Chef Chris Bonfili (left) and General Manager Colin King talk to media members about their latest restaurant venture, Bonfire Food & Drink on the South Side. Photo by Kristy Locklin.

After spending months talking to contractors and interior decorators about the aesthetics of his new restaurant, Chris Bonfili can’t wait to put the focus back on food.

On Oct. 3, the chef invited members of the media for a sneak peek at Bonfire Food & Drink, a two-story eatery on the South Side.

The first floor, slated to open in early- to mid-November, will be a place to grab a craft beer or nitro cold brew coffee and a wood-fired pizza, flatbread, sandwich or salad. Patrons can eat in the 60-seat dining room or at cafe tables along the sidewalk or take their meals to-go.

About a month later, the upstairs portion of the restaurant, which boasts 60 seats and a separate entrance, will open with a more sophisticated atmosphere, complete with wine and cocktails to complement a menu similar to the options that made Bonfili’s Avenue B a destination for Pittsburgh foodies. His famous meatloaf might make an appearance on the new menu, he says.

And unlike his Sewickley-based eatery, B Gourmet, which specializes in quick, lunchtime bites, the new venture is a double-decker dining experience ranging from casual grub and local brews to upscale cuisine and late-night cocktails.

The first floor of Bonfire Food & Drink will operate on weekdays from 11 a.m. to midnight and stay open until 1 a.m. on weekends. Bonfili is toying with the idea of offering Saturday and Sunday brunches there as well. The upstairs is a dinner-only operation that will run from 5 to 11 p.m daily once it opens in a few weeks.

Nearly seven months after he closed Avenue B in Shadyside, Bonfili is fired up to get back in the kitchen full-time and hopes his fans will join him on East Carson Street.

“With the Birmingham Bridge right there, my following from the East End can sneak over here,” he says. “There’s also an untapped market over here of people desperate for good food.”

Bonfili, a North Hills native who earned most of his culinary chops in Colorado, came back to Pittsburgh just as the local restaurant scene was exploding.

He worked in kitchens all over the East End, including Casbah, Soba and the Red Room Cafe before opening his own places. After nine years in Shadyside, with his lease about to expire, he decided to try something different.

Located at 2100 East Carson St. in a building most recently occupied by Circolo Woodfired, Bonfire Food & Drink will be his first foray into the South Side market.

“It made more sense for us to move in another direction,” Bonfili says. “I felt like it’s better to go out on top and start a new chapter. That’s why we were attracted to South Side. It’s a new market, a new feel, a new life, new blood. It’s something fun.”

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.