotional issue. Of course I am used to this cross state battle in the form of SF v. LA. Which never seems to be quite as highly charged and more in good humor! One man's opinion

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Bacchus101

                                    a couple places that have not been mention "common plea" down town. "carlton" down town,
                                    "hyehold" moon township. "Cafe Notie" bellview. try the sewyckley area. and the shadyside area. there have always been some nice places in those areas. a few years back this town had 2 four star places..La Nomande and Le Pommier. great places but the lease was up or the place caught fire. sad. this town has been dominated by "franchise" places.
                                    "donotos" fox chapel is suppose to be good. and they say "burgatory" is good.

                                    1. re: halochef

                                      Chef.....Very helpful comments and suggestions, thanks.

                                      1. re: halochef

                                        not groovin' on Cafe Notte, we left hungry and went to Willow

                                    2. I just need to say that having grown up in the NYC area, while there are certainly many more gens than anywhere, there are also plenty of crappy NY restaurants and plenty of 'names' that have been coasting for some time. With that being the case, yes, many Pittsburgh restaurants could survive in NYC.

                                      But that's not the answer you were looking for :-)

                                      Second Salt of the Earth, Cure, Root 174, Spoon. Would add Alla Famiglia (but your clients would hate the neighborhood!), Bona Terra (great food, ambience needs work), Nine on Nine (particularly the appetizers), and yes, even The Carlton, which while not cutting-edge, is certainly the best white tablecloth/professional waitstaff/best wine list in town.

                                      I moved here 10 years ago. It was awful. It got better. But most of the better still isn't in expense account places. Food here remains pretty casual. Even most of the good food.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                        And this is why we won't do French! Pittsburgh prides itself on being "not-uptight" about things... and fancy french sounds pretty uptight. Belgian, on the other hand, sounds "interesting" and "mildly offbeat"

                                        1. re: Panini Guy

                                          Well stated Guy and with the added interest of a personal historical perspective. Your first paragraph, IMHO, is quite accurate and concise commentary on the NYC food scene. Although most recently my travels have been across the pond rather than across the state: I will note your suggested restaurants, thanks. Also got it right on the catalyst required for posts here. Unfortunately that also generates some strangely odd and quite defensive comments .

                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                            Unfortunately Bona Terra has closed. Others are good recommendations. For Chinese, Silk Road is good.

                                            1. re: Effort

                                              I'm surprised I missed that news. Hopefully Doug opens up a new place sooner than later.

                                              1. re: Effort

                                                Tai Pei is our go to, stand by, FAVORITE!!

                                            2. btw, I'm happy to see our Pgh posters come out of their hidey-holes. Hasn't been this much action on a Pgh thread in months. Guess all it takes is a good insult!

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                Hah, I was thinking the same!

                                                http://burghfeeding.blogspot.com/

                                                1. re: Burghfeeder

                                                  OBTW after signing off there are a few places up on the little hill we call "Mt. Washington" now you will pay a little more because of the view. Lamont. been there for years. $$$$$$
                                                  for the view but the place has kept up w/ food trends. also the "tin angel". a couple other places "chrstophers" beautiful view, fish house. and some others less $ in the neigborhood. and lastly i live in the north hills and do not venture anymore to the south hills. there may be a few gems there.

                                                  1. re: halochef

                                                    You must not get out a whole lot...Christopher's has been closed for about 15 years. And if keeping up with food trends means every entree gets the same starch and veg, then you are correct, LaMont has kept up with trends.

                                                    1. re: mcharles

                                                      not christophers the place thats there now. Monterey Bay. brain etc

                                              2. also yes the 'burg has been "restaurant challanged"and i have viewed-seen-read many things about this "meat and potato" town. i really dont think this city would support a place like "Guy Savoys" place in vegas. one would pay similar price eating at Mortans-chris ruth-Hyde park.
                                                but this place is classicly French

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: halochef

                                                  Yes, pittsburgh has been, in the past, "restaurant challenged". this probably explains why the residents of this "friendly city" get a bit loud (inna good way) if you sound a touch irate. ;-)
                                                  [note: sal's from near philly? figure he/she can handle a bit of gentle hollerin']

                                                2. Meat and Potatoes is wonderful!!!
                                                  Vivo in Sewickley is awesome
                                                  But don't go away with out going to Tessaro's for the best burger in the Burgh

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: kathywbright

                                                    Haven't been to vivo's but even in the PGH area their sister restaurant Bite Bistro doesn't get nearly enough credit. I have to assume it's on account of the location, but if you make it out that way it's certainly worth a visit.

                                                    1. re: kathywbright

                                                      >>>But don't go away with out going to Tessaro's for the best burger in the Burgh<<<

                                                      I like BRGR's brgrs bttr.

                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                        i didn't like the willows. the owner has another place and i can't think of the name.
                                                        also on the way to sewickley on ORB just after passing the 79 bridge is the "Speak Easy"
                                                        right off the road up a small hill. not bad

                                                        1. re: halochef

                                                          "i didn't like willow."

                                                          I thought it was pretty good, savory food-wise. I had crab cakes, which were truly excellent.

                                                          However, I was there because a bunch of friends were taking me out for my birthday. The guy who planned the dinner pre-ordered me a slice of cheesecake for dessert. He knows I don't really care for cheesecake, but it turned out it was the only cake on the menu. Compounding matters, they order their desserts from an outside supplier.

                                                          If I lived up that way, I'd probably eat there often, but it's a schlep from the East End for a restaurant that doesn't make its own desserts.

                                                    2. This thread is a peffect example of what's wrong with east coast attitudes. I just moved to philly from the bay area and it's a tough transition for sure with regards to the food scene. With that said this petty bickering b/w Philly and burg is pathetic!! The initial post is a little flamey, but most cities would be excited to show you what you are missing. Instead we get Eagles can't win a superbowl and Crosby is a *****

                                                      With that said anyone have recommendations for Monroeville? It is tough to get away from chain restaurants out here.

                                                      20 Replies
                                                      1. re: Tommytd78

                                                        I just ate at the most enjoyable Mexican restaurant in Monroeville last week called Rey Azteca. I liked it so much, I may go again tomorrow (depending on the snow). And at lunch, it's downright cheap.

                                                        http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/152024...

                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                          "With that said anyone have recommendations for Monroeville? It is tough to get away from chain restaurants out here."

                                                          Rey Azteca is a chain...

                                                          1. re: mb luvs SBH

                                                            It was good anyway, MB.

                                                            But thank you for clearing that up. Tommy, don't go to Rey Azteca. It is a chain. Eat somewhere else. I really hated what I had the other day, and I lied to you about it before. Hateful, horrible place.

                                                            Where are the (offending) other branches, MB?

                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              I think they started in Johnstown, we ate in the one in State College a few times. They also have locations in Irwin, Fair Oaks and Warminster.

                                                              I only commented because the OP specifically said they were not looking for chains. I didn't critique the restaurant, although the one in SC was average at best. Perhaps don't take it so personally?

                                                              1. re: mb luvs SBH

                                                                I'll leave it up to Tommy. If he doesn't want to eat at a place because it's a chain, in spite of the fact that someone actually liked it, then so be it.

                                                                And I'm pretty fussy about Mexican restaurants, and haven't really found one I like in Pgh. until now.

                                                        2. re: Tommytd78

                                                          From Monroeville, just go over the hill to Oakmont and explore. And don't miss the Oakmont Bakery.

                                                          1. re: yayadave

                                                            Someone whose veracity I have no reason to doubt once stated in another online forum that Oakmont Bakery's goods are made from mixes, including the dry pudding mix from which they make the "creme patissiere" they put in their eclairs.

                                                            I have only eaten Oakmont Bakery's cupcakes, and I only ate them once. I thought they were dreadful.

                                                            I have a friend who comes to town once a year, and she stays out in Oakmont. She's a confirmed carbophobe, but occasionally strays and eats things she calls "sinful," and the Oakmont Bakery cupcakes are among her favorite sins (she also sins with Krispy Kreme, which I loathe, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised I don't like the Oakmont cupcakes).

                                                            The frosting is this wet mess. I really disliked them.

                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              You mean there's somebody who actually listens to h_curtis? :-)

                                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                Whoa! Points for research, Panini Guy (it took me a moment, seeing that name in this typeface).

                                                                Yeah, I know he can be a major d.b., but when it comes to food, he's one of the voices who spout off against crappy food. Though he seems to post in a haze most of the time, I couldn't agree more with him re: products made with sugar.

                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                  I post over there regularly under a different name, so I didn't have to do any research at all - it could only have been one person :-)

                                                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                    Do you think he's making it up about Oakmont Bakery? All I've had were their cupcakes, and they were dreadful.

                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                      I honestly have no idea since I never get up that way, but I'd guess he's probably correct, given his attention to ingredients (e.g. the ice cream rants). FWIW, I thought Dozen cupcakes were way overrated when James owned it, so I don't know if I'd judge anyplace on cupcakes alone.

                                                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                        Well, I liked Dozen, and I liked James. I got sick of cupcakes, though. But a lot of his other stuff was excellent: the cinnamon rolls, the cookies, the French toast on Sundays. There was a spice cookie that was TDF, even though it was vegan. And then there were the CC and oatmeal raisin cookies. And he did the best carrot cake.

                                                                        I know I was a fanboy, but I don't think it was with no reason.

                                                                        Also, no one has presented my view on ice cream more eloquently, in any forum anywhere, online or IRL, as h_. No one. (Though he drives me crazy in nearly every other thing he insists upon.)

                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                          I guess that was my point as it related to Oakmont. Most everything else we had at Dozen was pretty good - except the cupcakes, which they were best known for.

                                                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                            When they were in Squirrel Hill, and I could walk over, I used to love eating cupcakes every morning: the Key Lime, the Cosmo, and the Elvis, in particular. Good tea, too.

                                                                            Over time, though, I would just eat the cake. I'm much more a cake person than a frosting person (which I didn't realize was a "Two Kinds of People" thing until WQED interviewed me at Dozen).

                                                              2. re: Jay F

                                                                I've never eaten at Rey Azteca as the 5 or 6 locations aren't very close by. But I'll say this, they're one of very few 'Mexican' restaurants in the area that actually offers entrees that don't come inside a tortilla... which automatically makes them more "authentic" than the places where everything is wrapped in a tortilla and served with frijoles, colored rice, sour cream and cheese. If they've succeeded with stuff other than tacos and enchilidas, I'm all for it.

                                                            2. re: Tommytd78

                                                              Your post does show some West Coast attitude. Just an observation.

                                                              1. re: Tommytd78

                                                                It's all in good fun! sal got a touch bit irate (and that's fine he was in need of some better advice!). And then we started ribbing off each other.

                                                                Every city's got something to make fun of. Even the "city of the future".

                                                                1. re: Tommytd78

                                                                  I just think it's funny that you step into an Eastern PA vs Western PA argument to start an East Coast vs West Coast battle.

                                                                  RIP Biggie.

                                                                  I never eat in Monroeville, but I'd give you recs if I had em.

                                                                  1. re: Tommytd78

                                                                    Honestly, it's worth the drive into PGH. Root 174 is on Braddock which is almost right as you turn off the highway and worth visiting.

                                                                  2. I've refused to post on the PA board ever since my informative (maybe slightly cantankerous) post on this thread was removed, and I don't think I'll post again here. Just listen to rodzilla and JayF. They mostly know what's going on...

                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                    1. re: MonMauler

                                                                      Thanks Mon, I need to stop back into the area to brush up.

                                                                      1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                        Monroeville has Green Mango (Thai) and they closed their other location, so they are not a chain :)

                                                                        1. re: burghgal

                                                                          We almost ate at Green Mango the other day (they're in the same shopping complex as Rey Azteca, near what is now the erstwhile Sears), but my friend The Coupon King really wanted Mexican. Since I have a not-so-pleasant history with Green Mango, I complied easily.

                                                                          I've only eaten at Green Mango once, when they were on S. Braddock. I ordered salmon, and they brought me out the oldest piece of fish I have ever encountered.

                                                                          It smelled so strongly of the stink you try to avoid when you buy fish, I found it impossible to believe the person who cooked it didn't realize what a bad piece of food it was, but sent it out anyway. And I've never been back.

                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                            Any mexican worth goimg to between grove city and pittsburgh airport?

                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                              Jay - give it a try again. I have had numerous dishes and apps with no problems. I love the curries and Laksa noodles.

                                                                              1. re: burghgal

                                                                                Thanks, BG. I would like to try it again. I think I'll get a curry this time.

                                                                              2. re: Jay F

                                                                                I went back to the Green Mango. The Coupon King had a coupon. I ordered some kind of mango chicken salad which was kind of boring.

                                                                                It had thin shards of mango, small squares of chicken which it took me a couple of bites to identify, something red, and it was very, very wet, like maybe someone had poured a quarter cup of something fruity on top of it all.

                                                                                I don't think it had any lettuce in it at all.

                                                                                Never going back. Fool me twice, no third time.

                                                                          2. re: MonMauler

                                                                            Awwww...

                                                                            Thanks, MonMauler.

                                                                            What was the *subject* of your deleted post, if you can say without going into future deletable territory?

                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                              I'll post some of the recs I made in my original post later today. I just took umbrage at the Philly comment in the last line or so of the op. I went to school near there and I guess still have a bit of an inferiority complex considering...

                                                                            2. re: MonMauler

                                                                              FWIW I thought your post was fine. Worth a retort, but not out of bounds by any means. All in good fun.

                                                                              1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                Thanks sal. I sometimes get a little heated when I have too much whisky. I've read many of your posts on other boards, and you are a good contributor. I probably shouldn't have taken the ttone i did initially. It's obvious you appreciate good food, and Pittsburgh has a lot of that to offer. I'll follow up soon with some good recs for you. There are seriously solid places to eat here.

                                                                                1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                  Seeing the time of my OP I suspect that bourbon may well have been involved on my part as well. Makes for a better post, I think .

                                                                                  1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                    If not a better post, you sure got more responses!
                                                                                    Haven't seen half these folks posting in ages!

                                                                                    We owe ya one.

                                                                            3. Are any of you sushi eaters? I just found out there are kinds of sushi that have mayonnaise in them. This might be "Big Duh!" to some of you, but I had no idea.

                                                                              Do any Pittsburgh places use mayo in their sushi?

                                                                              Is it in the rice?

                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                Jay - It's usually only in rolls (e.g. California roll) and it's normally listed on as an ingredient on the menu if mayo is included in that particular roll.

                                                                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                  Thank you. I was having manic panic. Little in the world grosses me out more than warm mayo.

                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                    Like others said, usually a roll. California Rolls are usually made with cream cheese, not mayo. But spicy tuna roll and the like usually have of fish mixed with mayo and sriracha.

                                                                                    That said, if you're just ordering Cali and Spicy Tuna rolls...I don't think you're really getting sushi.

                                                                                    You won't generally see mayo on nigiri except for at UMI. The salmon nigiri is often topped with a small amount of kewpie mayo and baby tomato.

                                                                                    1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                                      Hmmm...I never realized this before. Thanks.

                                                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                                                  I hasten to say "that's actually Japanese-style" (okay, that's about like calling chifa cuisine peruvian).
                                                                                  can't stand mayo or sushi.

                                                                                3. Just throwing this out there as I'm not going way back in time to find a pizza thread.

                                                                                  Cucina Bella on Bridgeville/USC line. Really good Neopolitan-style pizza & calzone. It's a legitimate BYO alternative to Il Piz (Il Piz prices, too). Amazing crust - honestly in contention for best in city. Not your take-home watch the game pizza. It's for eating out.