Casellula @ Alphabet City is the first dining spot in Pittsburgh to end its no-tipping policy, just 10 months after it opened.
Restaurant Week recommendations
Restaurant Week is in full swing through Aug. 18, with more than 50 eateries offering tasting menus for lunch and or dinner.
This is the fourth Restaurant Week, sponsored by Visit Pittsburgh and Euclid Fish Co. Keith Fuller, chef/owner of Root 174 in Regent Square, said business has been brisk. "Every night has been as busy as a Saturday," he said.
For the remaining nights, I'd recommend visiting Paris 66 in East Liberty to sample dishes from new chef Franck Lacaille, who moved to Pittsburgh this summer from the south of France. Soupe de poissons and petit steak frites are among choices on the three-course, $30 menu.
Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina is another interesting choice, with new chef David Bulman at the helm. Mr. Bulman worked at Bite Bistro in Pittsburgh followed by a stint at The French Laundry in Napa Valley. He returned to Pittsburgh in May to work for Verde. The $30 menu includes roasted corn elotes for a first course, masa gnocchi with braised goat and chard for the main course and tres leches for dessert.
I'd also focus on outdoor spaces, such as the lovely patio at Bridge Ten Brasserie on the South Side, where for $25 diners are served soup, hanger steak or coq au vin for the main course and dessert.
Vivo Kitchen in Sewickley also features a terrific terrace. For $35, diners can choose among a vegetable-rich menu with a first course of field greens, grilled peaches and feta; fried poussin and garlic as a main course and gelato for dessert.
Add Root 174 to the list for its ambitious tasting menu. Crispy brussels sprouts with a black-pepper glaze debuts, followed by pork belly banh mi with duck-liver mousse, kimchee puree and pickled veggies on a baguette, and dessert. Dinner is $30 for meat-eaters, $28 for vegetarians, for whom the main course is a vegan "meatloaf" with white beans, asparagus and scallions with serrano pesto.
Italian Garden Dinner
Fern Hollow Nature Center in Sewickley Heights is holding its al fresco Italian Garden Dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 23. Set on the center's lawn, the dinner will feature local produce, meats and pasta made with local eggs, as well as a strolling accordion player and a chance to learn traditional Italian dances. Cost is $75 per person and proceeds support educational programs at Fern Hollow (fhnc.org). Reserve by calling 412-741-6136 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
BEER for good causes
From the beer-for-good causes file: Tickets ($30) still are available for Mt. Lebanon Public Library's Aug. 24 Beer Garden Bash. You get live music, a gourmet picnic meal and samples of more than 20 regional brews including the Church, East End, Penn and Roundabout (mtlebanonlibrary.org).
Save the date for the Oktoberfest Craft Beer Tasting, a casual evening of craft beers and tasty bites, to benefit the Community Foundation of Upper St. Clair. It's from 7 to 10 p.m. Sept. 28 at the St. Thomas More Family Life Center at 134 Fort Couch Road. Admission is $35 and you get to keep the tasting glass. Register by Sept. 20 at cfusc.org.
Tonight's finale at International Village
One of the area's oldest and largest international food festivals wraps up tonight at McKeesport's Renzie Park, where visitors can buy food from Vietnam, China, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Greece, the U.S. and elsewhere.
Entertainment begins at 3 p.m. and ends tonight at 10 with a fireworks finale. Check out the festivities and the food, of course, at mckeesportinternationalvillage.com.
The National Road Heritage Corridor's eighth annual Frontier Dinner is at 6 p.m. Aug. 30 at Christian Klay Winery, just off the Route 40 in Chalk Hill. Chef Joe Carei is doing a five-course meal in the winery's historic barn, with "free-flowing wine and beer, a nice cigar (if you care to indulge), great music and a bonfire" for $65, says NRHC board chair Ben Moyer. Reserve at 724-437-9877.