Audiences at The Pittsburgh Improv can giggle or guffaw at a rollicking roster of up-and-coming and established comedians as they devour finger-licking fare from the extensive menu. Harland Williams (July 8–10) nudges funny bones with his off-the-wall take on relationships and his spot-on impersonations of a rubber chicken doing a mambo. Alternatively, opt to watch Sebastian Maniscalco (July 15–17) poke fun at society with a cynical shtick, or let Tommy Johnagin (July 28–31) regale you and a friend with humorous anecdotes that earned him a feature on The Late Show with David Letterman. Throughout the show, guests can chomp on classic appetizers such as buffalo wings, tortilla-robed chicken flautas, or improv nachos that make up their flavor on the fly based on suggestions from diner's taste buds.
Tunes from a digital jukebox float throughout Somma Pizza, from the black-and-white-tile floors up to the sports jerseys hanging high above patrons’ heads. Next to walls painted Steelers black and gold, oven-baked hoagies and wraps jockey with burgers for table space. Shareable pizza pies—made fresh daily from hand-tossed dough—arrive topped with olives, hot-pepper rings, and sausage. TVs broadcast sports games, and a video-game room keeps thumbs busy, like a piano concerto composed for players wearing mittens.
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.
Carson City Saloon dishes up plates full of Americana and glasses full of sharable libations within a three-story, four-bar entree emporium. Housed in the building of a late 19th-century bank, the saloon now trades in edible equities, such as the real estate of the reuben, where the dressings of a thousand-islands spread over mountains of corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese ($8.99). Sink incisors into a house specialty, including the Titan Toothpicks, an entourage of tortillas stuffed with spicy chicken and cheese, deep fried to a golden brown, and served with a dollop of sour cream and barbecue sauce ($8.59). Satisfying every level of the male homo sapiens's food pyramid—made up of protein, protein, and spicy stuff—the Bada-Bing burger amasses a conglomeration of provolone, salami, capicola, fried egg, banana peppers, and italian dressing ($8.99).
Named "Best Deli" by Pittsburgh City Paper and "Best in City" by Pittsburgh Magazine, Carson Street Deli owns up to its accolades with a menu full of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. New York-style sandwiches ($6–$8) throw plenty of elbows alongside more mild-mannered sides ($1–$3.50), salads ($4–$7), and conversational lunch-goers (free after administering a low-five handslap). Ramp up meat locker training efforts with help from the Balboa—piles of sopressata, imported Di Lusso Genoa salami, prosciutto, spicy capicola and hard salami on a French baguette ($8)—or the slightly spicier diversion, Montezuma's revenge, which melds grilled buffalo chicken breast, green and red peppers, onions, melted cheeses and hot sauce into a warm pita ($7). Vegetarians appease appetites with buffalo mozzarella layered within the handheld veggie Roma ($6).
Lot 17's extensive menu offers a wide variety of decadent bar fare to fill grumbling stomachs. Leap into an order of crunchy chicken nachos ($7), or dive into a seaworthy Mediterranean salad of tomatoes, red peppers, and Kalamata olives, topped with feta, fried calamari, and lump crabmeat ($10). Lot 17 also offers enticing wraps, sandwiches, and entrees, including the salmon BLT, a hoagie-roll-shaped horn of plenty stuffed with grilled salmon, dill mayo, bacon, lettuce, and tomato ($9). As for land-meat eats, the black and blue Cajun-seasoned burger arrives blackened and topped with bacon and bleu cheese ($8.50), while tender baby back ribs make like a surrealist comment on the fluidity of time and melt off the bone into a bed of fries and slaw ($13 for a half rack, $17 for a full rack).