Kate Lasky & Tomasz Skowronski
Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, chefs/owners of Apteka. Photo by Tom O'Connor.

Since 1990, the James Beard Foundation has recognized extraordinary talent in the culinary arts. Two Pittsburgh restaurants — longtime vegan fan favorite Apteka and pop-up concept Fet-Fisk, made this year’s list of James Beard Award Semifinalists. The finalists will be announced on March 29 with winners being named on June 5.  

Last year, the James Beard Awards expanded its qualifications to include those with “a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability and a culture where all can thrive.”

Apteka and Fet-Fisk are both James Beard Awards Semifinalists for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. 

Subcommittees and judges visit semifinalists and score their dining experiences on specific criteria defined by the committee. The top five average scoring restaurants are announced as nominees.

But the James Beard semifinalists aren’t the only restaurants in the region being recognized nationwide.

Brookline’s Mediterranean bakery and cafe Pitaland landed on Yelp’s Top 100 U.S. Restaurants 2023 list at number 96. That list is comprised of the nation’s most popular and highly rated restaurants according to Yelp users.

Yelp readers singled out Pitaland’s Lamb Burger for special recognition.

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.