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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Eleven - Stript District

Oysters with vinaigrette and habanaro sauce.
Whenever I score big at a family poker game I tell my uncles, "this week I'm having oysters for lunch."  If you want oysters in Pittsburgh I only have two strong recommendations. You can either go to the oyster cart outside of Wholey's or you can walk a few more blocks, put on a nice shirt and head to Eleven. Don't forget the nice shirt, you may feel a bit out of place. Eleven is a fancy establishment, I don't think they were pleased when we decided to sing happy birthday to our friend Robin Bolea at the top of our lungs during happy hour.

In addition to being well mannered and well dressed you should bring some scratch, Eleven is not cheap. Dinner with a glass of wine can easily run $50, but it is worth it. Every dish I've ever had at Eleven has been unique and well prepared. In particular I recommend the tuna tartare and the oysters, always fresh and well paired with interesting flavors. I'm not really a dessert man, but Eleven also does a fantastic job with their bread and pastries. Like I said though, bring some scratch.

This chocolate cake makes being overweight acceptable.

Eleven on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BRGR - East End

I think it is impossible to say that one restaurant in Pittsburgh has the best burger. The ideal hamburger is a result of what meat is available the day of your visit, who is working in the kitchen, the freshness and quality of other ingredients and a myriad of other factors. I've had amazing and mediocre hamburgers from the exact same establishments at certain times. I don't think it is fair to say that any one restaurant has the best burger - we can merely attempt to appreciate and qualify the aspects of each individual burger experience. As a side note, I recommend checking out Pitts Burgers, "home of the continuing quest for the greatest burger in the Burgh."

Shrooms burger.
The burgers at BRGR are good, damn good. The meat was well seasoned, fresh and cooked to specification. My one complaint is that I didn't particularly appreciate any of the menu selections. I had a hard time selecting a hamburger as the burger options all seemed a bit contrived - I'm not really sure I want pastrami or short rib on my hamburger. I went with the shrooms burger, it was very good but it could have used more shrooms. For my money I would rather venture to Burgatory or Winghart's where I found the menu selections to be more to my liking.

BRGR was actually much better than I had imagined though, the alcoholic milkshakes were fantastic. What could be better than a delicious milkshake that gets you drunk? The happy hour is pretty decent, they offer a variety of discounted drinks but you will need to sit at the bar for some of them. Finally, the staff was fantastic. Very accommodating, friendly and sexy. My kind of people. Pro-tip, if you are going in a large party they will not give you separate checks. No need to bring your own calculator though, they offered to let us use theirs.

BRGR on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bella Notte

I tried to get them to do something scandalous for the picture but they refused, Margarita Pizza.
I have a love affair with pizza. I think if I managed to cut two simple foods from my diet, pizza and chicken wings, I could lose twenty pounds. I have to be very frank with you in that I find pizza dreadfully difficult to review. Pizza is like sex, even when it is bad it is still pretty good and you can brag about it to your friends.

Moreover, I find that people disagree with my pizza tastes. (This may also be an analogy for my taste in women, you decide.) My favorite pies in town come from Mineo's in Squirrel Hill and Police Station Pizza in Ambridge. I've found a commonality among the pizzas I hold most dear, they tend to use provolone or a blend of cheeses. A cheese blend adds a nice saltiness that I find lacking when there is no meat on the pie.

Portobello Pizza.
Bella Notte pizza was good. Crisp crust with toppings that do not fall off, good topping portions and a nice sauce. My only complaint is that I found the cheese a bit bland. I think a nice cheese blend can go a long way in terms of making the perfect pizza. (Side note, I found out two weeks ago that my old homestead pizza establishment in State College, Canyon Pizza, actually uses some cheddar cheese in their cheese blend, how wonderful - I would have never guessed!)

I do not think Bella Notte is the best pizza in the city as many contend, but the pizza is extremely delicious and the happy hour was even better. Bella Notte offers two dollar domestic bottles and three dollar you-call-it shots! That is some of the best happy houring in Pittsburgh, I'll be eating their pizza again for this reason alone.

As for the perfect pizza, I find the idea as elusive as the concept of perfect sex. I guess I just haven't met the right pizzeria yet.

Bella Notte Pizza Pasta & More on Urbanspoon Canyon Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rugger's Pub

Rugger's has the charm and wood paneling of a British pub with the dirty-smokey underbelly of a true Pittsburgh dive bar. I originally started going to Rugger's about three years ago to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers as the bar usually isn't that crowded, drinks are cheap, the staff is great and the food is pretty delicious.

Open seats at the bar are no longer a guarantee. If you happen to find yourself in Rugger's after a local rugby game, during a televised rugby game, on a Friday for 80's night or during happy hour you may be in for a surprise. This tiny bar can get very crowded due to the fantastic specials. For example, the eighty cent drafts and two dollar Batmans on Friday. (PS: If you don't know what a Batman is you aren't blacking out correctly.) Batman Recipe

The food at Rugger's is standard American bar fare: burgers, fried foods and sandwiches. Over the years I've tried nearly everything on the menu but the melting pot chicken wings are my absolute favorite. The melting pot sauce is a combination of all wing sauces offered by Rugger's. I have to admit that it does seem to be a little different every time, but I love it so much. The wings are always crispy and the sauce is the perfect balance of savory and spicey. I would almost compare it to pazzos sauce at the Dark Horse in State College. (My favorite wing sauce.) But the melting pot sauce doesn't have as much garlic. I prefer Rugger's wings to those of Fat Heads, Mario's and the Double Wide, which are generally considered some of the best in the Southside.  Also, the bar gets mad bonus points for featuring the beautiful and sassy Larko twins.

What are your favorite wings in Pittsburgh? I think Wings, Suds and Spuds in Moon gets too much attention.

Ruggers Pub on Urbanspoon Darkhorse Tavern on Urbanspoon