You know those restaurant visits, when a single dish stands out from the rest: It’s the one your tablemates wish they’d ordered because it’s super flavorful, Instagram-worthy or a nostalgia dish that rivals a favorite home-cooked version. From Brookline to Bloomfield, Shadyside to the Strip District, here are the week’s scene-stealing dishes and drinks.
Pumpkin carbonara rigatoni at DiAnoia’s Eatery
I have a good friend from Rome. He visits annually, and while he loves Pittsburgh and our food scene, he does a slow burn when he’s at a restaurant and sees a classic Italian dish — usually carbonara — given a nontraditional flourish like peas or especially chicken. So he’d be downright apoplectic at the notion of pumpkin carbonara. But the one that’s served at DiAnoia’s Eatery isn’t some pumpkin-spice pasta abomination. Rather, it’s a seasonal dish of beautiful housemade rigatoni with crispy guanciale, and the traditional pecorino and egg sauce with the subtlest note of sweet pumpkin that make it bold yet familiar and the perfect dish to have during a family celebration — my wife’s birthday. That we happened to be there the same night the restaurant was toasting one year in business made it all the more special. 2549 Penn Ave. Strip District — Dan Gigler
Hot sausage supreme hoagie at Black Market Deli
Here’s the scenario: weekend house painting project. Need a break, need to eat, need it to be quick and good. Need it to be a change-up from the same dozen places I routinely get takeout from in my neighborhood. So I hop up the hill to Allentown to check out the new Black Market Deli, which shares a space with Breakfast at Shelly’s. They make their own sausage, so I tried it on the hot sausage supreme hoagie and it was a deliciously different take than your typical reddish-orange-heavy-on-the-paprika link, slathered in marinara. This was a garlicky blend with diced hot pepper, ensconced in a cotto salami with chopped, sauteed onions and green pepper on a spongy BreadWorks bun. Hit the spot and the job got done. 740 Warrington Ave., Allentown — Dan Gigler
Chinese pickled beef at Sakura
It’s not the beef that’s pickled, but the tart, salty greens, paired with beef and toasted chiles for a moderately spicy and positively addictive dish. Sakura is terrific when it comes to regional Chinese fare, though you might not know it, since the Squirrel Hill spot fronts as a Japanese restaurant. Yes, you can get sushi here, but the Xi’an dishes — listed under a separate menu — are worthy of exploration. 5882 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill — Melissa McCart
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