The former Carnegie Granite Works building in Carnegie’s E. Main Street business district has been transformed into a celebration of all things pork. BAKN, which opened a little more than a month ago, is the brainchild of Chef Randy Tozzie and partner Susan McMahon.
“I just love working with it, it’s so versatile and you can get really creative,” Tozzie says of his restaurant’s signature ingredient. While the menu does have vegetarian and vegan options, the star of the show at BAKN is bacon, in all possible varieties, which Tozzie can list off the top of his head: from applewood smoked to Cajun and even candied bacon.
While it was initially conceived as a breakfast and lunch restaurant, Tozzie says he and McMahon decided not long before opening to serve dinner six nights a week as well. There’s a full bar in the front of the restaurant, with plenty of seating, and an open kitchen in the rear with a chef’s table.
“We wanted to make sure it was more than a diner that served nine different types of eggs,” he jokes. “We really wanted to make it a high-end eatery, with some signature dishes.”
The most popular item on the menu, fittingly, is the BAKN BLT, followed by the BAKN Bleu burger, but Tozzie says he’s working hard to keep the options unique, while sticking to his chosen theme.
“We have a bacon-infused vodka, and a bacon Bloody Mary,” he says.
The modern and inviting restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch, just started its Swine and Wine Wednesday wine tasting event, featuring small bites from the menu with a selection of wines.
Tozzie, an Upper St. Clair native and graduate of California University, came to the restaurant business a little later than most, he says. “I turned 40 and had an epiphany that I wanted to make my hobby, cooking, my work,” he says. So Tozzie quit his sales job and enrolled in the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, graduating in 2004. He worked at the Duquesne Club and Giant Eagle’s Market District stores in addition to doing some catering work before starting plans to open his own place. In 2012, Tozzie was named Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation’s Pittsburgh Chapter.
He and McMahon scouted the area for about three years before choosing Carnegie, and Tozzie says they could not be happier with BAKN’s location on E. Main St.
“We’ve been really welcomed here, and it’s great to be among so many other great small businesses,” Tozzie says.
Weekend brunches have been packed since BAKN opened, and Tozzie says customers have visited from all around the area, based on word-of-mouth and BAKN’s social media presence.
A group from NEXTpittsburgh landed a table for five on a Sunday evening and feasted on everything from the BAKN-slapped honey jam with homemade biscuits (to die for) to a mushroom flatbread ($10) and BKN flight ($6). There were raves all around for both the food and the atmosphere.
One woman, we swear, danced her way out the door.
“We feel really blessed to have customers who keep coming back,” Tozzie says. “It’s been humbling and overwhelming.”