The décor in this Shadyside eatery is desert chic. An eclectic menu, influenced by the cuisines of southern France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia, includes double-cut pork chops, duck breast, and lamb osso bucco. The extensive wine list includes more than 40 labels available by the glass.
Oct 22, 2014
My spouse and I dined at Casbah for lunch on a Friday afternoon in late August 2014. Although we did not have a reservation, the restaurant participates in the Open Table reservation system. Casbah is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, brunch on Sunday, and dinner daily. Casbah is located on Highland Avenue in the Shadyside/East End neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Shadyside is located approximately 5 miles (a 15-minute drive) from Downtown Pittsburgh.
The restaurant provides limited complimentary parking in an adjacent small strip mall. Alternatively, metered street parking is also available. The restaurant space for Casbah has several dining areas spaced throughout the interior and exterior of the restaurant. The street-level interior space is divided in half to form the dining room (with regular stand-alone tables and tables that share a wall of banquette seating) and the bar / lounge area (which has a traditional bar and lounge-type seating with low tables for two). The bar is worth a closer look, because the outer edge (where the customers place their elbows and drinks) is made of an interesting stained glass design. A wall near the door contains another unique decorative element of colorful ceramic fish. A dining room on the lower (basement) level provides a view into the wine cellar. The restaurant can open the doors / windows at the front of the building to join the outdoor space. A terra cotta-colored concrete wall covered by a fabric awning encloses the year-round exterior dining area. The ceiling is high, decorated with hanging plants, ceiling fans, and heaters. The exterior space has the feeling of a Mediterranean courtyard or bazaar, whereas the interior is chic and dark. Casbah is part of the Big Burrito Restaurant Group, which owns Eleven (my favorite restaurant in Downtown Pittsburgh), Kaya, Umi, Soba, Mad Mex, and Casbah. If you sign up for the groups “fan club”, they send you a postcard (coupon) once per year around the time of your birthday that entitles you to a free entree. Some stipulations exist. For example, you cannot use the coupon at Soba and the coupon can only be used on a Sunday through a Friday (but not on a Saturday night), but you can use it for any entree at lunch or dinner on the specified days. It is a great deal, because you can use it for a $30+ dollar entree at Eleven, for example. For an appetizer, we shared a trio of dips (hummus, baba ghanoush, and muhammara). However, the restaurant described the menu item as a grilled flatbread, which led us to believe that we were ordering a sort of flatbread pizza with Mediterranean toppings. When our server delivered the dish, it contained three separate portions of dips / spreads, accompanied by freshly grilled thick pita pieces. For our entrees, we ordered an upscale yet rustic mac-and-cheese that had chewy bites of lamb mixed in with large hollow noodles similar to large rigatoni and then sprinkled with breadcrumbs. The second dish was short-rib ravioli accented with mushrooms and Swiss chard, which was more refined in appearance but just as delicious in taste. Our only comment on both dishes is that we would have liked to have some bread or rolls served alongside so that we could have sopped up the remaining sauces because they were that yummy! For dessert, we shared a deconstructed s’mores dessert, with chocolate cake, toasted marshmallow, salted caramel ice cream, and graham cracker crumbs. We expected the food at Casbah to be primarily Mediterranean cuisine, but the number of continental options far outnumbered the number of ethnic dishes. Service was attentive throughout the first part of our meal, but it slowed towards the end. In fact, our server did not charge us for our dessert because it took so long to arrive. A mistake can happen anywhere, but how a restaurant (or server) handles it makes all the difference, and Casbah handled it perfectly, leaving us with nothing but praise for our meal. We loved our lunch at Casbah. As I mentioned previously in this review, Eleven is one of my favorite Pittsburgh restaurants, and I also enjoyed dining at Kaya. Now Casbah makes the list of another great Pittsburgh dining option! I look forward to trying the other restaurants in the Big Burrito Group!