Well-designed hotel restaurant headed by an inventive chef
Located on the tenth floor of the newly opened Oaklander Hotel, Spirits & Tales exudes style from the moment you walk through the door. The kitchen is helmed by chef Jessica Lewis, one of the founding restaurant chefs at the Smallman Galley, and who most recently served at another luxurious hotel establishment, downtown’s or, The Whale. Lewis’ menu places an emphasis on vegetables, with lots of small plates to choose from, but there are still plenty of hearty, crowd-favorite dishes, too (including a particularly satisfying roasted truffle chicken). Another bonus? As with most hotel restaurants, Spirits & Tales serves breakfast, lunch, dinner -- and brunch -- daily.
The return of a beloved Pittsburgh restaurant serving hearty Italian dishes
First things first: Yes, we know that Dish Osteria isn’t technically a new restaurant. But, the beloved Pittsburgh institution (which first opened in 2000) took an extended break in 2017, with the promise that they planned to reopen… someday. After an almost two-year hiatus, Dish quietly announced this spring that they were reopening, to much celebration. The super popular restaurant is known for its ever-changing daily dinner menu, featuring a variety of homemade, Sicilian-inspired dishes, and some of the best fresh pasta that you can find outside of Southern Italy.
Casual Vietnamese restaurant known for mouth-watering pho
Sisters Trinh Phan and Trang Somphomphakdy opened their highly anticipated restaurant Two Sisters earlier this year, offering traditional Vietnamese cuisine in East Liberty. Guests can find rice and noodle bowls and summer rolls, but the main attraction is the duo’s pho, available in a variety of beef, chicken, seafood and vegan options, each with a rich, fragrant broth that deserves to be savored.
Cozy trattoria & wine bar boasting fourth-generation Italian family restaurant ties
The third concept may be the charm for chef Andrew Garbarino. The talented Pittsburgh chef is known for his highly regarded French tasting restaurant, The Twisted Frenchman, located on the second floor of a historic building in East Liberty; the first floor of the space, however, has seen two different concepts since opening in 2017. Earlier this year, Garbarino announced he was going back to his family roots with a third concept: Garbarino’s, an extension of his family’s classic Italian restaurant that was open in Long Island from 1945 until 1996. Garbarino has turned to family recipes for the menu, with homemade pastas; chicken, eggplant, and veal chop Parmesans; and beef short rib ragu with rigatoni.
Friendly neighborhood spot emphasizing wood-fired cooking from a veteran PGH chef
Chef/owner Chris Bonfili first found acclaim in Pittsburgh thanks to Avenue B, his beloved New American restaurant in Friendship. After closing the restaurant last year, Bonfili took his talents to South Side, opening up Bonfire Food & Drink and centering his menu around the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. While the downstairs space offers a more casual neighborhood vibe (snacks, sandwiches, and some ridiculously good mac & cheese offerings make up the bulk of the menu), the recently opened upstairs space is a bit more refined, with a separate menu that allows Bonfili to show off his well-honed culinary chops.
Est. 2018 | East Liberty
Dual-concept cocktail bar and beer hall with small plates and showstopper desserts
While the lager-forward beer list and the Alpine-inspired cocktail menu are top-notch at Lorelei, the food is the star of the show. Led by executive chef Jamilka Borges in the kitchen with an assist from pastry chef Dianne DeStefano, the small menu mixes classic beer hall offerings (like a Bavarian pretzel with bacon-kraut cheese spread) with hearty hand pies and savory tarts. Do yourself a favor and save room for something sweet from the dessert menu, where the talented DeStefano shines with plates like malted chocolate mousse, lavender-almond tea cake, and buttermilk custard pie.
Est. 2018 | Oakland
Comfortable old-school diner with well-sourced ingredients and a killer pie menu
You’ll find quality breakfast and lunch options -- and yes, pie as well -- at Pie for Breakfast, the third restaurant in Trevett and Sarah Hooper’s Good Faith Restaurant Group. Each dish is made with the same locally-sourced ingredients used at PFB’s sister restaurants Legume and the Butterjoint, but at a much lower price point. The small menu changes regularly with down-home comfort food favorites (the buttermilk pancakes are some of the city’s best), and a new take on Southern-style “meat & three” options. As the name suggests, pie is always on the menu, and a slice of their delicately-flavored vinegar pie is a must.
Est. 2018 | Millvale
Small sandwich shop with an inventive, rotating menu
The team behind the popular underground dinner group Duncan Street Dinners have opened their very own brick-and-mortar. The Duncan Street Sandwich Shop serves a small menu of inventive sandwiches, with complex and layered flavor combinations, and daily-changing salads, homemade sides and sweet puffed-rice cereal “Crispies.” We especially love the shop’s “Everything” Pork: a hearty sandwich with roasted pork, “everything” seasoning, and a house-pickled red onion jam.
Est. 2018 | Garfield
Inviting upscale spot known for refined small plates and a superb cocktail menu
Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group’s most-recent restaurant opening is one of the group’s most ambitious projects to date. The beautifully-designed space has earned rave reviews for its ultra-inventive modern American dishes, which feature hints of Asian and Italian influences. The cocktail program is phenomenal and specially designed to pair with corresponding dishes.
Est. 2018 | Sewickley
A well-appointed café from one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved artisan bakehouses
Artisan wholesale bakery Mediterra Bakehouse has opened a stylish café outside of the city, with a menu that showcases the bakery’s beloved fresh-baked breads. Sandwiches on heartland grain, marble rye, and sprouted spelt are available for lunch, along with pizza that’s made with a 96-hour dough, seasonal salad bowls, and cheese and charcuterie boards. The café also houses a small shop area, selling gourmet grocery items.
Est. 2018 | Lawrenceville
Mobile pizza oven turned brick-and-mortar location serving up naturally leavened pies
Before opening their brick-and-mortar restaurant in Lawrenceville in 2018, Driftwood Oven was a mobile pizzeria, rolling around Pittsburgh since 2015, serving up fresh, wood-fired pies topped with ingredients that are sourced from local farms and change with the season. They’re doing the same thing now, just in a more permanent location. All the pizza from Driftwood starts the same way: with, well, a starter. The bread and pizza doughs produced from Neil Blazin and Justin Vetter’s mobile pizza unite are all hand-mixed with organic flours and a sourdough culture, which makes the dough rich and flavorful.
Est. 2018 | Lawrenceville
Elegant, beautifully designed French bistro with classic dishes and a great wine list
Prolific Pittsburgh restaurateur Richard DeShantz from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group (which includes Butcher & The Rye, Pork & Beans, Meat & Potatoes and Täkō) has a winner with Poulet Bleu, a French bistro that opened to much acclaim in Lawrenceville in early 2018. The restaurant offers classic French dishes, like a simple French onion soup elevated to new heights thanks to braised oxtail, cognac and Emmental, and a perfectly-prepared chocolate souffle (arriving with an assortment of accouterments) that’s a must for ending your meal on a high note.
Est. 2017 | Downtown
An upscale, stylish restaurant at the Fairmont Pittsburgh with a killer bar program
There are certain places in Pittsburgh that you go when you want to really impress someone -- and fl. 2 has joined those ranks. The restaurant, located on the second floor of the Fairmont Pittsburgh, replaced Habitat in late 2017 with a new concept, new menu, and completely redesigned space. The lovely, circular bar is the focal point of the restaurant, and provides an elegant backdrop for your evening, while the menu features updated American dishes with an emphasis on local sourcing. The bar’s cocktail program is divine, with inventive new takes on classics, and non-alcoholic ‘mocktail’ options that deserve a mention.
Est. 2017 | North Side
Food hall with four distinct, chef-run restaurants, a well-stocked bar, and outdoor space
As the sister restaurant of Smallman Galley, the uber-popular restaurant incubator in the Strip District, Federal Galley had a lot to live up to -- and it does, mightily. The four restaurant concepts in Federal Galley include Provision PGH, Guapo, Michigan & Trumbull, and What Came First, all bringing various styles of cuisine, from New Mexican-style fare to Detroit-style deep dish pizza. Pay special attention to the bar program, which includes a deep bench of Pittsburgh brews and spirits, along with a creative cocktail list that changes seasonally.
Est. 2017 | Bloomfield
Tiny counter spot serving breakfast and lunch with produce grown from their own farm
Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette is a lunch counter that has some very unique sourcing: its very own small organic farm, located just outside of the city. Owner Becca Hegarty (a multiple James Beard semifinalist nominee) offers a small menu each day at the Bloomfield spot, with a selection of baked goods (whole-wheat donuts, pizzelles), soups (bean soup and chicken soup are regulars), and sandwiches, served on house-baked bread, including their popular Veggie Sammie. Bitter Ends Garden & Luncheonette is a simple, old-school concept that’s executed perfectly.
Est. 2017 | Braddock
Community-driven, hyper-local restaurant in Braddock with a focus on seasonality
One of Pittsburgh’s most-anticipated restaurant openings of 2017 has lived up to the hype. As one of the highest-grossing restaurant Kickstarter campaigns ever, Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors, a community-focused restaurant, located outside the city in Braddock, has garnered a lot of attention, both locally and nationally. The seasonal, locally sourced menu, made with produce primarily coming from nearby Braddock Farms changes regularly, and the dessert menu is a particular standout, with complex pairings and elevated flavor profiles.
Est. 2016 | Central Lawrenceville
Upstairs Japanese pub with street food and late-night eats
Umami is an izakaya (aka Japanese pub) serving Japanese street food dedicated to the fifth taste. Located above Round Corner Cantina, Umami has become a fixture for late-night eats, meaning you can get your margarita fix downstairs and your sushi and rotobaya fix upstairs until 2am.
Est. 2016 | Troy Hill
Spacious, friendly café featuring seriously good coffee and breakfast sandwiches
Tiny neighborhood cafés usually don’t find themselves on best restaurant lists, but Pear and the Pickle earns its place by serving one of the best breakfast sandwiches in town, available all day long. The simple bodega staple, made with bacon, egg, and cheese on a roll, is our favorite, but the café also offers a menu of two-handed sandwiches, homemade soups, and a rotating list of daily specials that have made the Troy Hill spot a must-visit.
Est. 2016 | Bloomfield
A small-plates restaurant with unusual flavor pairings and craft cocktails
One of the hidden gems of Pittsburgh’s dining scene, Spork is known for its extensive small-plates menu, which places a special emphasis on house-made pastas (the gnocchi is a standout) and charcuterie. While the kitchen crew regularly knocks elevated offerings like smoked brisket ravioli (featuring brisket smoked in their own BBQ smoker) out of the park, they also excel in the seemingly simplest dishes on the menu, such as a sourdough baguette that absolutely shouldn’t be missed.
Est. 2016 | Bloomfield
An Eastern European-inspired vegan restaurant with café-style ordering
Casual, comfortable Apteka focuses on central and eastern European foods, such as the beloved Pittsburgh pierogi. But you won't find their pillowy dumplings stuffed with any kind of sausage or braised meat -- this Bloomfield spot calls itself a "vegetable restaurant," meaning that everything is vegan. Plans for Apteka grew from Pierogi Night, a popular monthly pop-up, eventually spawning a brick-and-mortar restaurant known for its seasonal creations, using the best summer vegetables (and fermented specialties) available.
Est. 2016 | Strip District
All-day Italian café, bakery, and restaurant hybrid serving homemade everything
Part café, part deli, and part restaurant, DiAnoia’s Eatery has a little something for everyone. Standouts include the deep sandwich selection, complete with house-made bread that’s been stuffed with Italian specialties like veal scallopini and sausage also made in-house. And don’t miss DiAnoia’s family-recipe three-meat meatballs, served piping hot and swimming in marinara.
Est. 2015 | East Liberty
Fancy French restaurant with a downstairs brasserie
The Twisted Frenchman has been a top-ranked restaurant in Pittsburgh since it opened in 2015, offering one of the area’s only tasting menus (which is available in four or eight, along with an 18-course Chef’s Table offering). Chef/owner Andrew Garbarino pairs modern techniques with classic French dishes, with unique takes on Foie Gras, Bouillabaisse and risotto. The Twisted Frenchman offers an extensive wine list as well, with selections available at all price points.
Est. 2015 | Lower Lawrenceville
Spanish spot with a full menu of pintxos, extensive charcuteries, and a fun bar
The second Pittsburgh restaurant (after the dearly-departed Cure) by acclaimed chef Justin Severino, this Spanish place has become one of the city’s best and continually-exciting restaurants. Severino is a whole hog butcher, so naturally, meat takes center stage on Morcilla’s menu full of pintxos (the Basque version of tapas). Wines are offered in 2-ounce pours, giving diners the chance to sample a different varietal perfectly paired with each course, but there’s also an entire drinks page dedicated to unmissable iterations of the Spanish gin-tonic.
Est. 2014 | Squirrel Hill
Sichuan spot known for both traditional and American-style Chinese dishes
You’ll find spice, and lots of it, at this Squirrel Hill restaurant known for its traditional Sichuan cuisine. Turn directly to the ‘Traditional Chinese’ portion of the menu to see Chef Wei Zhu’s specialties, from shredded duck with baby ginger to pork blood tofu. Grab a crew to bring with you, because ordering too much from this family-style menu is inevitable.
Est. 2013 | Strip District
Bustling spot serving wood-grilled meats and South American specialities
You smell Gaucho before you see it. Its mouthwatering, smokey aroma wafts through the Strip District, luring you inside. Gaucho’s secret is its wood-fire grilling process, which turns Pennsylvania wood into red hot coals that give steaks inimitable char and a mouthful of smokiness. To fully experience its signature taste, bring your closest carnivores, and order the asado platter, which delivers five cuts of meat (flank, filet, sirloin, NY strip, and ribeye) garnished with chimichurri. Don’t be scared if you walk up and see a line snaking out the door -- it’s well worth the wait.
Est. 2008 | East Liberty
Pizzeria known for thin-crust pies and inexpensive wine
Dinette has been open since 2008, but the concept -- wood-fired pizzas topped with local, sustainable ingredients -- is as fresh as ever. At the East Liberty mainstay, crispy, wafer-thin dough is the foundation for light sauce and fresh ingredients on their famous pies, and the menu is rounded out with perfect starters to share with the table, from grilled shishito peppers to house-marinated olives. Dinette’s “all the same price” wine (available by the glass or by the bottle) adds to the restaurant’s easy charm and takes the pressure off the price-shy when ordering.
Est. 2007 | Oakland
Neighborhood bistro with a truly hyper-local menu and an ambitious bar program
After more than a decade in business, Legume still sets the standard for fine dining in Pittsburgh. Led by chef/owner Trevett Hooper, the Oakland restaurant offers a seasonal menu with an emphasis on local meats and produce in a cozy, comfortable setting. House kimchi, fermented cabbage, preserved lemons, and pickled cherries are just a few of the surprises that you’ll find dotting the menu all year long, thanks to Legume’s deep in-house fermentation and pickling program. And if you’re looking for one of the best burgers in the city? Head to the Butterjoint, the bar tucked inside Legume, and order up.
Est. 1997 | Allentown
Old-world Italian favorites with intimate, impeccable service
One of Pittsburgh’s most important special-occasion restaurants, Alla Famiglia has been serving classic Italian dishes -- and extraordinarily large portions -- since the 1990s. Much has changed since that time (the restaurant expanded from its original eight-table space), but the focus on quality, old-world cooking, has remained. Tables are set with Alla Famiglia’s beloved ‘holy oil’ and fresh-baked bread, and the house-specialty Veal Chop (available Milanese, Pizzaiola, Griglia, or Ripieno-style) is worth the price.
Est. 1980 | Various locations
Old-school diner chain with friendly service and crepe-style pancakes
Serving up some of Pittsburgh’s favorite breakfasts since 1980, Pamela’s Diner (with locations dotted across the city) has officially reached institution status. In addition to classic diner offerings like eggs, hash, and French Toast, what Pamela’s is really known for are their whisper-thin, crepe-style pancakes, which come rolled and stuffed with everything from chocolate chips and bananas to seasonal berries.