Browsing Category

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters in an Oyster Bar in East Liberty in Pittsburgh.

The Food

Muddy Waters changes it menu seasonally and obviously, they have a great selection of oyster options.  In addition to getting oysters from the East and West coasts, they also have chef options..  If you have strong oyster pallet and a lot of experience eating oysters from different parts of the world, this is the place for you.  I recommend the East/West Tasting where patrons get two of the all the options.  If you only have a marginal love for oysters, check with your server for recommendations or go with the staple Oysters Rockefeller (which are absolutely delicious!).  The dinner menu has a variety of entrees.  On your first visit, after an oyster appetizer, you must absolutely try the Seafood Gumbo with lobster, shrimp, oysters, crawfish, sausage, okra, and rice.  It is the best in the city!  If you want something less hearty, have the blackened salmon.  They prepare the salmon with a twist by using pickled peach, sage, and pecan dust that all compliment each other.  The hush puppies, corn bread, fried green tomatoes, and red beans and rice are all great side items.

The Service

Muddy Waters provides terrific service.  My recommendation is to go on an evening early in the week to have peak service.  As in all restaurants, the more crowded they are, often the service diminishes.  The bartenders, greeters, servers have consistently been friendly, professional, and efficient.  At each visit, the servers were very knowledgeable of the menu’s specifics.  Bravo!

The Ambiance

There is a counter next to the entrance where restaurant patrons can sit outside facing the restaurant.  That is unique to Pittsburgh!  Inside, the bar is to the left as you enter with high top tables to the right.  The main dining room is in the rear of the venue.  The lighting and acoustics are all pleasing and provides for a pleasant dining experience.  What is really impressive is the right wall painting reminiscent of 1600 sea faring maps.  Sit at the high tables!

Overall

Muddy Waters provides a unique dining experience in Pittsburgh.  It is an absolute must visit, as the food, service, and ambiance are all outstanding.  It is without any hesitation that I give Muddy Waters an overall rating and recommendation of:

“Absolutely Must Visit!”

Contact

130 S Highland Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 361-0555
Visit Muddy Waters!

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Kaya

Kaya offers a variety of Caribbean, South American, and Pacific fare, is located on the hustling Smallman Street in the Strip District of Pittsburgh.

The Food

Kaya’s menu has a variety of appetizers, entrees, soups and salads, and tacos and sandwiches all year long.  Additionally, they offer a featured island or locale each month.  June of 2017 features food of Puerto Rico.  Two must haves from the appetizer menu are the conch fritters and the Yucatan Hot Bean dip with homemade chips.  Both are very delicious.  Also try the conch and corn chowder.  For an entree selection, without a doubt, have the Tropical Paella, made with chicken, shrimp, mussels, chorizo, peas, pineapple, and red pepper.  It is one of the best entrees in the city!  Kaya also offers a vegan version with squash, tomatoes, asparagus, red pepper, green beans, and pineapple, which is also quite delicious.  Another entree recommendation is the Barramundi, with its unique mix of flavors, made with sambal, coconut, peanuts, cucumber, pineapple, basil, soy, and shallot.  If you are looking for something lighter, try the Caribbean Rainbow Salad.  It has a unique cabaret of sweet and savory flavors.  If you’re not that hungry, go for the Cuban Sandwich, with pork, turkey, ham, mayo, Swiss cheese, mustard, and aioli.  It is mouthwatering.

The Service

Kaya has consistently provided great, friendly service.  The wait staff is consistently knowledgeable about the menu’s specifics.  They are also efficient and prompt with bringing water, drinks, and clearing dishes away as necessary.  The bartenders have always been friendly and are good at making complicated, intricate drinks.  While you are there, go for their signature Smoke and Ginger.

The Ambiance

Kaya has large window at the front of the restaurant.  As you enter, the bar is to your right with large windows behind it.  Both provide a bright naturally lit atmosphere that is very welcoming.  Additional lighting highlights the tasteful art work on the walls  The decor fits the menu perfectly hand in hand.  Particularly impressive is all of the mosaics spread through the restaurant from the bar counter to the floor.  It is a great space with the right blend of music and acoustics that one can hear everyone at the table.

Overall

I have visited Kaya three times and on all three occasions the food, service, and ambiance have all been exceptional.  It is without any hesitation that I give Kaya my overall rating and recommendation of:

“Go For It!”

Contact

2000 Smallman St
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
(412) 261-6565
Visit Kaya

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Tessaro’s

Tessaro’s, a mainstay on Liberty Avenue for over 25 years, is located in the Bloomfield section of Pittsburgh.

The Food

Tessaro’s is known, not only just in Pittsburgh, but nationally for their burgers.  They have choice, fresh cuts that are ground and fired over a hardwood grill.  Tessaro’s lives up to its reputation because the burgers are outstanding.  The menu offers a variety of options like the deli burger with swiss, coleslaw, and Thousand Island or their Breakfast Buger with bacon, cheese, and an over easy egg are just two examples.  My favorite is the bacon and bleu burger with bacon and creamy bleu cheese (They give you an option between dry or creamy).  Another delicious burger option is the Cajun.  They have the seasonings down perfectly.  Kudos also goes to the fact that they use fresh mushrooms.  Canned are a big no no to this patron.  All burgers come with a variety of side items.  Get the potato salad.  It is one of the best in the city as well.  If you aren’t interested in a burger, there are a variety of menu options to choose from.  Salads, starters, chicken sandwiches, steaks, are all options.  They also boast Thursday nights as rib night.

The Service

Tessaro’s offers good service.  The bartenders are efficient and friendly.  They often banter with the customers, which seems to be a regulars crowd.  The wait staff has also been consistently good.  Unfortunately, one aspect that is hit or miss, is the seating process.  If there isn’t seating available immediately, there really isn’t any place for you to go, because the waiting area is small.  So, I recommend making a visit on a non-weekend evening because despite that one drawback the rest of the service is great, along with the food!

The Ambiance

The aesthetic experience at Tessaro’s could be best described with one word:  nostalgic.  The lighting, the colors, decor, even the cash register, all long for a different time.  The placing is set with paper napkins and place mats because the main focus is on the food, which is delicious.  The eating experience at Tessaro’s is warm and genuine.

Overall

Tessaro’s lives up to its reputation as having one of the best burger, if not the best, in Pittsburgh.  My overall rating and recommendation is:

“Go For It!”

Contact

4601 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
(412) 682-6809
Visit Tessaro’s

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Ten Penny

ten penny pittsburgh

Ten Penny is located in downtown Pittsburgh on Penn Avenue right by the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.  The restaurant offers a variety of menu options.

The Food

There is a great spectrum of menu items.  My recommendation is if you go to Ten Penny, do it during the winter months or on colder evenings as the food is very hearty.  Bring your appetite.  For appetizers, try the skillet cornbread, crispy brussel sprouts, or deviled egg trio.  If you’re with a group, go with all three!  All three soup choices are worth having.  The gumbo has the right amount of spice and the potato soup is very filling.  For something a little lighter, have the tomato bisque.  As for entrees, the recommendations are plentiful.  The bourbon glazed salmon with the pecan scallion rice and roasted asparagus is the right trio of flavors that compliment each other.  For something a little more substantial, the shrimp and grits with smoked bacon, scallions, cheddar grits,  and au jus along with the crab rissoto are both quite fulfilling and gratifying.  There are still over a dozen or more good entrees to choose from.  As a side, try either the smoked gouda grits or creamed spinach.  If you’re sharing, get both.

The Service

I have visited Ten Penny three times.  At my most recent visit, the waiter provided impressive and effectual service.  He was spot on.  Unfortunately, at this same visit, we had a last minute reduction of two people out of our party of ten.  The greeter was irate and less than professional after this was shared with her.  Life happens and so do changes.  Her curt reaction was a little dramatic and uncalled for.  My experience at the bar was a disappointment as well.  At all three visits to Ten Penny, the bar service has been poor.  Not only do patrons wait long amounts of time for their drinks, they actually wait to be acknowledged that they are even sitting at the bar.  Not even a courteous, “I’ll be with you in a minute.”  Just avoidance of eye contact.  I understand if the venue is really crowded and busy.  But in all three visits, that was not the case.  It was just awful service.

The Ambiance

The location of Ten Penny is right in the cultural district.  It sits catty corner from the convention center and has windows on two sides.  The acoustics provide an atmosphere that is aesthetically pleasing where the ambient sound and music do not hinder the ability to hear the people at your table.  For a little more private setting, if you have a large party, make a reservation for the back room.  It is a great space.  Make sure they turn on the fireplace, otherwise it can get a little chilly.

Overall

The food at Ten Penny has been consistently good.  The menu offers a nice spectrum of options but it doesn’t overwhelm guests with too many items from which to choose.  Unfortunately, some of the service was so glaringly bad, that if it wasn’t for the good quality of the food, Ten Penny would have received my lowest rating.  That being said, I give Ten Penny the following rating and recommendation:

“It’s Worth a Shot, But Could Be a Miss!”

Visit Ten Penny:

960 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

(412) 318-8000
Visit Ten Penny

News Pittsburgh Restaurants

Eat Unique

Returning back to the Oakland section of the city, Eat Unique is situated on Craig Street between Carnegie Mellon and Pitt.  Eat Unique evolved from a coffee shop to a bistro that offers homemade soups, sandwiches, and salads all with fresh ingredients.

The Food

Eat Unique offers soup, sandwich, and salad daily specials in addition to an expansive menu.  I have visited Eat Unique about ten times and used their catering services.  At every occasion, the food has been fresh and quite delicious.  Having tried most of the menu, my top three recommendations  are Big Al’s Cobb salad with grilled chicken, Tex Mex Taco salad with chili, tortilla chips, on a bass of romaine with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, olives, sour cream and guacamole, and their meatloaf melt which is meatloaf on toasted bread with blue cheese, bbq sauce, and bacon.  Very tasty!  The menu’s sandwich menu will meet any craving.  Eat Unique also features a a veggie hummus  and griller menus for vegans and vegetarians alike.  Also on the menu is an expansive beverage and dessert menu.

The Service

Eat Unique is a counter top joint where you make your order at the cash register and they let you know when it is ready for pickup.  Whether busy or slow, the counter staff and cooks always have a bright disposition and work quickly.  Waits are minimal.

The Ambiance

The layout of the restaurant is odd.  The counter area where most people are congregated waiting to pick up their food is really tight.  There are floor to ceiling windows so the space is quite bright and visually appealing.  Acoustically, the venue is quite loud and lively which makes it cumbersome to have conversations or if dining alone, to do any concentrated work.  So, my recommendation is to order and take your food with you.

Overall

The food lives up to the restaurants name, unique.  It is quite delicious and well worth trying.  If you are in the Oakland section of the city, pick up lunch or dinner at Eat Unique.  My overall rating and recommendation is:

“Go For It!”

Contact

305 S Craig St
Pittsburgh PA 15213
412-683-9993
Visit Eat Unique

 

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Social House 7

We return to Pittsburgh.  Social House Seven is located in the cultural district of downtown Pittsburgh and is a Japanese style restaurant.

The Food

In addition to Japanese fare, Social House also features Thai and Korean food items.  There are a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, noodles, rices, meats, sushi, and robata which are items grilled over Japanese charcoal.  There are two ways to go.  The first choice is to load up on the smorgasbord of appetizer and sushi options.  The second choice is to get an appetizer, soup or salad, and one of their entrees.  For appetizers, try the chee chee fried brussel sprouts with almonds, chilli sauce, kobe kimchee wonton with spicy peanut sauce, the wok charred rice cakes with Korean BBQ sauce, or the truffled risotto with mushrooms and snow peas.  The house miso soup is delicious.  My favorite two entree items are the scallop pad thai and the Chicken with Hidden Dragon Sauce, which is Szechuan peppercorn, chili paste, and ssamjung.  There is also a terrific sushi menu that offers a wide spectrum of choices, but does not overwhelm with too many items to select from.  The tuna tartare is a favorite from this menu.  Also, from the specialty roll options, go with the Godzilla roll, which is salmon, cream cheese, scallion, topped with seared spicy tuna.  It is a little on the expensive side, but well worth it.

The Service

I have been to Social House on three occasions in various states of how busy the restaurant was in.  In all three visits, the staff was very well organized, professional, and friendly.  At one visit, the restaurant was quite busy, and I had tickets for a show.  I was concerned that I might be late, but the staff served our food and got our bills to us efficiently and timely.  Even as frazzled as the wait staff may have been, they were very warm and engaging.  Bravo!

The Ambiance

Social House provides a venue with spectacular ambiance.  From the moment guests walk in, one is emersed in a warm and welcoming environment.  The vestuble has a glass floor with a coy pond underneath which can go unnoticed during a day time visit.  The main dining room is spacious with half moon shaped booths around the space’s perimeter that provides more intimacy.  The walls have murals on them which are very detailed and quite stunning.  Acoustically, the room and music create a comfortable atmosphere.  The lighting uses a nice balance of natural and artificial to create warmth.  My recommendation is to visit during the winter.  It is another Pittsburgh establishment where it is nice to hunker down on a cold wintry evening.

Overall

Reasonably priced and aesthetically pleasing, it is without any hesitation that after great dining experiences at Social House that I give it my highest ranking and overall rating of:

“Absolutely Must Visit!”

Contact

123 7th Street
Pittsburgh, PA  15222
412-709-6808
Visit Social House 7

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Talia Cucina & Roticceria

Talia is located in downtown Pittsburgh on Sixth Avenue in the renovated old Alcoa Building.  Recently opened, it specializes in modern upscale Italian cuisine.

The Food

Being fairly new, this restaurant is one that I have only visited once.  There is a terrific, trendy drink menu to order before dinner cocktails which consisted of drinks not often appearing in Pittsburgh restaurants.  I enjoyed the black martini.  Please keep in mind though that this is unique, contemporary Italian food with much influence from northern and southern Italy.  Less pastas and more meats.  There is a great selection of appetizer and entree items.  For appetizers, the Margharita flatbread was a nice compliment to the Roman salad with its arugula, padano, leeks, and mint with a white balsamic.  For a main course, I had the ricotta gnocchi with tomato, Calabrian chili, beef brisket and could not have been more pleased with my decision.  For a side, I got the braised baby carrots.  Both were delicious and the meal filled me up.  No room for desert.  I’ll have to go back.  It is definitely worth another visit.

The Service

Talia provided terrific service.  The greeters were very polite and accommodating, as some of our party was late having been caught up in Penguins traffic.  Our waiter was outstanding.  He was able to eagerly explain in great detail drink and food items and answered all of our questions with great enthusiasm.  The table service was brisk and well organized.  Water glasses were filled, drinks were replenished and dishes removed and replaced, all with great efficiency.

The Ambiance

Talia is a bright and open venue.  The windows surrounding provides amble natural lighting.  As it turns to dusk, the lighting provides a warm glow that is very welcoming.  The decor is beautiful.  I particularly enjoyed the homage to Jack Legh’s photograph of the Bad Girl statue originally located in Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia and later used for the cover of the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. As visually appealing as the Talia is, aurally, there are some issues.  The acoustics are too alive.  The music and ambient sound is simply too loud and makes it very difficult to hear guests at the same table even though the seating is quite intimate.

Overall

Talia is a hip new arrival to the Pittsburgh downtown restaurant scene  and quite worthy of a visit.  My overall recommendation and rating is:

“Go For It!”

Contact

425 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-456-8214
Visit Talia

Pittsburgh Restaurants

Nakama

nakama pittsburgh

Nakama is a hibachi restaurant that has two locations in and around Pittsburgh, one on the South Side and another in Wexford in the North Hills.

The Food

Nakami’s prepares Japanese style food with a flair of entertainment.  The menu offers a large plethora of menu items.  The appetizers range from soups to egg rolls to salads to other prepared dishes.  The appetizers tend to be on the pricey side.  If you have a big appetite when you go, the scallops, miso glazed salmon, and Nakama onion soup, are all good items to start with.  There are a large variety of specialty dinners to select from with varying prices.  Every specialty dinner starts with a choice of a flambe shrimp or mushroom appetizer, their Nakama salad, onion soup, all steamed together with white rice and hibachi vegetables.  The menu tends to be a little overwhelming with its choices, particularly how similar menu items are to each other.  It seems like the restaurant staff would save themselves a headache by making the menu choices smaller.  The first time I visited, I had the Bob’s Favorite triple combination, which was a trio of steak, chicken, and shrimp.  My second visit, I was more on a seafood kick, and had the seafood combination.  Both dinners were outstanding.

The Service

Nakami’s service is very good, provided that you make a reservation.  This is not the restaurant to go to on a whim.  Because of the layout of the restaurant, if you show up in a group, many of the table seatings have been mapped out by those patrons who made reservations and it might be difficult to keep a group together.  The greeters, bartenders, and wait staff were very well organized, efficient, and friendly.  The chefs were the best of all.  They cooked right in front of you with expert knowledge with a flair for the entertainment.

The Ambiance

Nakami’s ambiance is well crafted.  The bar area is bright natural lighting with windows on two sides, as the restaurant sits at the corner of East Carson and 17th Streets.  The rest of the restaurant is a little darker, but still warm, to emphasize the brilliance of the fires at the stoves in the center of each dining room table.  Sound wise, the restaurant is filled with lively discussions and the whisp and snap sounds of cooking.  This is not the venue for soft private conversation as it is part spectacle as much as it is eating.  The entire atmosphere is welcoming and friendly.

Overall

Nakami is not only just eating a meal, as it is also part spectacle.  The warm environment, quality service, and tasty food, make for a satisfying meal experience.  It is even more fun if you are with a large group of friends, as it makes for a great outing.  Don’t forget to make a reservation.  My overall rating and recommendation is:

“Go For It!”

Contact

1611 East Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
412-381-6000
Nakama website