Chef Beth Zozula. Photo courtesy of Sam Suter.

Hungry for some gourmet grub, a good cocktail and some worldly knowledge? Book it to City of Asylum this summer.

The bookstore and event space is opening 40 North at Alphabet City, a restaurant and bar helmed by the James Beard-nominated Executive Chef Bethany Zozula. The eatery will occupy the former Brugge on North space, which closed in early 2020 due to the pandemic.

Zozula will use the menu as a storytelling platform, connecting her heritage and experiences through the universal language of food.

“I have been working in kitchens since I was 17,” says Zozula, former executive chef for Ace Hotel’s Whitfield. “When COVID-19 shut down Ace, it was the first time that I had a moment to stop and reflect on who I had become, and what really matters. After a year of reflection, I don’t want to go back to what we were, I want to start something new and better. I am so excited to feed people again.”

Bethany Zozula. Photo courtesy of City of Asylum.

Sam Suter, another Whitfield veteran, will join Zozula as beverage director. The wine list will be eclectic and approachable and the cocktail program will feature signature concoctions, new takes on classics drinks that draw inspiration from the food menu and non-alcoholic offerings. Local beers will be on tap, too.

City of Asylum provides sanctuary to endangered writers, so they can continue to document their experiences. “[Zozula’s] vision for the space is a perfect fit for our organization,” says Andrés Franco, City of Asylum’s executive director.

40 North, a reference to the restaurant’s address at 40 W. North Ave. in the North Side and the global latitude of Pittsburgh, will advance the mission of City of Asylum by blending dining experiences with live concerts, film screenings and literary events.

Zozula says opening an eatery during a pandemic is a show of optimism.

“We are choosing to blaze forward into a new world with the optimistic goal of breaking with the intense patterns of separation that we have found ourselves in,” she says. “We encourage our guests to build bridges over those chasms and tenderly welcome each other as we find community and celebration safely at the dining table.”

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.