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.
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.
Ovens at Gianni's Pizza & Wings melt the cheese and bake the crusts of specialty or custom-designed pizzas as cooks coat wings in 34 flavors of sauce and spice. They adorn bacon-cheeseburger pizzas with three types of cheese, bacon, and ground beef and philly steak pies with steak, green peppers, and onions to fill in the large cracks ringing them like the Liberty Bell. Crusty strombolis and calzones surround steak, mushrooms, and A-1 sauce or vegetables and cheese, and toasted hoagies sport gyro meat and meatballs with red sauce.
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.
Inside Mike’s Place, a relaxed setting dotted with sports paraphernalia and a pool table, classic Italian-American recipes meet standard bar eats. As guests alternate bites of homemade lasagna and jumbo wings doused in 1 of 10 sauces, bartenders keep glasses brimming and campaign-finance-reform discussions to a minimum. On Friday nights, live musicians and DJs take center stage.
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.
The readers of Pittsburgh Magazine have heaped mounds of praise on Alchemy N' Ale, a rustic pub known for its savory entrees and crisp libations. In a 2012 readers' poll, Alchemy received the second-place spot for Best Burger and took home first-place honors as Best Pub. To see what the fuss is about, all you need to do is sit down and look around. Faux ivy clings to exposed-brick walls, which surround diners as they sink their teeth into mouthwatering burgers or quintessential pub eats such as fish 'n' chips and shepherd’s pie. The recently expanded menu also showcases entrees for vegans and vegetarians as well as dishes forged from local, organic, and Fulbright scholarship–winning ingredients.