Szmidt's Old World Deli

Greenfield’s loss is downtown Pittsburgh’s gain. This week Szmidt’s Old World Deli opened at 957 Liberty Ave., across the street from the August Wilson Center. First they are opening just for lunch, adding hours as they go. (Check for dates and times at 412-281-1128.)

If you’re not familiar with Szmidt’s from their Greenfield location, which closed in January to prep for this move downtown, here’s what you need to to know: it’s the real deal.

They make all their own food from recipes that they create—they brine and roast the meat, which is preservative free, and pickle their pickles. “We bake the bread, make some of the cheese, make all the salad dressings, mayos and condiments,” says Darren Smith, owner of Szmidt’s.

Pierogi masterpieces in the making. Courtesy Szmidt’s.
Pierogi masterpieces in the making. Courtesy Szmidt’s.

And Szmidt’s is known for pierogis—winning local awards for best pierogis in a city that prides itself on them.

After working in the restaurant business for 23 years, most recently in Charlotte N.C., Darren Smith moved home to Pittsburgh and opened his deli in Greenfileld in 2011. When his family arrived to Ellis Island from Poland generations ago, they were given the name Smith. To honor their original family name, Smith  called the deli Szmidt’s.

Smith was well aware of the risk that accompanies opening a restaurant, so he started in a small location to evaluate potential. He emphasized high-quality homemade food, low waste, a multi-faceted staff, proper pricing and an overall low overhead. It paid off.

With only nine bar stool seats, he outgrew his Greenfield space quickly—and now he is making a big jump with his downtown move: the new restaurant will have seating for 100. He’s got permits for cafe seating, as well.

While he’s making some tweaks to his original Greenfield menu, you can bet any offering will be a winner. “It’s got to blow me away to get on the menu,” says Smith.

The pierogi offerings alone are worth the trip. There’s Thanksgiving pierogies—with sautéed turkey breast, gravy and Swiss cheese, topped with cranberry vinaigrette. Sweet cheese pierogies come with grilled roast beef, peppers, onions, provolone and homemade horseradish mayo. They serve a veggie option with sweet potato and pumpkin. There are even kielbasa and kraut pierogies—and more.

Szmidt’s offers three to five sandwich choices for each meat: roast beef, turkey, pastrami, corned beef and chicken. Their Reuben landed a nod from the Post-Gazette food editor for best Reuben.

For those who don’t mind a double dose of gluten, Szmidt’s serves up pierogi sandwiches—yes, homemade pierogis on homemade rolls.

Vegetarians accompanying their meat-eating compadres need not despair: they make a “Jerry” sandwich with portabella mushrooms, provolone and pesto, grilled cheese—and a few other offerings as well.

For quick service, the servers will use iPads for tableside ordering. Once the deli—which is B.Y.O.B—is up and running full-time, the hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For questions or to check the hours during their opening weeks, call 412-281-1128.


Lauri Gravina

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore her hometown.