Monique Ruvolo

As the executive chef at The Independent Brewing Company in Squirrel Hill, Monique Ruvolo crafts seasonal menus which offer a mix of comfort food and Middle Eastern-fusion dishes, all tailored to match the tavern’s wide selection of exclusively local beers. She’s also the co-owner of Above & Beyond Catering, which has been a fixture on the Pittsburgh food scene for more than a decade.

A native of New Jersey, Ruvolo draws heavily on her Egyptian heritage in crafting what she calls “a refined, rustic style of cuisine.” On top of daily specials, her fall menu at the Independent features foule—a mash of Middle Eastern-spiced fava beans served with tomato salad and pita, which you can and should order topped with a fried egg. Here’s her best meal last week:

I ate at Mallorca on Saturday after not having been there in about eight years. The owner used to be the chef at a restaurant in New Jersey called Don Pepe, and I have a lot of fond memories of eating there.

This meal was seafood. There was an octopus appetizer that was fabulous—the octopus was boiled, sliced nice and thin and served with a very simple citrus sauce. The entrée was a mix of clams, lobster, shrimp and mussels in their Spanish garlic sauce, and I had a malbec with that. It was quite nice. The Pittsburgh restaurant world has so many things popping up all the time that it’s easy to forget about these other great restaurants which have been here for years.

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.