12 Upscale Restaurants in Pittsburgh that are Perfect for Special Occasions

September 7, 2021
Food & Drink
jason wolfe

When people think of Pittsburgh, images of avid ice hockey fans, Steelers flags, and snow probably come to mind. And while Pittsburgh certainly has plenty of sports fans and cold winter weather, it is also home to a thriving restaurant scene. This friendly city is home to a wide array of upscale restaurants perfect for celebrating special events like a birthday or an engagement. So before you dismiss Pittsburgh as an average mid-western city, we encourage you to check out these 7 upscale restaurants in the city that yinzers love. 

Looking for the perfect gift to surprise your loved ones with? Send them a virtual GiftYa card! Within seconds, you can text your friends and family members a virtual gift card to their favorite restaurant. GiftYa cards can be applied to a number of different restaurants in Pittsburgh, including the ones we featured below. 

1. Eleven

Stylish New American restaurant located in the Strip District

1150 Smallman St. | Strip District | elevenck.com

Located in the Strip District, Eleven offers a special dining experience for guests. Inside, you will find a contemporary rustic dining room filled with plenty of comfortable booths to help you get cozy while you peruse the menu. Eleven also offers a spacious outdoor seating area for the warm days of summer. 

As for the food, you can find savory New American dishes such as Ricotta Cavatelli, Gerber Farms Chicken, and Beef Tenderloin on its extensive dinner menu. Eleven is also open for brunch and serves popular classics like Beignets, Eggs Benedict, and Omelets. Cocktails, wine, and beer are also served. 

“I still love this place! I got the tasting menu and added the wine pairings and it was amazing!  First course duck breast, Second course sea scallops, third course braised short ribs and fourth course was some sort of apple crumble cake. So much food! I threw in the towel after the 2nd course and packed the rest to go. Super delicious and our waiter was awesome.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Eleven. 

2. Monterey Bay Fish Grotto

Award-winning seafood restaurant known for its stunning views of the Downtown Pittsburgh skyline

1411 Grandview Ave. | Duquesne Heights | montereybayfishgrotto.com

The Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is another popular fine dining restaurant that is located near Downtown Pittsburgh. One of the restaurant’s main appeals is the scenic skyline views of Downtown Pittsburgh from its elevated level. 

Along with a gorgeous view, guests can also expect fresh seafood and impeccable service. Classic seafood dishes like Lobster Romano, Crab Cake, and Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops are all featured on its award-winning menu. All of the restaurant’s ingredients are also sourced sustainably, allowing the restaurant to be recognized with a Gold Award from Sustainable Pittsburgh. 

“My husband and I celebrated our first year wedding anniversary there tonight and it was fabulous. All the necessary COVID precautions were taken above and beyond. We felt very comfortable! Our server Wendy was very nice and attentive. For our anniversary, a complimentary champagne toast was offered to us as well as a complimentary dessert. It was very unexpected, but appreciated!! We had a delicious meal. Let me tell you, the she-crab bisque was the best I've ever had. Highly recommend this restaurant! Also, the view couldn't be beat!” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Monterey Bay Fish Grotto. 

3. Grand Concourse

Famous restaurant in the South Side that is housed inside a renovated train station

100 W Station Square Dr. | South Side | grandconcourserestaurant.com

Have you ever dined inside an old train station before? Most people would say no. Grand Course is an upscale restaurant in the South Side that is housed inside a renovated train station. The restaurant’s sophisticated grandeur features cathedral stained-glass vaulted ceiling and marble columns, making it feel like you’ve been transported to a whole new world. 

Grand Concourse serves both dinner and brunch. Since the start of the pandemic, it has also started serving special family meals to-go. All family specials serve four people and come with salad and baked bread. Family Fish & Chips, Shrimp & Artichoke Pasta, and Maryland Crab Cakes are just a few to-go options they offer. 

“Best ambiance in Pittsburgh for a date or business meeting  will definitely make a good impression. We got excellent help from Herby who gave perfect suggestions  on the spot. Soup, scallops, crab cake, and sea bass were perfect.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Grand Concourse. 

4. Bonfire Restaurant

Rustic New American restaurant in South Side that houses two different floors for dining

2100 E Carson St. | South Side | bonfire-pgh.com

Featuring two levels of fine dining, the Bonfire Restaurant offers a fun and refreshing dining experience for guests. The first level features a fine dining experience while the second offers a wine bar. Their delicious snacks, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches, and mac and cheese specials are perfect for people who want to enjoy a light meal. Larger entrees like Wood-Fired Salmon and Hanger Steak are also available for people who want a full meal. The upstairs bar offers an extensive wine menu for people who just want to enjoy a glass of their favorite sweet or dry wine. 

“Huge fans of Bonfire and anything Chris does. This is his newest restaurant and it's wonderful. We have only visited the main floor restaurant, the upper floor has recently reopened so that's in our to do list. Great bar, wonderful, fresh, flavorful, innovative food. We love the wood fired flatbread pizzas especially the sausage burrata pizza, the Mac and cheese is always great and the salads are fabulous.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Bonfire Restaurant. 

5. Piccolo Forno

Charming Italian restaurant known for its hearty pasta dishes and wood-fired pizza

3801 Butler St. | Lawrenceville | piccolo-forno.com

Craving some hearty Italian dishes? Lawrenceville-based restaurant Piccolo Forno offers an elevated dining experience filled with delicious meals and impeccable service. Wood-fired pizza, handmade pasta, tiramisu, and other classic Italian dishes can be found at this upscale restaurant. 

Piccolo Forno offers a clean and modern indoor dining space as well as a small outdoor area perfect for dining on those rare warm days in Pittsburgh. If you prefer to dine at home, Piccolo Forno also offers special Family Style Meals and Pasta by the Pound. Take note, however, that these orders require a 24 hours notice. 

“Everything is very good, but the pesto here is exceptional. If you want a pizza, I'd go with the pesto pizza. The lasagna is the staple and has a nice and surprising nutmeg taste which goes good with the meat/cheese. The pasta with the braised lamb, orange zest and kalamata olives is another great choice.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Piccolo Forno. 

6. Mola

Award-winning Asian fusion restaurant that offers a unique dining experience for guests

6018 Penn Ave. | East Liberty | themolafish.com

While Pittsburgh does have a nice selection of New American and Italian restaurants, we would be remiss to forget to include award-winning Asian restaurants like Mola. Mola is a popular Asian-fusion restaurant located in the East Liberty neighborhood. It is known for its fresh dishes such as the Tuna Tartar, Air-Fried Shrimp Tempura, and Handmade Pork and Chives Dumplings. 

If you stop by for lunch, you can order a special which features a free side and lets you pick two different rolls or one rice bowl. For dinner, you can order a special combo featuring a variety of different types of sushi. Rice bowls are also popular at Mola. 

“One of the best sushi places with high quality fish. We always love eating here and during the pandemic we have continued to have great experiences with takeout. We order online and then go to pick it up and the process is really smooth. I also find their Bao (especially the pork belly and crispy chicken) and mango green tea with tapioca delicious. Definitely recommend it!” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Mola. 

7. Eddie Merlot’s

Upscale American steakhouse located in Downtown Pittsburgh

444 Liberty Ave. Suite 100 | Downtown Pittsburgh | eddiemerlots.com

Last, but not least, is Eddie Merlot’s. This Downtown Pittsburgh restaurant can easily be spotted whenever you drive by. Inside, you’ll find a stunning modern interior and dining area that is perfect for eating and spending time with your loved ones. Some of their most popular dishes include the Prime Ribeye, Mojo Shrimp & Scallops, and Prime Cheeseburger & Fries. Along with its extensive meal selection, Eddie Merlot’s also offers a full drink and dessert menu to complement your meal. 

“Specific to the current COVID environment this restaurant has done an admiral job of dealing with the ever-changing regulations affecting all of us. Have had takeout and dining several times over the past couple weeks and have found the great quality of service and food to still be in place. Without any personal commentary about health regulations, their staff just does their job and follows the guidelines of safety, providing excellent food and service.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Eddie Merlot’s. 

What fine dining restaurant do you plan on treating yourself to next? Let us know in the comments!

8. The Melting Pot

A fondue restaurant that allows you to have a multi-course, delicious dinner.

Sit down with your friends for some delicious fondue at The Melting Pot! Image courtesy of Instagram.

242 W Station Square Dr | Pittsburgh | meltingpot.com 

If you want to sit down around one pot of fondue or enjoy a four course meal, The Melting Pot is the place to be. You’ll start with cheese fondue, then a salad, then meat with select sauces, and chocolate fondue for dessert!

You can also order food from The Melting Pot to-go, and have some fondue in the comfort of your own home! No matter what you choose, you’re sure to leave this restaurant with fun memories and a full stomach.

Hours are from noon until 10 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays, and noon until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“First time customer and I was impressed with the restaurant decor.   Nice high ceilings and a warm atmosphere made me excited for a fun evening. The menu is daunting, but when our server explained everything, it was much easier to understand.” - Yelp Review

9. Casbah

A Mediterranean kitchen and wine bar!

Enjoy delicious Mediterranean dishes at this Pittsburgh restaurant. Image courtesy of Instagram.

229 S Highland Ave | Pittsburgh | casbah.kitchen

With traditional Mediterranean dishes as well as ones with a more contemporary twist, Casbah truly has a variety of options. The wine list is just as extensive as the dinner menu, but you can also come for lunch, dessert, or pick-up catering!

Enjoy appetizers, entrees, salads, or pasta, and wash it down with a red, white, or rose! The entire wine list is available for to-go order as well, meaning you can purchase a bottle on your way out the door!

Hours are from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday lunch from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“Our table was in the garden patio area which I would definitely recommend requesting over the indoor dining room. The atmosphere was lovely and it was open and airy, but also has A/C so the temperature was perfect even on an 80 degree night!” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa for Casbah

10. Altius

A restaurant bringing you high quality food and an amazing atmosphere.

The great views visible from Altius’ balcony is just one of many reasons why one may want to dine at this restaurant. Image courtesy of Instagram.

1230 Grandview Ave | Pittsburgh | altiuspgh.com

This restaurant’s name comes from the word “higher” in Latin, which refers to both the beautiful views of the city skyline patrons can see from the balcony or windows at Altius as well as the quality of the food.

On the menu, you’ll find starters, entrees, shareable dishes, and desserts, so that you can get your fix for every stage of a nice dinner. Altius also serves classic cocktails, beers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and wine.

Altius is open from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays,  from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Fridays, and from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. until Saturdays.

“I took my guy here for his birthday. They were very accommodating as on my reservation I requested window seats for the view and to have a birthday cake brought to him which made his birthday.” - Yelp Review

11. Paris 66

Award-winning French food in Pittsburgh.

Try some authentic French food at this bistro, as well as some more American French fries. Image courtesy of Instagram.

6018 Centre Ave | Pittsburgh | paris66bistro.com

This authentic bistro brings all your favorite French dishes to Pittsburgh, PA. Not only has their food won several awards, it’s also prepared with fresh ingredients from the area. Paris 66 strives to ensure that the ambience of their restaurant is just as appealing as the food.

The main menu offers soups, salads, hors d'oeuvres, moule-frites, sides, and a choice of main course, but there are separate menus for desserts, Sunday brunch, and wine or cocktails.

This restaurant is closed on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, but it’s open from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Sundays.

“Had the most amazing dining experience last week at Paris 66. The staff was friendly and attentive without being intrusive. Chef made an appearance in the dining room inquiring how dinner was. Our meal was superb.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa for Paris 66

12. Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar

A menu that changes with the seasons in Pittsburgh’s Strip District!

This restaurant is the perfect place for a drink or a big meal! Image courtesy of Instagram.

2350 Railroad St | Pittsburgh | cioppinoofpittsburgh.com 

Located in the historic strip district for over 12 years, Cioppino has become very popular for good reason. The restaurant is locally owned, and has a menu that’s conducive to all dietary restrictions, with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available. It’s also won quite a few awards!

The dinner menu at Cioppino is seasonal, with fresh seafood and steaks as well as side plates, but don’t just order food! They also have over 200 different labels on their wine list— both from the U.S. and other countries —as well as happy hour Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m.

While Cioppino may be closed on Sundays and Mondays, it’s open from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

“This was my first time at Cioppino and I came for brunch, which I didn't know was new for them. Our waiter was great! The food was amazing too. We shared the charcuterie board for a starter; I highly recommend it.” - Yelp Review

Buy a GiftYa for Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar

What fine dining restaurant do you plan on treating yourself to next? Let us know in the comments!

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