At Bossa Nova, it’s okay to begin a meal with cupcakes. In the baked chicken cupcakes—one of many tapas plates on the menu—mashed potatoes are substituted for frosting, and there’s a garnish of sautéed zucchini. Such innovative recipes are mixed in with a number of classic ones; you can also try fried calamari, spicy tuna tartar wrapped in cucumber, and a bacon, brie, and potato sandwich. These dishes are centered on a communal dining experience, which encourages you to try whatever tapas plate your friend is eating without first pretending to have somehow misplaced your own. In addition to tapas, the kitchen serves up larger entrees such as Spanish chorizo and beef filet.
The restaurant's space is just as eclectic as the cuisine, with a circular bar covered in mosaic tiles acting as the centerpiece. Stop here to order wine and cocktails, and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, guests head to the dance floor during DJ sets. Chandeliers and vibrant artwork surround the tables spread throughout the dining room, and there are nooks embedded into the walls if you want a more intimate setting.
Owner and chef Omar Mediouni imbues La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar's menu of traditional Spanish and Moroccan small plates and entrees with local ingredients and an appetite for culinary fusion that, according to Pittsburgh City Paper, "combines sophistication and comfort, authenticity and simplicity." Flagpole-addicted tongues warm up with a choice of 16 hot tapas, including the chorizo catalan's spicy sautéed sausage and spinach in a red-wine reduction ($10), and tomatoes, sweet pepper, and eggplant form the base of a duo of Moroccan dips ($8 each). Larger entrees ($16–$28) sneak garbanzo beans, chicken, lamb, and eggplant into piles of couscous or saffron paella rice like parents tucking Easter eggs into an egg carton.
Nestled within a brick house along a neighborhood street in Shadyside, La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar greets springtime by opening its patio to warm breezes and showers of cupid arrows. Inside, a hanging Spanish guitar, lanterns lit by candles, and the wide grin of a bright red hearth contribute to a cozy, eclectic spirit.
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.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1896, and its reputation was as big as its sound right from the start. Andrew Carnegie was an early backer, and reportedly claimed that it was the best orchestra in the country. More than a century later, it still enjoys its status as a nationally renowned organization. And the PSO continues to take pride in its acclaim?perhaps expanding on Carnegie's earlier view, current Music Director Manfred Honeck called the company "one of the world's finest orchestras."
The long-lived PSO makes its home in an equally historic venue. Converted from an opulent movie palace in 1971, when Americans swore off movies in favor of high culture, Heinz Hall proves itself an exceptional music venue. Fine acoustics please the ears, while eyes take in glittering chandeliers and glints of gold leaf.
In 1949, Charles “Chick” and Elda Mae Bruckman founded Bruckman School of Dance as a center of education for dancers of all ages and skill levels. A lifelong devotee of dance, Chick began his career at 6 years old and remains the school’s artistic director to this day. Along with a team of instructors, the Bruckmans introduce students to dance styles including tap, ballet, jazz, pointe, and hip-hop. As they lead students in mastering choreographed routines, they also teach dance history, imparting the origins of ballet and how NASA scientists made the moonwalk a dance craze in the early '70s. In addition to conventional dance classes, they host dance-inspired fitness classes, such as the Hip Hop Hustle and Turbo Kick, to get cardiovascular systems pumping.
Pittsburgh was about to fall off the theater map when Pittsburgh Public Theater debuted in 1975. Faced with shuttered ticket windows, a dwindling audience, and marquees holding messages like "Goodbye cruel world," founders Joan Apt, Margaret Rieck, and Ben Shaktman were determined to make their company a success. And that determination paid off: their first season's productions of The Glass Menagerie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Twelfth Night raked in critical acclaim and audience fanfare. Ticket sales climbed, and the trio eventually increased their season to six productions. Among these have been classics as well as plenty of new works, such as August Wilson's King Hedley II and Michael Cristofer's Amazing Grace.