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Yinz goin to watch the game ‘nat?

19 Sep

It’s time for football again!! Tailgating, fantasy leagues, watching the game with friends, or going out – however you celebrate the season, you know it’s important to have a good selection of food and libations on hand. We checked in with Yelp to get their latest user survey of good places to cheer on the Black & Gold, and here’s what we found. Where do YOU go to watch the game?

If you’re not from Pittsburgh, don’t fret- we’ll be hunting up some good sports friendly spots in other cities soon!

Yelp’s Salute To The Black & Gold

This Weekly Yelp brought to you by VIA Music and New Media Festival September 19, 2012
daveynin

Throw a flag, already.

It’s that time of year again, sports fans. The time when bars are packed with those who bleed black and gold. The Steelers are back in action, and this week, we’re tackling the big question of the season: Where yinz catchin’ the game, n’at?

You won’t miss a second of the action at Industry in Lawrenceville: “The walls are lined with flat screens, and the bar is encircled.” Jamie J keeps her pre-kickoff cool with “house-infused cucumber gin” and a $3 IPH or Copper Ale. Amy C does her athletic supporting at New Amsterdam. Looking at their “enormous projection screen, it’s almost like being at the game, but with better food, like bad-ass, super-tasty, hot-‘n’-juicy burgers.” During the “glorious time of year when both the Pens and Steelers are on multiple TVs,” Jenn T “sits around with fellow Yinzers” at Nico’s Recovery Room, “one of the finest dives around.”

South Hills is slammin’ with sporty action. Amanda L is surrounded by The Saloon‘s 15 TVs and 21 “seasonally rotating” taps. Continuing with the numbers game, Carson City Saloon offers DJ J “over 20 beers on tap and specials during the game,” like a bucket of Coors Lights for $11! Meanwhile, Mel Upulls up a bar stool to chat craft beer and dem Stillers” at Smokin’ Joe’s. Careful though. With over 350 bottles and 61 drafts, you could… go… all… the… way… overboard!

In the East End zone? At Hough’s “everyone is into the game and cheers, which makes for an awesome atmosphere.” Alexandra Z is equally pumped about the “ridiculous beer selection: 300+ bottled beers and 60+ drafts,” score! Will H is all about the odds, and he finds his chances of taking down “wings and a beer” are high at Buffalo Blues. They’ve got, taps 32… to down… set! Hut! Hut into your mouth! Jarrett H thinks Sharp Edge is A-OK all of the time, but on game day, “something magical catapults it into” a palace of pig skin. Half-off pizzas and $.45 wings, plus a $5.50 black and gold beer seals the deal! Here we go, Steelers!

What Comes After Christmas?

19 Dec

Christmas can be an all-consuming endeavor: friends, family, food, festivities, music, presents — so much so, in fact, that we often forget to look ahead to the days following this special season.

In case you’ve forgotten, New Years Eve celebrations are right around the corner! If you haven’t decided what to do and are looking for a few good dining options in the ‘Burgh, check out Table Magazine’s recent piece on “Where to go and what to eat” while you ring in the new year.

Got suggestions? Comment and let us know!

BLOG

New Year’s Eve 2011
Where to go and what to eat!
Posted: Dec. 19, 2011
By Jessie Cadle

New Years Eve is the time to don the fancy dress and the highest (and hottest) heels to hit the city. But it’s also a holiday for fabulous, filling food. We’ve scoured the streets and found restaurants with special New Year’s Eve events. Grab a fork!

Have a little dessert before dinner at Dozen Bake Shop, in Lawrenceville and Oakland. They have cupcakes with liquor in the frosting or in the cake. Pick up a few margarita, cosmo or jack and coke cupcakes for yourself or to take to your New Year’s party. (Cheers!)

Head to Highland Park for E2’s family style dinner—featuring a special menu created by Chef Kate Romane—for $60 per person. It’s BYOB, so don’t forget the Champagne!

If you want a full-night affair, head to Seven Springs for one of two parties: the Foggy Goggle for $50 a person or the Matterhorn Lounge and Alpine Room Party for $25 per person. Both feature hors d’oeuvres from 9-11 p.m., DJ performances, and pork and sauerkraut at midnight.

If you’re down for even more of a road trip, head to Green House Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio. We fell in love with this place on a recent culinary trip. For $89, you can have a 9-course dinner menu (vegetarian available) and a show by three different DJs.

SAVOY is bringing in Celebrity DJ Biz Markie for their $100 event, which includes a three-course menu, complimentary wine, and a Champagne toast. For $50, you can hang in the lounge for a more laid-back celebration.

Spoon, in East Liberty, is celebrating with a small two-course meal—including chicken and dumplings or filet and crab bread pudding—and dessert. But, if you’re out in Allison Park, check out Blue’s New Year’s Eve menu and New Orleans style jazz by The Southern Comfort Band from 8 p.m. until midnight.

For a classic downtown Pittsburgh night, go to Braddock’s American Brasserie for $50 a person. The special menu includes prosciutto wrapped scallop galantine. (Yum.) Or check out Habitat, for $100 per person, for a six-course meal, featuring scallops and seared duck breast.

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Follow this link to read the rest of this article on Table Magazine’s website.

Cream of the Parlor Crop: The Top 50 Ice Cream Spots!

27 Jul

We went on an online voyage this week to discover how US residents liked their ice cream -and where. We sifted through an enormous number of sites, and here’s what we found out:

Our favorite answer comes from USA Today. They conducted a poll asking readers to share their favorite ice cream parlor, and then aggregated the results by state. That’s a huge list! We’ve included a few of the states in this post – for the full 50-state list, CLICK THIS LINK!

What’s YOUR favorite ice cream spot??

Florida

Every Friday at Jersey Creamery in McIntosh, Karen DeConna makes her small-batch ice cream in an 1880 train depot. That’s when you get the freshest scoop right out of the machine. Her dense product draws its sweetness from fruit rather than sugar. Summer flavors blueberry, peach and mango are best enjoyed in a rocking chair on the big porch. 22050A N. Highway 441; 352-317-8060

Recommended by Patricia Letakis, executive editor of Florida Travel + Life magazine

Pennsylvania

Berkey Creamery, a Penn State institution since 1896, is the nation’s largest university creamery, with much of the main ingredient (milk) coming from the university’s own cows. Some of the 100 or so flavors (20 available at any one time) reflect the State College academic setting. There’s peachy Paterno (peach flavored with sliced peaches) named for coach Joe Paterno and alumni swirl (vanilla with Swiss mocha chips and blueberry swirl). 119 Food Science Building, University Park; 814-865-7535; creamery.psu.edu

Recommended by Timothy Brixius, contributor, savvygrouse.com

North Carolina

Known for ice cream made fresh, in-house each week, Yum Yum Better Ice Cream serves cups, cones and milkshakes. Owned and operated by the same family since 1906 and set in the heart of the University of North Carolina Greensboro community, Yum Yum draws a mix of students and locals craving a delicious treat. 1219 Spring Garden St.; 336-272-8284

Recommended by John Batchelor, restaurant reviewer for the Greensboro News and Record

South Carolina

Located on Lady’s Island in the coastal town of Beaufort, Berry Island Ice Cream Cafe offers 24 flavors at a time. Try a scoop of a standby called the Prince of Tides, a favorite of Barbra Streisand when she was in town making the movie based on Pat Conroy’s novel. It’s coffee-almond fudge, but the name is pure South Carolina. 1 Merchant Lane, #102; 843-524-8779; berryislandcafe.com.

Recommended by Sid Evans, editor of Garden & Gun magazine

Wine and Dine Me, S’il vous plait!

19 Jul

Wine and Dine Me, S’il vous plait!

The Pittsburgh Edition

July 19 2011
Meghan Ingram

We all thrive on a little romance, and there’s no better place to kindle it than in that particular local restaurant with just the right ambiance and your favorite kind of food and drinks. And what better cuisine than French to add that special touch to your evening?

Whether you’re single and looking for a more upscale place to take your next date, in a relationship and searching for a new restaurant to try, or married and anticipating a quiet night out for two away from the kids, the following list has a place for you.

Since we can’t all go to Paris this summer, here are three local Pittsburgh restaurants that bring Paris to you.

Isabela on Grandview

isabelaongrandview.com

1318 Grandview Avenue | Mount Washington | Pgh, PA 15211
Phone: 412.431.5882 | Monday – Saturday  5 pm – 10 pm

Voted “Best Overall and Most Romantic Restaurant in Pittsburgh” for two years running, Isabela on Grandview boasts a stunning view of Pittsburgh from high atop Mount Washington, a warm and classy decor, and a knowledgeable staff dedicated to making your experience memorable.

The restaurant offers a seasonally changing wine list and an extensive line of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The experience can be pricey (their ‘prix fix’ is $70) but natives who rave about Isabela deem it worth the price.

Online reservations available through opentable.com

Paris 66 Bistro

paris66bistro.com

6018 Penn Circle South | Pgh, PA 15206
Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm | 412-404-8166

Voted Best French Restaurant in Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Magazine, Paris66 is deserving of its French title. Daily specials include crépes, fresh soups and quiches, salads and croques, housemade pastries and desserts, and a variety of French wine, beer, and cocktails.

The inside is friendly and feels European in style and decor. Locals comment most frequently on the wonderful service, delicious crépes and soups (a house specialty), healthy dining options, and reasonable prices. With a menu that changes constantly, and an ambiance that invites you to sit and enjoy your evening, it’s no wonder Paris66 is a favorite among Pittsburgh natives and visitors!

Nine On Nine

nineonninepgh.com

900 penn avenue : Pgh pA
Dinner hours: Tuesday – Saturday 5:00pm – 10:00pm | 412.338.6463

Though not strictly French, Nine on Nine Nine retains the atmosphere of a European restaurant, and locals recommend it as an excellent option for a refined dining experience for the romantic-minded. Located in the heart of the Cultural District, close to music and performance venues, this restaurant offers a variety of old and new world wines and a scrumptious selection of regionally inspired cuisine, with a modern American theme in mind.

The decor is a match for the restaurant’s description of its cuisine: it focuses on simplicity and flavor. Warm floors, unique wall patterns, and white table cloths complete an elegant ambiance, and those who eat at Nine on Nine generally agree that prices are moderate, and appreciate the wait staff and Chef Richard DeShantz’s unique creations.

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Now it’s your turn – what French cuisine inspires the romantic in you? Let us know in the comments!

Square Café

9 Jun
We first heard about Square Café through Jeff Rose, who wrote on our Facebook wall to recommend one of his favorite local coffee and dining spots. Jeff, publisher and owner at The Taste of Pittsburgh, currently resides in Regent Square, and enjoys trying a variety of dining venues around the Pittsburgh area. He kindly consented to tell us more about ‘The Square’ for this week’s blog.
Thanks for your review, Jeff!
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If you have questions about Square Café, or want to add your own thoughts to the review, post your comments below!

Square Café

1137  South Braddock Ave. | Pgh, PA 15218 | 412-244-8002
Check out www.square-cafe.com to see event picture galleries, menu offerings, and other fun information!
How long have you been visiting Square Cafe?
I’ve been eating at the Square since we moved to Regent Square 5+ years ago.
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How would you describe the ambiance?
Laid back, but fun, the staff is ultra friendly, bright interior with artwork from local artists, they have outdoor seating which is packed on the weekends.
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What type of crowd or demographic is usually there?

Just like the neighborhood, very diverse: all ages, and it changes based on the day. As a local we stick to the week days, and I’m in there 2-3 days a week. On weekends, unless we get there early, it’s too busy for me.
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What fare does The Square serve?
They are open for breakfast and lunch; to describe the menu is impossible. It’s best known for breakfast ,which is not just the usual. My favorite was “White Bean Hash” on the winter menu, but it’s now “Peas and Pancetta.” I think they get overlooked as a great lunch place; the burgers are great. I know they have a good number of vegan and gluten free choices. Oh and the coffee is great!
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How is the pricing?
Pricing is fair, portions are big, and quality is top shelf. They buy a lot of local produce, making for fresh dishes.
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Would you change or add anything to The Square?
More seating would be nice, but then again the charm of The Square is in its size.
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What is your favorite thing about Square Café?
My favorite thing would be the people. The food is crazy good, but it’s the people who work there, the locals I run into, old high school and college friends I see there, and the strangers who are now friends that make it what it is.
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— — — —
Jeff Rose is publisher and owner of Taste of Pittsburgh.
http://www.pghvalues.com

facebook.com/TasteOfPittsburghMagazine

http://twitter.com/jeffarose
| twitter.com/tasteofpgh
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Summer at the Double Wide

11 May

If you live in Pittsburgh and haven’t tried the Double Wide Grill on East Carson, you’re missing out. And if you’re planning a trip to Pittsburgh this summer, this is one tasty, laid-back place you’ve got to try!

Review is from Pittsburgh Magazine, and before that it was published in After Dark. Check out the link at the bottom to learn more.  Thanks to Sean for highlighting yet another fabulous summer dining hangout!

Time Again for Double Wide Grill’s Summer Menu

Yes, Double Wide Grill is a themed restaurant. No, it’s not an overpriced Rainforest Cafe, nor a place where you’ll pay ridiculous prices for cheesecake just for the opportunity to eat it near some sunglasses from Terminator 2.

by Sean Collier

Double Wide Grill's white fish seviche, served on a corn tortilla. Photo courtesy of Double Wide Grill

I’m looking at the 10-day weather forecast. Yes, I know it’s the optimistic, reckless brother to the more sensible five-day forecast, but I’m embracing the future.

And the temperatures, it seems, are creeping up—not yet to full-on summer territory, but with regularity that ensures a comfortable night in the elements to anyone clothed in jeans and a hoodie. It is time to begin heading outside. It is time to taste beer in the fresh air.
It is time, once again, for Double Wide Grill.

Sure, I’ll stop in for a big meal full of ribs and gusto throughout the winter, but with more sunlight and higher nighttime lows, one’s inclination rises for the uniquely themed restaurant on the South Side. And Double Wide has obliged us by expanding their kitchen hours; you can get some great home-style grub until midnight Sunday through Tuesday or until 1 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Bonus: You can keep drinking ‘til 2 a.m. every night.

If you’re unfamiliar with Double Wide, you may have shuddered at the words “themed restaurant,” but make no mistake. This is no overpriced Rainforest Cafe, nor a place where you’ll pay ridiculous prices for cheesecake just for the opportunity to eat it near some sunglasses that someone wore while filming Terminator 2. This is a brilliant bit of marketing and design, turning that ‘Burgh staple—down-home cookin’—into a fun, festive experience, with every night posing as the best cookout you’ve ever attended.

It starts with the food. I’d like to direct your attention to the special barbecue menu—featuring the most meat-tastic thing this side of the Hofbrauhaus, the “Pig Out” (1/3 rack of ribs, chorizo, bacon and pulled pork for $15.29.) I can’t pass an opportunity to mention my personal favorite, though, the “Build Your Own TV Dinner”—pick a main course and four sides, and it’ll appear on a metal TV dinner tray, just like grandma used to give ya (when she didn’t have time to cook). Crazy delicious, and a filling steal at $15.99.

Double Wide’s underrated as a Sports Bar, too—remember, not everywhere you go to watch the game need be a generic family restaurant-style festival of wings and light beer. They’ve got a quartet of 10-foot projection screens, so you won’t miss a thing.

I also must mention the beer—right now, Double Wide has around 35 on tap, including Maudite, Bells Two Hearted Ale, Great Lakes Conway Irish Ale, Arcadia Hopmouth Double IPA … I could go on.

But mostly, it feels like every night you ever spent on a lawn chair in good company—only infinitely more delicious. Get three to seven close friends, get a table outside (you might have to wait), and spend the whole night. Someone will challenge someone to the beanbag toss game, an impromptu eating contest may erupt or you might just spend a night reminiscing and cracking jokes ‘til well after midnight.

There are surprisingly few places on the South Side to do this kind of thing outdoors; fortunately, Double Wide Grill is the all you’ll need.

This article appears in the May 2011 issue of After Dark

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Soba: a Touch of Zen, and Creative Pan-Asian Offerings

29 Mar

After hearing one of our fans mention their positive experience at Soba in Pittsburgh, we thought we’d find out a little more about this dining spot to share with our readers. This review is from Pittsburgh Magazine, which has named Soba “Best Restaurant” and praises its design, selection, and service.

Have any of the rest of you been to Soba? If so, what did you order, and how was your own experience? We always love to hear from local diners like you!

Something About Soba

With a touch of Zen, creative Pan-Asian cuisine and a dedicated staff, this East End dining destination continues to build on its success.

By Valentina

For many of us, Soba is like an old friend. We can rely on this restaurant to be there for us when we want to celebrate a special occasion, meet friends for drinks after work or just have a nice night out. Moreover, who can resist a restaurant self-described like this?: “A dark and sexy Zen garden with sleek acolytes silently attending to its guests, Soba offers a distillation of Asian daydreams grounded in the hearty Earth.” And let’s not forget the food—its Pan-Asian cuisine remains consistently grounded and innovative.

A fixture in the East End for 13 years, Soba continues not only to survive, but also to thrive, despite the ups and downs of the economy.

So what has been the secret of Soba’s success through the years (besides the Zen and daydreams)?

As for the present and future, one promising portent was the appointment of Danielle Cain to executive chef in May. Soba, as you likely know, is part of the locally based big Burrito restaurant group, which has brought us the celebrated restaurants Casbah, Eleven, Kaya, Mad Mex and Umi. As a large restaurant group, big Burrito has the luxury of being able to hire, train and rotate staff between restaurants, nurturing talent into leadership positions.

Cain truly is a product of this system. After finishing culinary school here in Pittsburgh at Pennsylvania Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu), she did her apprenticeship and was a line cook at Casbah before she was promoted to sous chef. Then she moved to Soba as sous chef. And she spent one year as executive chef at Kaya before returning to Soba in her present role.

Cain talks about a terrific camaraderie among the big Burrito chefs, who dine at each other’s restaurants and share ideas. She has a special affection for Soba because she feels it’s very “communal” in terms of fine dining: Soba customers like to share their dishes and pass them around; the lively bar scene is its own community within the restaurant; and the staff, which includes sous chefs Andrew “Red” Jacobson and Dustin Gardner and pastry chef Shelby Gibson, enjoys a genuine esprit de corps that makes working there fun. All the positive energy in the kitchen, Cain contends, leads to “happy food.”

Asked to comment on how she addresses the need to produce consistent food, Cain is confident in her managerial methods of hiring and maintaining a strong staff, making sure everyone in the kitchen has trained at every station and could trade jobs in a pinch, procuring quality ingredients that are interesting and insisting on the importance of the kitchen staff tasting the food before it is delivered to the customer. Soba’s interior is sleek and dramatic with its two-story waterfall, tiered dining spaces and second-floor deck.

The menu has many old favorites and some new dishes designed by Chef Cain and comprises “Small Plates,” “Soup and Salad,” “Entrees,” “Noodles,” “Sides” and “Wine Features.” There’s also a dessert menu.

For many people, myself included, the “Small Plates” are the best part of the restaurant. Highlights include the Blue Bay mussels ($9)—a dozen or more complemented by a white-wine garlic broth with chunks of spicy Thai sausage and doused with homemade aioli. Other notables are the crispy tofu ($7), which features a large helping of sweet, spicy and crispy cubed tofu tossed with cashews and lemongrass sauce and the fried and salty calamari ($9), which is seasoned with chilies, toasted garlic and an uni emulsion drizzle. Less impressive are the fried pork dumplings ($7), lobster maki ($11) and crab cakes ($11). All of these can be somewhat bland either in flavor or texture.

Among the soups, Thai corn chowder ($7) with crabmeat is always a winner. Although it has varied in texture, cream and spice levels through the years, my most recent tasting amounted to perfection—nicely pureed, a small but ample amount of crab and not too much cream.

An unexpected treat under “Sides” was the house-made pickled vegetables ($3). It turns out that sous chef “Red” Jacobson loves to pickle. The pickled vegetables—beans, cucumbers, cauliflower and carrots—were fresh and crunchy, each with a slightly different accent provided by garlic, orange or onion. Look out for his new batch of kim chi, made in November and currently pickling for release this May.

The chopped salad ($8) is a refreshing mix of papaya, mango, daikon, coconut tempura, cucumber, avocado, iceberg lettuce, mint, basil and cashews with a spicy miso dressing. It’s more like a palate-cleanser than a salad and can be a great intermezzo between courses.

Among the entrees, the beef short ribs ($26) are dreamy—savory and spicy with the meat falling off the bone. Sea scallops ($26) are wok-seared on the outside and soft on the inside with a limey broth; they’re served with seasonal mushrooms, fresh wasabi ponzu, root spinach and udon noodles. The popular seared rare tuna ($27) is a colorful delight. The dish begins with a single large slice of tuna with a bright-pink center and is finished with a sesame crust topped with a generous dose of Korean barbecue sauce. It’s served with a light cucumber and red-onion salad, ginger fried rice and a side of kim chi.

The “Whole boneless crispy bronzini” ($26) came through as promised: fried whole, complete with head and tail, with plenty of fresh white meat. Unfortunately the dish was diminished by a butternut-squash and potato-hash filling that was more mush than hash and did not complement the fish. A boneless pork chop ($22), although attractive, was so salty that I couldn’t eat more than one bite.

A creative dessert menu brings together Asian and American themes. Among four desserts I tried—huckleberry crème brûlée ($7), Soba banana split ($8), chocolate caramel bombe ($8) and a chocolate maki ($6)—the maki was my favorite to look at, and the banana split was my favorite to eat. The maki offers lovely sushi rolls made of chocolate-pistachio crêpes filled with dark-chocolate mousse; they are accompanied by pistachio cream, shaved melon and chocolate sauce—stand-ins for wasabi, ginger and soy sauce, respectively. The banana split comprises three scoops of house-made ice cream—dark chocolate, huckleberry jasmine and black rice—sitting on a fluffy banana cake with a side of brûléed bananas.

When talking about Soba’s success, the bar must be mentioned as an essential component. The dark slate walls and crackling fireplace make it a cozy spot, perfect for chatting and people-watching. (Yes, it’s somewhat light-challenged, but just ask the bar server for a tiny big Burrito flashlight if you need one!)Pacific Rim: Absolut Vanilla, blue curacao, grenadine and pineapple juice. Bangkok Tea: Green-tea infused with Absolut, fresh sours and honey-ginger syrup.

The bar menu—an impressive 16-pages long—includes a full page each of martinis and cocktails ($8-$12), wines by the glass ($8-$16), sakés ($9 carafe to $150 bottle), bottled beer ($4-$17), an extensive menu of wines by the bottle and after-dinner drinks. Looking at the “Small Plates” again as bar food, a nice selection of flavors, textures and temperatures—sweet, fried, spicy, hot—complements whichever beverage you choose.

The kitchen and bar staffs work together to infuse mixed drinks with interesting house-made ingredients—including pickle juice, a delightful component in Red’s Dirty Martini ($10), which, thanks to a recommendation by a server, I decided to try. I discovered a light, dry martini made of cucumber-infused vodka and the pickle juice. What’s more, there’s even a house-made pickle slice floating where you might typically find an olive or twist. Its subtle, vinegary edge was an especially welcome contrast to the richer appetizers. Bangkok Tea ($9.50)—green-tea-infused Absolut, fresh sours mix and homemade honey-ginger syrup, all served in a tall glass over ice—was lightly sweet and refreshing.

You can take it for granted that the service at Soba will be good. The servers here, some of whom have been with big Burrito for years, are competent, well-trained and knowledgeable about the food and drinks. In fact, another factor in this restaurant’s success can be attributed to the emphasis Soba places on the customer. As Ryan Burke, general manager since 2005, explains, the Soba team knows regular customers by name and remembers exactly what and how they like to eat. (No wonder it’s best to make a reservation. You can expect a good turnout any night of the week.)

Although the décor has remained mostly the same through the years, the environment at Soba is still inviting with the sensual water wall, zebra-wood accents, Asian-influenced artwork and more intimate upper floors as well as a second-floor deck, a harbinger of warmer weather ahead.


Soba

5847 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside; 412/362-5656, bigburrito.com/soba
Dinner: Sun.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.
Small Plates: $7-$11
Entrees: $16-$36
Desserts: $6-$8
Full bar, major credit cards, reservations suggested, parking lot next door and off of Fisk Street, wheelchair-accessible, no smoking.

This article appears in the April 2010 issue of Pittsburgh Magazine