Naturally, not all of Pittsburgh’s best restaurants are located within the city limits. And although the majority of these out-of-the-way gems can be tough to reach via public transportation, do make an effort to visit at least one. Not only will you have experienced yet another slice of Pittsburgh’s culinary eminence, you’ll also have seen a part of Pittsburgh that most visitors miss.
Vincent’s of Greentree (333 Mansfield Ave., 412/921-8811) is the sort of Italian restaurant you’ve always wanted to go to, but have somehow never succeeded in finding: The food and atmosphere are sincerely authentic, the owner frequently makes the restaurant’s rounds to greet his patrons, and the pizza here is said to be of absolutely top quality.
Azul Bar y Cantina (122 Broad St., Leetsdale, 724/266-6362, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., closed Sun.) is one of the very few truly authentic Mexican restaurants in the Greater Pittsburgh area. It was opened by a couple from San Diego who were frustrated by the lack of quality Mexican fare here, and the restaurant’s chef, Jose Lemus, is a native of Mexico City.
Consistently packed with satisfied customers, Vivo (565 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue, 412/761-9500) serves pricey but phenomenal haute cuisine and offers truly attentive service. The menu, which may include escargot, veal chops, or blood orange cake, changes daily.
A longtime Pittsburgh favorite, Franco’s Ristorante (1101 Freeport Rd., Fox Chapel, 412/782-5255, Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 3–9 p.m.) serves Northern Italian cuisine for some of the city’s most well-to-do food fanatics. The wine list here is especially well edited.
Like most Indian eateries in town, Taj Mahal (5904 Bryant St., Highland Park, 412/365-0300, lunch buffet daily 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., buffet dinner Mon. 5–10 p.m., dinner Sun. and Tue.–Thurs. 2:30–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 2:30–10:30 p.m.) offers a massive lunch buffet for a reasonable price. The husband and wife team who run the restaurant, however, are a gastroenterologist and an attorney, respectively; their aim is to serve particularly healthy Indian cuisine. Just around the corner is Tazza D’Oro (1125 N. Highland Ave., 412/362-3676, www.tazzadoro.net ), a lovely European-style coffee shop.