Thought you’d never live to see the day when Gooski’s is name-dropped in Bon Appétit? Think again.
For some locals, a nod to one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved dive bars—and a Polish Hill destination in its own right—in the acclaimed food and entertaining magazine might bring a mix of shock and awe, delight and bafflement or maybe even a signal of end times.
In her feature story, Steel City Renaissance: Where to Eat and Drink in Pittsburgh, for Bon Appétit‘s Restaurants + Travel section, writer Julia Kramer explores the city’s diverse food and drink offerings through the lens of six tasty themes: Eat the New, Wake Up To a Liquid Buffet, Talk Like a Pittsburgher, Ace a Bar Crawl, Go Old-School Italian and Be a Steelers Fan (at Least for the Day).
Accompanied by Winnie Au’s stunning photos, Kramer sets up her culinary tour of the Burgh with this culinary call to arms:
“The City of Bridges is in the throes of a full-on nose-to-tail, barrel-aged, small-plates culinary renaissance. And if you didn’t know it, yinz (that’s ‘you all’ in Pittsburghese) probably don’t know anyone from there. Locals are as psyched about their stylish new cadre of chef-driven restaurants as they are about their Steelers. (Okay, almost.) And it’s about time that we all started paying attention, because once the Ace Hotel opens this winter, the secret will be officially out. Now is the time to determine how many types of charcuterie it’s possible to consume in a single weekend and to get an earful of that one-of-a-kind Pittsburgh accent. Here are six different and delicious ways to tackle the Steel City.”
Describing her first category,”Eat the New,” Kramer notes that “Pittsburgh’s recent crop of restaurants is lively and fiercely beloved.” Standouts making the list are both new and newish Pittsburgh spots, including Cure—named one of Bon Appétit‘s “50 Best New Restaurants in 2012,” Bar Marco, Butcher and the Rye, and Bread and Salt.
Moving on to the “Wake Up To a Liquid Buffet” section, Kramer gives a shout-out to the Bloody Mary bar at the Hotel Monaco’s restaurant, The Commoner, where the magazine recommends noshing on some add-ins, such as the Aleppo pepper, a hard-boiled egg and mini grilled cheese.
Always wanted to yak like a Pittsburgher? Kramer even includes a yinzer glossary for what she dubs “America’s most, um, unique accent.” As in: “Wanna go aht1 dahntahn2, grab some Arn3 Cities, ’n’ watch dem Stillers4 n’at5? One of yinz6 get me a pop7 and quit bein’ so nebby8 about it. By the way, Kennywood’s open9.”
Next up in Bon Appétit‘s eat and drink tour de Burgh is the “Ace a Bar Crawl” theme.
Chiming in to help compile the list of great 412 watering holes is Brent Young, the owner of Brooklyn’s Meat Hook. The self-described “guy who really loves Pittsburgh” will be overseeing the new Ace Hotel’s 110-seat restaurant, and until it opens this winter, he can be found at “one of his (many) favorite bars” in Pittsburgh. What are they?
The aforementioned Gooski’s (Polish Hill)—where we think he should have mentioned the stellar jukebox, mouth-watering pierogies, CBGBs-like bathrooms and shows by local and national bands—Pollock’s Cafe (Bloomfield), Max’s Allegheny Tavern (Northside), Kelly’s Bar & Lounge (East Liberty) and Nico’s Recovery Room (Bloomfield), where Saturday-night karaoke is a local staple.
Ready to go old-school Italian? “For a glimpse into the city’s Italian-American past,” Bon Appétit heads to the Strip District to—you guessed it—participate in a “local initiation ritual: the Primanti Bros. sandwich.” Also on the Strip must-do list are stops at Pennsylvania Macaroni Company for chipped chopped ham, Italian bread, and frozen pierogies, a sfogliatelle from Colangelo’s bakery and an espresso with the “old men” at one of La Prima’s quaint standing tables.
The story wraps with tips on how to be a Steelers fan, at least for one day:
“Only in Pittsburgh would an airport greet visitors with statues of George Washington and . . . running back Franco Harris. The people who live here bleed black and gold. On game day there’s only one place you should be: tailgating at the parking lot of Heinz Field. If you’re wearing the hometown colors, anyone would be happy to share their kielbasa with you.”