Introducing: PQ Restaurant Reviews

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The Pittsburgh Quarterly Restaurant Review Board recognizes outstanding restaurants and chefs, publishing the top 20 annually in “The List.” Diverse board members are chosen for their interest and knowledge of food and fine dining. Each is anonymous, ensuring no special treatment during restaurant visits — but in the coming reviews, each has picked an icon from the array above, and that icon will accompany their reviews so you can follow each board member via his or her icon. Throughout the year, they dine out frequently, sharing their experiences with other members via mini-​reviews — brief, off-​the-​cuff impressions not meant to be definitive or comprehensive. And now we share them with you!


Legume remains steady despite the recent change in chef. The menu is much the same and the execution of the food is as good as ever. For starters we had the bluefish pate, the mixed green salad and the turnip and apple soup. All were delicious, especially the unique soup, although the mixed green salad was basic and not particularly inventive. Our mains were the duck leg confit and the dry aged rib eye, and they were both well-​prepared and full of flavor. Desserts were the highlight; luscious chocolate cake with homemade cream and panna cotta with concord grape sauce.

Below: Legume’s chocolate cake with homemade cream

Service was excellent. I did find the menu itself a little stale. I realize that they want to offer items with a modest cost (such as monkfish, coho salmon). However, these dishes don’t have wide appeal. I am wondering how much they vary the menu these days. One thing I have always loved about Legume was the interesting variety. Now I find the menu has more of a static feel. When we arrived, the music was inappropriately loud and the selection (rap) was not appropriate to the venue. They changed the music and lowered the volume as the restaurant became full. Thank goodness. The bathroom is in need of a refresh. It was not clean.

Fish Nor Fowl

Dinner for four at Fish nor Fowl on Saturday evening. Made reservations for 8:30 p.m. and our table was ready upon arrival. On the phone, we recommended a table upstairs, which we’ve found is much more cozy, inviting and private. Since the restaurant was not overly crowded, we stopped at the bar before heading to our table. The bar was crowded and the service was VERY slow. On a positive note, the atmosphere of the upstairs bar is very cool and trendy with a glass wall overlooking the main dining room. Once we got our drinks, we headed to our table. The table was neatly set and our chairs had white fur throws on them. This little touch added to the warm and cozy ambiance.

Our waitress was knowledgeable and prompt and arrived at our table with a carafe of water. She provided us with an overview of the menu, the drinks and the silverware, which was tightly wrapped in a suede tool belt. We ordered the charred broccoli and the calamari for the table while we finished our drinks from the bar. Both dishes were amazing. The broccoli was steamed with just the right amount of crunch and was placed in a bed of creamy smoked goat cheese. The calamari was fried with saffron espelette aioli, charred fennel and orange. This dish was also very good, with unique flavors and aromas.

For our main dishes, we ordered two spaghetti alla chitarra (a light pasta with melted leeks, truffle butter, AND freshly shaved truffles), the pappardelle (a creamy red sauce with pork cheek and fresh basil) and the cacio e pepe (a very simple but flavorful dish with just the right amount of spiciness). We asked for the pasta to be prepared al dente. The waitress warned us that since all of their pasta is homemade, it may be difficult to attain al dente. The cacio e pepe and the pappardelle pasta was cooked perfectly, while the spaghetti alla chitarra was cooked too long (we are picky pasta people). We also ordered a bottle of the Montepulciano and the Cabernet. Both wines were very rich and smooth. Overall, the dinner was above expectation and a great Saturday evening.

One complaint that I had, and it seems to be a common “trend” at Italian restaurants in Pittsburgh, is that there were many spelling and grammatical mistakes on the menu when using Italian. I’m not sure if these restaurants are using Google Translate for their menus, but they need to step up their game!

Alla Famiglia

Friday Night Date Night at 6:30 p.m. Still one of my favorite restaurants. A large quantity of food, with great service.

Appetizers: Meatball gigante — big, flavorful, cheese good stuff. Calamari and shrimp — a little oily, but the oregano flavor gave it a really good blend. Mussels diavalo — hubby said he prefers Point Brugge because he prefers white sauce, but it was good.

Entrées: Black grouper — perfectly seasoned, flavorful not flaky, best fish I’ve had all year. Bone in rib eye — perfectly seasoned and tender. Pasta with vodka sauce — why order pasta when this comes with the entrée? Sauce is light and I wanted to eat the whole bowl, but I was so full from the appetizers.

Dessert: Cheesecake — yummy, the crust is to die for. Not too creamy, melts in your mouth. Especially with the whipped cream.

Pittsburgh Quarterly Restaurant Review Board

Pittsburgh Quarterly Restaurant Review Board members are a diverse group chosen for their interest and knowledge of food and fine dining. Anonymity ensures no special treatment during visits to local eateries.

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