Where to avoid big wine markups and just BYOB

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It seems I have developed a reputation for being hard on restaurants regarding their wine prices.

Lake Fong, Post-Gazette
Fumio Yasuzawa, owner of Chaya in Squirrel Hill, prepares sushi and sashimi combinations. Chaya
Click photo for larger image.

It's true that when I see markups of more than 100 percent (and sometimes as much as 300 percent!) I tend to lose my appetite. At the request of a number of readers, I offer you a list of my favorite restaurants that have no liquor license and charge modest corkage fees.

A little-known fact, however, is that almost every restaurant will accommodate their customers who wish to bring special wines from their own cellars. I have personally queried restaurant owners on this subject and all have admitted that for a corkage fee, usually around $15 per bottle, their restaurants will open and serve from bottles provided by the diner. None of them advertise this service but I have never been refused when I requested it. Even the top restaurants in Manhattan will provide a corkage option although the fee is frequently the price of a decent bottle of wine. If you are going to a restaurant that has a liquor license, I suggest a courtesy call to the restaurant in question before arriving with your bottle so that there will be no surprises on either side.

Ali Baba: 404 S. Craig St., Oakland. 412-682-2829. A no-smoking environment serving Middle Eastern cuisine. Entrees: $8-$12. Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner: Mon.-Sun. 4 to 9:45 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. No corkage fee.

Bona Terra: 908 Main St., Sharpsburg. 412-781-8210. A no-smoking environment serving American-European food with a daily menu determined by seasonal product availability. Entrees: $24-$33. Five-course tasting menus: $55-$60. Dinner: Tues.-Sat. 5-10 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Reservations essential. Corkage, $3 per bottle.

Cafe Du Jour: 1107 E. Carson St., South Side. 412-488-9695. A no-smoking environment serving Pittsburgh-French bistro cuisine. Entrees: $13-$19. Lunch and dinner: Tues.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Accessible. Cash or check only. Corkage, $2 per wine glass.

Cafe Zinho: 238 Spahr St., Shadyside. 412-363-1500. No-smoking environment serving Mediterranean cuisine. Entrees: $10.50-$18.50. Lunch: daily, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: daily, 5:30-10 p.m. Accessible. Cash or check only. Corkage, $5 per bottle.

Centi Anni Alla Famiglia: 804 E. Warrington Ave., Allentown. 412-488-1440. No-smoking environment serving Italian cuisine and specializing in fish. Entrees: $18-$55, including salad and pasta. Dinner: Mon.-Sat. 4-9:30 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Reservations essential. Corkage, $5 per bottle.

Chaya: 2104 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill. 412-422-2082. No-smoking restaurant serving authentic Japanese cuisine. Entrees: $11-$42 (omakase). Dinner: Mon.-Sat. 5-9:45 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $2 per glass.

Davio: 2100 Broadway Ave., Beechview. 412-531-7422. A no-smoking environment serving Italian cuisine. Entrees: $18-$52. Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: daily, 4-11 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Reservations essential. Corkage, $5.

Alyssa Cwanger, Post-Gazette
Roberto's Pizzaria in Bellevue, can be enjoyed with wine diners bring along.
Click photo for larger image.
Il Valletto Cafe:

4626 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-621-3550. Smoking on terrace. Continental-American cuisine. Entrees: $7.50-$26. Lunch: Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2:15 p.m. Dinner: Mon.-Sat. 5-10:15 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $2 per person.

Kotobuki: 9801 Old Babcock Blvd., McCandless. 412-369-7885. A no-smoking environment serving Japanese cuisine. Entrees: $9-$24. Lunch: Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: from 5 p.m. Accessible. Visa and Master Card. No corkage fee.

La Feria: 5527 Walnut St., Shadyside. 412-682-4501. No-smoking environment serving Peruvian specialties. Entrees: $9.95-$10.95. Lunch and dinner: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Not accessible. Credit cards. No corkage fee.

Per Mie Figlia: 1710 Murray St., Squirrel Hill. 412-521-1818. A no-smoking environment serving Sicilian cuisine. Entrees: $18-$40 including salad and pasta. Dinner: Tues.-Sun. from 5 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $5.

Piccolo Forno: 3801 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412-622-0111. A no-smoking venue serving pizzas, paninis and pastas. Entrees: $5.25-$10.50. Lunch and dinner: daily except Monday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $4 for wine, $2 for beer.

Pino's Mercato: 6738 Reynolds St., Point Breeze. 412-661-3651. No-smoking restaurant serving Italian specialties. Entrees: $12.95-$19.95. Lunch and dinner: daily from 11 a.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $2 per glass.

River Moon Cafe: 108 43rd St., Lawrenceville. 412-683-4004. A no-smoking venue serving a mixture of Latin, Asian and Mediterranean flavors. Entrees: $13-$24. Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: Tues.-Sat. 5-9:30 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $5.

Roberto's Pizzaria: 516 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue. 412-761-1077. No-smoking venue serving authentic Naples Pizza from wood-burning oven. Entrees: $4.50-$10. Dinner: Mon.-Thurs. from 5 p.m., Fri. and Sun. from 4 p.m. and Sun. from noon. Accessible. Credit cards. No corkage fee.

Sewickley Cafe: 409 Beaver St., Sewickley. 412-749-0300. A no-smoking venue serving American-continental cuisine. Entrees: $18.95-25.95. Lunch: Mon.-Sat. 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dinner: Mon.-Sat. from 5 p.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $2 per glass.

Spice Island Tea House: 253 Atwood St., Oakland. 412-687-8821. A no-smoking venue serving Southeast Asian cuisine. Entrees: $7.25-$10.95. Lunch and dinner: daily except Sunday from 11:30 a.m. Accessible. Credit cards. Corkage, $1 per glass.

Tram's Vietnamese Kitchen: 4050 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. 412-682-2688. A no-smoking environment. Entrees: $5.50-$12.95. Lunch and dinner: Tues.-Sun. from 10 a.m. Accessible. Cash only. No corkage fee.

Vivo: 565 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue. 412-761-9500. A no-smoking venue serving modern Italian cuisine. Entrees: $22-$38. Dinner: Wed.-Sat., from 5 p.m. Accessible except for restrooms. Credit cards. Corkage, $5.


Elizabeth Downer can be reached at edowner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1454.


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