Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is this the height of Pittsburgh's dining scene

This month Pittsburgh Magazine unveiled its annual Top 25 Best Restaurants issue. If you could have gone to Vegas and put money on who Pittsburgh Magazine would have named as its Chef of the Year, the odds on favorite would have been Kevin Sousa. His Salt of the Earth is the most talked about restaurant of the year in the City of Pittsburgh. (DBS Blog Preview -- DB~ and I will be meeting people at Salt of the Earth on Tuesday)

DB~ and I went through the Top 25 restaurants and came up with 14 restaurants that each of us has been to. About 10 of them we have been to together, with the other in the pre-history of the two of us.

The list of restaurants is so electic and chef-driven, with such passion and drive and dedication to the food. When I was growing up, it seemed the only places that were high end restaurants were on Mount Washington (LeMont, Tin Angel, Pasquerelli's, Shiloh Inn) or in the City (Top of the Triangle, Carlton, Grand Concourse). They were stuffy, white tablecloth style places. Now a restaurant isn't worth its salt unless it features locally grown produce, regional meats, stripped down table settings, and a chilled out vibe.

The types of restaurants in the City are no longer singled out for being "that Thai place" or "that place that does Indian". Now the term Latin-Asian Fusion is part of the lexicon, a Mexican place is set up next to a Pan-Asian restaurant, a French restaurant is no longer an oddity.

All of the great restaurants sous chefs or chef de cuisine are branching out and starting their own visions for a restaurant. It is easier to find an investor who believes in you to fund your vision than ever before.

We are living at the height of Pittsburgh cuisine. Great restaurants occur in every part of the city and even in the suburbs, ranging from East Liberty to Lawrenceville to Shadyside to Upper St. Clair. But if we are at the height, that means that we are due for a regression. Unless we are still climbing that mountain and there is another peak to find. Perhaps the next great untapped frontier is the mobile food cart to add to the chef-driven restaurant explosion.


  1. Totally want to check out Salt Of The Earth next time I get back up North. Carefully went over their menu last winter and thought it was interesting, just really didn't wanna take the wife to Garfield. :) I may make an exception next time.

    I didn't notice any on the list(I only skimmed), but what can you tell me about local Greek fare? May want to add something along those lines to my list of places to peruse on trips back home. There used to be an absolutely excellent Greek/Mediterranean place about a block from our house, but they moved to the "Disney" side of town about 8 months ago. Jerks. I miss it, but the traffic on that end of town is just brutal.

  2. It's pretty "eh". There's Christos downtown, Little Athens in Sewickley, a Mike and Tony's in South Side, but the best recent addition is Mediterrano in the North Hills off Babcock.