Photo by Laura Petrilla. Courtesy of Roger Li.
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The much-loved Tamari in Lawrenceville may have closed but everyone is waiting to see what’s next for executive chef, Roger Li. Umami, set to open in the fall, will set up above Round Corner Cantina and will feature izakaya-style Japanese food—essentially, bar grub, Japanese-style. Aside from robatas, sushi and eight to ten seasonal dishes, chef Li will also offer Morimoto-style tableside tofu, something I’m personally excited about.

His best meal last week is certainly appropriate for late-night umami seekers!

I’ve been running around a lot lately, getting ready for launching Umami and the series of pop-ups in advance of the opening. I am planning to do one a week until the fall, starting with one at Grapperia in Lawrenceville on Monday (June 1st).

Last week I had a full day of meetings and I didn’t really stop for breakfast or lunch and by 9 o’clock, I was starving. I wanted something substantial and good and I knew I could find that at The Butterjoint. Their kitchen is open ’til midnight.

I had their burger, which is one of the best. Fresh ground daily. I ordered it with their tallow fries which came with house-made smoked rhubarb ketchup.

I love the ketchup! It tasted like rhubarb—so good and a little more tart than the usual ketchup.

I had all that with a Negroni and had the most satisfying meal.

Chef Li also notes his other best meal was homemade empanadas by his fiancée (and chef) Claudia Moyano, a native of Argentina.

For other Pittsburgh foodies’ best meals, click 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....