25 Best Restaurants: 2012
From culinary heavyweights to neighborhood mainstays, these places keep us coming back.
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PENN AVENUE FISH CO. / The entire Penn Avenue Fish Co. team has so much fun preparing their seafood at the Strip District site (which is where their supply is stored) that they make it look like anything but work.
Nine on Nine, a favorite for pre-theater dining, offers sophisticated cuisine in a refined, tasteful setting. The food is artful, and the atmosphere and service are dignified. Favorites include the lobster mac-n-cheese, the mushroom and truffle risotto, and the roasted chicken breast with sweet potato and confit hash. It’s also an excellent choice for a business lunch or high-end Happy Hour, where you might take a date for a martini or a glass of wine. Try the three-course pre-theater tasting menu (5-6 p.m.), or treat yourself to the eight-course chef’s tasting menu ($89), a leisurely stroll through delectable culinary pleasures.
• Executive Chef Daniel Carlton
• 900 Penn Ave., downtown
• 412/338-6463, nineonninepgh.com
Park Bruges is the French-influenced sister establishment of beloved Belgian-inspired Point Brugge Café in Point Breeze. Serving a variety of fare and European beers in a clean, simple environment, Park Bruges is a neighborhood bistro that offers lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Must-haves include the affordable yet luxurious pound of Prince Edward Island mussels ($12), steamed in your choice of sauce (classic white wine, shallot and herbed butter; spicy Creole with sausage and crumbled maytag blue; and green curry, fresh cilantro and basil) served with crusty bread to mop up the broth. Unique to Park Bruges is Montreal’s decadent poutine, twice-cooked fries topped with local cheese curds and gravy. For healthy eaters, Park Bruges creates large, bountiful salads. At brunch, there is normally a crowd waiting outside, ready to try some of the appetizing dishes — such as Liege waffles, croque madams, eggs benedict, frittatas and a generous prix-fixe brunch that includes an entrée, side dish and brunch beverage (Mimosa, Bloody Mary or Prosecco).
• Executive Chef Kevin Hunninen
• 5801 Bryant St., Highland Park
• 412/661-3334, parkbruges.com
Penn Avenue Fish was an excellent retailer of fish, with a casual lunch service, in the Strip District before it opened its downtown restaurant. As a result, the newer establishment’s menu offers a wide variety of fresh seafood served in various forms: sushi, sashimi, sandwiches, tacos, pizzas, wraps, soup or simply grilled. Knowing that, it comes as no surprise that all seafood lovers can find something appealing (and delectable) here. The restaurant is long and narrow with exposed brick and lime accents, making it a snappy place for a quick business lunch or a casual place to grab dinner. The menu prices are very reasonable when considering the quality of the product. Penn Avenue Fish Co. also offers great catering options with abundant trays of seafood and non-seafood treats.
• Co-owners Angela Earley and Henry Dewey
• 308 Forbes Ave., downtown
• 412/562-1710, pennavefishcompany.com