Top Picks for Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: Winter 2015

Here's a rundown of the 10 Pittsburgh spots you'll want to visit, offering everything from tacos to Turkish platters to dim sum to dessert.


Tell you what: I’ve been doing these Pittsburgh Restaurant Week picks for a couple of years now, and it's getting harder and harder to choose. (Check out my posts from winter 2013 and 2014.) Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s winter edition always is a welcome January event. We all are coming down from the high of the holiday season and looking to recapture some of that festive feeling. Pittsburgh Restaurant Week delivers. What better excuse to keep the party going than to explore our region’s restaurant scene that just gets better and better each year. Plus, we are in full-on winter mode, so get in from the cold and treat yourself to meal while supporting a local business.

In the winter 2015 list, there are restaurants that just deliver every year — Root 174 and Verde, to name a couple — and there are restaurants that are new that I cannot wait to try — Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar and Sirena Taco Joint & Bar, for instance. It’s going to be hard to get these 10 restaurants in my itinerary this week, but I’ll sure give it the old college try!

Here are my picks for this year’s Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: Winter Edition, which runs until Sunday. Happy eating!



Top pick: Root 174

$34.15 three-course dinner

I always say that Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is a great time to visit restaurants that you may not have — this week offers the BEST VALUE. Case in point: At Root 174 you get a stellar three-course menu for $34.15 that you can’t get at that price any other week.

How can you miss this menu?

First course: Grilled escarole. Beets. Fennel seed. Fennel baby carrots. Orange fennel dressing. Ras el hanout. Dill.

Second course: Meatballs with polenta and diablo sauce. Garlic chips. Broccolini.

Third course: Apple tart.

You can't say no. Head over. NOW.

Go now.



Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar

$30.15 three-course dinner

This new restaurant in Plum has a very interesting menu even beyond Restaurant Week, but I definitely want to try the brown-rice fritters with
roasted vegetable-black-bean hash and horseradish cream. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Here’s a plus for those who don't eat gluten: The dessert options include items from the The Gluten-Free Zone Bakery.

Go now.



Grit & Grace

$20.15 dim-sum deal: Buy four and get the fifth free

Downtown restaurant Grit & Grace, our 2014 Best New Restaurant, always is my favorite place to go for American dim sum and cocktails. During Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, if you get four dim sum offerings, the fifth one is free. My favorites are the smoked tofu and soba noodle salad with sambal vinaigrette and peanuts and the fried Brussels sprouts with kimchi and pickled chilies.

Go now.



Istanbul Sofra

$25.15 multicourse dinner

My second pick in Regent Square is offering a great Turkish three-course dinner. Start with either hummus or mucyer), deep fried patties of grated zucchini with dry mint, Turkish spices and flour. Then get the veggie grill platter that includes grilled carrots, mushrooms, tomato, eggplant, red-bell pepper and green pepper, served with rice and a salad. End with a sweet serving of baklava and some Turkish tea or coffee. Oh yum.

Go now.




$25.15 multicourse dinner; wine pairing for an additional $15

One of my Italian picks in Lawrenceville, Matteo’s is offering a three-course dinner. I recommend the stuffed portobello with spinach and artichoke, topped with marinara for the first course. The diced beet salad with romaine and balsamic reduction for the second course and the wild mushroom aglio olio prepared with shiitake, portobello, button and oyster mushrooms in a garlic and olive oil sauce with fresh basil. The wine pairings are not to be missed for a truly celebratory dinner.

Go now.



San Lorenzo Ristorante

$27.15 multicourse dinner

San Lorenzo in Lawrenceville is offering a fantastic four-course menu. Start with some greens and beans or artichoke Romano. For the second course, have one of their beautiful salads. And for the entrée, opt for the gnocchi with wild mushroom ragu. End with one of the stellar desserts. #full

Go now.




$35.15 multicourse dinner

Meet your friends after work for dinner downtown. Seviche is offering a three-course menu with great choices. I recommend the tempura tofu with sweet chili, avocado crema, pickled pineapple and tamarind hot sauce for the first, second and third course (just kidding). For the second course, the wild mushroom dish features maitake and shiitake mushrooms with gravy over cauliflower puree; it's served with Brussels sprouts, carrots and mojo criollo. Dessert is a dulce de leche banana bread pudding with white chocolate, bruleed banana and cinnamon ice cream.

Go now.



Sirena Taco Joint & Bar

$20.15 multicourse dinner

I have been wanting to visit Sirena, and this week is it. The "veghead" combo is worth the trip out of the city: fried mac 'n' cheese taco, a tofu chorizo taco and a wild-mushroom taco. You get a choice of one side. I’m thinking guac or the black-bean salsa or the jalapeno corn bread or the chipotle sweet-potato mash. Why do they have to make this difficult? Then they ask us to choose between their desserts, too: tres leches cake, fudge, apple-pecan empanadas or sopapillas. Decisions, decisions.

Go now.



Tender Bar + Kitchen

$30.15 multicourse dinner

If you’ve been waiting to try Executive Chef Brian Little’s food, this is the week to do it. Start with the romanesco soup. Follow with a Russian kale salad with smoked beets and beet custard. For the main course, the sweet-chili marinated tofu with crispy udon noodles and matsusake mushrooms is unbeatable. Then for dessert, a chocolate bateaux with raspberry gel and mint powder. Or maybe the gin-compressed star fruit with lime granita, Thai basil and pomegranate seeds. #boom

Go now.



Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina

$30.15 multicourse dinner; $15 brunch

I ALWAYS make it to Verde during Restaurant Week. Here’s why:

  1. The Sopes: masa boats with Weatherbury Farms organic black beans, chile-braised kale, annatto spiced potato and squash hash, carrots and lime crema #swoon
  2. The Enchiladas de Verduras: potato, sweet potato, beet and  kale enchiladas with poblano and red pepper rajas, queso fresco, rice and black beans
  3. Finally, the Sorbete de Solerno: a housemade blood-orange sorbet with shaved apples and mint

Oh, and the $5.15 house margaritas don’t hurt either (remember to imbibe responsibly).

For those who like brunch, Verde delivers as well with a $15 brunch. Try the caballeros pobres — Mexico’s version of French toast with egg-battered brioche, stuffed with mild jalapeno-cream cheese and mango marmalade, cinnamon-infused syrup — or the burrito desayuno, my favorite: chorizo or seitan, scrambled egg, mushroom, rice, beans, pico de gallo and Oaxacan cheese served with an achioto sweet-potato hash.

Perfect weekend brunch.

Go now.


Want even more options? These two restaurants consistently offer great menus as well.



Double Wide Grill

$20.15 multicourse dinner

The Double Wide Grill always has a diverse menu that includes healthy options plus a great vegan selection. For restaurant week, I want to try the quinoa and fava bean salad bowl, with red quinoa, fava beans, dates and arugula tossed in lemon-infused olive oil.

Go now: South Side location.

Go now: Mars location.



Kaleidoscope Cafe

$20.15 special

Kaleidoscope is a nice little café tucked away off Butler Street in Lawrenceville. Almost its entire menu is up for the Restaurant Week special, so if you’re in the neighborhood, give it a try!

Go now.


Categories: Brazen Kitchen