Our love for all-things Pittsburgh is definitely not covert – and that includes its booming foodie scene. On a recent press trip, we discovered hip, new restaurants and re-fell in love with a couple of Pittsburgh standards, too. Here’s five restaurants in Pittsburgh to let you wet your culinary whistle.
Butcher and the Rye
If you’re planning to catch a show in the Cultural District, Butcher and the Rye is a hot spot. With its creative menu offerings (think charcuterie with rabbit rillette and foie blonde pate), there’s plenty of dishes designed for the less culinary adventurous, too. Roasted Chicken with creamed Brussels and duxelles was my favorite dish of the evening.
Then there’s the whiskey to consider. Butcher and the Rye prides itself on its Bourbon bottles: 600+ if we’re counting. From a Blanton’s Old Fashioned to Four Roses Single Barrel neat, there’s hundreds of reasons for Mr. Locke to make return visits. If we’re talking impressive, Butcher and the Rye is the first restaurant to be nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for its Outstanding Bar Program.
Step foot into Vandal and it looks like your typical Lawrenceville restaurant. Bright and pretty and filled with dainty touches, there’s nothing delicate about its breakfast and lunch menus. There’s plenty of hearty options including breakfast biscuits and meats. Then they make you feel a little bit better about your meal by serving it with a side of greens if you’d like – or order yogurt topped with fruit and an edible flower.
What really impressed me was the Vegan plate that came to our table. Not everyone wants (or needs) to dine on cured meats for breakfast, so feel free to ask what’s on its meatless menu for the day.
Enrico Biscotti Bakery and Cafe
Walk through the skinny entrance to Enrico Biscotti Bakery and Cafe in The Strip District and you’ll walk into old-school Italian dining. Yes, there’s an actual Enrico (the owner’s nickname when he was a kid) and, yes, he’ll tell you he makes his pizza dough from scratch. Then he may even let you peek into the cafe’s wood-fired oven. And then, he may even show you the book from where he got his homemade pizza oven’s idea.
So, what you’ll end up with is a belly full of food (yep, the Margherita pizza tops my list) and a new found friend. No kidding. Once you’ve let your waistline stretch a bit,. head next door to the bakery and order a sfogliatella – one of my favorite Italian desserts. Ever. Filled with cream, the “lobster tails” have layer after layer of crunchy pastry dough surrounding the decadent center.
I could go on and on about the number of shows Primanti Bros. has been featured on (Man vs. Food, Best Sandwich in America, Bizarre Foods America, Guilty Pleasures, & Food Paradise) but I’m not going do to that. What I will go on and on about is its famous sandwich. Aptly titled a “Pittsburgh Sandwich” compliments of the number of additional restaurants that have tried to recreate it, this is what the restaurant in The Strip District is known for and why you’ll find folks visiting 24 hours a day.
Take two thickly-sliced pieces of locally-made Italian bread, layer with grilled meat (I love the turkey), and top with savory cole slaw, tomatoes, and homemade French Fries. If you’re a cheese lover, you can add it on. Cut in half and serve on deli paper for easy clean up. Want the full tutorial? The video above explains it all.
So, go for the sandwiches but stay for the ambiance. The gang at the restaurant are some of the coolest Pittsburghers I’ve ever chatted with. There’s truly nothing more “Pittsburgh food” than Primanti Bros. in my book. You’ll get a no-frills dining experience that’s perfect for fueling up.
Sure, Penn Brewery, at the foot of Troy Hill, is famous for its on-site brews and fun history, but the food is well worth a stop. There are lots of Pittsburgh foods on its menu: pierogi, potato pancakes, and pretzel sticks to go with its German brews, but there’s also a Yinzer Salad and BBQ Jackfruit.
A Yinzer Salad? Think a traditional salad topped with grilled chicken and French Fries. What’s a “Yinz”? That you’ll have to Google.
Want more Pittsburgh foodie finds? Check out Visit Pittsburgh for ideas.
A special thanks to the gang at Visit Pittsburgh for the fun press trip! All opinions are my own!