SEND NOODS: WHERE TO FIND THE BEST NOODLES ACROSS THE CITY

Recently, while cozied up in a window seat at Noodlehead on one of the first truly chilly nights of the season, we found ourselves thinking about the humble noodle. It’s truly the perfect comfort food: whether served al dente and loaded with garlic in a homemade spaghetti or so spicy it makes your eyes water at your favorite Sichuan spot, the noodle really runs the gamut of delicious preparations.

While we’re fans of a heaping bowl of noodles at any time of the year, there’s something that just feels right about slurping a hot ramen soup come November, December and even well into March. Noodle season is officially upon us, and we’re more than ready to hit the streets in search of the best broths, the most fragrant sauces and those hand-pulled noodles with the perfect bite. If you’re equally passionate about your own noodle research, we’ve put together a good starting point with this list of must-try noodle spots all over Pittsburgh.

Everyday Noodles. Experience hand-pulled noodles made fresh right in front of you at this traditional Chinese spot in Squirrel Hill. Dishes include everything from steaming, spicy noodle soups to cold, light Taiwanese sesame noodles, and with so much kneading and twisting going on to make their signature noodles, their open kitchen offers one of the most experiential dining destinations in the city. We also are big fans of noodles (and everything else) at their new Oakland Taiwanese street food concept, Night Market Gourmet.

Noodlehead. It’s all in the name at this Shadyside Thai staple. We certainly don’t need to do much more to convince anyone of Noodlehead’s merits, so we’ll keep it short: a concise menu of Thai noodle dishes and noodle soups, prices that never go over the $9 mark, a cozy, stylish dining room that’s equal parts intimate and casual, and BYOB — what more could you ask for? Takeout? Cause they do that now!

Fish Nor Fowl. While nothing in the name suggestions this should be a pasta destination, the restaurant’s second chapter is all about house-made pasta — and we’re all about that. From the classics (cacio e pepe) to the ambitious (rigatoni with braised oxtail & pickled celery), each pasta is made in-house with rave reviews.  Two things to note.  One: It’s a Deshantz restaurant so if you think you are going to stroll in on a weekend sans reservation, think again.  Two: They have a late night pasta hour hour on Fridays and Saturdays with a wine pairing between 10-11p and that sounds like the perfect way to spend an evening to us.

Chengdu Gourmet. If Fish Nor Fowl is your swanky, special occasion option for noodles, then let the stark dining room at Chengdu be its more understated counterpoint. But don’t let the bare bones appearance fool you as this kitchen is putting out some of the city’s finest Sichuan plates. For starters, red chili dumplings are perfection. But a close second is their deep roster of beyond spicy noodle dishes.  Shredded pork with pickled vegetable noodle soup, dan dan with minced pork, hot & sour yam noodle.  Yes, yes and yes.  Feeling extra adventurous, try the braise pork intestine soup and tell us how it is (we are too nervous to order it!).

Umami. Head upstairs to this modern izakaya situated above Round Corner Cantina for one of our favorite ramen (and sake) spots in town. Umami is dimly lit and endlessly buzzy, no matter the time of day, and the late night specials offer something much more enticing than the usual post-bar slice of pizza. Pair a bowl of the miso ramen or grilled salmon soba with an order of gyoza (hands down the best in town) to share, and don’t forget a garnished cocktail for the full Japanese pub food experience.

The Vandal. Looking for a Euro-American noodle experience that’s a bit more upscale? Every fall and winter, the Vandal sneaks a few house-made pasta dishes onto their menu and absolutely wows us with creative, entirely out-of-the-ordinary flavor combinations. Right now, we can’t wait to try the black garlic spaghetti with littleneck clams and the duck confit pici (think fat spaghetti) with bok choy, but if you miss out on those (that seasonal menu changes quickly!), whatever comes next is sure to be equally exciting.

Rigatoni alla Scamorza Affumicata at Dish. When they reopened their doors, we sat down and immediately gave a sigh of relief that this cream laden dish with prosciutto and pistachio was still on the menu. While nearly everything on their menu is lovely, this bowl of pasta is hands down our favorite in the city on a cold winter night with a glass of Italian red in arms reach.