(BPT) - While the french fry and coleslaw-garnished Primanti Bros. sandwich and pierogies are traditional culinary staples of Pittsburgh, the food scene in this city of three rivers has exploded, much like the city itself.
Long known as the Steel City, Pittsburgh is now more closely associated with robotics, medicine, education, banking, tourism and yes, its blossoming food culture. There are now more than 300 restaurants in the downtown Pittsburgh area and scores more in many of the city's 90 unique and diverse neighborhoods.
And while it is still a legendary sports town long associated with names such as Terry Bradshaw, Roberto Clemente, Arnold Palmer and Dan Marino, Pittsburgh is now home to many of the country's hottest chefs. Consider Justin Severino, chef and co-owner of two award-winning restaurants, Morcilla and Cure, who is now listed among Pittsburgh's superstars.
How did Pittsburgh become the 'No. 1 Food City in the U.S.' as recognized by Zagat and how has it landed at the top of so many other top 10 lists? VisitPITTSBURGH President and CEO, Craig Davis, feels that the media really started noticing the 'new Pittsburgh' in 2009.
'That's when we hosted the G-20 Summit, and the national and international media saw firsthand the beauty of Pittsburgh and the tremendous transformation our city had gone through,' Davis says. 'Since then, Pittsburgh has been receiving accolade after accolade, including many for our unique restaurants and up-and-coming chefs.'
According to Davis, it wasn't only the media that began seeing the city differently. Restaurant investors and young chefs discovered Pittsburgh to be a less expensive place in which to open restaurants in comparison to other cities.
And chefs are seizing the opportunity to create unique and award-winning dining options. Two of Pittsburgh's newest restaurants were named among Bon Appétit's list of the 'Top 50 New Restaurants of 2016' - the previously mentioned Morcilla and the Ace Hotel's Whitfield. Located in the trendy neighborhood of Lawrenceville, Morcilla scores the No. 4 spot on Bon Appétit's 'Top 10' list, calling Chef Severino 'the most underrated chef in America.'
Pittsburgh has so many more amazing culinary options. Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, located in the city's Strip District, has been recognized by Yelp as one of the 'Top Places to Eat in the U.S." Playboy magazine includes two Pittsburgh diners in its roundup of the best breakfasts in the Northeast. Pamela's Diner, frequented by President Obama during his many visits to Pittsburgh, serves award-winning crepe-style pancakes, and Coca Café is noted as having 'an artsy and adorable' 20-seat dining room with a foodie-focused menu.
Nestled on the top of a steep hill overlooking the city's skyline is the picturesque neighborhood of Mount Washington, home to a variety of fine dining restaurants, and it's the place where visitors can discover one of 'America's Most Stunning Views,' according to USA Today.
Among the most exciting and innovative new restaurant concepts in the city is Smallman Galley, located in The Strip, Pittsburgh's historic Market District. This restaurant incubator has been dubbed a 'launch pad,' providing four outfitted kitchens and seats for 200 guests for four aspiring chefs to run their own restaurant without the capital risk as they attempt to break down barriers and enter the industry. For patrons, it is an opportunity to try four innovative food concepts in a unique, historic space at one time.
So how has the dynamic food scene benefited the convention and tourism market?
'It is a fantastic selling tool for our city - whether we are talking to a meeting planner or a sports event planner or simply someone who calls our office wanting to visit Pittsburgh,' Davis says. 'People hear we are a great food city, and they know that our culinary offerings will add to their Pittsburgh experience. They still may want to try a Primanti Bros. sandwich when they visit - and they should - but they also want to discover our other great restaurants as well.'
Find out more and plan your visit to Pittsburgh with discount attraction tickets, hotels and more at VisitPITTSBURGH.com.