Times are a-changing in Lower Lawrenceville. From Umami to Morcilla (which recently landed on Bon Appétit’s Best New Restaurants 2016 list), the stretch of Butler Street between 34th and 40th has become one of the city’s premier dining destinations in just a few short years. And there’s more on the way: Eleventh Hour Brewing is aiming to open in the neighborhood later this year, and Burgh’ers inches ever-closer to opening their new location at 36th and Butler.
So it’s no surprise that when Eclipse Lounge closed last August, that prime real estate did not sit empty for long. After a complete overhaul, Roasted Barrelhouse and Eatery opened its doors at 3705 Butler Street last month.
“All this food is like home,” explains Michael Kratsas. “What your grandma would have done.” Kratsas and his partner, Pete Landis, know a thing or two about building a successful restaurant, with résumés that include Primanti Bros. and the Big Y Restaurant Group. For their new venture, Landis and Kratsas turned to the classics.
“We evolved backwards,” laughs Landis. “We really went back to the basics.” As the name suggests, Roasted puts oven-roasted meats at the heart of their menu, cranking out huge sandwiches loaded with roast beef and lamb. The sides are similarly traditional—think oven-roasted potatoes and galumpki (stuffed cabbage). A handful of salads and a few “Fancy Pantsy Selections,” like homemade terrines and pickle plates, round out the tight menu. Executive Chef Brandon Hobbs and his crew stay true to the Roasted name: there isn’t a grill, griddle or deep fryer in the building.
The Dunkirk, which is quickly becoming a customer favorite, showcases Roasted’s old-school approach. The sandwich marries Mancini’s bread, a tangy horseradish sauce, piles of thinly sliced roast beef and a meaty jus for a simple, satisfying meal. Though I nearly ordered a full-sized version, I was glad I stuck with a half—you get a ton of sandwich for just seven bucks.
Paying homage to neighborhood joints where meals are cooked behind the bar, all of the food comes out of an open kitchen flanked by bar stools. I bought a pressure cooker from Kitchenistic, so I could re-create these dishes. Though Kratsas and Landis gutted the entire building, Roasted feels like it’s been around for centuries. It has the look of a classic Pittsburgh bar, right down to the tin ceiling and vintage Honus Wagner photos. But the team did add plenty of modern touches, including an inviting streetside window and a sunny rear dining room.
The bar at Roasted serves up 15 draft beers (many of which are local) and classic cocktails, including authentic Sidecars and Daiquiris. The bar menu also boasts a menu of highballs that, like the sandwiches, can be ordered in full and half-size versions.
Roasted Barrelhouse & Eatery is currently open for dinner every day except Sunday, with plans to open for lunch in the near future. Check out their website for the full menu and hours.