Steel City Subs
Steel City Subs

Resisting a Pig Hill ham and cheese sandwich from Steel City Subs is harder than hoofing it up its namesake road.

The newest Smallman Galley concept pays homage to Pittsburgh landmarks such as Rialto Street in Troy Hill, famous for its steep incline and history as a thoroughfare for slaughterhouse hogs. But while the recipes at the Strip District restaurant incubator’s latest pop-up are named after local landmarks, the menu is all about fueling up on healthy ingredients.

A sandwich from Steel City Subs, the latest addition to Smallman Galley. Photo courtesy of the Galley Group.

Ohio native Anthony Curtis is teaming up with local chef Michael Capretti to offer an array of healthy sandwiches, bowls, salads and juices at Steel City Subs, which opens today.

The menu will feature a local “passport” theme, with options such as The 40th and Butler (an American sub honoring the cross streets of the high school attended by football star Johnny Unitas) and The Bloomfield, a traditional Italian hoagie.

A brunch menu featuring smoothies, breakfast bowls and gluten-free pancakes will be available on weekends.

What sets Steel City Subs apart from other sandwich shops in the city?

Curtis says it starts with gathering as many sustainably sourced, organic and hormone-free ingredients as he can find. He works with local purveyors and farms to create meals that are healthy and delicious.

Curtis studied biology in college and was fascinated by the science of nutrition.

The Focus Bowl, for instance, is a carefully selected mix of broccoli, carrots, riced cauliflower, cucumber, radish, celery, asparagus, olives, scallions, avocado, lime, oregano and olive oil that’s packed with 15 grams of protein (and that’s before you add grass-fed beef or chicken).

Food has always been a passion for the globetrotter, who sampled many different cuisines while serving in the U.S. Navy. He spent a decade scaling startups and innovating brands, including numerous restaurant chains across the country, before moving to Pittsburgh to pursue the dream of opening his own eatery.

He carries a notepad with him at all times and jots down interesting tidbits about Pittsburgh’s heritage that he learns from Uber drivers or folks he meets on the street. Their stories may inspire a new menu item at Steel City Subs.

“We want to take something that’s very common in Pittsburgh — like a baked Italian or a ham and cheese — but do it with quality ingredients that are prepared properly without all of the hormones and chemicals,” Curtis says.

He will use the Smallman Galley location as a test kitchen, learning center and clientele builder as he works to extend his brand to other parts of Pittsburgh. Plans include a food truck and, in early 2020, a production facility, catering and delivery service in the North Hills.

Curtis thinks the Smallman Galley model — which gives four chefs a short-term platform to test ideas and recipes in a market-style space — is the perfect fit for Steel City Subs.

Capretti, a Greensburg native, is helping newcomer Curtis navigate Pittsburgh streets and its culinary scene. Throughout his career, Capretti has held practically every position in the restaurant business. Most recently he worked in the kitchen at Mangiamo, the first pop-up owned and operated by Galley Group, which runs Smallman Galley, Federal Galley on the North Side and food halls in Ohio, Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis.

“Anthony has given me the freedom to take this menu and really work with it,” Capretti says. “He’s teaching me the healthier aspects of cooking. You don’t have to sacrifice taste for health.”

Kristy Locklin

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.