Best Restaurants 2016

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



(page 1 of 8)

This year, our independent restaurant review panel recommends 33 establishments to be honored on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants list. 

The biggest point of discussion and contention for our Independent Restaurant Review panel during many meetings and deliberations over the past year involved trying to answer a seemingly simple question: “How do we in Pittsburgh define a best restaurant?” 
 


photos by laura petrilla

 

Should an establishment where diners must order at a hectic counter and then pick up food in response to a page on their mobile phones be placed on the same list as a five-star, five-diamond, white-tablecloth fine-dining experience? Does outstanding cuisine trump casual service and mediocre decor? In the end members of the panel decided, for the most part, the answer is yes — as long as you know what you’re getting into. Just because an experience is different than a throwback-standard definition for fine eatery doesn’t mean it's less valuable. In fact, it often is more valuable. 

Here’s how you know that Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene is ascendant: The number of restaurants for this year remains unchanged from a year ago, but readers will find a lot of new names and places: 14 of the 33 restaurants for 2016 did not appear on the list last year. 

This unprecedented changeover reflects the increasingly diverse and ever-improving landscape of Pittsburgh dining. We still love our plates of meat and potatoes (and Meat & Potatoes), but we also are seeing chef-driven restaurants thrive with concepts that push beyond the traditional. 

Most of the additions to this year’s list are newcomers to our city’s booming community of restaurants. They range from a white-tablecloth Italian eatery run with old-world charm (Senti) to Sichuan cuisine cooked by a master chef (Chengdu Gourmet) to a hip enclave serving simple-yet-crafted plates (The Vandal). 

Some restaurants dropped from the list in previous years return this year because the panel believes the quality of ingredients and the skill of the kitchens merited newfound recognition; Dinette, one of my personal favorites, is a restaurant that meets that standard. Lautrec, at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County, also returns to the list because there is simply nothing else like it in western Pennsylvania. It’s a bit farther afield than we generally would include on our Pittsburgh-centric list, but we’re confident that this dining destination is too important to our gastronomic community to omit.

Read on for our picks of Pittsburgh’s best. Use our list as a guide, and return frequently to help you decide where you should eat, no matter what your mood or cravings dictate.
 


 



 


Shadyside: 5501 Centre Ave.
412/683-3663, avenueb-pgh.com
Executive Chef/Owner Chris Bonfili
[American]  Go here for an upscale yet casual business lunch or dinner. The vibe at Avenue B sits comfortably on the line between neighborhood bistro and upscale dining. It’s the perfect place to make important decisions over fresh fish, seasonal vegetables and well-composed salads. Try dishes such as sea bass and scallops, served with purple potato succotash, spring onion pesto and saffron beurre blanc. Newly added Sunday-night dinner service is corkage-free.  $$
 


 



 



 


Downtown: 212 Sixth St.
412/391-2752, butcherandtherye.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Richard DeShantz
[American]  Go here for a decadent Downtown evening. The combination of classic cocktails, a massive wall of top-shelf bourbon and well-prepared, approachable cuisine makes Butcher and the Rye a perfect destination for a post-event meal. Start with “crispy pig wings” or a bowl of mussels, and then move on to hearty plates of monkfish “osso bucco” or cassoulet with duck confit, boudin noir and cannellini beans.  $$
 



 


 


Shadyside: 238 Spahr St.
412/363-1500
Executive Chef/Owner Toni Pais
[Mediterranean]  Go here to feel as if you’re escaping Pittsburgh for a night. Cafe Zinho is a port of tranquility hidden away off Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside. There, legendary Pittsburgh chef Toni Pais connects with his Portuguese heritage with dishes such as whole branzino with lemon slices and olive oil, Portuguese fisherman’s stew caldeira and Bulhao Pato clams with white wine, roasted garlic, olive oil and cilantro.  $$
 



 

 


Shadyside: 229 S. Highland Ave.
412/661-5656, casbahpgh.com
Executive Chef Dustin Gardner
[Mediterranean]  Go here for consistent, comfortable quality. Some regulars at Casbah have been eating the same thing, week after week, for 20 years. Other Pittsburghers make Casbah their favorite destination for family celebrations or holiday parties. Indeed, what makes this restaurant so special is that it’s able to accommodate a variety of tastes while maintaining a high level of integrity in its cookery. Chef Dustin Gardner moved back to Casbah, where he previously was sous chef, from Soba earlier this year.  $$–$$$
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Perspectives: The Big Pittsburgh Lie

Perspectives: The Big Pittsburgh Lie

Writer Damon Young says the Steel city is masquerading as a paragon of inclusion.
MultiStories: The Violent Beginning of Union Station

MultiStories: The Violent Beginning of Union Station

Pittsburgh's Union Station –– built after its predecessor was destroyed in a deadly labor dispute –– nearly succumbed to the wrecking ball in 1966.
Ghost of the Tight Man: What Happened to Sam Davis

Ghost of the Tight Man: What Happened to Sam Davis

Sam Davis once was the glue that held the super Steelers together. But a promising career after football was cut short by an unexplained fall that robbed him of the life he knew.
‘Sometimes I'm Happy’ – The Life of Singer Jill Corey

‘Sometimes I'm Happy’ – The Life of Singer Jill Corey

Born in a tiny Westmoreland County town, Jill Corey became a star for Columbia Records in the 1950s. But after a series of hits, a love affair with Frank Sinatra and marriage to famed Pirate third baseman Don Hoak, her life took an unexpected twist.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More From The 412

Did Anthony Bourdain's Pittsburgh Visit Live Up to the Hype?

Did Anthony Bourdain's Pittsburgh Visit Live Up to the Hype?

“For some it was a sobering look at our faults, challenges & change - for others it was unfair, overdone & missed the point.” –– Mayor Bill Peduto.
Is Pittsburgh About to Become the Next Detroit?

Is Pittsburgh About to Become the Next Detroit?

No offense to the motor city, but auto companies are eyeing the steel city to develop the next generation of driverless vehicles.
Women's Soccer on the Main Stage in Pittsburgh This Weekend

Women's Soccer on the Main Stage in Pittsburgh This Weekend

Led by Pine-Richland's Meghan Klingenberg, the World Cup champion U.S. Women's National Soccer team is getting the kind of treatment usually reserved for the Pens, Pirates, or Steelers during playoff time.
What You Need to Know about Downtown's 4th of July Celebration

What You Need to Know about Downtown's 4th of July Celebration

There are plenty of events going on long before the fireworks go off.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

2016 Best Restaurants

Best Restaurants 2016

Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

Six Pittsburgh Chefs Who Are Outstanding in Their Field

In addition to awarding Best Restaurant honors this year, our Independent Restaurant Review Panel also voted to recognize six chefs for their contributions to Pittsburgh’s culinary community in 2015.
Best Restaurant Contest: Winning Answers

Best Restaurant Contest: Winning Answers

We asked you to identify five our best restaurants from a picture of one of their dishes. Thanks to everyone who entered. Here are the winning answers.
Chef’s Poll: Pittsburgh Chefs Speak Up

Chef’s Poll: Pittsburgh Chefs Speak Up

To determine who’s who and what’s what in Pittsburgh dining, we went straight to the source: We asked the chefs what they think.
Best New Restaurant in Pittsburgh: Morcilla

Best New Restaurant in Pittsburgh: Morcilla

Morcilla’s menu of Spanish cuisine is divided into small plates — which diners can enjoy at the front-room standing bar or in the 50-seat dining room — and platters, which are served only in the dining room.
Fond Goodbye: Salt of the Earth

Fond Goodbye: Salt of the Earth

The restaurant, a project of original Executive Chef Kevin Sousa and owners Doug and Liza Cruze, marked a turning point in Pittsburgh dining when it opened in September 2010.
Delicious Design: Monterey Bay

Delicious Design: Monterey Bay

Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal a breathtaking overview of Pittsburgh’s rivers, bridges, buildings and hills.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Watch This

2016 Best Restaurants Party

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Best Restaurants Back Issues

Best Restaurants 2018

Best Restaurants 2018

This year we recommend 40 establishments as our region's top restaurants.For the second year in a row, we categorize the restaurants in All-Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out and Classic Pittsburgh to help you find whatever suits your mood.
Best Restaurants 2017

Best Restaurants 2017

This year Pittsburgh Magazine's independent Restaurant Review Panel recognizes 34 establishments as our regions's top restaurants. Our list includes All Arounders, Killer Casual, Fancy Night Out, Best Budget and Classic Comfort establishments.
Best Restaurants 2016

Best Restaurants 2016

Which 33 Pittsburgh-area establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Best Restaurants 2015

Best Restaurants 2015

Which 33 establishments did our independent Restaurant Review Panel include among its top picks this year? Find them here.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Too Hot for School? Science Supports Heat Dismissals

In Pittsburgh, early school dismissals are usually for snowstorms.

Gallery Crawl Sneaks Into Downtown Alleyways

This Friday, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust will help kick off the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts with “Art in the Alley.”

Aquatic Playpen is Coming to the Shores of the Ohio River

The planned 2-acre lagoon along the Ohio riverfront will feature turquoise waters in the summer and be transformed into an ice rink in the winter.

Beehive is Soon to Buzz No More in the 'Burgh

The South Side coffee shop home to Pittsburgh artists for almost 30 years is closing – but the legacy of its longtime resident coffee drinkers and thinkers lives on.

The Glow Promises to Get You in the Spooky Spirit

Featuring 5,000 Jack o'Lanterns, The Glow offers a way for all ages to get into the Halloween spirit without scaring you half to death.

Duolingo Co-Founder to Receive Major MIT Prize

The language-learning app is no stranger to the Pittsburgh news, but the business is making headlines once again thanks to an accomplishment by one of its creators.
Edit Module
Edit Module