The Spaghetti Warehouse: Italian Food in "The Strip" District
On the second full day of the tournaments, the volleyball team and we parents decided to go out for a group dinner and someone picked the Speghetti Warehouse in The Strip District. It wasn't far from our hotel, and it could accommodate our group of about 20 people easily.
The Speghetti Warehouse's interior feels like a combination of an old barn and a storehouse. Big, wooden beams, support posts, and brick walls add to the ambience. A balcony or loft area above provides more seating. But even with red-checkered table cloths, the Speghetti Warehouse feels like anything but an Italian restaurant! It very much has an electic feel with posters, memorabilia, antiques, chandeliers and such applied to walls or hanging from the ceiling--similiar to Appleby's but not as well done or intimate.
For an all inclusive price, our group split two huge appetizer trays with fresh bruschetta, spinach artichoke dip, mozzarella cheese sticks and lots of other goodies which were delicious; good salads; one of your choice of 3 entrees; garlic bread/rolls; and beverages. This came to about $16 per person including tips which was a great deal!!
My choice for an entree was the combination plate with Chicken Parmigiana, manicotti and Italian sausage with crisp garlic toast. It was a huge plate--enough for two. Service was pretty fast considering the size of our group and the food very good. My hubby choice the lasagna, and Italian sausage which was also multo bene!! I resisted the turtle (caramel & pecans) cheesecake and tira misu for dessert!
If you care for a before or after-dinner drink, the Speghetti Warehouse has an interesting bar, also with an eclectic decor.
There is plenty of free, off-street parking for this restaurant!
Favorite Dish: As good as the entrees were, the appetizer or antipasto platters were unbelievable. The bruschetta was so good that everyone raved about it!
Island Cafe at Station Square: Good Variety & Inexpensive
The walk around Station Square really gave us an appetite and since there were so many restaurants, it was difficult to decide where to eat. An employee of the Sheraton Station Square suggested the "Island Cafe" and said it was pretty good and inexpensive too! I'm glad we took his suggestion because it turned out to be a nice find.
Facing Station Square Drive itself, the "Island Cafe" is a small place with some tables inside and several tables outside as well. The cafe is setup similar to a cafeteria, however, you order your choices AND pay at the cashier, then pick up your food or they will deliver it to your table outside. Since it was such a beautiful day, we chose to sit outside even though tables were hard to come by!
The Island Cafe has a good variety of choices and the prices are great: paninis ($6.50), hot dogs, burgers and sandwiches ($2.35 to $5.50), wraps ($6.00), wings, platters ($5.00 to $6.75) , soups ($3 & $4) & salads( $5.50 to $6.75) and side dishes ($2.50 to $3.50). The dessert choice was limited to Baklava ($1.75).
The service was friendly and as fast as it could be considering how busy they were. The portions were large and tasty. Drink refills are free if dining inside. The inside of the cafe was non-discript, but not unpleasant. All in all it was a good experience!
Favorite Dish: I chose the Fried Shrimp platter which came with what seemed like a double order of shrimp, coleslaw and french fries and was so good. My hubby had grilled mushroom burger which he really enjoyed. If I didn't like shrimp so much I would have chosen the Greek Salad, Steak Panini, or smoked turkey wrap. Oh, and the baklava definitely!
Waffles INCaffeinated Co.: It's Like Cold Stone for WAFFLES!
I love waffles and I love coffee, so when I spotted this place on my search for a new breakfast place not too far from downtown, I was sold.
After sitting down and reviewing the menu, I quickly realized that this place is like Cold Stone for waffles... you can pick mix-ins and toppings for possibly hundreds of combinations. On this day, I was hungover and the thought of actually doing this on my first waffle from the joint was too daunting, so I chose one of their creations, Breakfast Magic. Yes, yes it was.
The Breakfast Magic is a waffle with bacon, cheese, and green onion on the inside topped with more bacon and cheese and a fried egg (cooked to order) and sour cream. Wow! They also served it with bourbon maple syrup (served in a Jim Beam bottle :-)
My dining companion had the BLT (with an egg); I didn't taste it, but it was wonderfully presented and well-liked.
Their coffee is decent and the food is fantastic, but what I liked the best about this place was that South Side atmosphere: friendly, fun employees that seem to understand that even though it's 1pm, you may be eating breakfast because you just got up ;-)Related to:
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
Fatheads Saloon: Best Beer Selection in Town!
I first went to Fatheads several years ago because a fellow bar patron recommended a sandwich there - I went for that sandwich (and I still get it every time I eat there), but I mainly go back for the beer wall. Years ago, the wall was mostly other brewers and a few house brews, now they have about 30-40% of the list and they're really good beers. The others are all carefully selected craft brews (they have Miller Lite and liquor for those who can't be bothered with trying something new - or just don't like craft beer for some reason).
I recommend getting in early on the weekends to get the best chance at a seat at the bar because that's where you'll experience the awesome personalities of the bartenders and get a real feel for the buzz of the place (and a great view of the TV's when games are on).
That sandwich: it's called the Southside Slopes - It has kielbasa topped with fried pierogies, American cheese, grilled onions, and horseradish sauce. It's amazing - if I lived there, I might order something else, but it's all I want when I'm there.Related to:
The Hard Rock Cafe ~ Pittsburgh: One of My Standard Favorites
Many people don't like to patronize chain restaurants when they travel and would rather enjoy meals at local, independent restaurants. I understand that and like to do that as much as possible too. However, there are times when you might just like to eat where you know the types of dishes offered, you know what your favorites are and you know that it will enevitably be good. For me, one of those places is any Hard Rock Cafe restaurant.
Hard Rock restaurants have a music and music memorabilia theme, and although the music is usually too loud for me, I like to see the different pieces of memorabilia from different bands and singers. For those who are real music and band afficionados, the Pittsburgh Hard Rock Cafe features a jacket from Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana's Kurt Cobain's guitar, drums from the band "Kiss", and also jackets from Elvis Presley and John Lennon.
Favorite Dish: The Hard Rock has all kinds of different dishes to entice your appetite: for appetizers try the "Rock Your World" quesadillas with grilled chicken and pineapple, melted jack cheese and Aerosmith's mango-peach tango hot sauce; goes good with fajitas! But I prefer one of their burgers with bacon, cheddar cheese, crisp-fried onion ring, lettuce & tomato! Delicious! I also like their Honey Citrus Grilled-Chicken Salad! Yum! After this kind of meal, there is usually no room for dessert but if there was I'd choose the Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae with vanilla ice cream and walnuts.
Service has always been attentive and not intrusive. In the States, show them your AAA (Auto club) card and get a 10% discount and the same on any merchandise you buy. Of course, I had to buy one of their guitar pins for my collection!!
Hey, if people didn't like Hard Rock Cafes, they wouldn't be in business!
Deluca's: You Might Have to Wait in Line to Get In
When we were planning on going to Pittsburgh for the 4th of July Family Reunion weekend in 2011, I sent out a couple of emails to some fellow VTers who lived in the Pittsburgh area asking them for places to visit and eat. VT member Lacristina was very detailed in her responses and one of the places she recommended was Deluca's. In fact her response in the email was: "this reminds me of another great breakfast place I should have mentioned. Deluca's Restaurant in the heart of the Strip. It's a Pittsburgh classic." With a recommendation like that how could we pass it up.
We headed for the Strip District on a warm Saturday July morning, but since we had already eaten a small breakfast back at the hotel we weren't really hungry for another breakfast, but considered maybe we should do lunch here. As you can see from the first picture this is what greeted us as we approached the restaurant about 1:00 p.m. Not being too keen on lines, we headed down the block to Wholely's for lunch (another tip). However I made plans to come back 2 days later while we were still in town on July 4th and get there early enough to avoid the lines.
We arrived about 9:15 a.m. on Monday morning and were fortunate to secure one of the last open tables way at the back of the place. After going through their extensive menu and peaking around at what everybody else was having, Sue and I made our decisions.
Favorite Dish: Sue had one of their omelettes which came with just about everything but the kitchen sink. It also was served with your choice of bread and some jam. I opted for the Almond Joy Pancake (only 2 please) which was made with chocolate and coconut. Now, if I was really adventurous I would have gone for the pancake Almond Joy sundae which would have included tons of whip cream, ice cream and nuts, but because I had eaten plenty the entire weekend and had an 8 hour ride home following I decided to stick with the conservative side. Although all the other food I saw did look delicious.
I also had an iced coffee served in a Coke plastic (not glass). I didn't add any sugar which I usually do to kick the acid taste of American coffee. Fortunately this was a good iced coffee and all I added was just a little bit of creamer to sweeten the taste to my liking.
By the time we left about 45 minutes later the lines again had begun to grow outside the front door. Moral of the story - Get here early to avoid the lines.
CASH ONLY!!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Bossa Nova: An Entertaining Spot
The Friday night spot for the Reunion we attended was dinner at the Bossa Nova Restaurant. The entire restaurant was closed to the public until 10:00 p.m. that evening as the 150 or so Rashid Reunion members took the place over. We arrived about 7:00 p.m. when the food offerings were just starting to come out. I'm not sure what the regular offerings are at the restaurant, but the different flat bread pizzas and a multitude of other Lebanese specialities and desserts seemed to satisfy the crowd for the evening. The only complaint I had was that they never seem to cook enough food for the crowds at the reunions and if you are not fast enough one or two of the items will be gone before you have had a chance to get in line.Related to:
- Family Travel
Wholey's: Don't Miss The Fresh Seafood!
Having been in the Strip District from about 9:30 a.m. in the morning and browsing the various shops we were getting a little hungry for lunch and since it was 1:00 p.m. we had to decide which of the places along the strip we wanted to stop in for a bite to eat. They all looked and smelled wonderful, but we finally figured since we would have a full sit down meal at the Family Reunion about 7:00 p.m. that evening and since we had snacked while walking through the Strip District we did not want to have too full of a meal.
So, while we were walking through Wholey's we decided to try out a couple of there offerings and go upstairs and sit down for a while. Sue opted for their award-winning famous fish sandwich, which was a piece of cod fish and then some (they weighed it and added a bit more if below the weight). The cod was blended with some seasonings and then batter fried to a crisp light golden brown. Very tasty. I opted for the lobster roll sandwich which was a good compliment for the fried food that Sue had, because we always have a little taste of each other's meal so that we don't miss anything.
I'll also put another tip on Wholey's in a shopping tip because if I lived in the Pittsburgh area you would find me down here probably at least once a week shopping for all their wonderful offerings.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
The Georgetowne Inn: A great view- The Georgetowne Inn
My food was amazing, but my husband says that his was just good. The view was amazing and the service was pretty good. The atmosphere was like a cabin- warm with lots of wood.
Favorite Dish: The Pino Nior was sweet and spectacular. Great steak!
Rock Bottom: You've hit Rock Bottom
Although this is a chain restaurant that may be privately owned it's still has the ambiance of a chain store. The beer on the other had is good. I would get a sample before ordering to see what you like. They do have a happy hour Monday - Friday 4pm - 6pm Hours Monday - Saturday 11am - 2am Sunday 11am - 12am.
Favorite Dish: The fish and chips were an interesting order. It's not the normally battered white fish but smoked salmon fillets battered lightly and fried with french fries and cole slaw on the side.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
The Grand Concouse: An architectural gem
The Grand Concourse is one of Pittsburgh's fancier restaurants. The food is good, with the menu featuring a variety of meat, seafood, and pasta entrees. What is better than the food is the restaurant's architecture, which is worth the hassle of getting there (it's across the river from downtown Pittsburgh). The restaurant is located in the main lobby and waiting room of the former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station, and features a beautiful arched stained glass ceiling.
One of the best times to visit the Grand Concourse restaurant is for Sunday Brunch, when it is a bit more casual.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
The Original Oyster House - Market Sq, Downtown
The Original Oyster House is a local restaurant on Market Square just opposite of Primanti's. We stopped here because Primanti's was too busy for us to find a table. While we were obviously disappointed to miss a great Primanti's sandwich, the Oyster House has good food a fair prices.
When we entered the long narrow bar area, there were a couple of locals at the bar. By the time we left 45 minutes later, the restaurant had filled up quite a bit, mostly with Steelers fans. We ordered two cod sandwiches and a side of their "Pittsburgh chips" plus a couple of beers for about $25. The fish sandwiches were done to perfection, light crispy, fresh and flavorful.
The Oyster House is nothing fancy, just down to earth, good fried seafood.
Giovanni's Pizza & Pasta - Cultural Dist, Downtown
I ducked into Giovanni's for a quick lunch because it was right across the street from the Enterprise office where I was picking up a car that afternoon. The small restaurant has just six or so tables, but almost all of them had customers enjoying lunch. I approached the counter and spent a minute looking over their extensive menu with items such as pizza, hoagies, Philly cheese steaks, pastas, calzones, strombolis, wedgies, gyros, wings, and more.
I decided on the original steak Philly sandwich with provolone cheese for about $7, along with a bottle of Pepsi. The sandwich was ready in about 10 minutes, then was delivered to my table by the cashier. It was delicious. The meat was crispy on the outside and very flavorful. The sandwich was not too big, but plenty for a good lunch for one person.
Muer Seafood Restaurant at Grand Concourse: Seafood in the best ambience
The Muer Seafood Restaurant located at Grand Concourse at the Station Square offered us best service and ambience ever. The best feature of the restaurant was its glass stained ceiling that made me remind of my hobby. Now if I could get a contract for glass staining like that of this restaurant, I will be a millionaire.
The following description is straight from the website:
"This fine seafood emporium, a Chuck Muer restaurant, is set in the Edwardian splendor of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad terminal built in 1901. Opened to the public in April of 1978, the Grand Concourse is part of Pittsburgh History and Landmark's Station Square restoration. The decor of the Grand Concourse combines brass, marble, mahogany and a breathtaking stained glass cathedral ceiling."
Favorite Dish: We printed a $25.99 coupon off their website that offered the following menu:
(Choice of starter)
Martha’s Vineyard Salad
Red onion, pinenuts, crumbled blue cheese & raspberry vinaigrette
Mediterranean-style fish chowder
(Choice of entrée)
Coconut Macadamia Encrusted Shrimp
With mango salsa, sweet Thai chili butter, coconut ginger rice & fresh vegetables
Stuffed with bacon, jumbo lump crabmeat, with béarnaise sauce
Maryland Crab Cakes
Broiled, mustard sauce, corn salsa, coconut ginger rice & fresh vegetables
Cabernet demi glace, mashed potatoes & asparagusRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
General Recommendation--Eat in Xi'an :): Great Food in Xi'an
I took a short trip to Xi'an in 2003 during the National Holiday (October 1st). Perhaps it was luck or just excpetional hunger, but I was impressed with every restaurant I went to. From dumplings to hot pot, to simply asking for recommendations at a particular restaurant, everything was great. The only thing I wish I hadn't of done was order shrimp for the hot pot in Xi'an; I should have known that the shrimp available there would be small and sickly. Otherwise, I was impressed with the culinary excellence.Related to:
- Food and Dining
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