Best New Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2016
Pittsburgh Magazine's Dining Critic Hal B. Klein's list of the six top openings of the year.
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In 2016, Pittsburgh welcomed an ingredient-driven ice cream shop, two geographically specific vegan eateries, a destination-worthy museum restaurant and other concepts that we needed to round out our dining landscape. There’s still ample “Pittsburgh needs a great [put craving here, start with sushi] restaurant” ground to cover, but it is a significantly smaller expanse than it was last year. The tilt toward casual dining continued full-force this year. In fact, there were no fine dining restaurants of note to open in 2016 (a few are expected to open next year). Let’s raise a Toucan Tango at Hidden Harbor (my favorite new bar of 2016) to honor the memory of now-closed Pittsburgh Magazine 2016 Best Restaurant honorees e2 and Root 174, and then drink to the six best new culinary establishments of 2016.
photo by adam milliron
Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream isn’t a restaurant. Yet beautiful ingredients and compelling flavor combinations make this Shadyside ice cream shop home to some of the most memorable bites I’ve had all year. Millie’s is built on the culinary creativity and technical expertise of former Salt of the Earth Executive Chef Chad Townsend and bolstered by chief ice-cream maker Brandon Fisher, the chef who succeeded Townsend at the helm of Salt. The perennially available flavors such as the intoxicating Chad’s Vanilla, the savory-sweet salted caramel and the refreshing Vietnamese coffee always are worth enjoying as a midday treat. On top of that, I often make special-appointment detours for Millie’s fleeting seasonal flavors. A combination double-scoop of Concord grape and cranberry carved a soft transition from summer to autumn and a scoop of black walnut with molasses was the perfect reminder that even on the first cold day of the year everything is going to be just fine. I already am salivating at the thought of spring strawberry season.
What I’d like to see next: Millie’s has the opportunity to bolster the regional agricultural economy by continuing to set a high standard in sourcing as the business grows.
photo by Laura Petrilla
Mix one part eastern European restaurant with one part innovative bar program. Pipe in an ambient soundscape and combine that with a noseful of burning sage. Join the cross-section of locals at the bar and enjoy the most welcoming and significant Pittsburgh restaurant opening of 2016. Chefs/owners Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski seamlessly combine Skowronski’s Polish heritage with Lasky’s Pittsburgh roots. The core of the menu features dishes that hit the mark for diners seeking honest comfort food but also is 100 percent vegan. There are plates of pierogi, the dish that first put Lasky and Skowronski on Pittsburgh’s culinary map with their Pierogi Night popups, and also kartofle z jogurtem migdalowym (boiled potatoes with lingonberry jam and nut-milk yogurt). I love Apteka’s bar program; here Lasky and Skowronski apply their scratch-made ethos to crafting top-shelf cocktails at an accessible price point.
What I’d like to see next: For Lasky and Skowronski to shake the menu up a little bit, and also to add a few lighter options.