Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.



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Bloomfield: 4601 Liberty Ave. 
412/682-6809, tessaros.com
Grill Master Courtney McFarlane
[Burgers/American]  Go here for hamburgers. Although the new wave of gourmet hamburger spots might be getting much of the recent attention in Pittsburgh, members of the independent Restaurant Review Panel are happy to recognize this Pittsburgh classic for its top-notch hamburgers. Tessaro’s opened in Bloomfield in 1985 and is one of the city’s burger institutions. A recent building remodel and new outdoor courtyard make this a better time than ever to visit this old-school gem.  $
 



 


Beets: pickled, roasted, leaf, powdered, with goat cheese mousse and arugula, raw and fried

 


East Liberty: 128 S. Highland Ave.
412/361-1340, thetwistedfrenchman.com
Executive Chef/Partner Andrew Garbarino
[Modern French]  Go here for upscale, classically influenced dining with a twist. Executive Chef Andrew Garbarino’s ambitious kitchen combines French technique with modernist thought, and he peppers warm service with a bit of whimsical theater. The chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, shoots for the stars with dishes such as a three-way risotto tasting and petit poussin with Perigord truffle stuffing. The waitstaff is top-notch, as is the wine list.  $$$
 



 



 


Shadyside: 5849 Ellsworth Ave.
412/362-6198, bigburrito.com/umi
Executive Chef Mr. Shu
[Japanese]  Go here for sushi. Executive Chef Mr. Shu (Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2003 and 2013 Chef of the Year) brings solid selections to an otherwise sushi-starved city. He uses fish flown in from Japan and other locations, and he keeps his well-seasoned rice at an ideal temperature for nigiri. The best experience a guest can have at Umi is ordering a seven- or 11-course omakase (chef’s tasting menu), but diners also can enjoy sushi, sashimi and maki from the restaurant’s a la carte menu. Be sure to make a reservation, as tables at Umi book fast.  $–$$$$
 



 


Toast with housemade riccotta (below) and red peas (right) with poached egg and hot sauce

 


Lawrenceville: 4306 Butler St.
412/251-0465, thevandalpgh.com
Executive Chef Csilla Thackray
[American]  Go here for a taste of what’s cool, right now. The Vandal is one of the restaurants that is redefining the dining experience in Pittsburgh. It’s casual as can be — guests order at the counter, take a number and wait for food to be dropped off at their tables — yet it also is warm, hospitable and professionally run. Go for breakfast, brunch or lunch and enjoy diligently sourced and thoughtfully prepared dishes, such as beets with house-made ricotta, a killer pork sandwich and baked Anson Mills red peas with a poached egg and toast.  $
 



 



 


Upper St. Clair: 1469 Bower Hill Road
412/221-1232; wildrosemary.com 
Chef/Co-owner Gloria Fortunato
[Mediterranean]  Go here to snag a seat at the hardest-to-get table in town. It might be a shock to some readers to discover that this table isn’t found in the city at all but in suburban Upper St. Clair. Chef/Co-owner Gloria Fortunato cooks enticing dishes, such as pan-seared mallard duck breast with basil-pistachio relish and Luxardo cherries, and bistro ravioli stuffed with braised spring peas and leeks served in a lemon broth with walnut pesto, at her 28-seat restaurant. The menu changes frequently, so diners should come with an open mind. They also should make reservations well in advance of when they hope to dine there.  $$$-$$$$
 

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