It is almost easier to post the places that AREN’T BYOB friendly as opposed to the ones that are, because the town is fairly BYOB friendly, as all of PA is. I will list some favorites to start out with, but quite frankly this is not meant to be comprehensive. There are numerous new places opening up and whenever I have a chance to visit them, I will add them to the list. I am lucky enough to live with a chef, so I don’t have to eat out very often for fine food.
Bona Terra: BYOB required, and the food is farm to table for the most part. Very good, one of the tops in town.
Isabella’s on Grandview: Has a medicore reputation, but I think it is better than its rep. It is BYOB friendly (last I checked $15 a bottle) and is the best place for tourists who want the view
Pine’s Tavern- way out in the country, but great food. $15 a bottle, and a limit of 2 bottles, but I bet a well timed phone call to the owner Mike could get him to relax that. Bring your own glasses here.
ala Famiglia- I really like this place. They have a wine list now, so I think they are charging corkage nowadays of $15. I don’t think you need your own glasses here either. Ask to sit in the front area as it is almost like a chef’s table.
China Star in the North Hills is my favorite authentic Chinese food. Awesome stuff, and a great place if you are opening whites or champagnes. If you want a red wine, order the tea smoked duck. I think corkage is $10, but they have never actually charged us. It is helpful to bring your own glasses.
Any of the Big Burrito chain is $15. Most of their chain is pretty solid. Not a lot of highs, but usually good. The Casbah is my favorite, which may be shocking to the foodies who prefer Eleven.
I don’t think I have been to Vivo. My wife tends to shy away from any restaurant that is Italian, as that is a cuisine that she does not like. Therefore, my recs are always going to be light on the italy side.
Regardless, almost every place in town is BYOB friendly, so that aspect is easy. I was just trying to list some of my personal favorites.
Well then you have missed out on the best restaurant in the Burgh (even though it is technically in Bellvue). The owners are Italian, but I wouldn’t consider the menu Italian. There is, for instance, no pasta dish on the menu. Unusual fish selections(flown in fresh everyday), range of meats (incl lamb and occasional game which you don’t see much up there), and a vegetarian selection. I have no affiliation other than being a huge fan since they opened in 2000. Oh, and the nicest people.
Laura- FWIW (probably nothing if you enjoy the place):
I knew there was something about Vivo that was triggering a memory with me, so I asked my wife about them. She mentioned who they are, and it brought it all back to me. They have a history of being very rude to my wife on multiple occasions, and she just won’t deal with them anymore. One time, we were trying to arrange for a private party there on an off-night, and they essentially acted like they were doing us a favor by taking our groups money. We decided to go elsewhere. On another occasion, she tried to make reservations for freinds who were on a plane flying to town for a funeral, as they really wanted to go there. They wouldn’t take the reservation from her, because she wasn’t one of the diners, even though she explained to them that they were on a plane and unable to use their cell phones. Then, they refused to promise to work around our friends funeral plans by ensuring that the dinner would be over in two hours, stating that they wanted to be the event for the evening, not the funeral. And normally, while I agree with that philosophy, that is a little hard ass in a very special circumstance. So I can guess that we will nto be going there any time soon lest my wife tell them off in person (she’d do it too).
Nothing added to this in a while. I have a couple.
La Cucina Dolce - Monroeville (You can even reserve via Open Table) -BYOB only - $4.00/bottle
Donato’s - Fox Chapel - full service bar and restaurant - allow byob - $15 corkage. Had my birthday dinner there recently. It was great. I graduated high school with Donato. He came to our table and gave my wife and I a full kitchen tour. The kitchen is first rate, better than most others I’ve seen in the Pittsburgh area. The menu isn’t overly imaginative, but everything we had was well executed and the service was excellent. Btw, I did not let Donato know I was there until after dinner. So, I would not say I got preferential treatment.
Sarafino’s - Crafton - I can’t remember what the corkage is, but it is BYOB only. Great pasta, as well as other dishes like crabcakes and fish specials. Pittsburgh has many Italian restaurants, but it seems they are also the most byob friendly as well.
They do not take reservations, and you may have to wait for a table as the place is small and gets real busy on weekends.
Arpino’s Trattoria in Green Tree/Mt Lebo is BYOB - good, family-style Italian.
Cioppino is also very BYOB friendly. $15 corkage, I think, though we’ve become friends with Christian (somm & GM) and he usually waives it for us. We just did a PAWineTalk dinner there with 20 people, 22 wines, and no corkage. In fact, we’re going for her Mom’s birthday tomorrow and will be bringing wine.
For those of you in the area - hello! Let’s drink some wine sometime! (I’m relatively new to the area, moved to Moon in 2011).
Any updates on the BYO situation in Pittsburgh? Saw the recent NYT article on ‘foodie’ Pittsburgh. Although we visit at least once a year, we haven’t totally seen it but are headed there this weekend for a reunion thing and are going to try to reserve at a some of the places mentioned. Hopefully we do not have to brown bag it?