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NOLA's grand reopening promises to make this summer even hotter

From the summer weather, to hot jazz, to spicy sauce, NOLA on the Square’s grand reopening promises to bring the heat.
 
NOLA, Pittsburgh’s downtown destination for New Orleans, La. — NOLA — cuisine and live jazz music, announced the entertainment line-up for its reopening celebration, kicking off July 15.
 
Opening in 2011, NOLA was a Market Square staple until a fire forced it to close its doors on Feb. 24, 2014. Just less than six months later, NOLA is ready to start serving Cajun and Creole favorites again.
 
“Luckily, we were very organized about it,” says John Ajay, corporate beverage director for The Big Y Restaurant Group, general manager of Perlé and assistant general manager of NOLA, about the renovation. “We were able to move pretty quickly on this.”
 
The reopening will feature several events, including a weeklong JazzFest — a nod to New Orleans’ popular spring music festival. NOLA’s JazzFest will run from July 15 to July 19 and feature a different artist every night. The Fri., July 18 and Sat., July 19 events will host multiple performances.
 
“Friday and Saturday are sort of a jazz marathon,” says Karen Poirier, president of KeboWorks and NOLA media preview.  She explains that the Friday performances will run from 4PM to midnight and Saturday’s acts are all day from noon to midnight.
 
After JazzFest, NOLA will return to its regular live music schedule with performances Wednesday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 8PM.
 
On July 30, NOLA Chefs Andrew Hebson and Leonard Pisano will go head-to-head in a Chef vs. Chef battle of the hot sauces contest to be decided by a panel of Pittsburgh celebrity judges. The panel includes WQED’s Director of Programming and host of QED Cooks Chris Fennimore; popular food and drinks writer Hal B. Klein; and comedian and WDVE morning show personality Bill Crawford.
 
The chefs will use dueling Louisiana hot sauces Crystal and Tabasco creatively in their recipes. Patrons have the option to join in on the fun and order from the hot sauce battle menu or stick to NOLA’s traditional menu.
 
NOLA will also debut Speakeasy as part of its reopening. Dedicated to craft whiskeys and beers, Speakeasy is a companion bar to Perlé, NOLA’s upstairs neighbor, also reopening July 15.
 
Poirier calls Speakeasy “a new destination” and private event venue for NOLA. She added that “Speakeasy is the mancave complement to Perlé,” which Poirier describes as a romantic, late-night tapas lounge. Decorated in a dark, masculine style with club chairs, Speakeasy will operate Friday and Saturday nights from 8PM to 2AM.
 
In addition to the launch of Speakeasy and Perlé’s comeback, the bars will also introduce a Vintage Champagne Room — located between Speakeasy and Perlé. The Champagne Room will host upwards of 500 bottles from Dom Pérignon to Moët & Chandon to Ace of Spades.
 
While the paint is fresh and the art is new, NOLA is still the Market Square restaurant Pittsburgh knows and loves — complete with its popular open-air kitchen.
 
“We’re just really looking forward to opening back up," Ajay says, noting that both customers and neighboring businesses have shown encouragement during the renovation process. "We’ve had a lot of support over the past few months. It’s a nice little neighborhood we have in the Square.”
 
 
Source:  Karen Poirier, KeboWorks, John Ajay

Summer dining goes to the dogs

It’s patio season in Pittsburgh and many residents want to enjoy the weather with the entire family—including Fido.
 
Many Pittsburgh eateries allow four-legged patrons in their outdoor seating areas. Some even provide services for your dog from drinks to dessert. In fact, Double Wide Grill is hosting the second annual Lucky’s South Side Dog Festival on Sun., June 29 from 12PM to 5PM.
 
The free South Side event (open to pups and the public) will feature a dog talent show, contests (from howling to owner/pet look alike), games and pet adoption. The Double Wide Mars location will host the first annual Lucky’s Mars Area Dog Festival on Sun., July 20.
 
Here is a list of Pittsburgh’s dog-friendly dining options.
 
Big Dog Coffee
South Side
Just as the name would suggest, dogs are invited to join their humans on the patio.
 
Bistro 19
Mt. Lebanon
Dogs are permitted on sidewalk seating.
 
Bites and Brews
Shadyside
Dogs are permitted on sidewalk seating.
 
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream
Bruster’s provides free doggy sundaes to canine patrons!
 
Cappy's Café
Shadyside
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Coca Café  
Lawrenceville
Dogs are permitted on sidewalk seating.
 
Cupka’s II
South Side
Cupka’s II provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Del’s Restaurant
Bloomfield              
Del’s provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Diamond Market Bar and Grill
Downtown
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Double Wide Grill
South Side
Double Wide’s South Side location was the first business in Allegheny County to legally provide a designated dog section. Dogs are welcome to join the family for an al fresco meal on the patio at the South Side location. The dog patio is not available at Double Wide’s Mars location.

Il Pizzaiolo
Downtown and Mt. Lebanon
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Marty’s Market
The Strip
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.
 
Mercurio's
Shadyside
Dogs are welcome to join their humans for an al fresco meal.
 
Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle Irish Pub
The Strip
Harp & Fiddle provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Nine on Nine
Downtown
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.
 
Osteria
The Strip
Not only are dogs allowed to join their humans on the patio, but dog treats are available for 50 cents!
 
Redfin Blues
Washington’s Landing
Dogs are permitted on the restaurant’s side patio.
                     
S. Aiken Bar & Grille
Shadyside
S. Aiken provides an outdoor, pet-friendly patio.
 
Shady Grove
Shadyside                      
Dogs are permitted on the restaurant’s patio.
 
Silky’s Pub
Bloomfield
Dogs are permitted at outdoor seating.
 
Social
Bakery Square
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.
 
Square Café
Regent Square
Dogs are allowed at outdoor seating and the restaurant will provide a bowl of water for your dog.  
 

Please share your favorite dog-friendly spots in the comments!
 
Source: Double Wide Grill, BringFido.com, petfriendlyrestaurants.com, dogfriendly.com

Throwback Thursday: Penn Brewery

“The history of this brewery actually goes back [about] 150 years,” Linda Nyman, co-owner and marketing director at Penn Brewery, begins.       
 
The Northside brewery has seen many transformations since its founding in Deutschtown in 1848. Deutschtown was the neighborhood in Allegheny City named for its large population of German immigrants.
 
And where there were mid-19th century German immigrants, there was beer.
 
The block where Penn Brewery is located once hosted eight or nine breweries, with Ober Brothers and Eberhardt and Ober breweries calling the site of modern Penn Brewery home. Eberhardt and Ober were connected through marriage, according to Nyman.
 
In 1899, Eberhardt and Ober merged with about 20 other regional breweries. The group became known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company — Iron City Beer’s predecessor. Beer production continued until 1952 (save a hiatus during prohibition), under such labels as E&O Pilsner and Dutch Club.
 
After 1952 the brewery was vacant, hosted a grocery for a short period of time and then fell into disrepair, Nyman says.
 
In 1989, Tom Pastorius brought Penn Brewery to its modern glory, though Nyman notes the brew house was not yet called by its modern moniker. The restaurant was known as Allegheny Brewery & Pub until 1994. 
 
“We were the first tied house [in Pennsylvania] …  since prohibition,” Nyman says of the building being a restaurant coupled with a brewery.
 
Today, several historic holdovers can still be found at Penn Brewery. Eberhardt and Ober opened three breweries on the site where Penn exists today, and three of the original E&O brewery buildings remain. These buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and boast many fascinating architectural features, according to www.pennbrew.com
 
The cobblestone beer garden was once an entrance way for horse drawn beer deliveries, the old administrative building disconnected from Penn Brewery hosts original architecture in its tiling and stairs, and perhaps the most notable historic feature is the “labyrinth” of stone caves and tunnels that was constructed to chill, or ‘lager,’ barrels of beer in the days before refrigeration.
 
Nyman says these “lagering caves” are built into the hillside and are not open to the public, though they hope to have a few inspected for modern use in the future. She adds that the caves were discovered during masonry renovation, complete with old, rotting beer barrels.
 
Aches and pains associated with Penn Brewery’s age most recently made news when a beehive was discovered in the beerhouse’s second floor offices.
 
When a final layer of walling came down during renovation last month, the brewery was abuzz. A five-foot beehive hosting 50,000 to 60,000 bees was uncovered. Luckily, the master beekeeper who removed the bees was only stung twice when evacuating them to a new home.
 
Penn Brewery has been a part of the community — brewing local beer for 166 years. This is reflected in their offerings.
 
Their website states: “Our varied menu pays tribute to the many European nationalities whose immigrants built Pittsburgh and its colorful cultural heritage.”
 
This post is part of a “Throwback Thursday” series highlighting Pittsburgh’s revitalized historic buildings. 

Source: Linda Nyman, Penn Brewery 
 

New bake shop in the Strip offers custom cakes and bacon cinnamon rolls

Dulcinea Bakeshop will open its doors Sat., June 14 in the Strip district. The bakery located at 2627 Penn Ave is next door to Savoy restaurant and one of several shops to recently find a home in the Strip on Penn Avenue toward Lawrenceville. 
 
“I think the Strip and Lawrenceville are just going to connect at some point,” Tabrina Avery, Dulcinea owner, says with a grin about the expanding neighborhood.
 
Avery, a Le Cordon Bleu Pittsburgh graduate, says she is excited to start a business in the Strip and is trying to support neighborhood shops. The bakery will offer La Prima coffee and Opening Night Catering’s Harry Ross and Jean Ross
have been helping Avery navigate opening a new business — she has a history of baking wedding cakes for the catering company.
 
Avery has worked as a baker for a couple of other Pittsburgh restaurants since she moved to the city in 2007. Dulcinea is her first independent venture.
 
 “I was a huge fan of Don Quixote as a kid, Dulcinea was the woman he fell in love with and it kind of always stuck with me,” Avery says about choosing a name for her shop.
 
Wedding cakes and cakes to order will be a part of Dulcinea’s menu.  Avery says she will have specials that change weekly and will focus on breakfast style baked goods for the menu. She says the bakery will offer savory quiches, danishes (including a cardamom flavor), pound cake, cake by the slice and even bacon cinnamon buns.
 
“My cinnamon buns are out of this world,” she says with a laugh. Avery adds that she likes to focus on pure flavors when baking. She says, “I like to take simple classics and elevate them.”
 
The grand opening will be from 10AM to 5PM Saturday.  Avery will feature her house dulce de leche cake for the occasion.
 
Source: Tabrina Avery

Rustbuilt and Citiparks team up to bring Squirrel Hill its first farmers market

The new Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market debuted in the parking lot that runs from Bartlett Street to Beacon Street — directly behind the old Gulliftys — last weekend on Sun., June 1.
 
City Councilman Corey O’Connor cut the ribbon Sunday, marking the official opening of Squirrel Hill’s first farmers market and Citiparks’ first weekend farmers market.
 
The Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market is a unique partnership between Citiparks and RustBuilt, a nonprofit working to nurture next-generation entrepreneurship and innovation in Pittsburgh and throughout the Rust Belt.
 
Nearly a thousand people wandered through, according to Alec Rieger, executive director at RustBuilt. He said vendors were almost completely sold out by noon — and the market runs from 9AM to 1PM
 
“I would say it was a really big success,” Rieger says. 
 
Featuring more than 20 vendors, Rieger says produce and food products “run the gamut.” He says the market offers high end organic food, mixed organics, prepared food, cheese, meat, baked goods, Italian ice, artisan vinegar and, he joked, no market would be complete without kettle corn.
 
“Meaningful public health and environmental arguments aside, this market is both a community development and economic development initiative, with the overarching goal of leveraging the neighborhood’s human capital, in order to create greater communal connection, cohesiveness, and commerce in Squirrel Hill and beyond,” says Rieger about the event.
 
He adds that the market fosters public health, environmental consciousness and, most importantly, community. Rieger says he hopes the market is a space where one does “not just grab your broccoli and go.” He says he wants people and families to sit and stay awhile. 
 
To create a neighborhood atmosphere, the market will begin hosting music as early as this weekend and hopes to have crafts and activities for children in the future.
 
The Squirrel Hill Farmers’ Market is also partnering with local social service agencies to provide market access to nearby homebound elderly and will accept EBT and FMNP vouchers.
 
The market will be open from 9AM to 1PM every Sunday through the end of November.
 
Source: Alec Rieger, RustBuilt

New brewery opens in Braddock

A new brewery is opening in Braddock, Wednesday. Two Carnegie Mellon grads are the brain children behind The Brew Gentlemen, opening in the former Halco Electric Supply store at 512 Braddock Ave. Matt Katase and Asa Foster created their first beer in the garage of their fraternity house and have been working toward this day ever since.

"We were both kinda unsure about pursuing careers on the tracts we were on," says Katase, originally of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. "Beer seemed like a happy medium that allowed us to wear multiple hats. So far, no two days have been the same."

Since 2010, Katase and Foster have poured all of their time and resources into creating both a brewery and a tap room to brew and sell their beer. They both changed their majors, Katase from math to operations research and entrepreneurship and Foster from art to digital media and fabrication. Katase took an independent study and worked with a mentor to build The Brew Gentlemen business plan.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised $32,118, they were off to the races, building their brewery and perfecting their recipes with their own four hands.

They chose to open their brewery in Braddock because they loved the energy of the small city and could see its potential.

"Intially when we were writing the business plan and working on all of that our entrepreneurship professor made us choose three potential locations," Katase says. "Braddock was kind of an afterthought. Asa mentioned it because he had taken a class called Mapping Braddock and spent a lot of time down here and was drawn to the energy. In senior year we spent a morning walking around and after that, it had to be in Braddock."

That first beer, brewed back in 2010 is called White Sky, a wheat beer brewed with chai tea spices. They jokingly call it their "year round seasonal," because it evokes a different seasonal sense memory for everyone who tastes it. They've gone on to produce several beers with clever, regional names such as General Braddock.

In Feb. of this year they hired master brewer Brandon Capps who has chops from working as an Anheuser Busch/InBev
systems and processes engineer.

And what about the name?

"It started as kind of a joke," Katase says. "Both Asa and I were in the same frat, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and the frat motto is 'The true gentlemen.' After trying our beer one of our other friends joked and called us 'the brew gentleman.'"

Tomorrow beginning at 4PM The Brew Gentlemen are holding their grand opening, where they'll sell growlers and pints and the mac n' cheese food truck, Mac and Gold, as well as Street Foods will be on hand for grub.

Source: The Brew Gentlemen, Matt Katase.

Pittsburgh Public Market to open shared commercial kitchen this summer

The Market Kitchen at the Pittsburgh Public Market, a shared-use commercial kitchen, is set to open this summer.  Located on the campus of the Public Market in the Strip District, The Market Kitchen will be available to both market vendors and local chefs.
 
Kelly James recently came on as the kitchen manager for The Market Kitchen and addressed a group last week at a Farm to Table lunch and learn focusing on small business development. Many attending the event were interested in learning about the shared, commercial kitchen.
 
“I come here, to this project, as a chef,” James said to the group.
 
She shared her own experience of opening and running the Sugar Café in Dormont. Though the business closed, James says she learned how to help other entrepreneurs navigate the competitive food industry and consider other business models — instead of the traditional, and costly, brick-and-mortar store.
 
“I get to help other people in small businesses avoid the pitfalls,” she says.
 
The Market Kitchen is an economical way for startups to begin their business. James says that by having a space that provides a state-of-the-art kitchen — and is up to code ­­­­— entrepreneurs have the opportunity to start small, get noticed and grow into a shop. 
 
“We’re a nonprofit, so we are here to help people start,” James says.
 
She says a yearly membership of $100 and a $17.50 hourly rate for use of the kitchen — a nominal price compared to most new business costs — will provide Market Kitchen members with the opportunity to utilize the space and have access to Public Market customers. Members can schedule to access the kitchen 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
 
This access to the Public Market is flexible. For extra costs, one could become a vendor; or, it could be as simple as providing samples to market patrons for product exposure.
 
James says she began accepting applications for the kitchen last week. Applicants must be businesses with proper food safety certifications. Fledgling and seasoned chefs are both welcome to apply, and those getting in on the ground floor will have priority, first-come, first-serve kitchen scheduling.
 
“Whether you are just starting out on the path or looking to expand and grow your food business, our goal is to provide you a service that is economically superior to building or leasing your own commercial facility. We offer a unique direct line to success with access to a retail space to sell and market your product within Pittsburgh Public Market. Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District is a perfect place to spread your wings,” the Public Market’s website states.

In addition to entrepreneurs, James says caterers, food truck owners, cart vendors, established restaurants seeking more space, bakers and personal chefs may find the kitchen attractive for its professional appliances and secured storage.
After this kitchen is completed, the market may build a second kitchen. James calls this demo-kitchen “phase two.” She says this installation will provide opportunities for cooking classes and events.
 
The Market Kitchen is expected to be open July 1, 2014, or a few weeks earlier in June. She invites those interested to follow construction progress on the Public Market’s website.

Source: Kelly James, the Pittsburgh Public Market

Creamery now offering locally made ice cream in the Public Market

Last month, Family Farms Creamery in the Pittsburgh Public Market used their local dairy products and other ingredients from the market, or the Strip District, to whip up something new — locally crafted ice cream.
 
Larry Neskey, Family Farms manager and ice cream maker, and Family Farms owner Nathan Holmes explain that their creamery is sourced by a family of local farms that process their own yogurt, cheese and milk.
 
Their ice cream is made with these ingredients and the products from a veritable Strip District scavenger hunt. Neskey says the creamery strives to “source as locally as possible.”
 
The fig balsamic flavor is made with balsamic from The Olive Tap, which sells gourmet olive oils in the Public Market. Blackberry swirl is the fruit of Clarion River Organics. Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip’s product is present in the chocolate ice cream and other flavors with chocolate chips and chunks. Penzeys Spices’ peppermint was used to create the peppermint chip.
 
These flavors aren’t your usual ice cream options. Even the vanilla isn’t plain.
 
Staple flavor, Landlocked Vanilla Bean, was crafted by creating a vanilla extract with Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked spirit — the distillery’s interpretation of rum. Family Farms has also carried a whiskey peach flavor using Wigle’s product.
 
“I like to look at it like a microbrewery,” Neskey says about playing with flavors. He added that there will be certain flavors like the Landlocked Vanilla always on tap, but other experimental flavors will cycle through.
 
Speaking of beer, East End Brewing Co., also a vendor in the Public Market, can be found in the creamery’s Black Strap Stout ice cream.
 
Neskey and Holmes say they focus on using local ingredients and trying to be creative. They are currently playing with goat cheese and bleu cheese ice cream recipes and other flavors requested by customers — they took suggestions from patrons when they launched the ice cream.
 
If you aren’t into ice cream, that’s OK. The Public Market location has a dairy-free sorbet available.
 
The ice cream is currently available $6.00 a pint, or by the scoop at the Public Market and Sewickley Farmer’s Market. Neskey and Holmes say their ice cream will be available this summer at other markets where Family Farms is a vendor, Market Square Farmers Market, the market at Phipps Conservatory and Southside Farmers Market.
 
Source: Family Farms Creamery, Larry Neskey, Nathan Holmes

Burgatory continues ravenous growth with third location in West Homestead, more to follow.

Burgatory, a hometown burger joint, opened a new location at The Waterfront on Sat., April 26 in West Homestead. This is the local chain's third full service restaurant — Burgatory also hosts a burger and shake stand in the Consol Energy Center.
 
Burgatory opened its doors in Waterworks in January 2011 and their second restaurant opened about a year and a half later in Robinson in fall 2012. Burgatory marketing director Meredith Hanley said the chain is already vying for the next location, or two.
 
“We have a couple of other locations in the works now,” she said.  “We’re definitely growing.”
 
A big part of the chain's growth has been the involvement of commercial real estate guru Herky Pollock, a vice president at CBRE.

"We are in a position to go national," Pollock told the Post-Gazette in a Nov. 2013 article. "The restaurant has legs to grow a broader distance than we dreamed."

Part of the restaurant's allure is the ability to build your own burger, picking everything from the meat to the rub to the bun. Burgatory also won the national A1 Burger Bracket for the second year in a row earlier this month.

The Burgatory website currently notes that a Murrysville joint in the Blue Spruce Shoppes is “coming soon.” Hanley said this fourth location is set to open in the fall.
 
The West Homestead site was selected like Burgatory’s other spots for being a high traffic area. Hanley noted the new eatery at 299 West Bridge St. is near a movie theater in The Waterfront open-air shopping center.
 
To celebrate The Waterfront grand opening, Burgatory partnered with another West Homestead business, Nancy B’s Bakery, to create a shake with the bake shop’s award winning chocolate chip cookies.  The special shake was available at all Burgatory locations over the weekend.
 
Source: Burgatory, Meredith Hanley

Milkman Brewing Company to open brick-and-mortar spot in the Strip

Pittsburgh’s Milkman Brewing Company will open a brick-and-mortar location next month at 2517 Penn Avenue in the Strip District.  The brewery is an addition to the revitalized 2500 block that also hosts the newly opened Kindred Cycles full service bike shop — near the new Pittsburgh Public Market location.
 
Milkman Brewing co-owners Justin Waters, Jamie Rice and Kyle Branigan met at a home brew event in 2010 and have been brewing beer together ever since. Rice and Waters say Milkman Brewing has “bounced around,” making appearances at events and festivals, but that they are excited to have found a home in the Strip. 

Their May opening will bring a spot to fill up your growler. Patrons can choose old favorites such as the Dahntahn Brahn Ale (brown ale), Peppercorn Rye (made with a variety of peppercorns and rye grain bale) and The Mean Ass Hank (an Irish Whiskey-oaked DIPA) or try one of the new brews they are planning.

Eventually, Waters and Rice say they hope to host events at the new brewery.
 
While there is no grand opening date yet, the milkmen invite locals to stay apprised on opening news by following them on Facebook and Twitter.
 
In the mean time, Waters and Rice noted Milkman has three upcoming events: a tasting at Bocktown in Robinson on April 25, a tasting at Bocktown in Monaca on April 29 and a beer dinner at Tender in Lawrenceville on April 30.
 
 
Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Milkman Brewing Company, Justin Waters, Jamie Rice

Food & Wine magazine spotlights Pittsburgh twice

Last week, Food & Wine magazine named Justin Severino, chef and owner at Cure in Lawrenceville, the People’s 2014 Best New Chef, Mid-Atlantic region.
 
“We're obviously thrilled,” Severino said. “It's always great to be recognized for your hard work, and it feels really good to win as a Pittsburgh chef going up against some of the big names from Philly and DC.”
 
Severino and Cure have won a myriad of honors. Severino was a 2014 James Beard Foundation award nominee for Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic and he was awarded Pittsburgh Magazine Star Chef 2013. In 2012, Cure was named one of the Top 50 Best New Restaurants by Bon Appétit magazine. The restaurant was also selected as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 25 Best Restaurants in 2012.  
 
This time, patrons were the judge. Foodies were invited to vote for their favorite chefs on Food & Wine’s website. Severino was selected by popular vote.
 
“The Pittsburgh community has been wonderful, and this win would have been impossible without them,” he said. “It's very gratifying to see Pittsburgh start to get some national recognition as a real food city. It's deserved it for a while — we couldn't do what we do at Cure, or any of the city's other great restaurants, without a strong community of sophisticated diners.”
 
Food & Wine also recently recognized Café Phipps at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as one of the top museum resta urants in the country. Food & Wine noted the café’s green mission.The article states, “Chef Stephanie Gelberd often sources ingredients from the conservatory's edible garden.”
 
Richard Piacentini, Phipps Executive Director, said the café tries to stay as “green as possible” while also “serving great food.”
 
He said the restaurant composts, does not sell bottled water, uses real or compostable silverware and serves local (sometimes fresh from the garden) and organic food. The Café Phipps is a three star green certified restaurant — one of two certified green restaurants in Pittsburgh, according to Piacentini.  

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Justin Severino, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Bloomfield Saturday Market will launch next month with local product and handmade crafts

The Bloomfield Development Corporation will launch The Bloomfield Saturday market next month. The fresh event will boast local produce, handcrafted products and entertainment geared towards a regional audience.

The market, set to launch May 31, will be held every Saturday until November from 8AM to 1PM at 5050 Liberty Avenue, which is a parking lot owned by West Penn Hospital. 

"The Bloomfield Saturday Market will be a great event, while also providing residents with the opportunity to purchase good, healthy food," said BDC board chairperson Joey Vallarian. "Community health, both the health of the brick and mortar neighborhood as well as the health of its residents, is very important to the BDC, and we think the Bloomfield Saturday Market will help accomplish these goals."
 
Christina Howell, BDC program manager, called the market “eclectic and lively” with vendors who create and package their own food — teas, olive oils, baked goods — in addition to standard farmers market fare. There will also be jewelers and artists selling handmade goods.
 
The market will also feature music and dance performances, health screenings, nutrition information, cooking demonstrations and healthy recipes that can be made from the week’s featured food items. Howell noted that she is also working on a program where teens can harvest urban farms and then sell their fruits at the market.
 
Howell said she hopes to foster a community atmosphere where market-goers can sit and stay awhile. She added that the focus on health, nutrition and access to local produce aid in a healthier Bloomfield.
 
The BDC is currently accepting applications from farmers and vendors for the Saturday Market. Interested vendors should visit www.bloomfieldsaturdaymarket.org or contact Howell at christina@bloomfieldnow.com or 412-708-1277. 

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Bloomfield Development Corporation, Christina Howell
 

Eat + Drink: Wigle's 92 Neighborhoods series, a beer dinner at the Frick and vegan food in Aspinwall

Eat + Drink is Pop City's weekly roundup of epic local nommz.

Wigle launching neighborhoods series
It’s a busy time for the folks at Wigle Whiskey. Later this month, their aged rye will become the first Wigle product to hit shelves in Pennsylvania’s state stores. Though Wigle may be expanding their reach, the family-owned distillery hasn’t forgotten its mission to bring whiskey to Pittsburgh.

On Friday, March 21, Wigle will host the first installment of its 92 Neighborhoods Series with an evening focused on the history, food, art and culture of East Liberty.

“We have so many great partners in East Liberty. It’s a neighborhood ripe for celebration,” says Wigle co-owner Meredith Grelli. “Our goal is to have one of these every month with a different neighborhood with the goal of celebrating each neighborhood in the city.”

Kevin Sousa will be on-hand with food from his East Liberty restaurants, Station Street Food and Union Pig & Chicken, and will talk about his approach to starting fresh businesses in East Liberty.

“I’m going to give a short presentation and then it’ll be an open discussion,” he says.

Local merchants Olive & Marlowe, which recently moved from the old Pittsburgh Public Market into a new retail space in Indigo Square, will also attend, along with a plethora of East-Liberty-related organizations.

As for the fare he’ll be serving up, Sousa is holding off on planning a menu until he has a better idea of what the weather will be like.

“If it’s chillier, it will lean more toward the barbecue end,” he says.

Tickets to the East Liberty celebration at Wigle cost $20 and are available through the distillery’s website.

Café at the Frick holding craft beer dinner
The Café at the Frick, the on-site restaurant at the Frick Art & Historical Center and one of Pittsburgh’s hidden gems, will hold a craft beer dinner on Thursday, March 20.

The Café will stage one seating, at 7PM, and pair beers from Fat Head’s in North Olmstead, Ohio with a five-course tasting menu prepared by the Frick’s Executive Chef Seth Bailey.

“We will be pairing each course with a different Fat Head’s beer selection,” Bailey says, adding that among the courses, diners can expect a shrimp crème brûlée with a sweet onion sugar.

Tickets for the dinner are $70, which includes both tax and gratuity. You can purchase them by calling 412-371-0600.

Randita’s expanding to Aspinwall
Randita’s Grill, the Saxonburg-based vegan restaurant and catering service which has become immensely popular since its humble food-truck beginnings in May of 2012, will open a second location in Aspinwall this year.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Meredith Grelli, Kevin Sousa, Seth Bailey

Eat + Drink: A barleywine festival, a writer in the kitchen, mac & cheese fallout and more

‘Hell with the Lid Off’ celebrates 10 years at Kelly’s
Kelly’s Bar and Lounge will host its 10th annual Hell with the Lid Off Barleywine Festival on Saturday, March 8, with sessions running from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 pm.

Hell with the Lid Off offers participants the chance to taste more than 100 different barleywines, about 35 of which will be available on draft.

“From what we understand, it’s the only festival of its kind in the country and it’s here in Pittsburgh,” says Kelly’s General Manager Deirdre Kane. “We have barleywines dating back to 2004 and some from breweries which are no longer in production. It’s some really rare stuff.”

Tickets for Hell with the Lid Off are $75 and available both at Kelly’s (located at 6012 Penn Circle South) and through Showclix.

Hal Klein: Journalist, Cook, Renaissance man
“I kind of came of age in California and I miss eating really good Mexican food,” says local food writer Hal Klein. “A lot of people think that Mexican food is really just tacos and burritos, but it goes way beyond that.”

Klein will trade his pen for an apron next week when he hosts Bar Marco’s March 10 edition of No Menu Monday. Though he’s done it twice before, Klein says he expects this go to be something of a departure from his prior outings.

“The first one was a challenge because I’d never cooked in a restaurant kitchen and I’d never cooked for that many people before. The second time, I felt like I was really in the zone and knew what I was doing. This time, I’m cooking things on a much bigger scale,” Klein says. “It’ll be a challenge, but it will be pretty cool.”

Among his offerings, the self-taught cook is planning two soups, carnitas, refried beans, pickled vegetable and stuffed poblano peppers.

“I think culinary school is a really good thing, but I think a lot of chefs will tell you that the best education that they got was working in kitchens with other chefs,” Klein says. “Be organized, take a deep breath, have good help.”

Mac & Cheese Now! Redux
Eat + Drink’s glance last week at the Pittsburgh macaroni and cheese scene caused something of a stir on the old Internet.

E-mails and tweets poured in with omitted gems, including offerings from Salt of the Earth, Winghart’s, Union Pig & Chicken, Tartine and Blowfish BBQ.

Pittsburgh mainstay Kelly’s and the upstart Independent Brewing Company nearly came to blows via Twitter over the question of mac supremacy, but cooler heads prevailed.

Sewickley Soup Crawl
The third annual Sewickley Soup Crawl will take place on Saturday, March 15 from noon to 3 p.m. in Sewickley Village. This year’s special guest will be actor Larry Thomas, best known for his portrayal of The Soup Nazi in the 1995 Seinfeld episode of the same name.

For more information, visit the Soup Crawl’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Deirdre Durant, Hal Klein

Eat + Drink: Beard award nominees, the local mac & cheese scene and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly look at epic local nommz.

Pittsburgh has two Beard nominees
For the fourth year in a row, Pittsburgh will have some skin in the game when the James Beard Awards are announced on March 19th.

Downtown’s Butcher and the Rye is one of 25 semifinalists for “Outstanding Bar Program,” and Justin Severino, the chef and owner of Cure in Lawrenceville, is one of 20 semifinalists for “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.”

More than 600 culinary professionals vote annually on the awards, which recognize excellence in cuisine, culinary education and culinary writing in the United States.

Previous Pittsburgh semifinalists in the “Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic” category include Legume’s Trevett Hooper in 2013 and Kevin Sousa, then of Salt of the Earth, in 2012. Salt was a semifinalist in 2011 for “Best New Restaurant.”

Pittsburgh’s Best Mac & Cheese
It used to be so easy. When asked where to get the best in the ultimate comfort food, Pittsburghers could quickly respond “Kelly’s.”

While the East Liberty lounge is still very much on the list, now there’s a conversation to be had.

Meat & Potatoes
offers a mac & cheese made with chorizo and pulled pork. Its sister restaurant, Butcher and the Rye, one-ups it with a sophisticated combination of taleggio, fontina, chevre, cheddar and parmesan.

SMOKE, the popular Homestead (soon-to-be Lawrenceville) taco joint, takes a consistently delicious yet experimental position and has served up everything from a Caprese-style mac with buffalo mozzarella, grape tomatoes and basil to a version with chorizo, swiss and gorgonzola.

Newest to the scene is Independent Brewing Company, which touts East End Brewing’s Smoked Porter to go along with cheddar, gouda and fontina cheeses.

Do any of these knock Kelly’s out of the top spot? Are there any we missed? Let us know what you think.

March Dishcrawl
The next edition of Pittsburgh’s Dishcrawl will take place on Tuesday, March 25 and will feature four locations in Pittsburgh’s most famous-for-its-food neighborhood, the Strip District. February’s sold-out Dishcrawl took diners around Downtown last week, stopping at Sharp Edge Bistro, Six Penn Kitchen, La Cucina Flegrea and Perle.

Writer: Matthew Wein

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