When I Have a Craving for a Specific Dish

Here are a few Pittsburgh restaurants we didn’t include on the annual Best Restaurants list that our dining critic loves to visit when he's craving something specific.

photo courtesy of Independent brewing co. 

I love stopping by Independent Brewing Company in Squirrel Hill for a pint from its curated Pennsylvania and global beer list, accompanied by bites from executive chef Jamilka Borges’ gastropub menu; crispy sweet potato with buttermilk and basil is a particular favorite.

photos by laura petrilla

I’m pretty obsessed with the northwestern Chinese dishes at Sakura Teppanyaki & Sushi, which also is in Squirrel Hill. Owner Ping Geng’s effusive hospitality and chef/owner Feng Gao’s hand-torn noodles, shredded pancake lamb soup and love noodles win my heart every time I visit.


One of my favorite places for a quick lunch is Leon’s Caribbean in Allentown; my go-to is goat curry, which chef/owner Leon Rose prepares to fall-off-the-bone tenderness. The lacing of warm spice carries me through the rest of the day.


It used to be I’d have to bide my time for a trip to New York to get a slice or pie of the cheesy, saucy gas-oven pizza that is an iconic part of the city’s food culture; now I drive to Rockaway Pizzeria in White Oak, where owner/pizzaiola Josh Sickels prepares pies as good as those found in Queens.

photo by hal b. klein

Finally, Whitfield at Ace Hotel is always a lovely spot for a breakfast, burger or cocktail, but it truly shines with its special programming — executive chef Bethany Zozula’s Sharing Knives dinner series and lamb menus, in which she butchers whole lamb from the iconic Jamison Farms, are special events indeed.

Categories: Eat + Drink Features, Hot Reads