Hotspots: Where We're Eating

These hotspots are worth a taste this month.

NOLA on the Square photo by Laura Petrilla

Our love of New Orleans cuisine is refreshed every time we dine at this restaurant. We could eat a double order of the fried oysters with Cajun slaw and spicy papaya ravigote — but have an equal hunger for dishes like the flavorful jambalaya or moist wood-roasted quail with oyster dressing. Fun chandeliers and décor give the redesigned space appeal, and the Southern-style cocktails and friendly, well-informed service are definitely worth the visit.
24 Market Square, Downtown; 412/471-9100,

Jimmy & Nino Sunseri Co. dishes out the most fully loaded Italian hoagie ($6, foot; $3.50, half) in the ’Burgh. A freshly baked bun is stuffed with mortadella, capicola, salami, ham, pepperoni and provonello cheese, then topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and a drizzle of the balsamic-based house dressing. The resulting hoagie is served cold—or at its best after a quick bake in the oven. And what better way to eat the sub than by dipping it in a cup of Jimmy & Nino’s soup du jour ($4)?
1906 Penn Ave., Strip District; 412/255-1100

This new dinner destination opened in November and offers an upscale approach to Mexican dining that’s fresh for Pittsburgh. The menu is authentic — this isn’t a casual place for bland American-style enchiladas smothered in cheese and sauce. The design details are thoughtful down to the hammered silver flatware. And the bright, memorable flavors of true Mexican cuisine shine in dishes like elotes (chargrilled corn with lime aïoli and chili salt) and carnitas (slow-roasted pork) tacos. And with 150-160 tequilas, the Verde team is aiming to have the largest variety in the state.
5491 Penn Ave., Garfield; 412/404-8487,

With three decades of experience in the kitchen, it’s no wonder that chef Sam DiBattista is finding success with his new Sewickley restaurant, which opened in late August. With its seasonal, à la carte menu, the eatery feels like the perfect modern successor to his previous Bellevue restaurant, Vivo, which offered a more traditional Italian prix-fixe menu (his daughters now operate Bite Bistro in its space). Even if you don’t live in the neighborhood, it’s worth the drive for dishes like crispy poussin (young chicken with fresh herbs) served with a hearty side dish of wheat berries and wild rice or grilled figs with spiced ricotta.
432 Beaver St., Sewickley; 412/259-8945,

Categories: Eat + Drink Features, Hot Reads