Fall typically brings a round of new restaurant openings and this year is heavy on Downtown options. Some long-awaited projects are ready for diners to explore right now, including two new large dining spaces in the heart of town. More openings are slated for the coming weeks  (we’ll keep you posted). In the meantime, here are a few additions to the culinary scene to keep on your radar:

The bar inside fl.2 at The Fairmont Hotel. Photo by fl.2.

Fl.2, (Downtown)

The “modern American” concept is now open on the second floor of the Fairmont Hotel (hence the name). The menu features brasserie-style selections, house-made items and a raw bar. A soft opening included dishes like wild mushrooms with beef tallow and cured roe with a scallop crudo. The menu promises locally-sourced ingredients, and the bar program offers locally distilled spirits and small batch estate wines. Barcelona-based designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán has created an attractive setting sure to be a standout among Downtown dining spots. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be available every day.

Fresh cuts of Japanese Wagyu beef. Photo by Red, the Steakhouse.
Fresh cuts of Japanese Wagyu beef. Photo by Red, the Steakhouse.

Red, the Steakhouse, (Downtown)

This modern take on a classic steakhouse has opened a 200-seat dining space inside the U.S. Steel Tower. Part of a fine dining restaurant concept originating in Cleveland, Red also has outposts in Miami and Indianapolis. The menu boasts a range of “perfectly seasoned” aged certified Angus Beef prime steaks and imported Japanese Wagyu. Named by Esquire as “one of the five great steakhouses to visit in the U.S.,” it also features lobster, crab, veal chops, pastas and an extensive wine list.

Jonathan Gross, president of the Red Restaurant Group, thinks the concept will play well in Pittsburgh. “I think steak lovers will appreciate our simple, but world-class approach to food,” he says, noting “Red’s steaks are broiled to get the perfect sear and lock in the flavor.”

Merchant Oyster Co., (Lawrenceville)

Multitasker and not-much-sleep-getter chef Dennis Marron has opened his second restaurant within a month (Or, the Whale was first).

This casual Northeast-style oyster bar and chowder house is tucked into a cozy corner at Butler and 41st. Oyster shuckers serve up treasures from both coasts, and clam chowder comes in four different versions. East coast fans will swoon over lobster rolls, Taylor ham and clam stuffies. Also featured: the chef’s favorite crab cakes with big lumps of fresh crab. If there’s a debate over where Whoopie pies truly originate, it can easily be settled over a few Narragansett drafts.

Pierogis taking shape at the new downtown eatery. Photo by Stuff'd.
Pierogis taking shape at the new downtown eatery. Photo by Stuff’d.
Pierogis taking shape at the new downtown eatery. Photo by Stuff’d.

Stuff’d Pierogi Bar, (Downtown)

This new eatery is dedicated to Pittsburgh’s comfort food with lots of twists. The menu offers a double-digit selection of pierogies with filling options ranging from the simple classic potato and cheese to the more ambitious chicken parmesan. Diners will find pierogies stuffed with cheeseburger here, and even one filled with all the makings of a Reuben sandwich. Pierogies show up on salads and even as a bloody mary garnish. The bar space setting means there’s a full array of cocktails to keep you happy while you search for the pierogi of your dreams.

The Twisted Frenchman (new location), (East Liberty)

The Twisted Frenchman has officially opened in its new location on the second floor of the Royal York Auction Building on Baum Blvd. The beautifully renovated dining room sits above the more casual bistro, Bar Frenchman, which the owners opened in August.

The Twisted Frenchman features tasting menus of three or eight courses. Chef Andrew Garbarino guides diners through the tasting experience, which may include even more courses in the future. Tasting menu dishes feature French classics like foie gras, smoked duck and dry-aged New York strip steak, just to name a few. Diners looking for a unique culinary experience can reserve the chef’s table located in a prime spot in the newly designed kitchen accompanied by a 21-course tasting menu.

Bae Bae’s Kitchen, (Downtown)

This Korean-inspired restaurant leans toward fresh and healthy ingredients with an emphasis on local and organic. There’s a wide range of creative vegetarian options here among the Korean classics. Kimchi (“direct from grandma’s recipe book”) and classic sushi-like Kimbap are served along with build-your-own plates of rice, noodles and proteins. The small, well-lit space offers a fresh Downtown option with choices that let you mix it up, including daily specials.

Tom O'Connor is a photographer and writer currently based in Pittsburgh.