25 Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh: 2011

It is a pleasure to present the 25 Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh and celebrate a year that vaulted the region’s dining scene to a whole new level of sophistication.



notion: Beef tartare, iceberg, Korean flavors and peanut.

Photo by Laura Petrilla

(page 1 of 5)

Dining in Pittsburgh has never felt more adventurous or rewarding. Accordingly, our 25 Best list offers plenty to chew on. Even as high-profile, impressively designed new restaurants like Spoon emerged as favorites, small and modest spots like Stagioni burst into the winners’ circle.

This year’s reviews include specific dishes we loved eating during the last 12 months, with the goal of portraying the strengths of each particular kitchen. We hope you’re hungry and find our coverage as appetizing as it is helpful. Bon appétit!

Note: Our “25 Best” and Special Award winners are selected based on the anonymous dining experiences of Pittsburgh magazine’s Restaurant Review Panel and annual secret balloting. For qualifying descriptions of our annual Special Awards, visit pittsburghmagazine.com/awardrules.
 

Avenue B

Each day, new dishes are written on the chalkboard menus at this neighborhood bistro, which gives Chris Bonfili—our “Rising Star Chef” award winner last year—the chance to keep his menu fresh and fun.

From the chalkboard, we loved dishes such as a wonderful chilled-asparagus bisque with gravlox crostini; sautéed gold and red baby beets with tender baby greens in toasted walnut beurre blanc; and New York strip steak with charred-onion marmalade demi-glace.

There’s also a short paper menu (comprised of “small staple items”) that changes a few times per year and offers dishes like crispy fish and fingerling chips with Napa slaw and aïoli. At lunch, you’ll find casual options like a fresh pretzel-roll sandwich with ham and spicy mustard.

This is also a restaurant for dessert lovers: The homemade treats from pastry chef Lisa Gibbs, including a peanut-butter chocolate crunch bar with marshmallow ice cream, are downright decadent. The friendly, knowledgeable wait staff’s consistent attention to detail also adds to a positive dining experience.

Chef/Owner Chris Bonfili. 5501 Centre Ave., Shadyside. Info: 412/683-3663, avenueb-pgh.com.
 

Bado’s Cucina

Anchored by a large stone hearth, this Peters Township restaurant is the one-man show of South Hills native Sam Badolato. He adapted just about every dish on the menu—from his recipe for smoked-apple lasagne with provolone to stuffed Roman artichokes—to be cooked in his blazing wood-fired oven.

The menu is presented as small plates. Our top picks were dishes like wood-fired calamari over spicy roasted tomatoes; handmade ravioli with crawfish, mascarpone and creamy mustard sauce; juicy crispy-skinned chicken; and thin-crust pizzas with toppings like asparagus and prosciutto.

For dessert, there’s bread pudding served hot from the oven and studded with raisins, wild cherries or other seasonal fruit.

Badolato takes advantage of his rural Washington County location and snaps up fresh ingredients from nearby farms. By the fall, he plans to open a pastry shop and a wine bar next to the restaurant, although for now, it remains BYOB. Service is Wednesday through Saturday by reservation only.

Chef/Owner Sam Badolato. 3825 Washington Road, Peters Township. Info: 724/942-3904, badoscucina.com.
 

Bona Terra

As the originator of one of the area’s first authentic farm-to-table restaurants, chef Douglass Dick has seen the Pittsburgh food scene change a lot since he opened Bona Terra in 2003. Yet with even more chef-owned restaurants presenting extremely fresh, seasonal menus that change daily, his no-frills, BYOB restaurant on the north side of the Highland Park Bridge still ranks among Pittsburgh’s best.

Bona Terra excels at dishes like the boneless quail and the stellar crab cakes. For these, colossal lump crab is coated with finely ground oyster cracker dust for crispness and dressed with memorable house-made sauces such as roasted poblano vinaigrette or local peach-jalapeño chutney. Reservations, particularly on weekends, are highly recommended.

Executive Chef/Owner Douglass Dick. 908 Main St., Sharpsburg. Info: 412/781-8210, bonaterrapgh.com.
 

Casbah

Casbah is, at once, many places to many people: an inviting place to dine with family and friends; a breezy Sunday brunch spot with perfect two-seater tables; and a warm, jewel-toned lounge perfect for enjoying a cheese plate with a glass of wine.

The Mediterranean-inspired menu is versatile but innovative. Hearty, robust flavors abound in dishes like Elysian Fields Farm lamb loin served over Israeli couscous with onions, roasted peppers, Swiss chard and pine nuts. Another highlight: a classic Mediterranean fish, dorade combined with olives, capers and a fragrant romesco sauce.

The appealing wine list frequently freshens up the by-the-glass choices. Cocktails are excellent, and the wait staff is well-trained and friendly. Also, this isn’t a restaurant for skipping dessert: Delicious surprises include grilled corn ice cream during Tomato and Corn Fest (returning in mid-August), a sweet-potato tart reminiscent of pecan pie and honey-cardamom frozen mousse. —Kaitlyn Johnston

Executive Chef Eli Wahl. 229 S. Highland Ave., Shadyside. Info: 412/661-5656, bigburrito.com/casbah.
 

Cross Keys Inn

Brothers and longtime Pittsburgh restaurateurs Robert and Michael Uricchio, with the help of head chef Lia Davidson-Welling, continue to make this Fox Chapel-area spot a worthy dining destination. Housed in a charmingly restored inn and restaurant that dates back to 1850, the restaurant offers seating that includes an inviting lounge with a wood-burning fireplace, main downstairs dining room and a spacious outdoor patio with sunset views.

Everything from the breads and soups to desserts are made in-house. Must-try dishes include yellow-fin tuna carpaccio with niçoise olive drizzle, field-mushroom bruschetta with truffle oil, grilled Tasmanian salmon with wilted arugula and the great burger with pomme frites from the bar menu.

The moderately priced wine list is well-chosen, and cocktails are made with house-infused syrups and fresh juices—on a warm night, try the cucumber martinis or mint juleps with just-picked mint from the garden.

Co-owners Robert and Michael Uricchio. 599 Dorseyville Road, Indiana Township. Info: 412/967-1900, crosskeysinnpgh.com.
 

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

The Ross native finished third on NBC's “The Voice” in December of 2014.
Up Close Photo Gallery: 10 New Perspectives of Pittsburgh

Up Close Photo Gallery: 10 New Perspectives of Pittsburgh

Zoom in on the places that make our region so fascinating and diverse.
 You Now Can Purchase Wine at a Pennsylvania Grocery Store

You Now Can Purchase Wine at a Pennsylvania Grocery Store

The Giant Eagle Market District in Robinson becomes the first store in the state to offer direct-to-consumer wine sales.
Pittsburghers Will be First to Experience Driverless Uber Service

Pittsburghers Will be First to Experience Driverless Uber Service

The ride-sharing company plans to put 100 Volvo SUVs equipped to drive themselves on the road in Pittsburgh by the end of the month.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in August

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Deep In The Heart of Downtown

Downtown Pittsburgh is booming. The Golden Triangle has grown in ways that previous generations may never have envisioned, and the perception of the neighborhood at the heart of Pittsburgh is changing rapidly –– for the better.
And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Meet the top vote getter in our 2016 Cutest Pet Contest.
The Region's Top Dentists 2016

The Region's Top Dentists 2016

Our latest list includes 368 topDentists in eight specialities from around the region.
The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

The 10 Best Smiles in Pittsburgh

Plus - we poll dentists included in our 2016 list of topDentists for their opinions and tips gleaned from years of experience in their profession.
Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Smallman Galley

The first crop of chefs in the Strip District restaurant incubator are four real.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

Chris Jamison Releases His First EP

The Ross native finished third on NBC's “The Voice” in December of 2014.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
See How Pittsburgh Chefs Are Giving Back

See How Pittsburgh Chefs Are Giving Back

Some of the city's top chefs and bartenders are organizing events to raise awareness about food waste and hate crimes in our community.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

The 5 Best Comic Shops in Pittsburgh

These comic book shops offer more than just your casual Batman or Spider-Man choices.

Comments


North Shore Hangout Power Rankings

North Shore Hangout Power Rankings

Six picks for your pre-game, post-concert or anytime relaxation on the North Shore, ranked from good to awesome.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

Le'Veon Bell Talks The Talk But Can’t Walk The Walk

The Steelers running back emphasized his latest suspension resulted from missed random drug tests, and not a relapse into the marijuana-induced haze that got him jammed up last season. But if you lack the maturity to grasp the consequences of your actions (or, in this case, inactions), does it really matter?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Custom Made: The Surmesur Suit

Straight out of Canada, the custom menswear store opens its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Hipsters in Iraq, Cops and Robbers in the Old West

Hipsters in Iraq, Cops and Robbers in the Old West

Reviews of "War Dogs" and "Hell or High Water," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

The Lucky Ones: Katie Doré and John Potter

Want even more Real Pittsburgh Weddings? We'll be bringing them to you throughout the fall, beginning with this lovely and lucky couple.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Pittsburgh Crafters Make Etsy’s Open Call

Pittsburgh Crafters Make Etsy’s Open Call

Screen print artist garbella and ceramics studio Stak Ceramics will be among the artists meeting —and pitching — some of the nation’s top retailers.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Two Local Universities Sign Joint Admission Agreement

Two Local Universities Sign Joint Admission Agreement

The agreement will ensure students who wish to transfer will be able to do so seamlessly.

Comments