Best Restaurants 2015

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


PHOTOS BY LAURA PETRILLA AND CHUCK BEARD

 

This year, our independent Restaurant Review Panel has recommended 33 establishments for the Pittsburgh Magazine Best Restaurants list. We welcome a few newcomers, including Gaucho Parrilla Argentina and Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar, and we bring back stalwarts Tessaro’s and Vivo Kitchen.

Pittsburgh dining during the past year has involved chefs honing in and getting better at what they’re doing. Chef-driven kitchens are deepening relationships with western Pennsylvania suppliers such as Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, One Woman Farm and Jamison Farm. Small and shared plates, seasonal dishes and chef’s tasting menus all continued to increase in popularity.

With so much to consider in or near Pittsburgh, for the second year we’ve focused on restaurants close to home.

The outlook for Pittsburgh dining is rosy. Now let’s celebrate our best restaurants.
 

 
 


PHOTOS BY LAURA PETRILLA, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED

Waygu flank steak, truffle grits, mushrooms, arugula, bosco tartufo and five-minute egg

[AMERICAN]  Seasonal selections and chalkboard specials are the signatures of Executive Chef/Owner Chris Bonfili’s Centre Avenue bistro. Diners have enjoyed starters such as ginger-barbecue pork lettuce wraps with crispy wontons and main courses including grilled swordfish accented by grilled lemon and smoked tomato beurre fondue in Avenue B’s comfortably elegant dining room. The Bonfili family also serves casual-yet-considered cuisine at B Gourmet in Sewickley.  $$-$$$

​Shadyside: 5501 Centre Ave.
412.683.3663; avenueb-pgh.com
Executive Chef/Owner Chris Bonfili  


 


Ricotta ravioli, sweet-pea purée, shiitake mushrooms, fava beans and proscuitto cotto

[AMERICAN]  Executive Chef Jamilka Borges runs one of the most dynamic kitchens in Pittsburgh. Downstairs in The Wine Room, diners indulge in a multiple-course meal built around seasonal produce and ethically raised meat sourced from Borges’ hyperlocal supply chain. The plates then are paired with carefully selected wine vintages. Upstairs, refined bar food is designed to partner with the innovative custom-drink bar program. On Pasta Tuesdays — a new addition this year — Co-owner Justin Steel creates an array of pasta dishes reflective of the mentorship of the late Marco Enrico. Saturday and Sunday brunch remains a must-go.  $-$$

Strip District: 2216 Penn Ave.
412.471.1900; barmarcopgh.com
Executive Chef Jamilka Borges


 


Dirty pasta
 

[AMERICAN]  At Butcher and the Rye, you’re enticed to think on a grand scale. The downstairs bar is built around a towering wall of whiskey; with more than 600 American and international selections, it is among the deepest lists in the country. One bar isn’t enough for the two-time James Beard Foundation Outstanding Bar Program semi-finalist: There’s an elegant, if sometimes crowded, cocktail bar upstairs. In between the bars, guests can sit in a multilevel, whimsical dining room and feast on pan-seared seabass, Wagyu flank steak and scallops with blue-crab risotto. Desserts, such as the s’mores with brown-butter ice cream, are as decadent as the entrées. It’s a perfect recipe for elegant festivity.  $$

Downtown: 212 Sixth St.
412.391.2752; butcherandtherye.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Richard DeShantz​


 


The “Monster” grilled cheese with Gouda and cheddar cheeses, bacon, egg, pulled pork, tomato, caramelized onions, spinach and toasted bread with tomato-basil soup
 

[AMERICAN]  There’s something for everyone at Café io. Families out for a meal, work colleagues toasting the end of a week at the office and high-school kids on a first date all will enjoy the pleasing menu at Jeff Iovino’s neighborhood restaurant. Diners rave over the café’s grilled-cheese selection — “Monster” and “Big Bad Wolf” are packed to the brim with ingredients that move beyond the typical. Don’t miss the eponymous “Iovino” starter, tempura-fried Mozzarella with Italian sweet sausage, marinated tomatoes, basil and organic greens. If you’re looking for something more substantial, the “Main Bites” section contains everything from crispy fish tacos to open-face turkey and gravy. There’s also a “Kidz” menu for the younger diners.  $-$$

Mt. Lebanon: 300 Beverly Road
412.440.0414; cafeio.com
Executive Chef/Owner Jeff Iovino


 

 


Chocolate velvet terrine

[MEDITERRANEAN]  Tucked around the corner from the hubbub of the Ellsworth Avenue business district is Café Zinho, local legend Toni Pais’ funky and vibrant restaurant. Pais was a trailblazer in Pittsburgh dining; his Baum Vivant was Pittsburgh Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year for most of the 1990s. At Café Zinho, the chef’s Portuguese heritage and fine-dining flair shine in dishes including seafood stew, octopus and whole fish preparations. The combination of excellent food and festive atmosphere make this BYOB restaurant a perfect place for celebration.  $$

Shadyside: 238 Spahr St.
412.363.1500
Executive Chef/Owner Toni Pais  


 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

Pork chops with spring-pea risotto and garlic cream
 

[MEDITERRANEAN]  Pittsburghers love the big Burrito Restaurant Group’s Mediterranean-focused restaurant so much that it has appeared on our Best Restaurants list every year since it opened in 1995. So it’s no surprise that Executive Chef Eli Wahl and his team also run one of our five 2015 Killer Kitchens — the restaurant constantly puts out some of the best meals in town. Seasonal soups and salads make for an outstanding start to a meal or as part of one of Pittsburgh’s finest lunch combos, where those dishes are served with pasta or a sandwich. For dinner, indulge in Elysian Fields lamb, prepared in any number of ways.  $$-$$$

Shadyside: 229 S. Highland Ave.
412.661.5656; casbahpgh.com
Executive Chef Eli Wahl


 


Beef tartare with black garlic, celery and pickled mushrooms
 

[MEDITERRANEAN]  Executive Chef/Co-owner Justin Severino and his team — in another of our Killer Kitchens — set the standard for of-the-moment Pittsburgh with their combination of classic Mediterranean tradition and modern culinary techniques. Begin with a salumi plate; the selection of house-cured meats isn’t just the best in Pittsburgh — it is among the best anywhere in the country. On the fresh side, try a crudo; whether it’s from the land or the sea, it’ll be a balanced blend of raw bliss. The wine list at Cure is top-notch, and cocktail chef Colin Anderson’s cocktails are geared to pair with the cuisine. Severino and crew will open Morcilla, a Spanish-style restaurant, later this year in Lower Lawrenceville.  $$-$$$

Lawrenceville: 5336 Butler St.
412.252.2595; curepittsburgh.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Justin Severino


 


Pappardelle al Coniglio
 

[ITALIAN]  The Olive Garden might have crafted the slogan “When you’re here you’re family,” but it’s better passed on to a place that really makes you feel that way. Chef/Owner Michele Savoia blends seasonal delights and Sicilian classics to create what many locals consider their favorite neighborhood restaurant, even if they don’t live in the South Side. Savoia is meticulous in finding fresh seafood, so be sure to find out what the daily specials include. For the best experience, share a plate of antipasta with your friends and then dive into a plate or two of pasta or one of the daily specials. The predominantly Italian-only wine program at Dish is outstanding, and there’s also a deep selection of apéritifs and digestifs to bookend the meal.  $$-$$$

South Side: 128 S. 17th St.
412.390.2012; dishosteria.com
Chef/Owner Michele Savoia

 

 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

Gorgonzola mess appetizer
 

[MEDITERRANEAN]  E2’s slogan, “Bring Your Bottle. Bring Your Mess,” is indicative of the hospitality you’ll find at this Highland Park favorite. The monthly Sunday Sauce series is an ideal way to spend an uproarious evening: Red-sauce Italian food centers an experience that will make you feel like family, even if half of the people you dined with started out as strangers. Brunch is one of the most popular Sunday options in Pittsburgh, and with hot doughnuts and savory-sweet dishes such as “Mush,” it’s easy to see why. With so many special reasons to come to E2, it’s easy to overlook dinner. Don’t, because Executive Chef/Owner Kate Romane is on top of her game after traveling to Italy last year.  $-$$

Highland Park: 5904 Bryant St.
412.441.1200; e2pgh.com
Executive Chef/Owner Kate Romane


 


Scottish salmon
 

[AMERICAN]  It’s all about comfort at Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar. Pappardelle is cooked al dente and mixed with a rich pork and veal Bolognese. If you’re looking for something to really fill you up, diners loved Executive Chef/Owner Don Winkie’s red wine-braised Jamison Farm lamb shank. Service at Eighty Acres is warm and quick to apply the little touches that make you feel special. For example, if the staff knows you’re going to share a salad, it will be delivered already neatly divided. Speaking of salads, it’s worth getting the excellent roasted beet salad just for the perfectly fried ball of goat cheese.  $-$$

Plum: 1910 New Texas Road
724.519.7304; eightyacreskitchen.com
Executive Chef/Owner Don Winkie


 


Pan-roasted Amish chicken breast with braised chicken-thigh risotto
 

[AMERICAN]  Executive Chef Derek Stevens and his Killer Kitchen team at Eleven create a menu that makes the restaurant Pittsburgh’s go-to choice for celebration dinners, power lunches and family-in-town brunches. The four-course chef’s tasting menu is a terrific way to explore the best of what the kitchen has to offer. If you’re ordering from the regular menu, there’s everything from a light and citrusy yellowtail sashimi to prime beef ribeye. Service at Eleven is attentive and engaged without being cloying.  $$-$$$

Strip District: 1150 Smallman St.
412.201.5656; elevenck.com
Executive Chef Derek Stevens  


 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

Pork and cabbage potstickers
 

[TAIWANESE]  Thwack! Whip! Pow! Those are just a few of the sounds you’ll hear as you pass by the Everyday Noodles’ kitchen crew creating the eponymous ribbons of noodles behind a Plexiglas wall. Those noodles are served in soups and in dishes that satisfy both adventurous and everyday appetites. Don’t miss the soup dumplings: tender packets filled with pork or crab and a spoonful of rich broth. Start your meal with a pan-fried green-onion pancake and a cold appetizer such as the five-spiced eggplant, and round out your main course with Chinese watercress or baby bok choy.  $

Squirrel Hill: 5875 Forbes Ave.
412.421.6668; everydaynoodles.net
Executive Chef Steve Chow


 

 


Asado de tira — grilled shortrib, lime, chive, onion and toast
 

[ARGENTINE]  It’s just about impossible for those with carnivorous appetites to walk past the scent of charred meat roasting over a wood fire and not be drawn into Anthony Falcon’s Strip District eatery. The original quarters might have been cramped, but patrons didn’t mind eating elbow-to-elbow with friends or strangers once they were face-deep in a Carne Con Pan — a steak sandwich with peppers, grilled onions and chimichurri — or rosemary-braised beef mixed with a lively horseradish sauce and served on a baguette. “Vaca, Cow” — steak plates — are served in small or large sizes accompanied by salad and toast; the ribeye especially is flavorful. At press time, the restaurant was moving into an adjacent building, so be on the lookout for a larger menu and more seating soon.  $

Strip District: 1607 Penn Ave.
412.709.6622; eatgaucho.com
Executive Chef Matthew Neal


 


Roasted carrots, fresh cheese, toasted edamame, little gem lettuce and chili vinaigrette 
 

[WORLD CUISINE]  Our 2014 Best New Restaurant keeps getting better. There’s now an expanded lunch menu and a fairly new weekend brunch service, so there’s no excuse to miss out on one of downtown’s best restaurants. The steel-cut oats (oats, poached egg, confit pork, Manchego and mostardo) are a highlight of the new brunch, especially when paired with a kimchi Bloody Mary. Dinner remains as lively as it’s ever been; chicken meatball ramen and braised goat are some mainstays. Make sure to order something from the tiki-influenced cocktail program.  $-$$

Downtown: 535 Liberty Ave.
412.281.4748; gritandgracepgh.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Brian Pekarcik  


 


Dover sole, asparagus flan, sautéed wild mushrooms, fava beans, almond beurre noisette, bull’s blood microgreens
 

[AMERICAN]  If you’re looking for elegant, comfortable continuity, there’s no better place to be than Hyeholde, a 78-year-old stalwart of Pittsburgh dining. Menu favorites have included crab cakes, pan-seared trout and pine nut-crusted elk. If you’re feeling festive, make a reservation at least 48 hours in advance to sit at the chef’s table for a multiple-course extravaganza. As an added bonus, you’ll be experiencing all of this in a building that resembles a castle, and that’s always fun. Dale Miller recently replaced former Executive Chef Jim Brinkman.  $$-$$$

Moon Township: 1516 Coraopolis Heights Road
412.264.3116; hyeholde.com
Executive Chef Dale Miller


 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
 

Almond-crusted Chilean seabass with mandarin-orange beurre blanc and wildberry marmalade
 

[ITALIAN-AMERICAN]  Joseph Tambellini Restaurant is a welcome throwback to the era when going out to dinner was a special occasion and you were encouraged to get a little dressed up. So it’s no surprise that service is outstanding at this Italian-American restaurant where “red sauce” and “white tablecloth” intermingle without worry of spillage. Start with Tambellini’s popular zucchini planks and stuffed banana peppers. Both meat and seafood courses here are excellent, as is the iconic eggplant Parmesan. The restaurant’s extraordinary wine list is both deep and reasonably priced.  $$-$$$

Highland Park: 5701 Bryant St.
412.665.9000; josephtambellini.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Joseph Tambellini


 

 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

Fried chicken
 

[LATIN/CARIBBEAN]  Kaya, one of the longest-standing restaurants on the list, is synonymous with fun. Kayafest, the annual street festival thrown by the restaurant, is the city’s unofficial summertime kick-off party. The fish tacos, topped with spicy crème fraîche and packed with cooling cabbage slaw and avocado, rank among the top tacos in Pittsburgh. Fried Chicken Night, a Thursday staple since fall 2010, is a joyous celebration of poultry. Kaya also is one of the most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly restaurants in Pittsburgh; it’s easy for non-carnivores to find something to enjoy on the main menu. The monthly vegetarian tasting menu affords Executive Chef Benjamin Sloan a chance to demonstrate that contemporary vegetarian cuisine is every bit as satisfying as meat-filled tastings.  $-$$

STRIP DISTRICT: 2000 Smallman St.
412.261.6565; bigburrito.com/kaya
Executive Chef Benjamin Sloan


 


Mulberry sorbet
 

[AMERICAN]  Legume, one of our five Killer Kitchens, is a perfect blend of classic bistro style and contemporary farm-to-table philosophy. Western Pennsylvania’s four distinct seasons are reflected by a rotation of dishes that highlight locally raised produce such as tomatoes and eggplants served fresh from the field in August (and then perfectly preserved in March). Look for more Eastern European dishes on the Legume menu in the next year as Executive Chef/Co-owner Hooper starts to prepare for his next restaurant, Dacha. Zurek, a sourdough soup inspired by his winter trip to Poland, was a hit. Weekday lunch at Legume is one of the best deals in town.  $$

Oakland: 214 N. Craig St.
412.621.2700; legumebistro.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Trevett Hooper  


 


Devils on horseback
 

[AMERICAN]  Pittsburgh sports stars, visiting celebrities and downtown diners all agree that Meat & Potatoes is the place to be for a big night out. Executive Chef/Co-owner Richard DeShantz has had plenty to celebrate, too, because in the last year, he’s been featured on quite a few local and national food shows — plus, he and business partner Tolga Sevdik opened täkō in late April next door to Butcher and the Rye. Hunky cuts of beef are first on the agenda here, but you also should make a point to enjoy creative seafood creations such as the salmon with black rice, kimchi and Korean hot sauce. If you’re a weekday reveler, the Monday Nightcap — which doesn’t even start till 10 p.m. — is an uproarious mix of food and drink specials set to a live DJ soundtrack.  $-$$

Downtown: 649 Penn Ave.
412.325.7007; meatandpotatoespgh.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Richard DeShantz


 


Chipotle and cheddar spoonbread with blue-crab cream
 

[AMERICAN]  Nine on Nine is a top spot for a pre-theater or pre-concert meal downtown. The three-course tasting menu includes soup or salad, entrée and dessert and promises to have you in your seats — and pleasantly full — before the curtain rises. For large groups of diners who have a little extra time, the three- or four-course “Sit Down Banquet” is a marvelous way to enjoy Executive Chef Lee Corbett’s handiwork. If you’re looking for a snack and a drink in an elegant atmosphere, sit at Bar Nine and order a hangar-steak taco.  $$-$$$$

Downtown: 900 Penn Ave.
412.338.6463; nineonninepgh.com
Executive Chef Lee Corbett


 

 


Sushi offerings, including Flower Roll, Pretty Girl Roll and tuna, salmon and yellowtail nigiri
 

[SEAFOOD]  The owners of Penn Avenue Fish Co. last year expanded the Strip District space and the bare-bones dining room. This is one of Pittsburgh’s most exciting places for lunch. Watch the city’s premier fishmongers cut to order the catch of the day while enjoying an assortment of classic fish sandwiches, fish tacos and mussels. Good sushi is hard to come by in Pittsburgh, but they do it right here; your best bet is to ask your server what’s fresh and take it from there. Extended weekday and Saturday hours mean that you also can enjoy an early fish-focused dinner in the Strip.  $-$$$

Strip District: 2208 Penn Ave.
412.434.7200; pennavefishcompany.com
Co-owners Henry Dewey and Angela Earley


 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

Asparagus and English-pea risotto with pancetta and mint pesto
 

[ITALIAN]  Lawrenceville might be developing at a rapid clip, but Piccolo Forno is a Butler Street trailblazer that’s now looked at as a stalwart of local dining. The continuity of tradition extends to the menu, which largely is made up of northern Italian classics such as Prosciutto e Rucola pizza and Paccheri con Sugo di Cingiale — dishes that reflect owner Domenic Branduzzi’s Tuscan heritage. Piccolo Forno often is so popular that there’s a long wait for tables. In the past, you’d have to stand outside or go to a nearby bar until it was your turn to sit. Now, Branduzzi’s neighboring Grapperia — a grappa and amari bar — is the perfect place to whet your appetite while you wait.  $-$$

Lawrenceville: 3801 Butler St.
412.622.0111; piccolo-forno.com
Executive Chef Galen Blyth


 


Braised octopus, romesco, olive, pickled potato, chorizo and white bean
 

[MODERN AMERICAN]  With each passing year, Root 174’s Executive Chef/Co-owner Keith Fuller gets increasingly adventurous in culinary curiosity. In the early years, crispy, glazed Brussels sprouts were a main draw, and though they’re still on the menu — and fantastic — dishes such as heart sausage or duck tongues now set Root 174 apart from other Pittsburgh eateries. For less daring eaters, Fuller coaxes fantastic flavor from everyday items. The cauliflower soup with purple carrot purée and toasted hazelnuts is comfortable yet exciting. Vegetarians and vegans take note: Fuller might be a master of meat manipulation, but you won’t feel forgotten here. Dishes including the vegan “meatloaf” (green lentils, mushrooms, yams, turnips and apple soy sauce) never are throwaways.  $$

Regent Square: 1113 S. Braddock Ave.
412.243.4348; root174.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Keith Fuller


 


Carrot salad with berbere, radish, goat's milk yogurt and kale 
 

Editor's Note: Salt of the Earth Closed Aug. 1, 2015
​[MODERN AMERICAN] 
There have been a lot of changes at Salt of the Earth over the past year. The (in)famous chalkboard menu wall now also serves as a canvas for local artists. Chefs are dressed in chef coats, not T-shirts. There’s bread service. One thing remains constant: The food is outstanding. Executive Chef Brandon Fisher now runs Salt’s kitchen, and he and his Killer Kitchen crew mix classic thinking and modernist technique to create menus that manage to be daring yet comforting at the same time. Well, two things remain constant: The outstanding burger, once a late-night menu indulgence, now is a staple on the daily menu. There is a perfectly curated wine list, a small selection of beer picked to complement the daily menu and an outstanding bar program, too.  $$

Garfield: 5523 Penn Ave.
412.441.7258; saltpgh.com
Executive Chef Brandon Fisher


 

 


Prosciutto-wrapped salmon with eggplant caponata and arugula salad
 

[ITALIAN]  Although Co-owner/Executive Chef/Managing Partner Matthew Porco’s establishment was our Best New Restaurant just two years ago, it already feels as if Sienna on the Square is a Market Square institution. Pasta plates are a specialty, and classics such as bucatini with Mozzarella-stuffed meatballs and housemade pappardelle with a delectable Bolognaise are not to be missed. Porco works with local ranchers including Serenity Hill Farms to source his meat. Sienna on the Square’s sister space, the three-tiered Sienna Mercato, is nearby and a winner of this year’s Delicious Design award.  $$

Downtown: 22 Market Square
412.281.6363; siennapgh.com
Chef de Cuisine Jason Watts  


 


PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD

Sesame seared rare tuna in Korean barbecue sauce with ginger-fried rice, cucumbers and red-onion salad, kimchi and peanuts
 

[PAN-ASIAN]  Soba, big Burrito’s pan-Asian concept, has been a mainstay in the Pittsburgh dining scene for 19 years. Executive Chef Dustin Gardner now runs the kitchen after working for nearly six years as the chef de cuisine at nearby Casbah. Since taking over the kitchen last year, Gardner has added his own touches to the menu, including Korean fried-chicken buns, more sashimi choices and a chicken-crab wonton. Gardner’s skill is evident in dishes with seasonal influences — such as a springtime halibut with fiddlehead ferns, asparagus kimchi and caramelized onion.  $$-$$$

​Shadyside: 5847 Ellsworth Ave.
412.362.5656; sobapa.com
Executive Chef Dustin Gardner


 


Gorgonzola-blue cheese soufflé and fall orchard salad
 

[AMERICAN]  Spoon is the perfect combination of a chef-driven menu, attentive service and an outstanding beverage program. Executive Chef/Co-owner Brian Pekarcik oversees the kitchen, which features a seasonal rotation of dishes such as dayboat scallops, crispy-skin black bass and porchetta. Service at Spoon, as well as S+P Restaurant Group restaurants Willow and Grit & Grace, always is attentive and thorough. Spoon’s curated wine list is among the best in town, and its bar is a gem hidden in plain sight; it’s worth a visit to Spoon simply to enjoy the weekly bartender’s tasting menu.  $$

East Liberty: 134 S. Highland Ave.
412.362.6001; spoonpgh.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Brian Pekarcik


 


Olive oil-poached octopus, smoked potatoes, Calabrian chili aïoli and ramps
 

[ITALIAN]  Executive Chef/Co-owner Stephen Felder’s restaurant is a celebration of Italian cookery. Monthly Sunday suppers highlight the bounty of every season, and every spring, food lovers anticipate his preparation of Le Virtu, the impossibly complex 49-ingredient soup that marks the transition from winter storage eating into the bounty of the growing season; it is offered only three days per year. For the rest of the year, enjoy perfectly prepared, straightforward cuisine in the South Side dining room. You’ll be forgiven if you temporarily forget that you’re still in Pittsburgh.  $$

South Side: 2104 E. Carson St.
412.586.4738; stagionipgh.com
Executive Chef/Co-owner Stephen Felder


 

 


Tender's bar staff has served cocktails including the Raspberry Gin Lemonade, Old Pal and Fresh Strawberry Fix.
 

[AMERICAN]  Tender was selected for the Best Restaurants list in large part because of the strong vision and execution of former Executive Chef Brian Little. Ownership has decided to move from Little’s modernist cuisine to focus on refined, contemporary bar food under the direction of former sous chef Steven Snyder. Snyder is a talent in his own right, and dishes such as pulled pork with slaw and house-pickled carrots are likely to please drinkers at a bar that remains one of the very best in the city.  $-$$

Lawrenceville: 4300 Butler St.
412.402.9522; tenderpgh.com
Executive Chef Steven Snyder


 


Gourmet burger with vegetable kabob
 

[BURGERS/AMERICAN]  The smell of wood smoke wafting down Liberty Avenue is a beacon for burger lovers. Every day, butcher Dominic Piccola grinds a beef chuck for the restaurant’s famous flame-grilled hamburgers. While the regular bacon cheeseburger is great, order it in the form of a breakfast burger with a fried egg on top to make it transcendent. On Thursday nights, diners can indulge in quarter- and half-racks of beef or pork ribs (or make it a combo) as a break from their burger delights. Servers at Tessaro’s mingle the crisp professionalism of a white tablecloth restaurant with the friendly feel of a neighborhood diner. Be on the lookout for expanded indoor seating and an outdoor patio.  $

Bloomfield: 4601 Liberty Ave.
412.682.6809; tessaros.com
Owner The Harrington Family;
Chief Grill Cook Courtney McFarlane


 


Mr. Shu with rock shrimp

[JAPANESE]  The best way to get the full Umi experience is to sit at the sushi bar and order omakase. Do that, and Executive Chef Mr. Shu will prepare a tasting menu of either seven or 11 courses that will leave you happy. You’ll be impressed by his array of tasty dishes, all prepared and delivered with epic efficiency. There’s a terrific menu of raw and cooked dishes available for guests who sit in the main dining room. Umi is immensely popular with Pittsburgh’s top athletes and local celebrities.  $-$$$$

SHADYSIDE: 5849 Ellsworth Ave.
412.362.6198; bigburrito.com/umi
Executive Chef Mr. Shu  


 


Grilled octopus, matcha aïoli, black-ginger quinoa, ramps and togarashi
 

[AMERICAN/MEDITERRANEAN]  Vivo Kitchen in the heart of downtown Sewickley is a popular favorite for residents of the borough as well as city-dwellers looking for a short trip out of town for an evening. The family-run restaurant is warm and cheerful. During the growing season, the DiBattista vegetable garden — overseen by co-owner Lori DiBattista, who also is a gracious presence in the Vivo dining room — is put into use in the kitchen. Dishes such as whole branzino with olive oil and lemon show off Chef/Co-owner Sabatino “Sam” DiBattista’s Italian heritage.  $$-$$$

Sewickley: 432 Beaver St.
412/259-8945; vivokitchen.com
Chef/Co-owner Sabatino “Sam” DiBattista


 


Gloria Fortunato with pan-seared scallops with bucatini
 

[MEDITERRANEAN]  Even though there’s an influx of new establishments in neighborhoods including downtown and Lawrenceville, it’s worth taking a short drive to one of Pittsburgh’s top destination restaurants, located in the South Hills. At Wild Rosemary, guests make reservations weeks in advance for a chance to eat at the 28-seat BYOB bistro. Chef/Co-owner Gloria Fortunato’s menu changes every three weeks and always is a reflection of the season. The tagline on the menu — “Good Things + Patience. Yep.” — is great.  $$$-$$$$

Upper St. Clair: 1469 Bower Hill Road
412.221.1232; wildrosemary.com
Chef/Co-owner Gloria Fortunato

 

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