In case you haven’t noticed, the Pittsburgh restaurant scene is kind of a big deal.
While you’ve been sticking to Steel City staples like pierogies and Primanti Brothers, a new generation of Pittsburgh chefs and restaurateurs have been wowing diners and snagging headlines. In recent months, Eater, the Washington Post and the New York Times all had wonderful things to say.
And all signs point to more of the same. From new spots to anticipated openings (plus some noteworthy food news) Pittsburgh has a lot to look forward to.
Station, Curtis Gamble’s new gastropub in Bloomfield, serves up modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean touch. The current dinner menu, which features local and hyper-seasonal ingredients, is full of singular flavor profiles that are as clever as they are satisfying. Gamble’s goal was to “blur the lines between modern cooking and what’s considered rustic or old school.” Their lick-the-bowl-good chicken liver mousse and piping hot crispy wings, topped with parmesan fondue, are prime examples of that mentality. For dessert, the popcorn panna cotta is not to be missed.
Located centrally on Lawrenceville’s main drag, the Vandal is your new go-to neighborhood spot. Since opening earlier in August, owner Joey Hilty says the team’s been working to expand its “simple & seasonal” menu. We love the casual feel of the European-counter style service and the open kitchen—and it’s BYOB with no corkage fee, so be still our beating hearts.
Pallantina Tapas y Paella
Formerly located in Greensburg, Pallantia Tapas y Paella has found a new home in Shadyside off Ivy Street. For their Queso y Embutido, or cheese and meats, they’ve specially imported their selections from Spain for an authentic touch. Pallantia’s Tapas Frias contain a number of vegetarian options, while their Tapas Calientes offer a variety of seafood. Their rotating paella dish, which serves 2-3 people, will feature “seasonal ingredients.”
After quietly popping up at the beginning of this summer, Chef Adolfo Vaccarello’s namesake Bloomfield eatery is serving up a mix of Italian and Venezuelan dishes. Fitting, because the Vaccarello family has roots in both Italy and Venezuela. You’ll find authentic Venezuelan dishes, such as arepas and pabellon criollo, next to Italian dishes like chicken piccata and pesto tortellini. Adolfo’s also serves brunch from 10 to 3 on Sundays (RE those “bottomless mimosa” rumors: You bring the champagne and they’ll provide the OJ.)
When Täkō opened up in April, we wondered if food was all hype- really, how good could a dressed up taco really be? Answer: Täkō’s bougie tacos slay the game. Richard Deshantz’ newest downtown hotspot somehow manages to simultaneously reinvent and elevate tacos while still keeping them playful and downright fun. We love the duck confit, Täkō taco, Korean, Baja…okay, basically we love all of them. Drinks are wildly inventive as well.
Slice Island and Spirit Lodge
Their Twitter description simply says “pizza booze party” and that pretty much sums it right up. This former event space in Lawrenceville has been transformed into a two-level pizzeria (Slice Island) and bar (Spirit Lodge.) The Sicilian-cut pizzas at Slice Island have a tasty focaccia-esque crust and high quality toppings.
Owners Kate and Tomasz (the pair that brought you Pierogi Night) are happy to report that “they’ve been moving pretty quickly” and are aiming for an early November open date. Apteka’s veggie-centric menu will “explores some of the things that are shared in the similar environment of Pittsburgh and Central + Eastern Europe. Look forward to house made cordials & punches, as well as simple cocktails made with juices that are popular to the Central European region. We’ll keep you in the loop as they continue developing their dinner offerings and late night menu, which will feature dishes atypical to Eastern European cuisine and some favorites from pierogi night.
Emporio: A Meatball Joint
Do meatballs taste better when you don’t have to brave downtown traffic to eat them? Seems like the Sienna Restaurant Group is testing that theory out. Slated to open in the fall, Emporio: A Meatball Joint at the Village of Pine on Route 19 will be modeled after the first-floor meatball eatery at Sienna Mercato. Expect to see a meatball-driven menu and plenty of tap draft beer options.
Set to open above Round Corner Cantina, Chef Roger Li’s Japanese-styled pub will serve traditional Japanese dishes made with modern techniques and local ingredients. If you’ve been following the Umami Instagram, you’ll know that this resto is toying around with items not easily found in Pittsburgh, like handmade ramen and shumai. We have never been more ready.
Justin Severino’s second Lawrenceville restaurant isn’t slated to open until later this year, but looking at recent photos of the Morcilla pop-up dinner dishes have us utterly convinced that Justin Severino is a bonafide meat magician. Morcilla will feature “a family style menu” with a strong Spanish influence and, of course, charcuterie.
Chaz & Odette
An internationally inspired restaurant will open in the space that used to be Toast! Kitchen & Wine Bar space by early fall. Odette Smith-Ransome and Chaz Smith, a former assistant professor at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and her former student Charles (Chaz) Smith, are looking to serve up flatbreads, sandwiches, and burgers for lunch and homey options for dinner.
Kevin Sousa’s recently revealed at a “Speak Freely” talk that his newest venture in Braddock could open by early November. Superior Motors will locally source the majority of its ingredients, in addition to using produce from their rooftop greenhouse and raised bed garden.
Gaucho Parilla Argentina finished its expansion in early June and we are absolutely loving the new space—there is so much of it! The kitchen and staff are as energetic as ever.
The Livermore has been working on a menu overhaul. Check it out during Happy Hour (Wed-Sat from 5-6pm) when the food menu is at half price like its sister restaurant Bar Marco.
Speaking of Bar Marco: Jamilka Borges is parting ways with the Strip District restaurant, so make sure you catch her Swing Trunk before she takes it on a road trip out of PGH! The Swing Trunk’s menu features Puerto Rican inspired bites and drinks like watermelon sangria to keep the summertime vibes flowing.
And Jamilka isn’t the only chef seeking a change of scenery. After working with Kimpton hotels to open multiple restaurants, including The Commoner at Hotel Monaco, chef Dennis Marron is on the move. Word on the street is that Marron plans to open a restaurant of his own in Pittsburgh.
Blue Canary Coffee, which serves a killer pint of nitro-brew coffee, recently announced that it will open up a second location in Mt. Lebanon.