Posts Tagged ‘pittsburgh dining’

Review: Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille

September 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Click Pic for link. SWB has spent years in The Strip, especially liking Wholey’s seafood.  So when Luke decided to open his own seafood spot, we figured it would be hot.

Placed in the old Area 51 spot across from Reyna foods, the space is simple, slightly rustic yet elegant, and very, very, very tasty.  We are convinced that no one does seafood like Luke.

When we went, we treated ourselves to the grilled swordfish. Personally, I have never experienced swordfish as well prepared and moist as I had at Luke’s. The service by all staff (including Luke himself) was excellent. The drinks were heaven. The atmosphere overall with the food quality made a very long day end quite nicely due to Luke’s Grille.

We highly recommend you visit and support this sure to be future Pittsburgh mainstay.



Review: BD’s Mongolian Grill SouthSide Works

February 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Yes, a chain made it into one of our ‘fine dining’ reviews.  We were invited to the rehearsal run for the opening on Mongo (apologies to the local owner, but the nickname just stuck), so we decided to send our tech and his wife. That’s how we treat some of our contributing folks to local perks, and get some reviews ourselves. We honestly didn’t think we were going to review on this site, as the review was initially destined for the Screaming Weasel blog we acquired. But …

Sometimes you just get surprised.  We aren’t going to sell Mongo as a five star restaurant, or tell you about some celebrity chef that showed for the opening, or anything even close to that.  What we are going to say is it’s unique, and that’s why we reviewed here.  The creators of Mongo, and the local owner that had enough vision to bring it here deserves our attention.  When our tech came back with the photos from lunch and his opinion of the establishment, we reviewed the info and agreed with him that we might want to consider placing the review here.

Read the rest of the article on Sophisticated Pittsburgh!

The Wine Bistro Theory

The Wine Bistro Theory – intro

Welcome to The Wine Bistro Theory interview series.

SP is going to be doing an interview with a couple that started The Naked Grape in Sewickley.  One reason we chose them was because of their willingness to do this project with us and access.  Another reason was the area. The other reason was to show a small business becoming successful in an area that tends to be more discerning of their establishments.  Click Here to read article.

New Orleans Has Landed (at Nola)

Nola On The Square, we are quite sure now houses that parts of New Orleans that hurricane Katrina blew up our way.  There is no other explanation for the change that has happened to this old building in Market Square.

SP has persons at lunch and dinner on March 25th to enjoy some fine dining and entertainment … with review to come at the end.  Since Nola is in the Seviche and Sonoma family, we expected nothing less than culinary perfection.  We weren’t disappointed there, but we were extremely surprised at what we found during dinner (we will give you a brief on lunch near the end).

Click Here to read the SP article.

DJ Lawrence (OMV) back at Tusca Tapas

April 2, 2010 Leave a comment

I normally don’t push events I work at on this blog, but due to the long break courtesy of the February snow storm here … I have to try to get some customers back (did that sound like enough of s sob story to may you feel bad, but professional enough to promote the event?).

Anyways, Click Here for the event link in Bar Smart.

There is a link to my events website that allows you to request music when I am at Tusca (normally Fridays 5pm until ???).  Since the month of April is National Jazz Month, the music can range anywhere from 70s/80s/current to smooth or other forms of jazz.  The programming, genres, and styles change throughout the year – so give us feedback on what you want.

BarSmart is where I will have the main postings on events I do at Tusca, but keep alert to The Tribune Review, Pittsburgh City Paper, etc.


PS – if you don’t dance, you can still hang out … it’s a good way to get some down time from the kids during this last stretch of Spring Break.

BTW – Tusca Tapas is in SWB Recommends, not because we work there, but because the Chefs are that good.

Review: Serendipity Bistro (NorthSide Pittsburgh)

February 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Logo banner for Serendipity Bistro captured from their site, click on it to go there.

If you are familiar with Tusca Global Tapas in SouthSide Works, you are familiar the quality of the culinary presentation, dining experience, and professionalism of the staff that you will experience at Serendipity.

When you walk into the establishment (it’s the historic James Street Tavern) and see the original bar, you immediately imagine a sophisticated crowd standing in front of it waiting for a sharp dressed bartender to effortlessly slide drafts down the length of the bar to the customers.  The next thing you mind brings to life is the sound of wailing sax rifts coming from the jazz trio playing below in the Speakeasy. Then the aroma of the food hits you…

You turn to your date and declare what you already see in their eyes … “we’re stayin’ a while.”

Serendipity serves what is considered “Hip American Cuisine”, so if you are expecting a “Tusca 2”, that’s not it … but it’s the same owners and some of the original staff from Tusca, so as I said, the quality is hot.  So is the atmosphere.

The main room you walk into has a great original bar, booths, and a dining area with a wood floor that would make a great dance area.  All original wood, I believe.  The Speakeasy, below that is an amazing room that you immediately imagine as a small jazz club.  The atmosphere, bar, stage, and acoustics are were created perfectly for small performances.  If they start them there, it will be the place to be.  I can easily see the better jazz, soul, and funk bands lining up to play there in the years to come.  There is also an upper room that I haven’t had the chance to see yet that I understand will be used for banquets, etc.

With a great menu, good selection of beers, and a nice wine list … take a jump over to the North Side and take in Serendipty – I guarantee you will come back.


Food ….. 4.5

Service ….. 5

Atmosphere ….. 4.5 (you don’t want to leave)

Overall ….. 4.5


PS – Being in the ever becoming more popular historic North Side, Serendipity has the potential to end up on the “jet set traveler’s” map of Pittsburgh … so go now, while you can still get in.

Disclaimer:  I do occasional sound work for Tusca / Serendipity, so if you feel my review is biased, so be it … but keep this in mind:  If the owner thought my work was poor, she wouldn’t hold back telling me (in a nice way, of course) – so if their establishment was poor, I’d be just as honest (using nice caring words, of course).

BTW – Serendipity Bistro is now listed in SWB Recommends!

Review: Uncommon Grounds Cafe

May 12, 2009 1 comment

uncommongroundsCapture from The Uncommon Grounds Cafe website, click it to go there. Another excellent Cafe opened up, and there are two things extraordinary about it: 1. It’s a Church Army project, and 2.It’s in Aliquippa. Now, before you go click on to the next article right away, muttering in your head “there’s no way I’m going to anything in Aliquippa without a 9mm in my pocket, nor am I going anywhere to get preached at” … listen up a bit – this place may change your mind, and may change Aliquippa.

First when you see the front and realize the work done to the building (and the fact that it was done mostly by volunteers), it will quickly drop your jaw. When you walk in and find something that Shadyside, Mount Lebanon, and Southside Works wished they had – you will end up staying a while.

When you sit in The Uncommon Grounds Cafe, you look out the window at the beautiful playground across the street and out the side doors at the mini-park (which is to be expanded in the future) and your mindset is no longer in Aliquippa. When you taste the quality of the food and coffee, you no longer see a line cook behind the counter … you see a chef and a barista. When you notice the inviting friendliness of all of the people (not just a few looking for contacts) you start marking in your mind this is a place visit again. When you don’t get preached at, you experience the reality of the people there. When you go back a few more times, you notice a community being reborn, not from stimulus funds, but from themselves and their beliefs. Even if you don’t believe the way they do, you still become “part of the family”.

The entertainment consists of spoken word, and excellent local musicians (they are always looking for more … so give them a buzz). Entertainment here is family oriented, but not cheesy, and everything is very “kid safe”. In other words, you can take your kids there without worry of “alternative poetry” and such that you will have to explain when you get home and still hang out at a very cool place. The music is not hardcore Christian, and not lame. When SWB visited we were treated we an extremely good version of Solsbury Hill in the way Glass Moon did the song (yes, I’m aging myself here, but give me a break, and help me push my wheelchair in the door if you see me at UGC).

There are a few characters to be found at Uncommon Grounds – one of the best and most delightful is John Stanley (an import from Australia), who started the place (and incidentally held it up as part of it fell down). Click Here for the Uncommon Ground Cafe Story story to date.

Looking at this establishment purely from a “secular” point of view we give it the following ratings:

  • Food quality and originality – 4.5 out of 5
  • Atmosphere – 4.7 out of 5
  • Entertainment – 4.5 out of 5
  • Beverage Selection (all non-alcoholic) – 4.5 out of 5
  • Service – 5 out of 5
  • Overall – 4.64 out of 5

And yes, we’re comparing them to the cool places where all of the “seen and be seen” people hang out.

On a side note: If you have ever visited the main road of Aliquippa, you can easily imagine the next Shadyside, maybe a little more affordable and family friendly. The parking access is excellent, sidewalks wide (great Tuscan outdoor cafe’ potential), and close to major highways. This group may have kicked off the next hot spot.

If you are not into the “church project” aspect of UGC, keep in mind they go through great lengths to support local businesses (and they serve Kiva Han coffee … although I may have to work on John to sneak some La Prima in there too)- so you may want to look at them from that angle. The people at The Uncommon Grounds Cafe are some of the few that do honestly good work without expectations of reward from others. This is the type of community venture you support, simply because it does take root.

The Uncommon Grounds Cafe will be listed under SWB Recommends


PS – If you don’t want to drive to Aliquippa, please keep in mind this project is supported by donations. Click Here to go to their website and send ’em a fin (or more) … it all builds up.

BTW – this is the type of place you visit, end up saying “Wow!”, and come back to every week. Give it a try.