Seafood restaurants are popular places to go in the summertime, and Pittsburgh is filled with a plethora of them. Places like Penn Avenue Fish Co. and Redfin Blues take pride in ensuring they have the right ingredients, scenery, and staff. Both of these restaurants take satisfaction in presenting quality dishes to their customers.
Redfin Blues, located on Washington’s Landing, has outdoor seating that overlooks Pittsburgh’s North Shore waterfront. Customers can stroll along the river and drink at the open-air bar or stay at their seats and enjoy the view after their meal.
Brad Bitzer, General Manager at Redfin Blues, says ‘summer starts at Redfin’s’ since they are open seasonally. This is just one of the things Bitzer says differentiates them from other restaurants.
“It is an event when we open and then a farewell to summer when we close. We open on April first and normally close the first full weekend of October. The farewell is the Head of the Ohio race, a big crew event that takes place over two days on a weekend in October,” Bitzer said.
The beautiful patio is a huge selling point for people to stop at Redfin Blues. People love to enjoy their food while looking at a breathtaking view. Bitzer describes the style of the restaurant and the environment and how it attracts various audiences.
“We have a unique mixture because some of our food is a little bit higher end, but at the same time, we’re still casual. If you can’t get away from Pittsburgh this summer, it does feel like you’re on the shore somewhere,” Bitzer said.
Redfin Blues has many menu items, including crab cakes, Caribbean salmon, blackened Mahi dinner, and all-you-can-eat crab legs much of which is sourced locally.
“We use local vendors for all of our seafood. Pittsburgh Seafood, mostly in Monroeville, is the supplier for the Alaskan snow crab, our bestseller. We also use Penn Mac. As a small business, it’s also important to keep your business local. We also really focus on local liquor and beer. It keeps the money in Pittsburgh,” Bitzer said.
In addition to sourcing seafood locally, Redfin Blues does a lot of grilling to ensure fresh taste and texture. Bitzer said freshness drives their best sellers list.
“Crab legs are our bread and butter. That is what we are known for. We do all-you-can-eat crab legs all day, every day,” Bitzer said.
Bitzer also added that the restaurant is dog friendly. The third Thursday of every month is Yappy Hour which supports Paws Across Pittsburgh. They bring dogs that need a home to the restaurant, so people can apply to adopt them. Redfin Blues also has summer cocktails in support of Paws Across Pittsburgh.
Penn Avenue Fish Co., located in the Strip District, is a restaurant and fresh fish market all in one. They offer an all-day lunch menu along with weekly entrée options.
Kyle Houghtelin, head fishmonger at Penn Avenue Fish Co., explained how they focus on fresh whole fish direct from the fishery.
Multiple vendors allow for a more varied selection.
“Our customers look for different things, not just your general cod, salmon and trout. That’s why we like to bring in a variety of things. We like to focus on sustainable fish. That product isn’t necessarily close,” Houghtelin said.
Penn Avenue Fish Co. likes to keep things health-conscious when making the food, so they don’t deep fry anything.
“Most fish we prepare here will be grilled or baked. That’s what we focus on with all of our sandwiches. Our English cod is our take on a fried fish sandwich where it’s breaded and baked instead of battered and deep fried,” Houghtelin said.
Penn Avenue Fish Co. is best known for the sushi menu. The specialty rolls are their most popular. The beloved Benny Roll has shrimp tempura inside and seared salmon on top, so it has the best of both worlds, according to Houghtelin. Other rolls include the yummy roll, which has a spicy California mixture on the inside and tuna, salmon and yellowtail on the outside and the Sexy Senorita roll, which has yellowtail, jalapeno, and cilantro on the inside with tuna on the top.
Penn Avenue Fish Co. is unique in that everything they serve that day comes out of their fish case every morning and is hand-cut daily. Nothing is ever pre-frozen when it comes to any fish that is sold. All of the sides, sauces, and seasonings are made in-house, and they also sell them. Anything you want to try before buying, ask them. They are a fish market first and foremost, and then their restaurant plays off of that. The fish counter is the focal point, and everything rotates from there.
Another great seafood spot is Merchant Oyster, located in Lawrenceville. They are a Northeast style oyster bar and chowder house. Merchant Oyster serves East and West coast oysters on the half shell, raw clams, and shrimp alongside a selection of four different chowders. The lobster rolls are a house specialty, as well as chef Dennis’s famous crab cakes.
You can enjoy the sunshine and one of their tasty cocktails on the picnic benches they have outside.
For more of an upscale spot, Off The Hook is perfect. The restaurant, located in Warrendale, features an open oyster bar, where guests can watch chefs shuck them live. They have endless seafood preparation options and an extensive wine list.
Even though it’s a landlocked city, the possibilities for local fresh fish in Pittsburgh are bountiful.