Best Restaurants 2017
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LAWRENCEVILLE: 5336 Butler St.
Executive Chef/co-Owner Justin Severino
[Mediterranean] Cure just keeps getting better. Now in its sixth year, Justin Severino’s restaurant in Upper Lawrenceville continues its run as a destination-dining experience. Severino offers a six-course tasting menu, which enables diners to experience the full array of his outstanding, Mediterranean-influenced cuisine. A la carte dining also is a welcome option at Cure. We love that you can stop by for a salumi plate accompanied by a glass of wine, small and large portions of pasta and entrees such as Spanish mackerel with white runner beans, Calabrian chili, sweet and spicy pickled celery and preserved Meyer lemon.
OAKLAND: 214 N. Craig St.
Executive Chef/co-Owner Trevett Hooper
[American] Eating at Legume is a delicious cycle of the seasons. Corn and tomatoes are celebrated at the peak of summer. Squash is honored as the first crisp air of autumn sets in. Cassoulet warms our bones when it gets cold in December. Zurek, a sour rye-bread soup, is served in March when the cupboards are bare and the fields still are barren. April brings ramps and dandelions, the first edible signs of spring. In early summer, the menu once again tilts more heavily toward vegetables.
(above) Pork T-bone with grilled ramps, pickled pineapple and Carolina Gold rice.
SQUIRREL HILLl: 5840 Forward Ave.
Executive Chef/owner Wei Zhu
[Sichuan Chinese] One of the best Sichuan restaurants in the United States is located in Pittsburgh. Executive Chef/Owner Wei Zhu, a 2017 James Beard Foundation semi-finalist in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category, serves intoxicating preparations of dishes such as cumin lamb, mapo tofu and chongqing crispy chicken, plus balancing vegetable dishes such as hand cabbage and sauteed Chinese broccoli with black pepper. The best thing to do when visiting here is to gather a group of people first: you’re going to want to order more than you’re able to eat. And don’t even think about ordering from the Americanized menu; stick to the Sichuan menus.
Eleven Contemporary Kitchen
STRIP DISTRICT: 1150 Smallman St.
Executive Chef Eli Wahl
[American] Eleven Contemporary Kitchen is flexible. Diners can enjoy a business lunch in the main dining room, a casual happy hour with friends in the comfortable bar, a great brunch with family or crushing one of the best burgers in the ’Burgh with just about anyone. Eleven also offers an elevated dinner dining experience with attentive service and skillfully prepared dishes such as wild Alaskan halibut with crème fraiche potato puree, ramps, English peas and tarragon crumb with mustard-seed vinaigrette.
EAST LIBERTY: 120 S. Whitfield St.
Executive Chef Bethany Zozula
[American] Hotel dining in Pittsburgh advanced a level when Whitfield, the restaurant attached to Ace Hotel in East Liberty, opened at the end of 2015. The restaurant offers a variety of options: a steakhouse menu with cuts from grass-finished cows from Jubilee Hilltop Ranch, a tavern menu of dishes such as smoked trout and duck confit, and a nightly vegetarian tasting menu. Don’t skip dessert. Casey Renee, Whitfield’s pastry chef, is a 2017 James Beard Foundation semifinalist in the Outstanding Pastry Chef category.
DOWNTOWN: 214 Sixth St.
Executive Chef/co-Owner Richard DeShantz
[Tacos] Executive Chef/Co-Owner Richard DeShantz and Chef de Cuisine Dave Racicot craft an ambitious menu of chef-driven tacos. Racicot’s daily taco specials such as braised-beef short ribs over crispy cheese and tuna tartare wrapped in an heirloom-corn tortilla are can’t-miss dishes. täkō’s bar program is one of the best in Pittsburgh, and servers always are helpful. DeShantz also operates Butcher and the Rye, Meat & Potatoes and Pork & Beans, all of which are within walking distance of täkō.
SOUTH SIDE: 2104 E. Carson St.
Executive Chef/Co-owner Stephen Felder
[Italian] Executive Chef/Co-Owner Stephen Felder wanted to add house-baked pizza to the menu of his restaurant from the time it operated in its original Bloomfield location. This year, he did. Now, he offers pies topped with ingredients such as artichoke, porchetta and roasted mushrooms. Pasta dishes such as ricotta cavatelli and wild boar ragu with orange gremolata and port currants also are standouts, as are the outstanding polenta selections.
UPPER ST. CLAIR: 1469 Bower Hill Road
Chef/co-owner Gloria Fortunato
[Mediterranean] One of the most sought-after tables — the most consistently hard to reserve in Pittsburgh — is found in a classic neighborhood restaurant. Longstanding regulars have first dibs on the restaurant’s 28 seats, but all that means is that would-be-diners should call and get their names on a waiting list. Chef/Co-Owner Gloria Fortunato’s menu changes frequently, inspired by the gentle passing of the seasons.
SHADYSIDE: 5847 Ellsworth Ave.
Executive Chef Lily Tran
[Pan Asian] big Burrito Restaurant Group’s pan-Asian restaurant is on the upswing as Executive Chef Lily Tran deepens her exploration of cuisine. Her dim sum menu — with dishes such as roasted squash dumplings with shiitake mushrooms and cipollini onion, and bahn mi bao buns with pork belly, duck pate, pickles and cilantro — is a treat, as are dishes such as Burmese tea-leaf salad with peanuts, tomato, split peas, sesame seed, crispy shallot, shrimp dust and jalapeño.