Jessica Lewis. Photo by Adam Milliron.

Jessica Lewis is in the final stretch of preparations for Carota Café—one of four restaurants in the soon-to-launch restaurant incubator, Smallman Galley in the Strip District.

Lewis was on the opening team as sous chef at The Commoner before stepping out on her own. We’re among the many looking forward to Lewis’ vegetable-forward menu with daily offerings from four local farms she works with: Who Cooks for You Farm, Roots and Heart Farm, Kistaco Farm and Clarion River Organics.

While not completely vegetarian, Carota Café’s menu will “interpret the plate in a different way,” says Lewis. “For example, a wild mushroom soup will have a bone broth base. While there will be seafood and meat, it will not be the 8 – 10 oz. cuts, they will be accents.”

We are definitely looking forward to that.

Her best meal last week?

I have been working a lot to get ready for our opening in December, but I was taking time to hang out with friends and we went to Piccolo Forno—it was easily my best meal last week.

I had my favorite pizza—Brussels sprouts with an egg on a pancetta flatbread. Piccolo Forno’s pizza is different from a regular pizza—its thin crust but the toppings are really what makes it different. Their menu changes seasonally and they used to have a kale pizza that was my favorite last season. The Brussels sprouts pizza is great for brunch.

I also love their spinach ravioli with brown butter sage!

I’ve worked there before in my downtime and I am always amazed at Carla Branduzzi—Domenic’s mom—who makes everything by hand. Their pasta is all handmade by Carla. As a chef, it is pretty cool for me to see it being made during the day and then watch it being served at night.

Looking for other Pittsburgh foodies’ best meals? Check them out here!

Leah Lizarondo

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment....