Lord forgive me for this post.....and thanks for those who choose to help. Pittsburgh.
Being forced to spend my week (next week) in PA (nice place been there many times as a child growing up in NYC, and as an adult lviing in northern NJ) . Going to be up there with a big crew of n-laws so that one dumbarse pair of said in-laws can renew their vows...... (God I sound horrible).
Need some recos as follows:
1.) Saturday night. 12 of of us, 4 foodies, (me and Brother in law, alolng with our wives) . We'll be dining with their kids - 2 elementary aged boys ( but they can handle nice places) and my teenaged girls (they've dined at high end places globally),
I'm not going to comment about the rest. They live near Bethel Park, and frankly Denny's is lving high on the hog for them. Are there any cool places, close-ish where we can eat interesting ood (maybe creative pizzas?), be relaxed where they (the "renewers") won't feel out of place, yet us who enjoy food can have interesting enough food so I don't slice my wrist?
2) Escaping the in-law closeness one day to take my 11th grader to visit, Princeton in the AM. then Penn. Would love some good choices in Philly for Lunch, AND for dinner for the 4 of us there. No need to break the bank, but creative food/drinks would be a respite for us....we'll need the break.
3) Gonna be in and out of Harrisburg for a few days......any suggestions? A list of decent and not too fancy places for our crew, less the "renewers" would be very welcome!
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and suggestions. Really appreciate it.
As other have suggested:
Il Pizziaolo - nice wine (Italian) bar in the back
Kous Kous if just a few, not 12, get reservations if in the evening, BYOB.
Cucina Bella has a room in the basement for a bigger crowd, but call and get reservations. BYOB. Creative Brick oven pizza, salads, panini's.
If you're still in the Pgh area and want creative pizza relatively close to BP, Cucina Bella in Bridgeville might be a better call than Il Piz. They have non-red sauce options for pizza that Il Piz doesn't (e.g. one with a fig reduction as the sauce). Same prices roughly. Salads are excellent and unlike Il Piz, it's BYO.
Would also look at Bado's Cucina in McMurray.
And in a pinch, if those in-laws just need a name they can recognize, Houlihans in the Galleria. It's surprisingly decent and you can get something relatively interesting while they chow down on sliders.
Lidia Bastianich has an outpost of her restaurant in Pittsburgh. I've never been to that location, but I'm a big fan of Becco and Felidia in NYC. Not sure if this is too upscale for your crew, but the menu looks similar to Becco, which I consider to be somewhat relaxed.
So sorry to hear of the bad experiences at Lidia's Pittsburgh location. She is one tv cook I always believed and trusted. That she would allow a sub par restaurant to operate under her name disappoints me. Oh well guess I can file Lidia with the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny.
HEY! I live in Bethel Park!
And yeah, I hear you about Denny's...although the old BP Denny's is the new Pasta Too, home of the reddest red sauce and most interminable wait times in all of the 'burgh.
Slate Bistro is near South Hills Village mall, on a small side street, Donati Road. They do have some flatbreads, very good appetizers, nice bar (it's an old house, so the rooms are pretty cool.) It's good, but Il Pizzaiolo would be more of a destination spot, especially for amazing pizzas. And if Il Pizzaiolo is too crowded, Bistro 19 is right next door.
Ok been there done that! Don't know about the Lord but I forgive you. Which is not quite the same level of forgiveness you are seeking. Item 2 might get a range of answers on the Philadelphia board if copied and posted. As Princeton is just across a bridge and a short drive from the New Hope or Lambertville or Center Bridge, Stockton you may enter PA from that direction. Interesting restaurants of different types and price ranges in those towns. Also Washington Crossing State Park is quite close and the Inn has good standard fare, nothing very exciting but good enough. Farther on down the road the main street thru New Hope will offer many choices.
Surely someone "in the know" regarding Pittsburgh's current good choices will respond. If you seach Harrisburg on PA you should get some discussions I have read recently.
Sorry I somehow missed your visit to Penn after Princeton. The initial suggestions still work then off to Philadelphia. But with the visit to Penn the whole restaurant scene in Philly is just a short, inexpensive cab ride away. Restaurants right next to Penn would include Pod, the White Dog to name a couple. Look on the Philadelphia board for many and varied choices.
The best places in Pittsburgh are unfortunately NOT in the South Hills. However, Mt Lebanon is very close to Bethel Park and has a great pizza place, Il Pizzaiolo. Wood fired oven imported from Italy, good apps, some other dishes but the pizza is the focus. Plus Mt Lebanon is a nice little town for walking around.
There are also a number of good places in Harrisburg, including Bricco and Mangia Qui. This board has lots of central PA posts, you might want do a search.
You may want to repost you Philly questions on their board, which is separate from the rest of PA.