The key ingredient: The Bar Marco collaboration

Thoughtful programming and menu curation are what Bar Marco sizzles best as the restaurant creates an intimate experience of locally sourced ingredients right to your kitchen. As Bar Marco creates more collaborative efforts with the community, it is teaming up with Made in PGH to deliver its culinary and cocktail shaking skillset through a multileveled, sensory experience of its first Made in PGH Virtual Kitchen.

A reimagined Firehall turned full-service restaurant is navigating new, creative ways to support its local region and to let the Bar Marco team showcase its natural talents. With the help of chef Justin Steel and lead bartender Jason Renner of Bar Marco, they rely on each other to bring robust flavor and flair through each of their own aptitudes. Steel has worked at Bar Marco since its opening in 2012, and Renner has worked there for six and a half years. Their seasoned ability helps to showcase the very best of local ingredients and to use them year-round.

“Bar Marco is an Italian-inspired kitchen. In Italy, they use ingredients within the region to make dishes in which we aim to do the same,” Steel says. “We come up with overtly Italian dishes with seasonal offerings and apply these renditions through our own lens to how that can be translated to Italian recipes in reimagined ways.”

Local ingredients in the Pittsburgh region are vital to Bar Marco’s culinary and cocktail creativity.

Image via: Bar Marco

With a laugh, Steel says, “We are a collaborative kitchen. None of us had any experience when opening this place, and I was the chef because I knew how to cook the best out of all of them.

Sustainable growth has paved new opportunities and cultivated positive experiences for each individual handling their own creative capabilities. Since its opening, the evolution of each one’s talents has soared. Each person within the niche kitchen depends on each other for their uniqueness based on the synergy within the group.

There is always supportive input from the entire team, and we depend on each other to create the ambiance of our food,” says Steel. 

For the Made in PGH Virtual Kitchen, Steel is teaching how to cook two dishes: rigatoni all’amatriciana (the classic Roman pasta dish prepared with house-made pasta) and roasted pork shoulder with salmoriglio sauce and roasted fennel.

Image via: Bar Marco

Cocktail time has also become an entirely collaborative experience rather than a straight dealer’s choice. With its changing landscape of service offerings to more takeout, the restaurant offers many natural wines and classy cocktails to-go, too. 

Renner says, “There’s more planning into our cocktail program rather than from my visceral duties from before.” 

For the Made in PGH Virtual Kitchen, Renner is whimsically straightforward with his cocktail, VFNTS (Vodka, fruity, not too sweet) that he will teach over the Zoom experience. The to-go cocktail ingredients will consist of Grey Goose Vodka, Martini and Rossi Fireo Apertivo, and some citrus. 

Besides citrus, I limit myself to what’s fresh and local,” says Renner. “Local and seasonal offerings are fundamental to my bartending experimentation, even freezing ingredients like watermelon to break it out in March. It’s fun to have locally grown ingredients from prior seasons instead of picking up ingredients from Whole Foods. It’s fresh from here.

Image via: Bar Marco

With the help of Made in PGH, Steel and Renner are bringing their collaborative mindset to the table at home. Those interested can purchase tickets here and can join the Bar Marco team live from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting for an hour-long cooking class on March 25 starting at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. If you can’t partake in this experience, you can purchase a Made in PGH Virtual Kitchen Shopping List and Streaming Link here.

In case you missed the online event, be sure to follow Bar Marco on Facebook, Twitter, and its Instagram for tasteful food features or book the wine room, now accepting reservations. The restaurant is also currently offering takeout dinners, wine, & cocktails on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Colin Parrish

Colin is a Pittsburgh born and raised, daydreamer, restaurant foodie addict whose passions include running, thrifting, camping, and having a healthy amount of coffee or Malbec (depending on the time of day) . As a typical jagoff, you can catch him shopping in the Strip, running in Highland Park, or finding the best hiking views just outside of the city. He is a content manager for YaJagoff Media LLC and currently lives in Etna, PA.

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