Local Fare: More Reviews & Inspiration

As much as I love home cooking, I love to experience a city through its food.  This is equally as important when I'm at home as when I'm traveling.  Pittsburgh has some wonderful culinary gems tucked into our tight and winding city streets.  Here are some of my experiences revisiting old favorites and exploring new places!  Also, you can check out the urbanspoon links for additional information, reviews and menus.

Photograph:  Tamari, Pittsburgh, June  2010

Restaurants & Cafes

MauraMori Cafe
Neighborhood:  Upper Lawrenceville
Type of Food:  American Breakfast/Lunch
11.13.10  This past weekend, before we set out on the Lawrenceville Artists' Studio Tour, some friends and I decided to try out a new local joint called MauraMori Cafe.  I have been driving past this place for a month or so now and could never quite figure out how it worked; was it a sit down place or a coffee shop?  This sort of uncertainty make me nervous about trying out a new place, I hate walking in and being that person wandering around aimlessly, looking for someone to guide me.  Anyway, it turns out it is a cute little diner with a very friendly staff.  The exposed brick walls and the edgy paintings hanging around the place definitely establish it as a casual, urban eatery.  The food is pretty basic breakfast and lunch fair, eggs, bacon, pancakes, burgers, and sandwiches, with a couple of variations on the usual.  The prices are very reasonable, what you'd expect from more of a dive joint, but this place is certainly not that.  If you are looking for a no frills, pleasant dining experience this is a place to consider.  I liked it so much I ended up going back the following day with my sister and cousin.    
Mauramori Cafe on Urbanspoon

Neighborhood:  East Liberty
Type of Food:  Pan-Asian
10.21.10  Last night we got some friends together for a celebratory evening in East Liberty.  We started at Spoon for drinks, which had an warm, vibrant atmosphere but was a little uncomfortable for a casual pre-dinner drink since the place was packed and we were forced to sit on a couple of oversized chairs and a couch which were too far apart to carry on a reasonable conversation.  Anyway...afterwards, we headed across the street to Plum which I was really looking forward to because I had read good reviews of the Richard Chen re-vamp.  So let me first say, the food was well worth the hype.  We started with endive lettuce boats, pork dumplings and a dragon roll, all of which were filled with delicious meats and veggies.  For dinner I had the shrimp pad thai, quite unadventurous I know, but it's just what I was craving.  It was delicious, right on, a traditional pad-thai.  I tried my husband's thai spicy duck, definitely more edgy than my meal.  It was the right combination of sauce, crisp but tender meat and veggies; marked as a staff favorite it lived up to its recommendation.  Unfortunately the dinner was somewhat spoiled with very poor service from our waiter, who did not take our dinner order until after we had finished our appetizers, forgot to deliver my friend's soup and then disappeared after dinner before serving us our check.  This was followed by a negotiation with an unhelpful manager, who was unwilling, but ulitmately submitted, to reducing our bill in some capacity to minimize the impact of the mandatory gratuity (we had 6 in our party).  So although I hesitate to recommend this place due to our service debacle, especially consider we were probably 6 of 10 people in the entire restaurant, I am hopeful that this was a fluke.  I think if I hear of some positive Plum experiences, I may be able to get over my disappointment and try out some more of the menu, which all looked fantastic.
Plum Pan-Asian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Little Tokyo
Neighborhood:  Mt. Lebanon
Type of Food:  Japanese (dah)
08.30.10  After some failed attempts, we finally nailed down a night to have dinner with a friend of ours, she wisely recommended Little Tokyo.  Fantastic choice!  Not only was our Sushi & Maki Boat delicious and exciting (it is fresh fish served in a huge wooden boat, what's not to like!?), but the wait staff was exceedingly helpful, friendly and patient with us while we tried to narrow down which boat to get.  If you like Japanese food and nice people, I highly recommend this place (that's me in the photo giving our meal a thumbs up before I even tasted anything)!  Little Tokyo on Urbanspoon

Photograph:  Little Tokyo, Mt. Lebanon, August  2010

Point Brugge Cafe
Neighborhood:  Point Breeze
Type of Food:  Eclectic
08.25.10  Finally!  After years of hearing how wonderful this place is, we finally pulled the trigger; and I think we did it up right.  We took everyone's advice and ordered some of their famous PEI mussels, or moules, to start, but even better we decided to go with the red curry, coconut milk sauce for the preparation.  Long after the mussels were gone we were still sitting there trying to sop up every last ounce of sauce with our bread.  We also ordered a variety of delicious beers, they've got a great selection.  I went with the Delirium Tremens, a strong Belgian Ale, which turned out to be a complementary companion to my meal, mustard crusted salmon.  Unfortunately they do not take reservations and the place is pretty popular so there is typically a wait involved, but it's worth it, even if just to spend an evening in the quiet neighborhood of Point Breeze. Point Brugge Cafe on Urbanspoon

Avenue B  
Neighborhood:  Shadyside
Type of Food:  Eclectic (BYOB)
06.23.10  For months we have been hearing rumors of Avenue B's greatness.  Well last night we finally went to experience this for ourselves.  It truly lived up to the hype that preceded it, all the way from the not-so-simple "simple greens" salad to the chocolate, peanut butter heaven-of-a-dessert that I had.  I can't wait for another excuse to go back.  Avenue B on Urbanspoon

Perk Me Up
Neighborhood:  Lawrenceville
Type of Food:  Baked Goods, Lunch
06.10.10  I just stopped there this morning for a cup of coffee and a scone (I ususally do a couple times throughout the week).  Besides the friendly staff and owner, who seems to know everyone, the baked goods are too tempting to pass up.  They also have a pretty creative, but versatile menu for lunch.  I will always be grateful that when we would show up there filthy from renovating our house they wouldn't throw us out on the street for disrupting their business. Perk Me Up on Urbanspoon 

piccolo FoRNO 
Neighborhood:  Lawrenceville
Type of Food:  Italian (BYOB)
Fresh pasta, wood-fired pizzas, and a warm, comfortable atmosphere!  Piccolo Forno is a BYOB joint that has established itself at the heart of Lawrenceville; it has acted as sort of an anchor in the evolving community.  As you can see, we usually enjoy lively meals (and a number of bottles of wine) with friends here.  It is our go-to restaurant when we want to show off our neighborhood. Piccolo Forno on Urbanspoon

Photograph:  Piccolo Forno, Pittsburgh, April 2010

Neighborhood:  Lawrenceville
Type of Food:  Asian Influence 
06.10.10  Last night we joined friends here for happy hour, which inevitably turned into happy hours.  We sat on their upstairs deck which has a great view of the city.  I can only describe the menu as fun, with interesting Asian inspired dishes and a funky assortment of sushi, sashimi and maki.  We've already set a date to return and try to recreate what was a perfect evening in the 'burgh! Tamari on Urbanspoon

Photograph:  Tamari, Pittsburgh, June  2010

Quiet Storm
Neighborhood:  East End
Type of Food:  Eclectic, Vegetarian/Vegan

Mexico City
Neighborhood:  Downtown (2 locations)
Type of Food:  Mexican

Neighborhood:  Shadyside
Type of Food:  Italian (BYOB)

Bars, Pubs & Breweries

Yo Rita
Neighborhood:  South Side
Type of Food:  Mexican

New Amsterdam
Neighborhood:  Lawrenceville 
Type of Food:  American

Church Brew Works
Neighborhood:  Lawrenceville
Type of Food:  American, German

Round Corner Cantina
Neighborhood:  Lawrenceville
Type of Food:  Mexican

Neighborhood:  Bloomfield
Type of Food:  American, Vegetarian/Vegan
Very cool atmosphere, with a typically great draft and bottled beer selection.  Although Brillobox is an excellent choice for some late night live music or happy hour any day of the week, the food menu is an attraction in and of itself.  A couple of noteworthy items on their menu that I've experienced so far...the dipping sauces for their french fries appetizer, the pita with hummus and the house salad.  Don't waste your time/money/calories on the nachos though.
Brillobox on Urbanspoon

Piper's Pub
Neighborhood:  South Side
Type of Food:  Irish, British


  1. Katie - stretch your palette and give Tamarind (Scott Town Center - you know, where the Applebees and Mad Mex and Extreme Fitness are) a try. O.K., it's in a strip mall so not the cutest location, but awesome and authentic Indian food. Let us all know what you think.

  2. I will definitely keep Tamarind in mind, I love Indian food and am always looking for new places to try out. I'll keep you posted!


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