Best Restaurants 2013
Presenting 34 of the finest, freshest and most forward-thinking restaurants in Pittsburgh. Bon appetit!
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Garfield: 5523 Penn Ave.
AMERICAN | $$-$$$ | CHEF/OWNER KEVIN SOUSA
This year, Kevin Sousa added a nomination for People’s Best New Chef (Mid-Atlantic) from Food & Wine to his growing list of accolades, which also includes recognition from the James Beard Foundation and, of course, PM. Despite his expansion into other ventures, Sousa’s original restaurant, Salt of the Earth, still provides one of the edgiest meals in town. With communal seating in the main dining area, a giant chalkboard menu and a clear view of sous chef Chad Townsend and other chefs in the open kitchen, Salt continues to please gourmands from near and far. The rotating daily menu offers creative choices; for example, beets, fennel, yuzu and hibiscus are combined to make a memorable dish. The light portions are beautifully presented. Cocktails are always great and feature housemade ingredients. Stop by one of Sousa’s other East End spots: Union Pig & Chicken, a barbecue-style eatery; Station Street, a hot dog, ramen and taco joint; and Harvard & Highland, a cocktail haven above Union (check out the menus online: sousapgh.com). His forthcoming eatery Magarac will open later this year in Braddock.
Downtown: 22 Market Square
ITALIAN | $$ | EXECUTIVE CHEF MATTHEW PORCO
We’re pleased to welcome Sienna, our 2013 Best New Restaurant, because it’s deserving of positive attention. This hip spot features modern interpretations of traditional Italian cuisine from lauded chef Matthew Porco. In warmer months, the restaurant spills onto Market Square, when front doors open on a hydraulic lift. The food is delicious and dependable, with options such as housemade pappardelle with Bolognese sauce, in addition to lighter fish and shrimp dishes. Porco prides himself on making many of the ingredients in-house.
Homestead: 225 E. Eighth Ave.
TACOS | $ (cash only) | CHEF/OWNERS JEFF PETRUSO & NELDA CARRANCO
SMOKE is a small, uber-casual place with a tiny menu and many loyal takeout patrons. Though it’s located off the beaten track, SMOKE has a huge fan base because the simple tacos, featuring fresh tortillas, and sides are truly stellar. Taco fillings run the gamut — brisket, pork with apricot habanero sauce and veggie with black beans. The mac-n-cheese and jalapeño-apple slaw also please. If the mood strikes, breakfast tacos (think eggs and cheese) are available all day. Try a fresh horchata to wash it all down.
Shadyside: 5847 Ellsworth Ave.
PAN-ASIAN | $$-$$$ | EXECUTIVE CHEF DANIELLE CAIN
Soba fans can continue to enjoy the interesting cocktails, professional bar service and small plates they’ve come to expect in the restaurant’s newly expanded bar. Meanwhile, the old bar has become part of the expanded first floor. Items to share include rock shrimp or pork-belly buns. The menu continues to evolve, but it always lists pan-Asian cuisine that’s sophisticated and fun. For entrées, try the miso black cod or one of the flavor-packed noodle dishes. Like all big Burrito restaurants, the service at Soba is impeccable.
East Liberty: 134 S. Highland Ave.
AMERICAN | $$-$$$ | EXECUTIVE CHEF BRIAN PEKARCIK
Chef Brian Pekarcik, our 2012 Chef of the Year, and his team continue to deliver fresh, local, modern American cuisine. The farm-to-table menu never stays the same, always offering seasonal goods. Seafood is delicately prepared, and meats are often served “three ways,” such as duck offered as seared breast, confit leg and fois gras. Desserts continue in the same spirit, featuring fresh flavors and ingredients with clean, distinct flavors. The small but busy bar features extensive wine and cocktail offerings, and it continues to evolve, thanks to recently hired star sommelier John Walbeck. Spoon’s casual sister restaurant BRGR, with locations next door and in Cranberry Township, offers gourmet burgers and spiked milkshakes. If you’re craving top-notch fare late at night, stop by Spoon for American dim sum, offered from 10 p.m. to midnight.