Thanks to this board for all of your recommendations for my recent trip out to Pittsburgh. This wasn't my first time in your fair burgh, and probably won't be my last. I just wanted to mention where my friend (not an adventurous eater, can't handle any kind of spice or shrimp, and only her second time to Pittsburgh) and I ate (and ate and ate) for future readers. (We were also on a budget.)
Best Way: square 10" pepperoni and broccoli square pie. This was on our way into town, it was late, and we were hungry. Staff was unusually friendly (I've eaten at several other locations at different times and I've never seen a nicer "server"). Am only mentioning this because I feel like this is a western PA thing. Fine for what it is and a guilty pleasure for every now and then.
Tessaro's: seafood chowder, hamburger and cheeseburger. Solid chowder with a good brininess from clam juice. I first ate my rare hamburger plain, meat, bread, and meat juices, then added the lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and small amount of mayo, yellow mustard, and ketchup. It made the burger too bulky. I would return to try it with just the meat (and meat juices) and bread which were pretty perfect. I would also try the loaded Gourmet cheeseburger.
Church Brew: seasonal Red Nebbylek (sp?) and standard stout. Former drank like a session saison and the latter was just fine. My friend really wanted to try this place's beer and experience the atmosphere, but I've yet to find anything on the menu to recommend or reorder.
Blue Grotto Pizza: pepperoni slice (while sober): huge (maybe 12" long and 7 or 8" wide at the crust) and for 4.50. Possibly the biggest non-gimmick single slice of pizza I've ever eaten. Fresh out of the oven and good chew to the crust. Decent sauce but too much cheese for me. Pepperoni slices were a little over 1" in diameter and were placed regularly over the slice with a lot of cheese space in between. I would get this again.
Pamela's: Late brunch of Gail's (sp?) eggs which were fluffy scrambled eggs with green onions and cream cheese served with mushy hash browns that had been griddled with onions and two buttered slices of a good Italian toast. Should have ordered the hash extra crispy, but it had a lot of salt that became apparent as the potatoes cooled. Also ordered their malted waffle, but didn't detect any malt; a short stack of their famous crepe-like pancakes, which were buttery and had great crispy lacy edges; and corned beef hash, with large (1" diameter) chunks of potatoes. I should have asked for crispy corned beef hash, too. Same problem here with the seasoning as with the hash browns.
Wigle: gin cocktail and whisky cocktail for $5/drink. Nice.
East End (Strip location): cider and nunkin, a seasonal pumpkin ale. Dry cider with a sweet finish due to the fresh apples used. The nunkin was very drinkable because it wasn't an overly spiced or overly sweet pumpkin pie-tasting pumpkin beer.
Ianni's Pizza: small margherita and Rickey pies in Delmont. Thin crusted without much yeast flavor, but good char. The margherita had an addictive chunky sauce and came dressed with basil and olive oil. The Rickey used an arrabbiata and a great spicy pepperoni with very thinly sliced green bell peppers. The thin slicing allowed for the proper cooking of the peppers, which had a slight bitterness that was a wonderful counterpoint to the greasiness and spiciness of the pepperoni. Despite only having eaten three hours prior, we demolished the margherita and ate most of the Rickey. I would drive out of my way for this pizza and recommend the margherita to anyone (who likes pizza).
Pittsburgh continues to be great. The gastrointestinal discomfort was totally worth it. Feel free to let me know where else to eat and what you think we missed/should have eaten instead.