Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good eats in Pittsburgh

Who knew that Pittsburgh would be full of wonderful restaurants?

My new work project will have me in Pittsburgh most of the fall and winter. (Winter in Pittsburgh ... won’t that be fun?) The hotel is right across the street from PNC Park and a few blocks from Heinz Field, which should make for some interesting stays during football season.

I spent my first week in Pittsburgh at the end of August, with a few co-workers, as we kicked off the new project. One of my co-workers, Katie, had been to Pittsburgh before, so she had our dining options all lined up for the week. Although I found one place that she hadn’t been before ... I think that place will be one of my favorites.

Six Penn

I found this place by accident. What a happy accident it turned out to be.

I had a free Sunday in Pittsburgh, so I went to the Andy Warhol museum and then walked around downtown. It was past lunchtime and I was hungry. I saw Starbucks and figured I’d just get an iced chai and a sandwich. I looked across the street and saw two guys walk out of this place called Six Penn and decided to see what they had.

The restaurant was still serving brunch and something on the menu caught my eye — cheesecake-stuffed french toast with berry compote. How could I pass that up?

I’m sooooo glad I didn’t!

Brunch started with a breadbasket of pumpkin bread with cinnamon apple butter.

And then came the french toast.


The brioche made the french toast light, not dense and heavy like you get at many places. The cheesecake filling wasn’t too sweet. And the warm berry compote was perfect. I had ordered a side of homemade sausage patties, which were interestingly seasoned with caraway seeds.

We went back later in the week for dinner. I wasn’t very hungry that night, so I ordered homemade pretzels and an heirloom tomato salad. I can’t wait to go back and start ordering off the dinner menu.

This is going to be my “I don’t know where I want to eat so I’ll eat here” place in Pittsburgh. And it’s just over the river from the hotel, so it’s easy to get to.

Lidia’s Italy-Pittsburgh

According to the website, there’s a Lidia’s in Kansas City. But I’ve never heard of the place. This was another restaurant on Katie’s “must eat here” list.

The entryway of the restaurant was filled with Lidia’s many cookbooks, one of which mentioned her 52-part cooking series on PBS.

The menu was full of delicious looking Italian dishes. But we all opted for the house special — the Pasta Trio, with caesar salad and dessert.

I don’t remember the exact names of the pasta dishes, but two featured homemade pasta and one pasta imported from Italy. The pastas were served tableside from skillets. It was all you can eat, but one serving was more than enough.

I had to leave room for dessert!

Katie and I couldn’t decide which dessert we wanted -- the Nutella dark chocolate banana confection or the lemon-blueberry cake. So we each ordered one then shared.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The Church Brew Works

This brew pub was a favorite of my co-workers when my company had previously done work in Pittsburgh.

The pub used to be a Catholic church, becoming a brew pub in 1996.

It’s a little strange to see brew vats where the altar used to be in a church, but at least they’d removed the Stations of the Cross from the walls. If those were there, that would have just been weird. If you go to the website, you can read the history of the area and the church, including its transformation to brew pub.

I was hungry that night, so while others opted for the Pittsburgh-style salad (complete with french fries), I had a BBQ pork chop. It was thick and perfectly cooked, served with a side of crispy polenta and spicy slaw.

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