Best Restaurants 2014
Presenting 33 top-notch eateries that are revolutionizing Pittsburgh's food scene.
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GARFIELD: 5523 Penn Ave. | 412/441-7258, SALTPGH.COM
AMERICAN | $$ | Executive Chef CHAD TOWNSEND
2011 was a banner year for Salt of the Earth, which earned our Best New Restaurant and Delicious Design awards. Since then, things at the restaurant have progressed nicely. Named for the hard-working folks of Pittsburgh, the restaurant provides an exceptional dining experience without pretense. Toward that end, the kitchen is completely open, and the first-floor tables are communal. There’s a daily chalkboard menu, the interior design is streamlined and the waitstaff genuinely is friendly. Don’t let these down-to-earth features fool you, though: Salt offers one of the most refined dining experiences in town, with spotless presentation and innovative flavor combinations. The notable bar program includes a wide range of wine and a small but inventive cocktail list.
DOWNTOWN: 22 Market Square | 412/281-6363, SIENNAPGH.com
ITALIAN | $$ | Executive Chef MATTHEW PORCO
Our 2013 Best New Restaurant continues to delight with its upscale Italian cuisine. The menu is extensive, offering a variety of antipasti, housemade pastas, meats and seafood. The flavorful food is unpretentious yet exciting. The staff opens up the front of the restaurant in warm weather, allowing tables to be in the midst of Market Square activity. Executive Chef Matthew Porco also is involved in the Sienna team’s latest venture, Sienna Mercato, in the Cultural District. At press time, the ground-floor “meatball joint” and rooftop beer garden were open; Porco says the eatery on the second floor will open by the fall.
SHADYSIDE: 5847 Ellsworth Ave. | 412/362-5656, BIGBURRITO.com/SOBA
PAN-ASIAN | $$-$$$ | Executive Chef DANIELLE CAIN
Soba’s innovative pan-Asian cuisine always has been dependable. Last year, Soba underwent a major renovation, expanding into an adjacent building. The new, much larger bar area features light-colored wood with chic light fixtures and plum-colored accent seating. The Soba team also expanded its dining room to absorb the former bar space; it continues to be a peaceful Zen environment. The food playfully spans Asia through the use of assorted ingredients — think yuzu, chilis, tamarind, togarashi, daikon, peanuts and coconut. It’s all there to please your palate and those of loved ones; this is a fine place to host a private event.
EAST LIBERTY: 134 S. Highland Ave. | 412/362-6001, SPOONPGH.com
AMERICAN | $$ | Executive Chef/Co-owner BRIAN PEKARCIK
Spoon continues to be a destination for well-prepared, wholesome food. The kitchen staff — led by Executive Chef/Co-owner Brian Pekarcik, our 2012 Chef of the Year — strives to source fresh, local and sustainable products; farmers and artisans are credited on the menu. Pekarcik also is the primary creative force behind our 2014 Best New Restaurant, Grit & Grace, as well as BRGR, one of our 2014 Best Restaurants. Spoon’s menu lists fun appetizers, such as trout and caviar with goat milk yogurt and chicken meatballs with rosemary gravy. Some entrées to consider: Alaskan black cod with crab cakes and duo of beef with a grilled ribeye and a braised beef cheek. The bar is a nice spot to grab a drink and snack; the restaurant is known for its wine collection, so look to a bartender for a recommendation. Because of its busy location, Spoon offers valet parking.