Emily Catalano knows her way around Pittsburgh’s food scene. Catalano is the owner of Good Food Pittsburgh, a website devoted to the burgeoning Pittsburgh food scene. She also runs Highly Social Media, a social media management and public relations company that works with clients in the food and hospitality industry.

If that’s not enough Pittsburgh food cred, Catalano is the founder of the Pittsburgh Food Swap, a seasonal event where home chefs can swap and share their homemade goods. When not working, writing, or eating her way through town, she can usually be found in the kitchen, cooking, canning, and baking treats for her husband Robert and her amazing dog Maddie. Before launching her company in 2011, Catalano was a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia and a television reporter in Bismarck, North Dakota.

One of the perks of her many jobs is the “obligation” to eat at all of the city’s hottest and newest restaurants. Catalano told us about the new place that’s quickly becoming a go-to dining destination.

I eat out a lot for work (and because I just really love food), and my tastes are all over the map. But as much as I love trying new foods, once I fall in love with a dish, it’s hard for me to order anything else. So the best thing I ate last week wasn’t a new discovery, but a solid go-to that hasn’t disappointed me yet.

I had a morning meeting in East Liberty and was starving afterwards, so I popped into Whitfield [the restaurant at the new Ace Hotel] for a solo bite at the bar. I’ve been there a few times since it opened, and everything that I’ve had has been really good . . . but their Buttermilk Fried Chicken ‘Pittsburgh’ Salad is my favorite.

A quick note about the Pittsburgh salad: It’s the best. I went to college in Philadelphia and remember my first day in the cafeteria, piling fries and shredded cheese on my greens and being completely surprised that this wasn’t how other people did it. My tastes have evolved since then, and while I don’t need to add fried food to my salad anymore, it’s still pretty great when I get to.

Whitfield’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad is a full-sized platter of salad greens topped with sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, crispy fried chicken bites, shredded provolone, and, of course, French fries. But here’s the trick: The lettuce is actually coated in vinaigrette, and the vegetables, chicken, fries and cheese are piled on top. Then the whole thing is covered in buttermilk ranch. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it totally does.

It’s elevated but accessible, and seriously delicious—basically Pittsburgh on a plate. Plus, I got to feel super fancy, sitting at the bar at Whitfield in the middle of the day! What could be better than that?

Looking for other Pittsburgh foodies’ best meals? Click here.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.