DiAnoia’s Eatery offers distinctive Italian cuisine. In addition to the delicious dinner menu items, there are unique features like breakfast and breakfast cocktails, a noteworthy collection of amaros and excellent bartender, and a pizza window out back with picnic tables because, well, the public was demanding more pizza. The dining room is loud, but the food is excellent and even the pastas are far from the typical Italian fare. Reservations, preferably a month or more in advance, are necessary for dinner. DiAnoia’s is a half hour walk from the convention center straight down Penn Avenue at the corner of 26th Street.
Chef Richard DeShantz’s best food and most attractive dining room is in the Lawrenceville neighborhood at Poulet Bleu, the only French food on this list. The bistro is noisy, but everything on the relatively small menu is delicious—paté, foie gras with tart cherries and apple compote, escargot, mussels, bistro burger and pommes frites, beef bourguignon, trout almondine—and the steaks look lovely. The vegetable side dishes are delicious, too. Wines by the bottle or glass are well-selected with some relatively reasonably priced (given restaurant pricing). Reservations should be made as soon as possible.
Also in Lawrenceville, Morcilla is an excellent Spanish restaurant. With the possibility of ordering only tapas and small plates, dinner is still pricey, but memorable.
Bar Marco, a 22 minute walk down Penn Avenue from the convention center, offers very nice dishes ($18-$26, more at the less expensive end)—including some that are vegetarian—in a small bar with a small wine list and good cocktails, including the “bartender’s choice” that you guide with spirit and flavor preferences.
In Oakland, near Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, are two restaurants: Legume Bistro, perhaps Pittsburgh’s original farm-to-table restaurant, and Butterjoint that has one of the city’s best burgers, excellent frites, and a great bar. The tempeh burger is terrific, and the pierogies—vegetarian or not—are great as well. Legume’s small menu changes frequently, and some diners prefer to order a couple of the small plates.
The Big Burrito Restaurant Group launched Pittsburgh as a food-focused city. Casbah was its first fine dining restaurant, and it remains a favorite with Mediterranean cuisine, excellent fish, duck, and meat dishes, as well as pasta (short rib ravioli and orecchiette are favorites). Soba is the group’s Pan Asian offering. The seared tuna, miso black cod, and various small plates are favorites. Umi offers excellent sushi.
Overlooking the city on Mt. Washington, Altius and Monterey Bay Fish Grotto offer food at prices that match the height of the view, while the latter also has lofty goals of sustainability. Less expensive are The Grandview Saloon and Vue 412, which lists some vegan items on its menu. The view from the restaurants is spectacular at night.