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Eat'n Park opens Delicious Raw Juice Bar Downtown

Eat'n Park Hospitality Group has stepped into a new arena after partnering with all-natural juice and smoothie bar, Delicious Raw. The company opens Pittsburgh’s first Delicious Raw location, adjacent to the Downtown Hello Bistro, today.
 
“Over the years, [at] Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, we’ve served pretty much everyone,” said Mark Broadhurst, Eat'n Park retail development vice president.
 
He explained that with several businesses across the region serving families, students and professionals, Delicious Raw is a new way the company can feed the community as the local health and wellness market grows. Broadhurst noted a juice craze in recent years with other juice concepts coming to the market.
 
Pittsburgh has seen development in this trend with The Pittsburgh Juice Company in Lawrenceville, South Side’s Amazing Café, Salud Juicery in Shadyside, GOODLife Juices, Savasana Juice, Lawrenceville’s Embody Natural Health, Fresh from the Farm Juices, Shadyside’s Living Juicy Raw Café and Root System Juice Company, which can be found at the Pittsburgh Public Market.
 
“It’s a good time for juice,” Broadhurst said.

He noted that novice Pittsburgh juicers should not feel intimidated to try Delicious Raw. Broadhurst explained that the menu has several options with fresh raw juice made right before your eyes and cold-pressed juices for the shopper on the go. There are also smoothies and add-ins for energy, immunity and digestive health.
 
Broadhurst said the menu is divided into different categories: Revitalizers, Roots and Green Goodness. He said the fruits and roots are approachable for beginners, and the greens with spinach and kale pack a daily dose of vegetables. Broadhurst called it a great visual to see the juices prepared. He said one and a half pounds to two pounds of produce goes into each 16-ounce drink.
 
Eat’n Park’s first Delicious Raw location is at 280 Forbes Avenue. While there are no firm plans yet, Broadhurst said juice could appear on the menu in the future at the company’s other businesses.
 
 
Source: Eat'n Park Hospitality Group, Mark Broadhurst
 

Innovative online supper club Dinner Lab launches in Pittsburgh

Dinner Lab began in New Orleans in 2012 and has since become a national sensation. The pop-up supper club has hosted innovative dining events in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York. Today, Dinner Lab announced Pittsburgh as its newest city.
 
“We’re really excited about coming to Pittsburgh,” said Zach Kupperman, co-founder of Dinner Lab. “Pittsburgh [has] an amazing cultural and culinary scene … Pittsburgh is a very cool and underground cultural city with a lot going on.”
 
According to its website, Dinner Lab is an underground dining club that strips away the typical restaurant trappings and replaces it with a pop-up experience. City-dwellers become members online to receive a calendar of events. The menu is posted beforehand, but the location isn’t disclosed until the day before or the day of the event.
 
“Dinner Lab, at its core, is a membership-based social dining club,” Kupperman said.
 
The company operates as a subscription service where people pay upfront for access to the calendar. This is not to be exclusive, but how Dinner Lab subsidizes the cost of dinners, hires local people and rents kitchens. Guests then pay for each dinner and have access to not only events in the local market, but in every other city that Dinner Lab operates. Tickets, which include gratuity and alcohol, are purchased through the website a few weeks prior to the event.
 
Dinner is usually five courses (though it can be more), includes all-you-can-drink beer and wine. There's a pre-dinner cocktail hour, too. Membership rates vary between $100 and $200, depending on the participating city, but Pittsburgh’s membership rate is $125. Starting today, you can register online.
 
Dinner Lab chefs are usually the second or third at great restaurants. But, as Kupperman explained, they are often in the back of someone else’s kitchen, cooking someone else’s food. There is a disconnect between what chefs prepare on a regular basis and what they actually care about, he said.  
 
Dinner Lab pulls about 50 percent of its chefs from the local market and then will bring in top performing chefs from other Dinner Lab city markets. The group requires its chefs' food to tell a compelling story. Chefs have the opportunity to cook for an event and create a menu that is unique to their experience and palate.
 
Dinner Lab focuses on global cuisine enjoyed in random, local places outside a traditional restaurant setting. Kupperman said abandoned warehouses, old churches and rooftops are transformed for one night as a pop-up dinner venue. Guests dine together at community tables. Food is designed to be the common element to bring participants together.
 
There is also a diner feedback component to Dinner Lab. Diners rate each course and all of this information is aggregated and delivered back to the chef.
 
Though Dinner Lab officially launched in Pittsburgh today, it will be a few weeks before the first event. Kupperman said it will take time to hire people to operate the program in Pittsburgh and scout venues. Once Dinner Lab is established in a city, members can expect as many as six or seven events per month.
 
Pittsburgh’s first event will feature New Orleans Chef Mario Rodriquez, most recently of La Petite Grocery in the Big Easy. His menu concept will feature the flavors of Malay cuisine through the lens of a fine dining chef. 
 
Source: Dinner Lab, Zach Kupperman

AMPD Group plans Social House Seven, an Izakaya-style Asian restaurant

Izakaya is a style of restaurant in Japan that serves shareable plates and a variety of drinks and sake, according the AMPD Group, which is launching an Izakaya-style Asian restaurant in Downtown Pittsburgh.
 
The AMPD Group, a Pittsburgh entertainment and hospitality development and management company, recently announced its newest venture, Social House Seven, located in the Downtown Aria Lofts, the home of Bossa Nova Lounge for 12 years.
 
“The Group has been searching for a location for our new Izakaya-style Asian concept for some time. We have had this concept on the drawing board for the past four years and are excited to finally bring it to fruition. Social House will be our best project to date,” said Michael DeSimone, AMPD Group Partner.
 
Opening summer 2015, Social House will feature a custom-built robata grill and sushi bar along with an expansive lunch and dinner menu of shareable pan-Asian dishes ranging from Japanese to Thai, Korean to Chinese. In addition to sushi and grilled meats, including Kobe beef, the menu will feature shareable vegetarian and gluten-free items.
 
Adam DeSimone, AMPD Group Partner, described robata as a Japanese grill and said Social House’s robata will be a solid fuel grill with charcoal. “The great thing about a robata grill is it sears the meat … and captures all the juices within the meat,” he said, adding that the six-foot grill will run at about 800 degrees and capture juices to keep the meat tender.
 
The 7,300-square-foot restaurant will seat 175 guests with space for another 60 at the main bar and robata and sushi bar. The restaurant will also feature a 2,300-square-foot late-night lounge and event space, reminiscent of Bossa Nova, to host receptions, fundraisers and corporate events for up to 150 guests.
 
The lounge space can also serve as overflow to the restaurant and will turn into a late-night environment at the conclusion of dinner service on weekend evenings with Pittsburgh’s best DJ’s.
 
“We’re predominantly a restaurant, but have a strong nightlife component to it,” Adam DeSimone explained.
 
Social House will feature Asian-style décor with framed glass, wood trussing ceiling features and 16-foot hand-carved Buddhas peering over the restaurant.
 
“There’s nothing like it in Pittsburgh,” Adam DeSimone said, calling the location at 123 Seventh St. in the Cultural District “second to none.” He added that the AMPD Group, which developed Ten Penny, Steel Cactus, Local Bar & Kitchen, Diesel Club Lounge, Skybar Pittsburgh, Dominic’s Deli at PNC Park and Delanie’s Coffee, is excited to introduce this latest venture to the city. 
 
Social House Seven will serve lunch Monday through Friday, brunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner seven days a week. The lounge will be open Thursday through Saturday. Valet service will be available during dinner and late-night hours.
 

Double Wide Grill expands to third location in North Huntingdon

Since 2006, Double Wide Grill has been a South Side staple. Six years later, the gas station-themed eatery opened a second restaurant opened in Mars, Butler County. Now, Double Wide Grill has plans to open a third location in North Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, at what used to be Teddy’s Restaurant.
 
“This location is very different than the other two, which makes us really excited to get things underway,” said Double Wide co-owner Steve Zumoff. “Rather than turning an existing building into a restaurant, or building from ground-up, the new location was already a restaurant, so now it’s all about us transforming the space into the Double Wide brand that people already know and love.”
 
Double Wide Grill in North Huntingdon will be located just off the turnpike on Route 30, and is expected to open summer 2015. The menu will feature their popular ribs along with burgers, barbeque, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free specialties. Zumoff explained that the location will also continue to carry some of Teddy’s favorite menu items, like the stuffed pork chop.
 
“We’ll have 40 American craft beers on tap that will rotate with the seasons and a big menu that caters to meat-lovers and vegans alike, plus many gluten-free options,” said co-owner Scott Kramer.
 
Zumoff explained that North Huntingdon was attractive because of its new housing, business and office developments. Last summer,Express Scripts, a St. Louis-based Fortune 100 company serving 90 million people each year, announced that it was moving 600 employees to a 70,000-square-foot facility in North Huntingdon.
 
Zumoff added that the new, highway-adjacent Double Wide location is in a high-traffic area, wedged between a Giant Eagle, Target and Walmart Supercenter.
 
The 6,500 square feet of space will be transformed to have the same vintage gas station theme that has become the recognizable branding of Double Wide Grill. The inside will seat 220 people and the upcoming, newly constructed outdoor patio will seat up to 70.
 
“The new location has the garage look like our other ones … but we’re looking to make it a little more roadside [themed],” Zumoff said, explaining that they want incorporate a historic highway theme à la Route 66, as the location is off Route 30. “Hopefully, the travelers on the highway will find out about us … We’ll be the place they stop, a roadside attraction.”
 
Double Wide Grill in North Huntingdon is slated to open during the summer of 2015. Other locations are in South Side on East Carson Street and in Butler County on Route 228. 

Casual dining options come to Lawrenceville with The Vandal, Smoke BBQ Taqueria and more

Joey Hilty, formerly of Bar Marco, and Emily Slagel, owner of Lawrenceville boutique Mid-Atlantic Mercantile, are bringing casual dining and approachable fare to Central Lawrenceville with The Vandal, opening in May at 4306 Butler St.
 
The duo explained that they were inspired by their dining experiences in cities throughout Iceland and Europe. They wanted to create a neighborhood dining experience on the Butler corridor.
 
“Amidst the evolving dining culture in Pittsburgh, we saw a real need for an affordable, convivial eatery,” Hilty said. “Our intent is for The Vandal to be an everyday neighborhood spot where you can grab dinner with your friends or a lunch alone with a book and your laptop.” 
 
The Vandal isn’t the only casual dining experience coming to Lawrenceville -- Smoke BBQ Taqueria opened this week at 4115 Butler St. While the soft opening boasts irregular hours, the smoked meats, migas and breakfast tacos are being met with a warm welcome. Owners Jeff Petruso and Nelda Carranco are from Austin, making it a bona fide Texas joint. Feb. 16 will mark the first Smoke Monday, where customers can can bring Smoke tacos to Row House Cinema next door to enjoy with a movie. Atlas Bottle Works, within Row House, is also conveniently adjacent to Smoke to fit the restaurant's BYOB policy.
 
Allegro Hearth Bakery’s owner Omar Abuhejleh also has plans to open a vegan and Mediterranean café, bakery and coffee shop at 5202 Butler St. in May. And, Morcilla, the second Lawrenceville venture from chef Justin Severino of Cure, will open this summer at 3519 Butler St. In a previous interview with Pop City, Severino said the new restaurant will be a casual, neighborhood restaurant with shareable snacks and tapas.
 
Open for lunch and dinner, The Vandal plans to offer an ingredient-driven menu six days a week. Sandwiches and snacks will be available all day with larger offerings, like steak frites, available for dinner only. Hilty plans on building the menu using what is fresh and seasonally available. The result will be menu items like a lamb sausage sandwich with tahini-spiked potato salad. Sandwiches will start at $8 while larger portioned dinners will start at $14.

For beverages, the restaurant will have a range of soft drinks from house-made lavender-hibiscus soda to Korean apple soda as well as a BYOB policy. Hilty said he hopes to eventually have a liquor license for the venue and to collaborate with Lawrenceville breweries and bottle shops.
 
While the name The Vandal has a strong, almost aggressive, sound to it, Hilty explained that the atmosphere will be far from threatening. Conversely, he said the design will be soft, cozy and minimalist.
 
“It’s important for us to design a warm, community-focused space,” Slagel said. “Through the union of food and design, we are able to cultivate the experiences that we want to have in our city.” 
 
Slagel’s vision and attention to detail will displayed throughout the intimate 30-seat space, from the custom bench seating to the menu design. Future plans include updating the rear outdoor patio into a beer garden or al fresco space with a wood-fired pizza oven.
  
While The Vandal is not slated to open until May, Hilty will host a menu preview at Bar Marco’s no-menu Monday on March 2.  For more information, visit www.thevandalpgh.com.
 
 
Source: The Vandal, Joey Hilty

Study: Liquor ban turns off would-be Wilkinsburg restaurateurs

The liquor license ban in Wilkinsburg is discouraging potential restaurateurs from opening up shop in the borough, according to the Urban Partners Market Study of Wilkinsburg.

From the study: “Full-service sit-down restaurants are also in short supply in the Wilkinsburg business district. A major contributing factor is the prohibition of alcohol in restaurants in the borough, which is typically a significant revenue generator for restaurants. As a result, prospective restaurateurs interested in opening new venues are avoiding Wilkinsburg, which is keeping the demand for finer dining high and the supply relatively low.”

The Borough of Wilkinsburg has been a dry community since 1870, but the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation aims to change that this spring.
 
The WCDC Board of Directors recently voted to pursue a liquor license referendum to legalize the sale of liquor licenses to restaurants in the Borough of Wilkinsburg. This effort is supported by the WCDC 10-year Wilkinsburg Business District Revitalization Plan, which was approved by Wilkinsburg Borough Council in 2010. The revitalization efforts of the Wilkinsburg business district were recently recognized by the state with a Main Street designation.
 
A statement from the WCDC said they believe restaurant liquor licenses will attract new businesses to Wilkinsburg and increase investment in the area. WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans explained that the community currently offers several small diners and take-out businesses, but not a lot of sit-down restaurants. She said this referendum could bring more restaurants and evening activity to the borough. 
 
“With so many nice restaurants right on our border, why not encourage the same in Wilkinsburg and keep dining dollars in our community? Today, if you live in Wilkinsburg and want to meet friends for dinner and a cocktail you have to go to Regent Square, Point Breeze or East Liberty,” Evans said.
 
To lead a successful campaign, the WCDC and volunteers must circulate petitions between February 17, 2015, and March 10, 2015, and collect 1,059 signatures from registered Wilkinsburg voters. If that goal is met, the liquor license referendum question, “Do you favor the granting of liquor licenses for the sale of liquor in the Borough of Wilkinsburg?,” will be placed on the May 19, 2015, primary election ballot in Wilkinsburg.
 
In addition to attracting new businesses to Wilkinsburg, existing Wilkinsburg establishments, including Salvatore’s Pizza House and Biddle’s Escape, have expressed interest in acquiring liquor licenses once they are legally able to do so.
 
“Prohibiting liquor licenses hurts Wilkinsburg,” said Biddle’s Escape owner and Wilkinsburg resident Joe Davis. “Residents can easily go a few blocks away to a neighboring community, like Swissvale, Braddock or the city, to enjoy a beer or glass of wine. We need to make this an option in Wilkinsburg, too.”
 
Additional information about the WCDC’s liquor license campaign is available at www.wilkinsburgcdc.org/liquor-license. For a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit www.wilkinsburgcdc.org/liquor-license-faq. To volunteer during the campaign, call (412) 727-7855 or email marlee@wilkinsburgcdc.org.
 
 
Source: WCDC, Tracey Evans

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina receives big Yelp win; plans expansion

Last week, Yelp ranked Strip District restaurant Gaucho Parrilla Argentina No. 7 on its Top 100 Places to Eat in the United States for 2015. Gaucho was the only East Coast eatery listed in the top ten.
 
“It’s just awesome news. [It’s] great for us, great for our neighborhood and great for the city,” said Gaucho chef and proprietor Anthony Falcon. 
 
Rachel Carlson, Yelp Pittsburgh community director, explained that the bar for good food in Pittsburgh has been raised. And while taste and quality are part of the equation behind a positive Yelp review, Carlson said Yelpers also make note of good customer service and atmosphere. She noted that users recognize these qualities at Gaucho.
 
“They have 298 reviews and a perfect five-star rating. And that’s unheard of.” Carlson said about Gaucho’s online popularity. 

Falcon said regular customers and new faces have been commenting on the Yelp shoutout. The win comes on the heels of some other news for Gaucho.
 
The restaurant at 1607 Penn Avenue will be expanding into the building next door. Falcon said the project, which has been in the works for one year, finally has the green light from the city. He said construction is expected to begin as early as next week and added that he hopes it is completed in three or four months for summer business.
 
“The new space will be a lot more comfortable for our customers,” Falcon said. Currently, Gaucho only has limited stool seating. But, the expansion will bring additional stools, tables and chairs to accommodate 40 people. He added that there are tentative plans for a bar in the future. “We really want to focus on local craft beers and South American, Argentine-inspired wine.”
 
He said the current Gaucho space will be converted into a large kitchen and the space next door will serve as the dining area. In addition to physical renovations, Falcon said the menu will also add items, like more vegetable dishes, paella, coffee and baked goods. But don’t worry, the mouthwatering steaks, five-hour braised rosemary beef sandwich and other customer favorites will all still be there.
 
Falcon said he wanted to give “a massive, huge, heartfelt thank you” to the community and out-of-town diners who supported Gaucho on Yelp. He said these positive reviews and local support are what made the restaurant No. 7 in the country.
 
 
Source: Anthony Falcon

CMU alumni launch Greek yogurt brand Naturi in Pittsburgh

Greek yogurt is everywhere these days. But some companies offering Greek-style yogurt often sneak in a lot of hidden sugar and other additives. Brand-new Pittsburgh company Naturi Organics promises that its Greek yogurt is made naturally with local and organic ingredients. 
 
Naturi is the brainchild of Aditya Dhere, Anes Dracic and Jennifer Mrzlack, graduates of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University. For 2014 grads Dhere and Dracic, Naturi started as a final graduate school project. Mrzlack, a 2010 Tepper alumna, brought her food experience -- after three years at Heinz -- to the team in July.

Mrzlack said Dhere, an American-born Indian, and Dracic, a Bosnian refugee who moved to the United States as a child, both had mothers who made yogurt at home. She added that Dracic’s family had a farm in Bosnia and that his mother sold yogurt from a cart.
 
Mrzlack also made yogurt and applesauce for her young sons, which sparked her passion for natural, healthy ingredients.
 
On Jan. 12, Naturi hit the shelves at 48 local businesses with more retailers in the works. Distributors are Paragon, Frankferd Farms and Clarion River Organics.
 
In addition to serving both the Google and American Eagle Outfitters campuses, Naturi customers include the Fairmont Hotel, Hotel Monaco, Marty’s Market, the East End Food Co-op, McGinnis Sisters, Espresso A Mano, 21st Street Coffee and Tea, Coffee Tree Roasters, the Duquesne Club, Feast on Brilliant, Red Oak Café, DJ Butcher Block, Tula Organic Salon and Spa, Today’s Market, Sewickley Confectionary -- which provides home delivery -- and more. Strip District hot spots Bar Marco and Wigle Whiskey will offer Naturi-made items.
 
“I cant say it enough,” Mrzlack began, “I [really] want to thank the Pittsburgh community … Everyone has been so supportive.”
 
Naturi, Mrzlack explained, is committed to flavorful Greek-style yogurt with clean, organic ingredients and low sugar. The yogurt is produced at Sunrise Family Farms, an organic farm in upstate New York.
 
While Naturi is committed to keeping a small carbon footprint (many ingredients are sourced within three miles of Sunrise farms), the brand also packs flavors with a “worldly” punch.
 
The initial flavors include Pure (plain), Seedless Raspberry, Coffee + Chicory and Indonesian Vanilla + Saigon Cinnamon. These natural flavors need little added sugar, Mrzlack explained. She said raspberry is naturally sweetened with real fruit, the chicory gives the coffee yogurt a chocolate feel and vanilla and cinnamon are innately rich in flavor.
 
Naturi operates out of the Birchmere Ventures offices in the Strip District above 21st Street Coffee. On Saturday, the new company is getting to know its Strip District neighbors. From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Naturi will be at the Organically Social booth in the Pittsburgh Public Market doing a public meet-and-greet event.
 
Source: Jennifer Mrzlack, www.naturi.com
 

Hotel Monaco's The Commoner to open Downtown with a grab-and-go café

For a quick bite or a full-on dining experience, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants offers pub fare with a Pittsburgh twist for hungry downtown diners.
 
Kimpton will open its first Pittsburgh restaurant, The Commoner, adjacent to the new Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Jan. 20. The 120-seat restaurant will feature American classics with a modern flair, a wood-burning oven and an extensive craft beer list.
 
In a rush? Try The Commoner’s grab-and-go café The Commoner Corner. This sidewalk café and smoked meat carvery will serve breakfast and lunch and features a large service window on Strawberry Way for customers on the go.
 
"We've been working hard to perfect our menu and develop relationships with local farmers to highlight the best of the Allegheny region," said Executive Chef Dennis Marron. "The Pittsburgh dining scene is really making a name for itself, and I'm excited to bring my take on European pub fare and American classics to the table. The menu and vibe we've created here is going to be a hit with everyone -- from downtown professionals to sports fans and theater-goers to hotel guests."
 
Chef Marron's menus will offer American tavern classics with Old World influences and regional produce. The onion soup burger, steak and ale pie (braised with local East End Brown Ale) and brick chicken are just a few examples where pub style meets Pittsburgh flavor. Pennsylvania-grown and seasonal products, like PA Noble cave-aged cheddar, Castle Valley Mills cornmeal, Starr Valley Farms beef and Elysian Fields lamb, will be highlights in many dishes, like the cheddar board, PA burger and braised lamb shank.
 
“We’re a modern American tavern located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh,” said The Commoner General Manager Matthew Rafferty. He added that the restaurant will focus on drafts and “slow-roasted and braised meats.”
 
The dinner menu will prominently feature an array of dishes from the kitchen's central wood-burning oven. With wood-fired dishes ranging from appetizers to main courses, diners will be able to choose from broccoli-cheddar flatbread to herb-rubbed bone marrow to charred cauliflower with sage-walnut pesto, among other smoky, rustic favorites.
 
Breakfast at The Commoner will have something for everyone, including lighter options like baked egg whites with kale, oven-dried tomatoes and zucchini, and heartier offerings like Irish soda bread, French toast with Chantilly cream and whiskey barrel-aged maple syrup.
 
At the bar, lead bartender Joshua Holliday will oversee a robust cocktail and spirits menu and a locally driven craft beer list anchored by 12 draft lines and 50 bottles and cans, including local selections like Church Brew Works' Thunderhop Extreme Double IPA and Voodoo Brewing Company's KillaPilz.
 
The wine list will feature six wines on tap, guided by Kimpton’s Master Sommelier Emily Wines. Holliday has worked closely with Chef Marron and Rafferty to create inventive cocktails, including a barrel-aged negroni and an old-fashioned, with house-made syrup and BBQ bitters.
 
The Commoner Corner’s menu will feature items that are unfussy and ideal for diners on the go. Breakfast will include a range of freshly baked pastries, croissant sandwiches, fresh-pressed juices and smoothies and artisanal coffee beverages. Lunch will feature hot sandwiches with house-smoked, hand-carved beef, turkey and portabella mushrooms and a variety of fixings. Save time and room for milkshakes and floats.
 
The Commoner, at 458 Strawberry Way, will be open seven days a week for breakfast and dinner starting January 20. The restaurant begins lunch service Feb. 3 and kicks off its Saturday and Sunday brunch on Feb. 21. The Commoner Corner will serve weekday breakfast and lunch beginning Jan. 20.
 
Full menus and information will be available at www.thecommonerpgh.com.
 
 
Source: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Justin Rude, Matthew Rafferty
 

Pop-up chocolate shop keeps mouths watering in Shadyside

Just before Christmas, Chocolate! featuring Jacques Torres Chocolate, a pop-up shop in Shadyside, opened its doors boasting holiday goodies. But this pop-up hasn't disappeared into the night. Chocolate! featuring Jacques Torres Chocolate will continue to see Pittsburgh through all the big chocolate holidays: Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
 
The seasonal chocolate emporium was launched by Pittsburgh native Lissa Guttman, who recently moved back to Pittsburgh after a 10-year stint in New York City. While there, she worked with award-winning pastry chef and Food Network personality Jacques Torres to launch a line of highly successful chocolate boutiques in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
 
“I loved the food scene in New York, but I missed the soulfulness of Pittsburgh,” Guttman said. “So, I decided to fuse the two. I also love the idea of creating whimsical shopping experiences -- unexpected retail destinations that last for a season or two, but create fun moments and leave customers craving the next incarnation.”
 
Guttman said she wanted to bring her love for chocolate and Jacques Torres quality products back to her hometown. She added that Torres was excited to expand his brand beyond New York -- Pittsburgh is the first city outside New York to carry the line. Guttman said Pittsburgh has proven to be a great market for premium goods.
 
The store’s mouth-watering offerings range from holiday favorites to exotic creations like chipotle-infused “wicked hot chocolate.” Guttman said products also range from kid-friendly to adult-friendly, including chocolate-covered cereals and nuts to chocolate ginger.
 
“Everything is chocolate,” she said of the "here today, gone tomorrow" shop featuring both large edible gifts and snacks.
 
Guttman added that the pop-up model was used at all eight of Torres’ New York chocolate stores. She said her seasonal shop could grow into something more.
 
“I could see myself doing a lot more of these in various neighborhoods or on trucks,” Guttman said, adding that, for the time being, she is focused on getting to know Shadyside.
 
Chocolate! featuring Jacques Torres Chocolate will remain open through Easter at 813 Copeland Way.
 
 
Source: Lissa Guttman

Maggie's Farm Rum celebrates accolades after one year in business

On the heels of its one-year anniversary, local distillery Maggie’s Farm Rum is celebrating multiple business milestones.

Allegheny Distilling, LLC, located in the Strip District, was incorporated in late 2012 and began production of Maggie's Farm Rum in October 2013. On Nov., 29, 2014, the company marked one year in business. 
 
Last month, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced that it will begin carrying Maggie's Farm white and spiced rums in in Premium Collection stores around southwestern Pennsylvania in time for the holidays.
 
Maggie's Farm Rum is the first commercially available Pennsylvania-made craft rum since Prohibition. All spirits are made from scratch and pot-distilled for full body and flavor on the Spanish-made copper still located behind the distillery's cocktail bar. The distillery is open for tastings and bottle sales Wednesday through Sunday and serves cocktails Friday evening and all day Saturday.

For its one-year anniversary, Allegheny Distilling released Maggie's Farm Pear Eau De Vie, an unaged pear brandy. The first of its kind in Pennsylvania, this pear brandy is made from 100 percent fresh-pressed and unpasteurized pear juice and bottled at 80 proof. A seasonal product, Maggie's Farm Pear Eau De Vie is limited to a 250-bottle single batch.
 
Maggie’s Farm is also celebrating multiple wins from the highly competitive New York International Spirits Competition, held in October at the 3 West Club in New York City. Through a blind tasting at the competition, Maggie's Farm Queen's Share Rum was awarded a silver medal. Allegheny Distilling was declared the Pennsylvania Distillery of the Year.
 
“It was a little surprising, [but] I had a lot of confidence,” said Maggie’s Farm founder and owner Tim Russell. He explained that the New York International Spirits Competition is not a medal factory like other competitions. He said the competition prides itself in its strict selection of winners.
 
Queen's Share reserve rum is made exclusively from the flavorful tail runnings of the normal Maggie's Farm cane rum distillations. It's bottled at cask strength and aged up to one year in American oak barrels. Finishes include bourbon, rye whiskey, and double barrel. Queen's Share's silver medal was among only six rums to receive this honor and no rum submitted worldwide was awarded a gold medal.

Source: Tim Russell, Maggie’s Farm Rum

Five shippable Pittsburgh gifts for the holiday season

Cyber Monday kicked off the online holiday shopping frenzy, but that doesn't mean you have to abandon your support of local businesses as you finish up your gift giving.

For those of you who love to shop online and love to shop local, several Pittsburgh darlings have made it easy to do both. Check off these hometown gifts that will travel for the Pittsburgh expats on your list:

1.  Primanti’s Sandwiches
 
Primanti Bros. made the news in October with the announcement that you could now ship the “almost famous” Pittsburgh sandwich anywhere in the Unites States. For $109, you can send four French fry-laden sandwiches cross-country. Choose from pastrami, capicola or a combo pack; the sandwiches are delivered deconstructed with separately packed meat, bread, slaw, fries, cheese, tomato, hot sauce and a Primanti’s tee.
 
2. WildCard’s Pittsburgh merchandise
 
That’s right, WildCard stationery and gift shop in Lawrenceville now has an online storeWhile the Internet shop is still growing, many Pittsburgh products are ready to ship in time for the holidays, from Lil' Pierogi onesies to Pittsburgh tees to a Yinzer dictionary.
 
3.  The Enrico Biscotti Company’s goodies
 
Enrico’s in the Strip offers an online bakery that will ship their authentic biscotti and pastries to the Pittsburgher who couldn’t make it home for the holidays. Send a big red tin of Italian pastry or a biscotti gift basket!
 
4.  Penn Mac imported cheese
 
You don’t have to be on Penn Avenue to enjoy Pennsylvania Macaroni Company’s famous imported cheese counter. Penn Mac’s global selection is available online and guarantees that “cheeses are cut fresh the same day the order is shipped.”
 
5. Prantl’s Burnt Almond Torte
 
Named the country’s best cake by The Huffington Post, Prantl’s will ship their burnt almond torte anywhere in the country. This delicate cake encrusted in crunchy, candied almonds would make a great dessert course at any holiday dinner.

While searching online for the perfect gift to send to friends and family near and far, keep in mind these local options that can ship anywhere in the country.

Second Breakfast debuts at Public Market with creative breakfast and brunch options

If you grabbed a tumbler of black coffee or a handful of cereal on the way out the door this morning, get a breakfast do-over at the Pittsburgh Public Market. The market's latest vendor, Second Breakfast, debuted at the Farm to Table Harvest Tasting and opened for regular Public Market hours this week.

Owner and chef Thomas Wood described some of Second Breakfast’s creative waffle and crepe options. Second Breakfast’s menu includes Tamagoyaki Japanese Omelets (rolled omelets), sweet crepes, a savory crepe of the day (which was a cider-braised turkey Florentine on the day of my visit) and Belgian Liege waffles. Wood said the Belgian Liege’s soft yeast dough is encased with caramelized, Belgian pearl sugar to create a crunch.
 
“It’s hearty, it’s unpretentious, it fits with Pittsburgh,” Wood said about his menu while working behind the counter at his market booth sporting his signature hat, which he described as a throwback to a 1940s deli.
 
The waffles come with an array of toppings, the same sauces for the crepe fillings. Options include whiskey dulce de leche from Public Market neighbor Eliza’s Oven, chocolate, chocolate hazelnut (à la Nutella), berry blends, seasonal fruit and strawberry vanilla -- with a touch of Wigle Whiskey to “wake up the vanilla.”
 
Wood added that the shop will also offer waffle hash browns and a bacon weave topper. He said customers can look forward to specials like the Belgian Liege waffle with bacon ice cream and maple bacon brandy syrup.
 
Wood previously worked as a chef at Pittsburgh restaurants and said he has always focused on organic and local ingredients, like what he now uses at his Public Market venture.
 
“The whole time, I was always focused on high-quality ingredients,” Wood said about his work as a chef. “But, we’re Pittsburghers,” he added, noting that a dense, filling breakfast can still be locally sourced. 
 
He said he has always wanted to venture out on his own and has been interested in working with the Public Market. The Market Kitchen at the Public Market gave him this opportunity, he said.
 
“It’s a wonderful tool [and] it’s a great business incubator,” he said about the shared-use commercial kitchen. Wood added that the cost of starting a business and supplies would have been almost insurmountable without access to the Market Kitchen. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Market Kitchen.”
 
In addition to kitchen access, Wood noted the support and camaraderie that comes from working in the Public Market. During our interview, another vendor stopped by to see if Wood had gotten his bacon order.
 
“The atmosphere here is totally collaborative and awesome,” he said.  
 
 
Source: Thomas Wood 

Grow Pittsburgh unveils Braddock Farms improvements with help from the Fairmont

Grow Pittsburgh, an urban agriculture non-profit that teaches people how to grow food and promotes the benefits of gardens in local communities, has updated its Braddock Farms site thanks in part to a $10,000 grant from Fairmont Pittsburgh.
 
Fairmont Pittsburgh secured the grant via the Community Assistance and Responsibility to the Environment program, a charitable initiative of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, which allows hotels to support social, community and environmental projects in their local communities.
 
Grow Pittsburgh is the official green charity partner of Fairmont Pittsburgh. Since launching the partnership in 2011, Fairmont Pittsburgh has donated over $27,000 to Grow Pittsburgh for various initiatives including its Edible Schoolyard program.
 
“We are thrilled to count Fairmont Pittsburgh as a key partner as we make much needed improvements to Braddock Farms,” said Grow Pittsburgh Executive Director Julie Butcher Pezzino.
  
The improvements include a custom-built shipping container to be used as a storage facility and office space at the urban farm in Braddock. Grow Pittsburgh also operates an apprentice program at Braddock Farms for aspiring farmers, as well as a summer youth intern program that provides hands-on training to local high school students in sustainable agricultural production. Growing food in an urban environment is an important part of Grow Pittsburgh’s overall mission as it serves as a platform for educational programming and provides much needed access to fresh, local produce in communities that are often lacking access.
 
Julie Abramovic, public relations manager at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, called Braddock Farms an “educational resource center” that teaches school groups and volunteers about sustainability and farming. The grant was able to provide shaded areas and seating for groups assisting at the farm as well as storage and coolers for produce.
 
To unveil the updated farm and conclude the year-long project, Fairmont Pittsburgh hosted a check presentation ceremony and employee workday, where employees assisted with putting the farm to bed for winter at Braddock Farms.
 
Abramovic said hotel management was excited to see the project come to fruition but noted that the partnership is an ongoing relationship and that the Fairmont is looking forward to participating in future Grow Pittsburgh projects. 
 
Source: Julie Abramovic, Fairmont Pittsburgh

Cure chef and owner to open second Lawrenceville restaurant

The social experience of shared, small-plates dining will shape the aesthetic and the cuisine at Morcilla, the second restaurant from Justin Severino, award-winning chef and owner of Cure

Severino recently announced plans to open Morcilla, his second Lawrenceville venture, in summer 2015.
 
Located at 3519 Butler St., Spanish tapas spot Morcilla will be just a few blocks from Cure, Severino’s critically lauded urban Mediterranean restaurant. Hilary Prescott Severino, Justin’s wife and business partner, will co-own Morcilla and oversee the wine program, similar to her role at Cure. Spain will dominate the beverage options with a wide variety of wines and sherries as well as hard-to-find Spanish cider.
 
“I love Spanish food, and coming up in the industry I cooked under serious Spanish-trained chefs like Manresa’s David Kinch,” Severino said. “Spanish cooking has been a major influence on what I do at Cure, and I’m thrilled to be bringing a complete Spanish dining experience to Pittsburgh. One of my favorite aspects of Spanish cuisine is the social experience of shared, small plates dining. Morcilla is going to be a true neighborhood spot, a place to relax with a glass of wine and a quick bite at the bar after work, or a family-style dinner with friends.”
 
The 3,800-square-foot restaurant will boast a 54-seat dining room, 10-seat bar, 6-seat chef’s counter and 40-seat private dining room, making Morcilla larger and more casual than Cure. The menu will foster a convivial environment with a focus on sharable small plates and larger dishes served family-style. Severino said he envisions Morcilla as a neighborhood spot where one could stop on their way home from work for a full-blown meal or snacks with a cocktail.
 
The menu, like Cure, will focus on meats and charcuterie and will be driven, according to Severino, by a charbroiler, a smoker and la plancha (a flattop grill). The name Morcilla actually means blood sausage, though the definition can vary regionally.  
 
The tapas will include traditional mariscos tapa, consisting largely of raw, pickled and smoked shellfish. Mason jars will be both the preservation and serving vessels for the Escabeche y Conservas, which will include duck with fruit jam, marinated cheeses and grilled tomato and zucchini, all served with grilled bread. Pintxos, skewered bites traditionally served in bars, will feature octopus, pork belly and, of course, morcilla.
 
Severino also noted that the larger site of Morcilla will allow for dishes he can’t currently try at Cure, like more canning and a larger space to butcher whole animals. The kitchen will include a dedicated curing station, where executive sous chef Nate Hobart will create both Spanish and Italian-style charcuterie for Morcilla and Cure, respectively.
 
Similar to Cure, Severino will dictate Morcilla's design, sourcing counters, cabinets, tables and chairs from Pittsburgh’s Kramer Customs. Polished old-wood floors and ceilings and exposed brick walls accented by woodblock art prints by the nearby Tugboat Print Shop will give the space a lived-in, neighborhood vibe. 
 
Severino grew up in a small town in Ohio and has worked in fine dining establishments in several cities, but said the atmosphere of Pittsburgh, Lawrenceville specifically, feels like home. “It’s a blue-collar town,” he said, “and [my wife and I] really relate to it.”
 
Morcilla will be open summer 2015 for dinner on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, with lunch and dinner served on Saturdays and Sundays.
 
 
Source: Cure, Justin Severino
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