Food Recommendations in and Near Oakland, near the University of Pittsburgh Campus
From Katz and Pitt faculty and staff
Compiled by Dennis Galletta
In alphabetical order. Last updated July 1, 2015
(note: also see my list of favorite restaurants in the world)
The purpose of this page is to provide better guidance to people interested in knowing what DISHes to order in nearby restaurants. This is a compilation of peoples' favorite dishes--those items that make you come back again and again. Besides having RESTAURANT ratings, which are available elsewhere, I think it is important to have more specific guidance for what to order when you get there!.
If you would like to provide some input, please email me and I will post your opinions and your first and last name unless you insist on keeping it anonymous. The best input would be in the form and style I have below, which will require little editing (and possible distortion).
I've tried to furnish the best link I could find for each restaurant. If links become broken or you know of better links, please email me. Bon appetite!
- My first of two absolute favorites hands down: Spice Island Tea House. Nothing beats the spirited (spicy) Penang Beef and thai iced tea as a lunch that makes you happy to be alive and well in Pittsburgh. Their Pad Thai (mild), chicken with ruby red sauce (much spicier), and night market noodles (a little spicy) are all reputed to be excellent but I can't pass up the Penang Beef. (Dennis Galletta)
- My second favorite of all is Lulu's Noodles
- the vegetable pad thai is the moistest and best (especially after adding cilantro, which they do for $.50). Don't forget the thai iced tea. Note: the chicken pad thai seems a little dry to me. (Dennis Galletta)
- the moo shu is very fresh (I like the vegetarian moo shu, they add brocolli to it). (Sue Cohen)
- Immediately after the two above is Sorrento's Pizza (also called Pizza Roma), has better Chicago Style pizza than Uno. Actually it is not a deep dish, and is more like a Marguerita pizza. With no toppings, it's about fresh tomato chunks and some garlic, and is very addictive. One of my three favorite pizzas in all of the greater Pittsburgh area, perhaps ranked #2 after Pizzaiolo in Mount Lebanon. Other Pizza Roma locations don't necessarily compare at all to this quality.(Dennis Galletta)
- Uncle Sam's (NOTE: THE OAKLAND LOCATION IS CLOSED) Philly Cheese steak is better than any I tasted during my year at Temple. Some other current and ex-Philadelphians agree with me. I share the Unique Ultra cheesesteak and get lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Otherwise it is a little bland. Add a little dash of salt for a little extra "wow" experience. Fries are amazing. (Dennis Galletta)
- Oishii Bento was nominated by a couple of people (Ian Sulkowski and Kim Gleason). Ian says: Oishii Bento is very good and reasonably priced. Their teriyaki Bento boxes include a generous portion of meat or tofu, rice, two dumplings and a side for around eight bucks. If you�re feeling more adventurous, the unagi (eel) bowl is excellent, as is the kimchi. (Ian Sulkowski)
- I like the tapas at La Casa (Sue Cohen)
- Best burgers in Oakland? Five Guys, hands down. 117 S. Bouquet St, (412) 802-7100, best burgers in Oakland. Franchise, but the burgers are a "don't miss!" Also don't miss fries--they overflow the container by a factor of 2 or 3! Sue Cohen asks if you could use this coupon for them to donate part of your meal cost to the Three Rivers Rowing Association.
- Good bulgogi is at Korea Garden (414 Semple St. - a little beyond Mad Mex). They serve it in a bento box with great salad as well. Warning: if you want steamed rice, you have to request it. Default is fried rice. A little on the expensive side.(Dennis Galletta)
- Speaking of Mad Mex, they have a nice steak burrito, but they use more black beans than this carnivore would prefer. I just leave a few behind and I'm happy. Add cilantro and have the excellent tortilla soup. (D. Galletta)
- Primanti's uses french fries and cole slaw as toppings. It sounds strange, but the cole slaw provides a nice mild horseradish taste. Ignore the "second best seller" cheesesteak and get the roast beef instead. (What's the #1 best seller? Beer.) (Dennis Galletta)
- Las Palmas on Atwood street is a fantastic, but unassuming place where you can get delicious street-vendor style tacos for only $2.50 each which, considering their generous portions and open access to toppings, means 5 bucks will fill you up. (Chris Gursky)
- Tamarind Best Indian food, fusion ( south and north Indian) (GG Hegde)
- My top choice in Squirrel Hill is Everyday Noodles.Tom Shofi says: "Noodles are made in house and diners can view them being made in the kitchen. The wait can be very long on Friday evening but there is a local beer bar across from Forbes on the corner of Shady to wait out the crowd. In my opinion, it's a step up from Lulu's." Dennis says: I think Lulu's is on the same step if you taste their addicting Pad Thai! But Everyday Noodles is perhaps one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. The soup dumplings are unbelievable. It does take away a little of the experience when you hear a period, deafening WHAP against a loud stainless steel countertop as the noodle maker makes them fresh. (Dennis Galletta and Tom Shofi)
- Burgatory which now has locations in Homestead, Murraysville, North Shore (coming later this summer), and others along with the original Aspinwall spot. Burgatory repeated as the A.1. Burger Brackets Champ in 2014 http://burgerbusiness.com/burgatory-repeats-as-a-1-burger-brackets-champ/ and has amazing milk shakes as well. (Tom Shofi)
- in Lawrenceville,
- I've found an Asian Fusion restaurant called Tamari. Believe it or not, it is a fusion between Asian-Mexican styles of cooking. Sounds strange, but try it!
- Piccolo Forno is a very delicious Italian place. I would HANDS DOWN recommend the Mortadella e Pistachio pizza. Although it is BYOB, they just opened up a wine bar around the corner called Grapparia where you can grab a drink while you wait for your table. (Ellen Duran)
- Coca Cafe has one of the best brunches in town, but beware they don't take reservations and the wait gets long on the weekend. The Challah French Toast is always delicious! (Ellen Duran)
- Tender used to be a bank, and you can actually see where the entry to the vault used to be. It's Contemporary American cuisine, so you will see everything from steak to fish to the occasional pasta dish. Their menu is changing all the time, including their drink menu. Their seafood dishes are always amazing. (Ellen Duran)
- A two-restaurant pair: Point Brugge (Point Breeze) & Park Bruges (Highland Park). Incredibly fresh PEI mussels and bread for dipping from Allegro Hearth in Squirrel Hill + the liege waffles at weekend brunch. I've never had a waffle like this before! (Christine Pacifico/Pitt Business)
- At Cafe Asia (Forbes, Squirrel Hill), the beetle leaf wraps are fun (ginger, lime, hot pepper, red onion, peanut, spicy sauce, coconut all rolled up in a leaf) - must chew as one bite! (Sue Cohen)
- In Shadyside, Fajita Grill might still have great pepper encrusted yellowfin. (Sue Cohen)
- Also in Shadyside, Mercurio's is a tiny Italian place that focuses on pizza, salads, paninis, and GELATO! The Caprese panini is delicious, and is served with a little side salad so it's the perfect size meal. (Ellen Duran)
- at Hunan Kitchen (Forbes), I always order the brocolli with garlic sauce and spinach and seaweed salad - yum! (Sue Cohen)
- Fight your way through the traffic to Homestead and go to PF Chang's, then wait in line for about an hour. The wait will be worthwhile, as the Lettuce Wraps are fabulous, as is the Orange Peel Shrimp or Beef. (S. Cohen)
- in Bloomfield, Tessaro's makes excellent burgers. I tried them too recently when I heard they won an award for best in the city, but discovered that they are the best anywhere. (Dennis Galletta)
- at Orient Kitchen (Baum Blvd) - everything is excellent, especially the greens and specialty dishes. (Sue Cohen)
Elsewhere in Pittsburgh
- The best Italian food in the area is at Rizzo's Malabar Inn in Crabtree (out Rt. 22 past Murrysville) near Greensburg in Westmoreland County. The Romano Family favorites include: Fried Calamari, Sweet Peppers with Asiago cheese, homemade Gnocchi and Cavatelli, Beef Braciole, Chicken Romano and my personal recommendation, Chicken Parmigiana. (Editor's note: I love their spaghetti with meat sauce or spaghetti sauce with or without meatballs. Simple but great pleasure). As you know, Italian's are all about food and if it is not good, they are the first one's to let you know. The Romano crew has never had a bad meal at Rizzo's. You can find Rizzo's sauce in some of the local grocery stores out my way as well. If you are interested, you may want to see if your store carries it. If I don't make my own sauce, Rizzo's is the only alternative. (Dana. Romano; and Dennis Galletta finally tried it. It is so good I would gladly drive the 45 minutes, each way, just to go there.)
- Second favorite Italian place of mine (Dennis) is also in Greensburg/Jeannette, and it is called DiNunzios. They also have Latrobe and Monroeville restaurants now. I would drive to go there too. Dana Romano told me about it and I love it. (Dennis Galletta).
- Sesame Inn (Chinese) in Station Square and North Hills. Unbelieveable Sesame Chicken and fabulous salad with ginger dressing. Just amazing. And speaking of 'amazing,' they have a specialty called 'amazing chicken' (like General Tso's with white meat only, less spicy, more sweet) as well as their non-specialties Mu Shu pork, and great orange chicken. Warning: The General Tso's Chicken is WHITE MEAT :( and is sometimes a little hard and crunchy. This "non-surgeon non-general" warns that the roof of your mouth could be hurt). Salt-baked shrimp main course and salt baked calamari appetizer are terrific! Great soups too. (Dennis Galletta)
- Off the Hook provides great seabass prepared Caribbean style, and also a big variety of oysters. They have a happy hour menu with half price tapas such as amazing Caribbean Jerk Wings, Chilean Sea Bass skewers, and super-amazing mussels with sherry vinaigrette sauce. The bar area is more informal but if you have dinner in the dining room, get dressed up. [Dennis Galletta]
- Original Fish Market: - ground floor of Westin Convention center Hotel, Expensive but terrific. I had my first Chilean Sea Bass here and it is still outstanding. Very addicting warm rolls too. Many great dishes. [Dennis Galletta]
- Gaucho Parrilla Argentina just expanded from a little store front with no indoor seating to a much larger location right next door. It's a Argentinian street food kind of place. Their empanadas are so yummy, but you'll walk out smelling like the place. It's absolutely worth it. (Editor's note: the only restaurant I've ever seen, anywhere, to score 5.0 on Yelp with about 400 reviews! I was not as excited about it, but maybe I tried the wrong thing or expected more with a 5.0 review like that.) (Ellen Duran)
- Bar Marco is one of Pittsburgh's top restaurants with modern dishes and a fantastic bar program with cocktails and wine. There is also a fine-dining tasting-menu-only restaurant in the basement (The Wine Room). The chef, Jamilka Borges, was a James Beard "Best New Chef" in the US finalist in 2015. And in 2013 Bar Marco was named as one of the best new restaurants in the country. (Andrew Stephen)
- In Lawrenceville and Wexford, Dive Bar and Grille (Recommended by Chris Gursky. Full disclosure: his brother-in-law founded it and he has worked there) "If you're looking for a great place for variety in both food and drink (and plenty of both) in a relaxed, but upscale atmosphere, I'd recommend checking out Dive Bar and Grille in Lawrenceville and in Wexford. Their extensive menu makes it hard to pick just a single dish, but some of my personal favorites include their Crazy-Dillas, like the Southern Comfort, their huge sandwiches like The Hangover, Turkey Gouda Melt, and Knuckle Sandwich, and for the more adventurous, the PB N' Chutney Burger - really, you've got to try it. And if you venture up to Wexford's Dive, don't leave without trying the Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls." (Chris Gursky)
- If you do takeout or don't mind smoke (caution: this might no longer be the case), terrific wings at Billy's Roadhouse in the North Hills. The wings are fresh, fat, and juicy, and the toppings were also the best selection in town until they discontinued my favorite, sweet chili (but see North Park Lounge Clubhouse below, which seemed to snag this flavor from Billy's). Now they're just excellent. (Dennis Galletta)
- Cento Anni Alla Famiglia, I'm told, on Mount Washington, has the best pasta in town (Sue Cohen)
- A third Italian Restaurant that we have had good meals at originated in Jeanette, PA, but had opened up a second restaurant in Monroeville. Upon going to their home page I realized that they are also in the Latrobe Arnold Palmer Airport. It is called DeNunzio's. Now I don't think that their pasta is homemade, but it is a little closer to civilization and is at least in Allegheny County.
- Enrico Biscotti, in the Strip District, has better panini than any place listed here to date, "much seriously so." (R. Atkin)
- Il Pizzaiolo causes me a reverent pause, as this North Hills resident can not get there enough. The "Marguerita DOC" pizza has the best crust anywhere, wonderful natural tomato sauce, bufalo mozzarella cheeze, and basil. (Dennis Galletta)
- Kaya in the Strip District, has great Yucatan Hot Bean Dip. (S. Cohen)
- The North Park Lounge, 8701 Babcock Blvd has the best single flavor of wings in town--7 pepper wings. They have no sauce but a terrific flavor. Plump, juicy, fresh. Rest of the menu is average food with huge serving sizes, but those two flavors of wings are truly spectacular. (Dennis Galletta)
- At Le Pommier (South Side), don't miss the savory tart de jour. (Sue Cohen)
They make their own pasta and the biscotti is fresh and hard to get since it is purchased as soon as it hits the shelf. (Dana Romano)