Vendors at Pittsburgh International averaged 3 critical violations over the last two years vs. 14 when the Post-Gazette checked 4 years ago.
As evening temperatures dip below 60 degrees, a chill in the air is a reminder the season for drinking and dining outdoors is short. The dip doesn't curtail restaurants from seating its outdoor patios and gardens, however. Even restaurants-in-progress are focused on outdoor space, despite that Pittsburgh is not known for sunny weather.
At Gus's Cafe, the beercentric restaurant in Lawrenceville scheduled to open in October, owner George Haritos is building out a four-season patio with spaces for food trucks to park adjacent to the restaurant.
It's heartening to remember there's still time to enjoy the warmth of summer and early fall. Here's a short list of new, unusual or resonant places to enjoy green spaces, rooftop views and people-watching.
Tucked away on Sarah Street, Big Dog Coffee (2717 Sarah St., 412-586-7306, bigdogcoffee.net) is a favorite among South Siders and cyclists. Serving Intelligentsia Coffee from Chicago, the shop takes its coffee seriously. Open nightly until 10 p.m., the quiet 15-seat courtyard is perhaps one of the best secrets in the neighborhood.
Also hidden on the South Side albeit in plain view is Cafe du Jour (1107 E. Carson St., 412-488-9695), a modest BYOB restaurant with a lovely patio. Exposed brick, ivy-covered walls, wrought-iron furniture and candlelight offer a romantic setting for dining on rosemary shrimp, gazpacho, house salads with garlic vinaigrette or a New York Strip.
South Side's Carson Street Deli (1507 E. Carson St., 412-381-5335, carsonstreetdeliandcraftbeer.com) sells terrific sandwiches and an admirable selection of 300 craft beers. Although takeout and lingering at the bar are encouraged, the deli also features an enclosed back patio with six tables of four. Open until 10 p.m. (the deli is open until 11 p.m., midnight on weekends), the patio is a good spot for an inexpensive dinner and impromptu beer-tasting.
On the North Shore across from PNC Park, the newly opened Beer Market (110 Federal St., 412-322-2337, the-beer-market.com) features 500 craft brews -- 50 to 60 on draft -- where guests can order in or bring their own food. The Beer Market has a three-season covered outdoor patio, especially convenient on game days.
For lunch and afternoon tea, The Cafe at the Frick (The Frick Art and Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds St., Point Breeze, 412-371-0600, thefrickpittsburgh.org) is an enchanting place to eat after perusing the collections. Soup, sandwiches and entrees such as corn ravioli or hanger steak are available for lunch, while afternoon tea lasts from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Make a reservation for seats in the sun or under the awning before a walk around the grounds.
For a view of the city and its bridges, there's the rooftop of Six Penn Kitchen (146 Sixth St., 412-566-7366, sixpennkitchen.com) for happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Trees, topiary and a potted garden soften the space. This Downtown stalwart offers bistro fare to accommodate a range of appetites.
Both locations of Il Pizzaiolo (703 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, 412-344-4123; or 8 Market Square, 412-575-5858; ilpizzaiolo.com) offer outdoor dining. In Mt. Lebanon, a cozy courtyard is a contrast to the piazza at the Downtown location, though both are comfortable spots to share a bottle of wine, an antipasti and Neapolitan-style pizza from the wood-burning ovens.
Every Monday Meat & Potatoes (649 Penn Ave., Downtown, 412-325-7007, meatandpotatoespgh.com) hosts Nightcap on the patio from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m., during which specials abound, such as $5 burgers and $3 sides: fried pickles, fries and "loaded tots" with bacon, cheese, scallions and sour cream. A prime spot for people-watching, the patio also is open for lunch and dinner, with extended hours on weekends.
A view of the park, a walk-up window and comfortable outdoor seating is available at The Porch at Schenley (221 Schenley Drive, 412-687-6724, theporchatschenley.com). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Oakland restaurant has an expansive kitchen where breakfast sandwiches, pizza and slow-roasted chicken are featured. The restaurant is conscientious regarding local sourcing and even raises bees for honey for the restaurant.
The often crowded Girasole (733 Copeland St., 412-682-2130, 733copeland.com) changes its demeanor every summer as the underground restaurant expands the dining room with patio seating for lunch and dinner. It's quieter out here and it offers a view of the goings-on in Shadyside. Girasole offers large portions of rustic Italian dishes, a terrific Italian wine list and the warmth of a family-owned restaurant.
Harris Grill (5747 Ellsworth Ave., 412-362-5273, harrisgrill.com) in Shadyside has two outdoor patios. Out front 13 tables are smoker-friendly, while the back patio with six tables suits nonsmokers, particularly on Tuesday's all-you-can-eat bacon night. The most popular cocktail is the frozen cosmo, which is half-price 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Among the seasonal cocktails, the strawberry lavender is the runaway favorite. Sunday night's industry night is also a draw, with half-off drafts and a dollar off well cocktails from 6 p.m. to midnight.
Rumfish Grille (1155 Washington Pike, Collier, 412-914-8013, rumfishpgh.com) opened its patio last month. The expansive seafood-focused restaurant in the suburbs is a spot to grab a Unibroue La Fin du Monde or a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, take in the view of the surrounding hills and see live music.
These two Burgatory locations (300 McHolme Drive, Robinson, 412-809-9400; 932 Freeport Road, Waterworks near Aspinwall, 412-781-1456; burgatorybar.com) have open-air covered dining. With 30 seats available and service until 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends, this is the place to indulge in burgers, beers and boozy shakes, like Grand-Dad's Secret, with Old Grand-Dad Bourbon, vanilla ice cream and caramel.
Redfin Blues (100 Waterfront Drive, 412-322-5837, redfinblues.com) on Washington's Landing under the 31st Street Bridge is one of few spots with a view of the river. Stick to simple fare and cocktails here. Linger for the view of the goings-on at the marina.
Melissa McCart: 412-263-1198 or on Twitter @melissamccart. First Published August 11, 2013 4:00 AM