It’s been a busy year for Pittsburgh’s food scene.
Along the way, we’ve done our best to keep you in the loop. And you’ve done your best to keep up. But, with the new year fast approaching, it seems like as good a time as any to recap some of the recent bar and restaurant happenings around town. Because 2016 is sure to bring more of the same in the way of new spots you’ll want to try out.
So just in case you fell behind, here’s a rundown of bar and restaurant openings you may have missed.
The much anticipated Ace Hotel is up and running in East Liberty. With the opening of the Ace comes the arrival of Whitfield, a 100-seat restaurant within the hotel offering all-American fare and a meat-centric menu. Whitefield’s culinary team includes a host of Pittsburghers lead by the hotel’s culinary partner Brent Young. Young, the restaurateur behind The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, will be working with executive chef Bethany Zozula, the former executive sous chef at Eleven, and head pastry chef Casey Shively.
At long last, Justin Severino’s second Lawrenceville restaurant is now open! After a series of pop-up dinners that proved Severino is, in fact, a bona fide meat magician, Morcilla’s family style menu with a strong Spanish influence is ready and waiting for you. And yes, of course, there’s charcuterie. All of which can be accompanied by a variety of Spanish wines, cocktails, and ciders.
Scratch Food and Beverage
In the fall, Troy Hill witnessed a changing of the guard. Billy’s Troy Hill Bistro, which had held down a spot on Lowrie Street for 31 years, was replaced by Scratch Food and Beverage. With a focus on the local community, from the ingredients to the camaraderie, Scratch is poised to fill the void left by Billy’s. Expect unconventional takes on classic items and inventive craft cocktails without the price tag or pomp of other establishments.
Franktuary @ Market Square
This highly acclaimed hot dog shop has set up another location in Market Square. While their formula for reclaiming the frank remains the same (high-quality, locally sourced ingredients), the downtown location is looking to give the people what they want. That means keeping the rush hour wait to a minimum while stocking the bar with after-work essentials, like local beers, cider, and spirits.
The former home of the 581 Moose Lodge has been transformed into a two-level pizzeria, bar, and event space. Say hello to Spirit, your friendly neighborhood “pizza booze party.” The first floor houses the Spirit Lodge bar, with local brews abound. Upstairs you’ll find the Spirit Hall event space. Last, but not least, Slice Island – the in-house pizzeria – slings Sicilian-cut pizza by the slice or pie.
You can hang out or snag take out from the Vandal. That said, the well-designed space and chill vibe makes kicking it for a bit worthwhile. Oh, the eats help too. Serving everything from breakfast to dinner (depending on the day) the small, but thoughtful menu is always spot on. You can’t go wrong here, but you can go more right (?) with the toast. Selections vary, just know that the base is from Bread and Salt and the toppings are equally as mind (and taste bud) blowing.
Thanks to Curtis Gamble, Bloomfield is getting in on the new eatery action. At Station you’ll find a menu made up of modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean touch, that attempts to “blur the lines between modern cooking and what’s considered rustic or old school.” Using a combination of local and hyper-seasonal ingredients, to create flavor profiles that are as clever as they are satisfying, Gamble is succeeding in doing exactly that.
Fire Side Public House
In East Liberty, there’s a new restaurant has moved into the space that once housed the much beloved Station Street Hot Dogs. As the name suggests, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy fireside dining. But don’t expect open flames. Instead, the Fire Side Public House serves dishes straight out of their wood-fired oven. Pair your piping hot sandwich, burger or entree with a beer or cocktail from the expansive menu, featuring many local options, to round out your meal.
There are two things you should expect from this new eatery in Market Square: seafood and lamb. Sourcing their inspiration from Greek and Mediterranean flavors, and their lamb from local farms (Latrobe’s Jamison Farm and Elysian Fields Farm in Waynesburg), Poros is putting protein at the center of their menu. But rest assured that there are plenty of vegetarian options, small plates, and plenty to drink, including creative cocktails and an extensive wine list.
From the team that brought you Meat & Potatoes and Butcher and the Rye, comes Täkō, featuring, you guessed it, tacos. Which might leave you wondering, how good could a dressed up taco really be? Answer: Prepare for the most inventive tacos (like a duck confit taco!) you’ve tasted. Also, tequila.
In Carnegie, this new restaurant is winning the neighborhood over. It’s been so good that what was initially a breakfast and lunch concept has grown to include dinner six nights a week and a full bar. The best part about this place might be the fact that they stay true to their name. From the Bakn BLT to the bacon-infused bloody Mary, you’ll get exactly what you came for, and more, when you stop by this spot.
As if the battle for Pittsburgh’s favorite sandwich wasn’t already competitive enough, there’s a new sandwich shop opening in Bloomfield that’s sure to shake things up. Here, the name says it all: it’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time! As you may have guessed, this place is serving up the classic version of “Mom’s PB&J” and upgrading the traditional sandwich by offering gourmet PB&Js too. Like what, you ask? How about two waffles smeared with peanut butter and jelly before being smooshed together for your enjoyment!
Smoke BBQ Taqueria
After making the move from Homestead to Lawrenceville, Smoke has quickly become a standout spot on Butler Street. Anyone familiar with their work shouldn’t be surprised. Smoked meats served inside homemade tortillas, never tasted so good. On the other hand, the addition of “Hamburger Tuesday” might come as a surprise. That’s right, Smoke is now open at 5 pm on Tuesdays until they run out of (80ish) burgers.
Chaz and Odette
Expect to encounter and internationally inspired menu at this restaurant in the space that used to be Toast! Kitchen & Wine Bar. Odette Smith-Ransome and Chaz Smith, a former assistant professor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and her former student Charles (Chaz) Smith, are serving up flatbreads, sandwiches, and burgers for lunch and homey options for dinner.
There’s no shortage of bars or boutiques along Walnut Street in Shadyside, but sit down dining is a different story. Pallantia is aiming to change that. Specializing in authentic Spanish cuisine, their Queso y Embutido, or cheese and meats, uses ingredients specially imported from Spain. And that also means you’ll have your pick of tapas, including the Tapas Calientes offering a variety of seafood, as well as the Tapas Frias containing a number of vegetarian options.
Class up your casual dining experience at this classic Italian eatery in lower Lawrenceville. The atmosphere is just upscale enough, but not stuffy. Which makes Senti a solid date night spot. Especially if your date is into traditional Italian fare and a stellar wine list. Take your pick of pasta, consider the Salumi Plate, sip your way through the lengthy list of wines, and save room dessert. Of course, there’s Tiramisu. But the Budino al Café – coffee pudding with glazed donut holes – makes ordering both and sharing the right choice.
Combining three concepts under one roof, Umbrella Café brings together Soup Nancys, Savasana Juice Company, and Om Nom Bake Studio. The result is a breakfast and lunch spot in the Cultural District serving handmade soups, mouthwatering baked goods, or snag a Juice FEAST from Savasana. Ask about the Yumbrella Special, seasonal and daily specials featuring comfort food and crowd-pleasers.
Pints on Penn
This relative newcomer is a friendly neighborhood watering hole with roots that can be traced back to Prohibition-era Pittsburgh. But don’t be fooled by this spots storied past, Pints on Penn isn’t a trip back in time, it’s a fresh take on a restored space. From the first floor bar to second-floor dining room and deck, right down to the food, draft, and cocktail menus, this place is a welcomed alternative to overcrowded, overpriced, or underwhelming bars in the Burgh.
This bar and lounge located in Lawrenceville focuses on nightlife and local DJs. At Gold Mark, the state of the art DJ booth puts the music front and center. Of course, owners Adam Kulik (a.k.a. DJ Nugget) and his fiancé Nicole Billitto wouldn’t have it any other way. And their shot-and-a-beer bar menu will get you an Iron City and a shot of Old Grand-Dad for five bucks. Add a food menu and direct from the kitchen service window that’s planned for spring and Gold Mark is sure to become your late night go-to.
Just around the corner from his restaurant Piccolo Forno, owner Domenic Branduzzi brings you Grapperia. Here the star of the show is grappa, a grape-based Italian brandy, and amari, a bitter-sweet syrupy Italian alcohol popular as a post-meal digestivo. You’ll also find other Italian mainstays like limoncello, sambuca, and plenty of wine.
Full Pint Wild Side Pub
Like the beers concocted by this North Versailles-based brewery, their Lawrenceville brew pub is a little wild, in a good way. It’s funky and welcoming at once. Once you settle in you’ll be greeted by some Full Pint flagship brews, and abundance of knowledge from behind the bar, and the chance to taste some weird beers you won’t find anywhere else. They’re a part of the Wild Side Series that pair perfectly with some eats from Wild Purveyors next door.