7 Upscale Restaurants in Pittsburgh That Are Perfect for Special Occasions

February 25, 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

During the warm days of summer, Eleven is the perfect destination for enjoying an outdoor dinner. Image courtesy of Yelp

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

Monterey Bay Fish Grotto is following all COVID-19 guidelines to ensure guests have a safe and enjoyable experience. Image courtesy of Yelp

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

Grand Concourse is known for its ritzy atmosphere and delicious food. Image courtesy of Yelp

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

Pictured above is the Basic AF Burger. Image courtesy of Yelp

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

Treat yourself to a fresh plate of Insalata Mista. Image courtesy of Yelp

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

Mola offers savory Asian dishes like Pork Belly Boa and Hot and Spicy Organic Chicken for hungry guests. Image courtesy of Yelp

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

Eddie Merlot’s offers an upscale dining experience. Image courtesy of Yelp

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!

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