Hemlock House dining room
Joshua Sickels, founder of Rockaway Pizzeria, brings his vision to Hemlock House in Regent Square. Photo courtesy of Hemlock House.

Hemlock House

1126 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square

The latest creation of musician and restaurateur Joshua Sickels, founder of Rockaway Pizzeria in White Oak, Hemlock House has “no similarities to the pizzeria other than possibly aesthetics,” Sickels tells NEXTpittsburgh. 

The music, film and pop culture vibes at Rockaway will be present at Hemlock House, because, he says, “I’m a musician first before I’m a restaurant guy. For me to try to separate them would feel a bit inauthentic.”

Hemlock House is located in the former Map Room space in Regent Square, and originally Sickels was thinking of moving the pizzeria to that location.

“The kitchen just wasn’t big enough for the type of pizza ovens that I use,” he says. “I have a chef friend and we’ve been kicking around an idea for a while, and it kind of dawned on me, ‘Wait, why don’t we just do that here?'”

The sample menu — at least to start (it’s subject to creative changes, Sickels says) — includes a bone-in ribeye steak, macaroni and cheese with smoked gouda, vegan farrotto with wild mushrooms and vegan mascarpone, and something Sickels is calling a lobster roll taco: a combo of the classic New England lobster roll (one of his chefs is from Maine) and a Mexican street taco in a corn tortilla. 

Eventually, Hemlock House will also serve cocktails, once their liquor license has been finalized, likely later next month. Until then, they’ve partnered with Kingfly Spirits in the Strip District and Arboretum Trail Brewing in the East End, “for extended pop-ups with their products, basically,” he says.

Sickels is still running Rockaway Pizzeria and plans to continue to do so even after Hemlock House has its soft opening this week.

It sounds like the last few months of his life have been a bit like the streaming show, “The Bear,” whose title character runs a Chicago restaurant (and deals with all the drama that goes along with that). Sickels says he hasn’t had time to watch season two yet, where they (spoiler alert!) attempt to open their new restaurant — because he’s been actually living it.

“I have seen the first season and I really dug it,” he says of the show. “The palpable kitchen anxiety, even though it’s a bit dramatized, it’s really damn close,” to how things are at a real-life restaurant.

“It’s almost like you suspend disbelief on a Friday night, and everyone knows ‘Okay, for three hours, Josh is gonna turn into a raving psychopath,’” he jokes. “And honestly there’s a way to do that without being toxic. But there’s always that sort of kitchen angst, that’s expected and acceptable. Because there’s really no feeling like it other than maybe playing [music] live.” 

Slice on Broadway Robinson is now open. It’s the pizzeria’s sixth location. Photo courtesy of Rico Lunardi.

Slice on Broadway Robinson

1124 Park Manor Blvd., Robinson

The Beechview pizzeria that just celebrated 13 years in business has opened its sixth area location in Robinson Town Centre.

“Our goal at Slice on Broadway was always to keep it simple, allowing us to focus mainly on a few items to guarantee the freshness of product and creativity,” owner Rico Lunardi says.

Slice on Broadway Robinson is open Tuesday through Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, from 12 to 8 p.m.

In addition to Beechview and Robinson, Slice on Broadway operates locations in Carnegie, East Liberty, the South Side and Wexford.

The owners of Fig & Ash reimagined the former JR’s Bar as Fat Cat. Photo courtesy of Fat Cat.

Fat Cat

520 E. Ohio St., North Side

From Cory Hughes and Alex Feltovich, the proprietors of “farm to flame” restaurant Fig & Ash on the North Side, comes a nostalgic, fast-casual restaurant, bar and live music venue in the former JR’s Bar on East Ohio Street.

“Inspired by after-school and late-night snacks, we offer a from-scratch playful take on classic favorites,” the Fat Cat website explains. “With eclectic, eye-catching decor and cozy seating reminiscent of your grandma’s house, we offer the perfect space to hang out from lunch to last call.”

Fat Cat is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sia’s salad is on the menu at Sia’s Garden Grown in East Liberty. Photo courtesy of Sia’s Garden Grown.

Sia’s Garden Grown

220 N. Highland Ave., East Liberty

Pittsburgh vegans, rejoice, for there is a new eatery in East Liberty that has what you’re looking for.

It’s been a bit of a tough go for vegan spots in the area over the past few months, but husband and wife team Anthony and Diana Palumbo have opened Sia’s Garden Grown, named for their daughter Anastasia, in the former Union Pig & Chicken space. (Is that an example of irony? Perhaps).

The menu varies weekly, but a recent list included a lemon-caper tofu dish, an eggplant agrodolce sandwich, and an orecchiette and mushroom soup. And of course there are the salads, including a cucumber and dill potato salad, and the Sia’s Salad, which has organic spinach, romaine and arugula mixed with pistachios, Valencia oranges, organic cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries, topped with a house vinaigrette. There, you just got healthier reading that description (no not really).

Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.

The new Mellon Square Coffee Shop in the Omni William Penn, Downtown has a Warhol vibe. Photo courtesy of Omni Hotels.

Mellon Square Coffee Shop

530 William Penn Place, Downtown

Located in the lobby of the Omni William Penn Hotel, Mellon Square Coffee Shop is a Warhol-themed spot offering Omni’s Stance Coffee brand, which supports sustainable coffee farming. In addition to coffee beverages, smoothies and bakery items, the shop has a gelato machine for churning out frozen treats.

Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Terminal in the Strip District is getting Pittsburgh’s first Shake Shack. Photo courtesy of Shake Shack.

Shake Shack

2101 Smallman St., Strip District

People who love Shake Shack really love Shake Shack. (Confession: I have never had the experience).

The national chain announced it will debut its first Pittsburgh location at The Terminal in the Strip District next year.

“We can’t wait to open our doors, welcome the community and serve our delicious, freshly made burgers and shakes in 2024,” Andrew McCaughan, chief development officer at Shake Shack, said in a press release.

Eat’n Park’s Grilled Stickies have returned to the menu after a brief pause thanks to a partnership with another Pittsburgh institution. Definitely get them with ice cream. Photo courtesy of Eat ‘n Park.

Eat’n Park Park Grilled Stickies

The rumors are true: After temporarily discontinuing them earlier this year due to supply chain disruptions, Eat’n Park announced to great fanfare on Tuesday that Grilled Stickies are back on the menu.

The local restaurant chain has partnered with family-owned 5 Generation Bakers in McKees Rocks (the company behind the famous Jenny Lee Swirl Bread) to bake the sticky loaf used to make Grilled Stickies.

“The collaboration between 5 Generation Bakers and Eat’n Park unites two legacy, multi-generational, Pittsburgh-based brands to continue a unique tradition,” Scott Baker, president of 5 Generation Bakers, said in a press release. “We are proud to use our five generations of baking expertise to help bring back Grilled Stickies for Eat’n Park guests across the region.”

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor always on the lookout for a great story. Her experience includes writing about business, politics, and local news, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh.