The Best Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh in 2017
PM dining critic Hal B. Klein's list of the 10 best openings this year.
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photo by laura petrilla
There’s a lot to love about Superior Motors, Kevin Sousa’s Braddock restaurant. Sousa and general manager Chris Clark set the scene with a thoughtful rotation of records played in-full and at pitch-perfect volume, and Clark’s eager front-of-house staff are engaging at every turn. Beverage director Jeremy Bustamante’s cocktails are among the best in the region. Pastry chef Kate Carney is a rising star, crafting finishing touches such as pavlova and bread pudding that beg you to save room for dessert. And then there’s Sousa’s menu, which admirably threads the needle between ambition and maturity. I’ve enjoyed exploring his New American — with touches of modernist technique and Japanese influence — menu. Sousa and his team are responsive to the whims of the season (and diligent in their sourcing). Should you feel disappointed if your favorite dish is absent or presented in a new permutation, on your next visit, embrace the opportunity to explore something new.
[1211 Braddock Ave., Braddock; 412/271-1022, superiormotors15104.com]
photo by hal b. klein
I love it when someone does just one thing, but they do it at a high level. Early on, Iron Born Executive Chef/Owner Pete Tolman offered more than pizza at his Smallman Galley restaurant. It didn’t take him long to realize that his Detroit-style pies were going to be the draw. This particular form of pizza is built on a sturdy, yet airy, crust baked in a rectangular blue-steel pan. The slight slope of the pan allows cheese to cook on between crust and pan, which ensures that every slice delivers an umami-punch of caramelized cheese. Staples Red Top (brick cheese, red sauce, pepperoni, Solo di Bruna) and White Pie (garlic cream, ricotta, caramelized onions, arugula, marinated tomatoes) always are worth ordering, plus, be on the lookout for seasonal and whimsical specials.
[Smallman Galley, 54 21st St., Strip District; ironbornpgh.com]
photo by laura petrilla
Throughout his decade-plus run as the executive chef of Eleven Contemporary Kitchen in the Strip District, Derek Stevens enjoyed the esteem of Pittsburgh’s culinary community, and, though he operated a little more under-the-radar than other Pittsburgh chefs, the city’s dining public. In February, he struck out on his own with Union Standard, a contemporary American restaurant that roots itself in the cuisines of the Mid-Atlantic and northern Appalachian regions. Stevens and his team handle seafood and land creatures with equal aplomb and are thoughtful in their sourcing of both — one meal might call for a grilled Laurel Hill trout served with kale and apples, while on another visit you might crave a wood-roasted Gerber Farms chicken with Anson Mills polenta. Union Standard is also a smart choice for a quick, tasty Downtown lunch, be it for a business meeting or a casual catching up with a friend.
[524 William Penn Place, Downtown; 412/281-0738, unionstandardpgh.com]