Situated inside a 120-year-old building, The Park House's dining room exudes turn-of-the-century grandeur. Stamped-tin ceilings soar overhead, and the walls are ornamented in handcrafted woodwork and exposed brass. Today, these formal furnishings contrast with the laid-back atmosphere of the restaurant. Floors fill with the peanut shells patrons are encouraged to toss on the ground, and live bluegrass bands and DJs take to the stage each week.
In the kitchen, chef Zamir Zahavi—a self-proclaimed “falafel master”—creates a menu of casual Mediterranean-inspired dishes. He plates the classic triad of pita bread, hummus, and falafel, and enhances burgers with international flourishes such as challah rolls and ajvar, a spicy serbian sauce. Diners can wash down their meals with more than 80 microbrews and craft beers, such as lambic framboise, Chimay, and Yuengling, clinking glasses over the din of an Internet jukebox and big-screen TVs.
90 seconds. That’s how long Stone Neapolitan Pizzeria’s wood-burning oven takes to cook each pie. Imported directly from Italy, the heating chamber serves as the centerpiece of the open kitchen. Here, diners can watch chefs craft every Neapolitan-style pizza from dough made fresh daily, house-made mozzarella, and toppings such as speck, roasted red peppers, and arugula. The culinary team also tosses salads made to order and piles meats such as prosciutto and turkey onto Italian deli sandwiches. Meals unfold on the fast casual pizzeria’s outdoor patio or within an indoor dining room adorned with pop art, floor-to-ceiling window views of Point Stake Park, and environmentally friendly furnishings. These include reclaimed wood tables, 100% recycled chairs, and lighting fixtures powered by fireflies.
At Elements Contemporary Cuisine, executive chef Robert Courser champions the Japanese concept of kappo, which emphasizes capturing fare at its freshest, purest state. In this spirit, Courser forged partnerships with local farms to save fresh produce from dull careers as still-life models.
He tweaks his menu of upscale international cuisine to showcase seasonal ingredients, earning the restaurant a nod from the New York Times. At the Spanish marble bar, chefs arrange trays of cheese hailing from Lancaster and the Delaware River Valley, as well as morsels of cured venison and pork. The rest of the dining room proves as elegant, with chocolate-brown tablecloths and steel-gray chairs.
Serving up some of Pittsburgh's best brick-oven pizza, Fat Tommy's Pizzeria fills tummies with a menu of toothsome fare. Pizzas range in size from individual slices ($2.29+) to extra-large 18-inch pies ($11.99+), with more than a dozen toppings available to add much needed topographical landmarks to vast expanses of cheese. Nine-inch baked subs such as the ultimate cheesesteak fulfill meaty cravings with rib-eye steak topped with a blend of Italian cheeses, all snuggly nestled in an Italian roll ($6.49). Vegetarian-minded diners can choose from a selection of salads, including the tossed salad, with romaine lettuce, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, black olives, onions, and cheese blended together in euphonious harmony ($4.49). Soft drinks offer chilly salve to mouths stung by hot pizza or intemperate rhetoric about Harold and the Purple Crayon's proper place in the canon ($1.69/16 oz., $1.99/22 oz.).
Buon Giorno Café serves up fresh, homemade, and upscale Italian breakfast and lunch fare to famished downtown workers and hopelessly hungry romantics alike. A small breakfast menu offers a tasty break with veggie-stuffed frittatas ($5.50), fresh pastries ($1.25–$4.75), and caffeine-infused coffee creations ($.85–$3). The daily lunch menu rotates house-made dishes, unique to each location, every giorno. Permanent lunch staples such as the antipasto salad ($8.25), pasta ricotta ($8), and Italian hot sausage sandwich ($6.75), are stuffed full of imported Italian specialty foods.
You can top off Pizza Parma's pies with any of more than 30 uncommon gourmet toppings. That includes cheeses such as gouda and greek mountain cheese, meats such as crabmeat, gyros, and steak, and veggies such as artichoke hearts, eggplant, and broccoli. The pizzeria’s chefs can put the same rich ingredients in a steaming calzone or string them on a necklace for a loved one. Alternatively, there’s a wide selection of wraps and hoagies, which, depending on what part of the country you're in, are also known as "grinders", "heroes", or "denver omelets".