Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, Shadyside

Okay, so it’s not really a restaurant, but who among us hasn’t made a meal out of ice cream once in awhile? (No? Really?) You can get ice cream inside a fresh brioche bun, which is almost like real food. And this ice cream is not like other ice cream. Millie’s makes it from Western PA farms’ milk and eggs, with flavors constantly shifting based on what’s fresh and in season. Chef Chad Townsend (Eleven, Salt of the Earth) had a pretty good career in the kitchen until this ice cream obsession took over. Now he and his wife Lauren whip up some of the most innovative ice cream flavors anywhere, like Vietnamese Coffee, Black Walnut & Molasses, Concord Grape Sorbet and Campari-Grapefruit. 

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The beet salad at Cocothe.

Cocothe, Sewickley

Despite its attractive, walkable business district, Sewickley has usually underwhelmed when it comes to destination dining. A new French-accented restaurant called Cocothe is helping to change that. First a high-end chocolate and tea shop, then a coffee and lunch place, Chef Dave DeVoss brought it up to fine dining standards this August. A glassy, Art Deco-styled entrance gives way to a warm, semi-formal dining room, contrasting nicely with its sleek jet black bar and no-nonsense array of liqueurs. The menu is similarly refined, ranging from Ossetra Caviar to Prime Filet, Rainbow Trout, and Ginger Bread Pudding. 

The Abbey on Butler Street, Lawrenceville

It’s usually a mistake to try to be all things to all people. But this former funeral home has a lot of space to work with, and just goes for it. There’s a bar, a coffee shop, a sit-down restaurant, an outdoor patio, and probably some other things—it’s easy to lose track. It’s an architecturally fascinating space, which isn’t apparent from the street. There’s stained glass, cast iron fountains, bronze French doors, even garden quality landscaping in the warmer months. The food isn’t an afterthought, either. It’s British gastropub fare, featuring things like Scotch Duck Eggs (2 fried duck eggs with duck chorizo, salsa verde) Shepherd’s Pie, and Full Pint beer-battered Fish ‘N Chips

Tan Izakaya, Shadyside

We’ve reached the point where Pittsburghers are actually arguing about ramen like they used to fight about the best pizza. Tan Izakaya, with its dark woodgrain interior and endless rows of sake bottles, was full of Japanese students on a recent visit—always a good sign.  Mike Chen, of the outstanding Everyday Noodles in Squirrel Hill, and chef/co-owner Mike Lin (Tai Pei, Plum), are serving big, steaming bowls of ramen, endless sake, inexpensive sushi, and yakitori (skewers of meat), including Quail Eggs and Bacon, and Chicken Gizzard & Heart. The plating is especially attractive, and a little un-pub-like, but fits the superior quality of the food.

Cibo, Regent Square

It first emerged as part of Regent Square’s mini-boom of restaurants a few years ago, but Cibo was overshadowed by the likes of Root 174 nearby. It closed. Somewhat surprisingly, it reopened this year, under chef Jennifer Burfield, who spent three years at the still-amazing Cure in Lawrenceville. The infusion of new blood seems to be just what Cibo needed—it was always a warm, intimately inviting space—and merits another chance. Cibo serves a mix of old Italian trattoria standbys, and some originals. A good place to start is the pasta, particularly the red-wine-and-balsamic braised Beef Sugo, served with ricotta gnudi and pecorino, or the Rabbit, with cannellini beans and greens, tarragon and pancetta. 

The bar at DiAnoia's Eatery. Photo by TH Carlisle

The bar at DiAnoia’s Eatery. Photo by TH Carlisle.

DiAnoia’s Eatery, Strip District

DiAnoia’s is a bar and coffee shop, a spacious, comfortable hangout, a New York-style grab-and-go deli counter, and a fine dining (if unpretentious) dinner spot. Oh, they also bake fresh bagels every morning, something sorely needed around here. There’s even red and white wines, Prosecco and Montenegro Amaro (a bittersweet herbal liqueur) on tap. Don’t overlook the paninis, pizzas or Zeppoles (Italian doughnuts), either. 

Revel & Roost, Downtown

“Refined Rustic” is their self-description, which doesn’t say much—the food is refined rustic, not the decor which does in fact befit a new skyscraper. It’s really two restaurants—Revel does lunch-and-dinner and Sunday brunch, with dishes like Fried Quail and Waffles and Fried Cheese Curds. Roost is upstairs, serving breakfast—still in short supply downtown—dinner and cocktails. Coffee + Cocoa Rack of Venison is a standout here.

Did we miss a favorite of yours? Feel free to add in the comments section!