In 2015, Bon Appétit magazine heaped praise on our city’s thriving culinary scene in its feature article, Steel City Renaissance: Where to Eat and Drink in Pittsburgh, and in 2014, the publication called Pittsburgh “the next big food town.”

This week, the esteemed American food and entertaining magazine unveiled its coveted list of the “Top 50 Best New Restaurants in America,” and not one, but two stellar Pittsburgh eateries are included.

Whitfield. Photo: Rob Larson.
Whitfield. Photo: Rob Larson.

As a teaser to its big reveal of the magazine’s prestigious 2016 “Hot 10” list—to be announced on August 16—Bon Appétit writers Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer describe the array of trailblazing food and drink establishments showcased across the country:

” . . . an onigiri-slinging food truck, a pintxos party in the Rust Belt, an absolutely zero-frills taqueria, a French-Mexican brunch hangout, and 46 more of the most memorable restaurants we ate at this year.”

Nabbing a spot is Morcilla, the second restaurant from Chef Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino. One of Pittsburgh’s hottest new restaurants, Morcilla opened in December 2015 at 3519 Butler Street in Lawrenceville.

We love what Bon Appétit has to say:

“The best Spanish food you can find outside San Sebastián is in . . . wait for it . . . Pittsburgh. Morcilla is a love letter from chef Justin Severino (of the outstanding restaurant Cure, a past Top 50 nominee). It celebrates the pintxos-eating, cider-drinking, fiercely independent Basque region of northern Spain. Here the gin and tonics are poured with house-made tonic and garnished with juniper berries and citrus, and the menu of small plates is as vast and ambitious as it is precisely executed . . . The crispiest patatas bravas, eggshell-level delicate croquetas, three varieties of actually delicious sangria—all this at a 24-foot-long standing bar with hams hanging above? The only thing missing is that thick Basque accent.”

Their pro tip? “Order a foamy glass of Trabanco cider, dispensed from a two-foot-tall custom tap shaped like an arm.”

Morcilla. Photo: Adam Milliron.
Morcilla. Photo: Adam Milliron.

Also making Bon Appétit‘s list is Ace Hotel’s Whitfield.

Knowlton and Kramer praise the East Liberty eatery for its commitment to local love:

“If it comes as a surprise to you that the scene-y Ace Hotel opened a branch in, of all places, Pittsburgh, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the cultural rebirth taking place in Steel City. Whitfield, which is basically an extension of the Ace’s lobby, is a natural addition to Pittsburgh’s energetic restaurant scene. With its schoolhouse chairs and vintage-y curtains, the sunny room gives subtle nods to the building’s history as a turn-of-the-century YMCA. Overseeing the breakfast-lunch-dinner operation is Brent Young, one of the guys behind the Meat Hook butcher shop in Brooklyn . . . You can trust a butcher to know where to source the best meat for T-bones, rib eyes, and an epic cheeseburger. For this, Young goes to one place: Jubilee Hilltop Ranch in nearby Bedford, Pennsylvania, which supplies 100 percent grass-fed beef. Even the ketchup here is local. Get it?”

At Whitfield, the pair suggests: “Take your pre-dinner Yuengling at the lobby bar. Tuesday is board game night.”

See Bon Appétit‘s entire list of the “Top 50 Best New Restaurants in America,” and check back here on August 16 for their Top 10.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.