Two Sisters, East Liberty
Un-pho-gettable pho. There’s something cozy and diner-y about this little place at 216 North Highland Ave. in East Liberty that keeps me coming back.
Maybe it’s the warming, filling soups, like the Beef Pho — with brisket, eye of round beef and meatballs — that makes the journey on a random wintry Wednesday afternoon worthwhile. Maybe it’s the friendly, easygoing service, or the bright, unfussy interior. Maybe it’s running into Rick Sebak here.
No, it’s definitely the soups. The Bun Bo Hue, a spicy lemongrass soup with beef brisket, beef shank and pork roll, tastes like something my grandma would make (if she was Vietnamese).
Cafe du Jour, South Side
If all the mushrooms in the world got together for a pool party, the water would end up tasting like Cafe du Jour’s Wild Mushroom Consomme — packed to the brim with shiitake, king oyster, porcini, maitake and shimeji mushrooms. They also make a different soup of the day, which not everybody does (but everybody should).
This long-lived South Side restaurant at 1107 East Carson St. is one of Pittsburgh’s true neighborhood gems, so don’t get distracted by all the shiny new restaurant openings and forget about them.
Penn Avenue Fish Company, Strip District and Downtown
Okay, Penn Avenue Fish is known for, well, fresh fish. So if you’re in the mood for seafood chowders, bisques and gumbos, this is the spot, or should we say spots. One is at 2208 Penn Ave. in the Strip, the other at 245 7th St. Downtown.
On a recent bitter cold day in February, they had four different seafood soups, and all had been finished by the time I got there except for the lobster bisque, which was smooth, creamy and delicious.
Our publisher swears by the spicy seafood gumbo and the Mediterranean vegetable has been her go-to. But she just recently tried the Shrimp and Oyster Florentine soup and now can’t decide what the heck to order.
Ineffable Ca Phe, Bloomfield
This list could have been all pho, actually. (We’ll get you next time around Pho Minh.) This Vietnamese coffee and banh mi shop at 3920 Penn Ave. does a lot of things extremely well, including the pho.
The pho ga is a chicken-stock soup, with rice noodles, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, and jalapeno and lime on the side. There’s also a veggie version with big pieces of tofu and a vegetarian broth.
If you get pho to-go, they thoughtfully put the broth and noodles in separate containers, so you can make the magic combination at your leisure, and it stays fresh.
Il Pizzaiolo, Warrendale
Of course, wedding soup does not require a wedding in Pittsburgh. In fact, it needs no excuse, ever.
Who’s got the best wedding soup? Everyone’s grandma, that’s who.
Okay, if we must include at least one, this rendition at Il Pizzaiolo‘s North Hills location at 701 Warrendale Village Dr., features a perfect balance of pasta, fresh spinach, carrots and just the right-sized meatballs.