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The Dog Days of Dining

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Asta -- the fox terrier and amateur gumshoe who worked alongside fictional high-society sleuths Nick and Nora Charles -- dined at four-star restaurants in Manhattan and San Francisco. Dorothy Parker's prolific pooch Cliché endured hours of puns under an Algonquin Round Table.

In Europe, Fido and Fifi can march indoors beside their owners, furry heads held high, and curl up under starched white tablecloths. Recently, New York City has become very pet-friendly, allowing dogs inside many restaurants and bars. But what about the 'Burgh? Is Pittsburgh becoming petropolitan?

Indoor dining is a no-no, says the Allegheny County Health Department. Yet restrictions don't apply to outdoor seating areas, so local hounds are welcome to sup al fresco, provided that restaurant owners permit pups onto their premises.

If you're interested in dining at a restaurant with outdoor seating, call to see if dogs are allowed. Meanwhile, here are a few local establishments that fur-bearing diners favor.

Acanthus Restaurant (reviewed this week) has a large stone patio for outdoor dining. There, human companions can enjoy a three-course prix fixe lunch menu while Fluffy lounges underfoot. Thom Naylor, general manager of Acanthus, embraces the idea of inter-species dining. "This is such a simple thing to do to accommodate pet owners," he says. "It's becoming a trend to take your dog out to [eat], and we're happy to participate."

The Church Brew Works, in Bloomfield, allows dogs on the patio. Savor a wood-fired pizza and a glass of Pious Monk Dunkel with your pooch nearby at this brewpub/restaurant, carved from the once-sacred space of St. John the Baptist church.

A phone call is appreciated before packing up the dog and heading to Pittsburgh's celebrated garage-sale-funky Cafe Zinho, on Spahr Street in Shadyside (412-363-1500). If the patio isn't too full, you may BYOD to this BYOB restaurant.

After I contacted Arthur Lo Casale, manager of Muriel's, in Allegheny West, regarding its dog-friendly policy, he decided to launch a "Bring Your Dog to Lunch" every Saturday starting Aug. 18. Dog and human can dine in Muriel's garden under large umbrellas. Dogs will be offered complimentary water and treats. Have Rover dial 412-322-0476.

Lo Casale also speaks to the one requirement any dog-friendly restaurant demands: good temperament.

"You know your dog," says Lo Casale. "If your dog stays with you and doesn't bother other patrons, they are most welcome. If not, well, they won't be asked back."

In other words: No Sit, No Stay, No Service.

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