Ten on tap. Sixty varieties in bottles. The beer selection at Cenci's Italian Restaurant & Bar has something for everyone, from Great Divide Hibernation ale on draft to Erie Presque Isle bottled pilsner and a surfeit of other craft options. Cenci’s has more to offer, though, maintaining decor and a food menu worthy of the frequent events it hosts. As hanging lamps gently illuminate tables and booths dressed in warm, brick-based colors, guests indulge in Italian-American fare. In addition to making specialty pies such as steak-onion-ranch pizzas and chicken-broccoli pizzas, the folks at Cenci's are skilled holiday celebrants: heart-shaped pepperoni spangles their Valentine's Day pizza, Halloween parties welcome beer-swilling jack-o'-lanterns with discerning taste, and viewers of important NFL games may be lucky enough to receive free slices at halftime. Like the time Napoleon played Ulysses Grant in an awkward game of chess, weekly trivia encourages brains to battle. Neon writing decorates a chalkboard menu boasting that evening's discounted beers, bombs, and food—there may even be $1 sicilian slices available. The menu also includes calzones, burgers, and pasta.
At Bella Frutteto Restaurant, executive chef Jessica Headrick and sous chef Daniel McQuiston make all sorts of ravioli—lobster, mushroom, butternut squash—but none catch the eye quite like the signature apple ravioli. To make it, they cover jumbo cheese ravioli with a sautéed scramble of golden raisins, figs, and the same granny smith apples used to make the apple-bruschetta appetizer. Their inventive Italian eats share menu space with hearty dishes such as marinated skirt steak, crab cakes, and striped bass that is stuffed with crab, scallop, shrimp, and mermaid-scout cookies.
All of the food is arranged on differently colored plates and served in one of three spaces: a dining room peppered with yellow tablecloths, a bar with seasonal draft beers and flat-screen televisions, or a patio overlooking the orchard that gives Bella Frutteto—roughly translated to “beautiful orchard”—its name.
Barrel Junction is the product of 20 years of cooking and soul-searching. While Ronald A. DeLuca Jr.'s glittering trophy case full of gold-plated steaks is a testament to the virtuosity displayed at his four previous restaurants?among them Blue and Pangea?his true culinary passion is something simpler: "fresh, satisfying comfort food," to quote the chef himself. After impressing the critics at his Pittsburgh-area restaurants, he spent six months operating a specialty taco and hot-dog restaurant in a rustic corner of Colorado. His penchant for approachable food reignited, DeLuca returned to open Barrel Junction, where he fuses his critically acclaimed technique with his love for comfort and simplicity. A carefully selected roster of 22 craft beers complements burgers and barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs heaped with toppings, and hand-tossed white, red, and deep-dish pizzas.
Balls of homemade dough fly in the air as Posti's Pizza’s chefs spin them into original, New York-style, and Sicilian crusts. Afterward, they slather house-made sauce onto the discs and adorn each one with such bites as bacon, broccoli, steak, and sweet peppers. The pizza dough also serves as the base of wedge sandwiches such as the Big Dawg, an agglomeration of capicola, provolone, fries, buffalo wing sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and creamy Italian dressing. The chefs’ creative ventures continue into the menu’s salad selection, where they serve a mix of veggies and meats such as banana peppers and chicken tenders in a regular bowl, bread bowl, or a bowl carved from a large crouton.
The talented dough slingers at Pizza Sola hand make New York–style pies with time-honored methods and top-shelf ingredients, which led to the Best Slice of New York award from Pittsburgh Magazine. Cooks craft each pizza using traditional techniques: hunting wild dough blobs and subduing them with a thorough tossing and a slathering of imported San Marzano tomato sauce. Each New York pizza (18", $14; $2.75 extra for classic toppings, $3 extra for gourmet toppings) sports a tasteful chapeau of romano and whole-milk mozzarella, capping savory sauce flavors with a mouthwatering layer of creamy cheesiness. To seal in flavor, delicious disks bask in oven heat atop hot stones, resulting in a fragrant finish and even tan throughout the pie. Though today's deal is valid for dine-in or carryout, dine-in customers snack on complimentary garlic knots, baked with olive oil and herbs.
The pie artisans at Artisan Pizza Co ladle homemade sauce over freshly made dough, forging gourmet bake-at-home pizzas for customers to cook from the comfort of their own homes. During the pizza-making process, they pay careful attention to every detail to ensure that each pie leaves their kitchen at the pinnacle of quality and tastiness. In addition, they concoct their gluten-free options in a gluten-free prep area with specially designated utensils to avoid cross-contamination, and, when in season, they source many of their ingredients locally from artisanal enterprises to guarantee they're as fresh and environmentally friendly as a vine-ripened Greenpeace boat. They also whip up salads and bake-at-home cookies that, like their pizza counterparts, come with easy-to-follow cooking instructions.