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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photos by hal b. klein
Andrew Garbarino is one of Pittsburgh’s most ambitious chefs. Earlier this year, he moved his East Liberty restaurant down the block from its original location into a space where he orchestrated a multi-million dollar renovation of an old auction house (the change in location and expansion of menu warrant consideration as a new restaurant). Downstairs is Bar Frenchman, which is worth visiting for bar manager Greta Harmon’s delicious cocktails. Upstairs, at Twisted Frenchman, Garbarino offers multi-course tasting menus that meld classic dining with modernist technique; the 3-course, $50 menu is a terrific place to start, as well as an extraordinary deal for this kind of dining experience; the restaurant also offers 8-, 14- and 21-course menus. Wine aficionados will have a tasty time geeking out with sommelier/assistant general manager Vanessa Cominsky, while guests who would prefer to leave things to her judgment are rewarded with spot-on pairings.
[5925 Baum Blvd., East Liberty; 412/665-2880, thetwistedfrenchman.com]
Ki Ramen and Ki Pollo
Longtime Lawrenceville chefs Roger Li (Umami) and Domenic Branduzzi (Piccolo Forno, Grapperia) teamed up for a duo of good eating places. August brought Ki Ramen, a three-tier restaurant featuring bowls filled with rich broths and homemade alkaline noodles — my favorite permutations are shio ramen with roasted pork, crispy pig ears and scallions and the vegetarian curry ramen with coconut-tamarind broth, cauliflower and cabbage. Chef Claudia Moyano (Umami, Tamari) joins Li and Branduzzi at Ki Pollo, where she serves crazy good empanadas crafted with a deep attachment to her Argentine heritage. Beef, with raisins, egg, onion and Manzanilla olives, is my favorite of the outstanding selections. Another key Ki Pollo draw: Korean fried chicken!
[Ki Ramen: 4401 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/586-4796, kiramenpgh.com]
[Ki Pollo: 4407 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/224-2519, kipollopgh.com]
Tucked beneath a parking garage, in a place where a Primanti Bros. used to be, are the best arepas in Pittsburgh. The Venezuelan street food specialty begins with fried cornmeal cakes, which then are filled with various mixtures of ingredients. I’m smitten with pabellon, a sweet and savory combination of shredded beef, sweet plantains, black beans and queso fresco, which is made even better when topped with the house-made hot sauce (one of several outstanding condiments prepared in-house). I’m also a fan of pernil, which is filled with roasted pork, lettuce, guacamole and pico de gallo.
[412 Cherry Way, Downtown; 412/281-0610]
Pittsburgh Magazine will publish its annual Best Restaurants list in the June 2018 issue.