Rather than fill some space with the standard patter, I’ll just get to the point. Here is an extension of this already perfect list.
Fire Chicken Pizza
Among other great things, New How Lee has a dish called Chongqing Spicy Fried Chicken, or perhaps Chongqing Dry hot chicken. It is small deep fried nuggets of chicken coated in a spiced breading (salt, Szechuan pepper corn, chilis) and then stir fried in a quart of chili peppers.
Down in the South Hills there is a new-ish pizza place called Pizza Badamo which has an excellent white pizza with onion, spinach, garlic and cheese.
So: Get the dry hot chicken from How Lee. Put the chicken pieces on the white pizza. This is the best dish you will eat all year.
Potato Pizza at Bread and Salt
Bread and Salt is a new bakery in Bloomfield. Each day they are open the guy makes a small number of large loaves of bread and some pizza and sandwiches that you can eat in the place or take home. They also do fancy toast. The bread is an incredible crusty, rustic, sour, and rich sourdough like nothing that has ever existed in the city before. But even better is the pizza they do that is topped with mashed potatoes and olive oil. Trust me. Eat it. And buy his bread too.
Hand Cabbage: Chengdu Gourmet
Chengdu Gourmet is the third restaurant in Squirrel Hill to open in the last few years with a reasonably authentic Szechuan Menu. On the menu is something they call “Hand Cabbage” which is really a bad translation of “hand cut” or “hand torn” cabbage that you must order and eat. It is a basic cabbage stir fry seasoned with oil, a bit of vinegar and the tiniest hint of chili peppers. It’s great. It might be the best thing they do. And this is a place that will sell you a braised whole bone in pork shoulder. Get both.
Brisket Taco: Smoke
Smoke is open again in Lawrenceville. You should be rejoicing. Right after that you should be going to the place and ordering as many of the brisket tacos as you can stuff into your face. The brisket was always their best thing, but in their new place the meat is even better. It is probably the best smoked meat in all of Southwestern PA, which I know is the faintest of praise. But what I mean by that is that it’s probably just as good as the stuff in Texas. While you are there, get the Mac and Cheese. With more brisket.
Asado Plate: Gaucho
Gaucho is in the strip and what they do is grill beef. Yes they have pork and chicken on the menu, but with all due respect what you want there is the beef. In particular, you want the $50 plate that has about 1/4 pound of every kind of steak that they do on it. One and a quarter pounds of perfectly seasoned and perfectly medium rare beef. Perfect.
Kouign Amann: Chatelier’s Bakery
This pastry is Chatelier’s answer to the Cronut. I have not had a cronut, but I have my doubts that it would be better than this. Imagine croissant dough rolled out and then dunked into a glaze made out of more butter and sugar and then baked. Actually, you can’t imagine what this tastes like. Don’t even try. Go to the store.
Goat Curry: Grit and Grace
I first had this at a pre-opening No Menu Monday that the Grit and Grace people did at Bar Marco. It was the by far the best thing on that menu and IMHO it remains by far the best thing on the Grit and Grace menu. They got the recipe from someone’s Indian mom. Trust me.
Pan Fred Pork Buns: Everyday Noodle
While the main attraction at Everyday Noodle are the ethereal soup dumplings and the hand-made noodle soup bowls, they have recently added a new side dish which is something of a watershed moment in Pittsburgh. Here you have a dish that can finally stand up against the memory of my mom’s pot stickers in the “fried dumpling filled with pork and cabbage” genre of food.
Brioche Bostok: La Gourmandine
They take their heavenly brioche dough, fill it with almond paste and raspberry jam, form it into a little cake, glaze it, and bake it. It’s like a brioche danish. Hard to describe but wonderful to eat.
Salad Lyonaisse with Crispy Egg: Dinette
I’ve long said that while the pizza at Dinette is great, the real reason to go is for the starters and salads. They do all sorts of different things (Fritto Misto! Those fried peppers! Salt cod on toast! Green Goddess dressing!) but this simple salad stands out for a one simple reason. They take a slightly poached egg and finish it by rolling it in panko and deep frying it. It’s like a fritter on the outside with a soft egg in the middle. It might be the best way to eat eggs than I have ever seen. While you are there get the pizza with the soft egg on it.
I left off all the things at Cure that you should eat because I have listed them in previous articles. But Cure is still the best place in the city. You should go there and get a large salumi plate and the Gluttony.