Let's eat outside! Many eateries around town have adopted a fresh air policy with outdoor patios and rooftop settings
June 4, 2015 12:00 AM
Krista Snyder of Cranberry, left, and Anna Keller of Moon, are waited on by Jordan Zwierzynski of the North Shore at Biergarten on the roof of Hotel Monaco.
Il Tetto: Rooftop Beer Garden (Sienna Mercato).
Dennis Spyra, owner of the Iron Gate Inn on First Avenue, talks with one of his lunchtime customers, Sweta Vaidya, from New York City, on the back deck.
Customers sit on the outdoor patio at Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square.
By Melissa McCart / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Never mind that Pittsburgh weather can be fickle; Downtown restaurants are betting on balmy weather. Between Market Square's outdoor patios and a handful of rooftop dining rooms in the neighborhood, residents can dine alfresco in the neighborhood every night of the week.
The newest spot is atop the Kimpton's Hotel Monaco. Biergarten, an 88-seat open air dining room with a German street food menu and a terrific view, opened last month.
While the Commoner, its sibling restaurant on the ground level, focuses on American craft beers, the rooftop highlights 16 drafts from around the world and 50-60 types in bottles or cans. Try a German brew such as Spaten Optimator and Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier along with Belgian ales, sours, lambics and French ciders. Biergarten also sells beer by the growler.
There's no kitchen, but like a biergarten in Germany, you'll find homemade pretzels from a street cart as well as bratwurst and currywurst. Visitors can grab seats at communal tables or smaller high-top tables, or gather for a game of corn hole, garden chess, a super-sized Jenga or Connect Four. (Dinner only. 620 William Penn Place, 9th Floor. 412-271-1170)
Then there's Tako, the newest sibling to Butcher and the Rye next door and Meat & Potatoes from Tolga Sevdik and chef Rick DeShantz. Outdoor mounted bar seats face the design-focused restaurant, and tables frame the sidewalk. Inside, diners can watch the goings-on in the kitchen under the dual leadership of Mr. DeShantz and David Racicot, one of the city's most respected chefs.
An inventive menu starts with snacks like housemade crispy corn tortillas and design-your-own guacamole. Tuna belly, sesame, nori, soy and togarashi, anyone?
Casual tacos go upscale with grilled octopus with harissa and preserved lemon, or Korean Wagyu short rib with cucumber pickles.
But it's the drink list that's really impressive, from an eye-popping tequila library on display behind the bar to a long list of margaritas. With drinks showcasing aloe and elderflower or grapefruit and sage as well as passion fruit or strawberry frozen margaritas, they are guilty pleasures for sultry days. (Dinner hours only. 214 Sixth St. 412-471-8250)
Closer to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, you'll find the rooftop restaurant Il Tetto, with its twinkly lights and communal tables. Even better: In inclement weather, there's a retractable glass roof and heat lamps that allow for year-round drinks and snacks.
Il Tetto is part of the tri-level Sienna Mercato and each level offers open-air dining. It's more casual than Mezzo, the wine bar on the middle floor, and less family-oriented than Emporio!, A Meatball Joint on the first floor.
With a menu of 32 craft brews on tap and small bites like confit fries, rillettes and pork rinds, this outdoor destination offers great people watching that's first come, first served. (Dinner only. 942 Penn Ave. 412-281-2810)
Off the beaten path, you'll find Iron Gate Inn, a charming courtyard where you can grab a burger, a cheese plate, soup and salad or vegetarian risotto. If you're concerned about the crowds and looking for an intimate spot for conversation, this is the place. (Lunch and dinner. 119 First Ave. 412-471-4766)
The patio at Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square offers prime real estate for people watching and the Downtown bustle. Drink a hard-to-find Italian birra and share an antipasto such as arancini rice balls or the Napoli, an array of roasted vegetables. Inside, the focal point is a wood-burning oven hand-crafted by Italian masons from renowned oven-builders Forno Napoletano. (Lunch and dinner. 8 Market Square. 412-575-5858).
Diehard sports fans will appreciate Blue Line Grille, where the drink-focused roof has its own name, the Uptown. Choose from standard tables or wicker couches, where diners can catch the daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. or 4 to 7 p.m. Fridays. Look for buffet snacks before sporting events and concerts at Consol Energy Center. And there's a Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a menu of standard favorites and live music. (1014 Fifth Ave. 412-281-2583).
Six Penn Kitchen was a neighborhood pioneer that helped inspire Downtown's restaurant revival. With its corner rooftop lush with greenery, it's a great perch before a game or a show.
Choose among bar and standard height tables for a cocktail or a glass of wine. Share a few dishes from executive chef Cory Hughes, such as calamari and rock shrimp and spring salad, or splurge on something more substantive, like Bolognese made with lamb from Jamison, the Latrobe farm endorsed by the late Julia Child. A brand of Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, Six Penn Kitchen is committed to local ingredients, getting more than 20 percent of its ingredients from nearby local farmers. (Lunch and dinner. 146 Sixth St., 412-566-7366)
There are more than seven outdoor spots, of course. Look for satiating Italian food at Sienna Sulla Piazza (22 Market Square. 412-281-6363) or New Orleans standards at NOLA on the Square (24 Market Square. 412-471-9100).
Meat & Potatoes (649 Penn Ave. 412-325-7007) has an outdoor dining room with meat lovers' favorites and hearty salads. Tavern 245 (245 Fourth Ave. 412-281-4345) offers pub fare on a roof, weather permitting. Primanti Bros. in Market Square (2 South Market Square. 412-261-1599) just remodeled its outdoor dining while Winghart's Whiskey & Burger Bar (5 Market Square. 412-434-5600) serves some of the city's best burgers.
Melissa McCart: 412-263-1198 or on Twitter @melissamccart.
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