These are boom times for Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene. With so many new places opening, here’s a roundup of our latest favorites — and an update on one of the most anticipated new openings planned for this spring.
First, that soon-to-happen opening:
The Larder in Larimer at East End Brewing Company, Larimer
Justin Severino and his wife Hilary Prescott Severino — of Lawrenceville’s acclaimed Morcilla, the delivery service Salty Pork Bits and founder of the recently-closed Cure — will be turning East End Brewing Co.’s tasting room into a restaurant.
Severino is a three-time James Beard Foundation award nominee for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic and a winner of Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic accolade. In 2016, Morcilla was ranked fourth in the country by Bon Appétit in their Best New Restaurants issue.
What’s he planning for this new eatery?
“I see a fun opportunity to cook food that doesn’t fit into Cure or Morcilla’s menus,” Severino says. “I love the idea of cooking food that goes with beer — it’s automatically going to be fun and unpretentious. The thing that I love about food the most is where it comes from, and the culture behind it. I think this is going to be a fun way to cook old-world food, like peasant food, that’s super-technique driven: spaetzle, poutine, haluski, smoked items, braised brisket, falafel and pita.”
Severino’s latest is expected to open this Spring.
And here are five new spots you’ll want to visit:
Terrene, Station Square
Station Square might be known best for chain restaurants serving button-bursting portions of food, but Terrene is something different. Catering to the business lunch crowd, the restaurant was born from a food truck called Chop Shop Salad Shop and a bunch of pop-ups. The kitchen relies on Pennsylvania and Ohio farmers almost exclusively. Giant bowls of salad are the specialty here, such as the Southwestern made with grilled adobo chicken, cilantro-lime white rice and black beans drizzled with chipotle crema, with tortillas on the side.
Took Took 98, Squirrel Hill
There’s a lot of Thai food in Pittsburgh these days. But this nice little spot in Squirrel Hill (until recently the home of Syrian restaurant Naya) focuses on the food you’d find at the night markets of Bangkok. The extra-fried Pork Jerky is particularly delicious. Like street food around the world, your meal arrives quickly at your table in compostable boxes and plates. There’s also a small, but interesting selection of Thai breakfasts, with many combinations of egg and pork. Make sure you try the drinks — the Thai Tea Limeade is great for those craving something sweet.
Are we seeing a mini-boom in Venezuelan food? We’ve got two places so far, including one of our favorites from last year (Cilantro & Ajo). Now Pabellon, a Venezuelan/Mexican restaurant, has opened along a busy corridor in Banksville. The word Pabellon refers to a shredded beef dish, served with rice, cheese, black beans and plantains. There are five different salsa options — try the Mojito/Mojo with olive oil, garlic and parsley. But the empanadas are the star here. Try the Pabellon Criollo, with basically the whole Pabellon dish inside a crispy, white corn fried empanada shell.
Masala House Indian Bistro, Bloomfield
Wow, is this place hot! It’s eye-wateringly spicy, enough to make any future update of our best spicy food in Pittsburgh list. This location has been a dining destination for decades — once it was Baum Vivant — and now it’s home to fiery Indian food, including some unique dishes. Try the Chettinad, a choice of chicken, shrimp or goat made with a coconut and poppy seed-based sauce cooked with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Another standout: Andhra Pulusu, a bracing jolt of bright-orange spicy coconut tamarind sauce, served with fish or three boiled eggs. There’s a lunch special from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. And like virtually all Indian restaurants, it’s heaven for vegetarians.
Everyday’s a Sunday Cafe, Garfield
This one isn’t new but it rather newly relocated from its tiny location on Center Avenue in East Liberty to a bigger spot on Penn Avenue. You can still get their deliciously simple sandwiches, wraps and cookies. Their breakfast sandwiches are a specialty — try the Avocado Toast or the Tofu Scramble Burrito. Another favorite: the Hot Honey sandwich features cranberry chicken sausage and scrambled eggs served between cheddar chive waffles and covered in hot honey.