On the Menu: Chefs pick favorite spots to eat in the area

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Visiting a new city is always an adventure, and for anyone who loves to try new foods and restaurants, there’s always a focus on where to eat. Despite the extensive resources available to travelers these days for advance planning, it always pays to leave room for unanticipated discovery.

Sometimes you’ll stumble upon a fantastic restaurant, but if you know you have a meal coming up without a destination, there’s no better place to turn than another food establishment that you’ve already enjoyed.

I’ve gotten fantastic restaurant recommendations from servers, baristas, bartenders and chefs. While not every restaurant professional has the time or inclination to explore his or her local food scene, many have passionate opinions about the places you shouldn’t miss — and if you like the food and drink they serve, odds are you have a similar food sensibility.

Don’t limit this resource to foreign cities. I decided to play the same game in Pittsburgh, calling a number of my favorite restaurants, cafes and even a bakery or two, asking food professionals where they like to eat, and where they’d send customers.

Here is what some had to say. (For the sake of breadth, if an establishment had already been mentioned several times, I asked for other ideas.)

Jamilka Borges, sous chef at Legume Bistro, Oakland: Cure in Lawrenceville, Salt of the Earth in Garfield, Spoon in East Liberty and Root 174 in Regent Square.

Domenic Branduzzi, owner of Il Piccolo Forno, Lawrenceville: “Go have tacos at the [Round Corner] Cantina, go down the street to Tamari or Pusadee’s Garden.”

Hallie Dumont, barista at Square Cafe, Regent Square: “We always direct people toward D’s Six Pax & Dogz, Root 174, Cibo and Alma up the street.”

Robert Flood, general manager of Toast! Kitchen and Wine Bar, Shadyside: “Casbah in Shadyside, or if they’re Downtown, Meat & Potatoes and Eleven Contemporary Kitchen.”

Chris Bonfilli, chef and owner of Avenue B, Shadyside, and B Gourmet, Sewickley:For lunch, Penn Avenue Fish Company, the Reyna taco stand on a nice day and Colangelo’s Bakery, all in the Strip District. For dinner, Spoon or Dinette in East Liberty or Umi Japanese Restaurant in Shadyside. For brunch, E² in Highland Park and the Porch at Schenley in Oakland.

Cara Delsignore, co-owner of Stagioni on the South Side: “We love Dish Osteria, and Piper’s Pub is always fun.”

April Gruver, owner of Vanilla Pastry Studio in East Liberty: Legume Bistro in Oakland and Spoon in East Liberty

Jesse Seager, owner of Point Brugge in Point Breeze and Park Bruges in Highland Park: “My favorite restaurant is ‘the Strip District.’ I consider it one big menu. I can get sushi, a bahn mi sandwich, roasted chickens, Italian, espresso, biscotti; that is absolutely my favorite place to eat.” Don’t-miss spots: Penn Avenue Fish Company, Enrico Biscotti, Lucy’s Banh Mi stand and La Prima Espresso.

Will Groves, general manager of Root 174:“My favorite brunch spot is definitely E². I also love Smoke; that has been a regular for me.”

Allen Chen, owner of Tamari in Lawrenceville and Warrendale: The Big Burrito restaurants, Root 174 in Regent Square, Cure in Lawrenceville and Toast! Kitchen and Wine Bar in Shadyside.

Read the full article at www.post-gazette.com

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