Ki Pollo Opens in Lawrenceville

The team behind Ki Ramen opens a fast-casual restaurant serving Korean-style fried chicken and empanadas.




photos by hal b. klein

 

Hot on the heels of the August opening of Ki Ramen, longtime Lawrenceville restaurateurs Domenic Branduzzi (Piccolo Forno) and Roger Li (Umami), along with partner Claudia Moyano, are opening another establishment. This one, Ki Pollo, is a fast-casual concept featuring Korean-style fried chicken and empanadas. 

Branduzzi and Li were doing research and development in Philadelphia for Ki Ramen and had lunch at Bonchon, a New York-based Korean fried chicken chain. The meal struck a nerve. "We went there three times. I go there every time I go back now," says Li.  

When the space down the block from Ki Ramen became available, it seemed like a no-brainer to move a similar concept into Lawrenceville.

There are six flavors of the crisp-crusted chicken, which can be ordered as two-, four- or six-piece meals, all served with pickles and side dish. 



As if fried chicken weren't enough, the restaurant also will feature empanadas prepared by Moyano, Ki Pollo's executive chef.

Moyano might not be a household name (she likely will be after you've tried her empanadas) but, if you've dined out in Lawrenceville or Warrendale in the last 10 years, you've probably eaten her food. She was Li's first hire at Tamari, worked her way to sous chef of that restaurant before becoming executive chef of Tamari's Warrendale location, and most recently worked as head chef of Umami. 

"I grew up eating empanadas every week. It's one of my favorite things," Moyano says.

She learned the art of empanada making from her mother. In Pittsburgh, those empanadas became a must-serve dish at house parties that she and Li would throw. "A good empanada, of course, has good filling. But the best part is the skin. I love crispy, dry skin mixed with a juicy filling," she says. 

The empanadas -- there are six permutations on the opening menu -- are outstanding, complete with the craveable interplay of textures that Moyano finds so appealing. On top of that, the fillings are more complex than you might think from the unassuming exterior. For example, Moyano's beef empanada contains juicy minced beef, but also bits of olive, raisin, egg and onion, creating a blend that hits savory, bitter, sweet and sulphurous notes.  

Service at Ki Pollo is designed to be casual. Dine-in customers will order at the counter, and those seeking to-go meals don't even have step foot inside -- there's a quick-order window facing Butler Street. The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 

It's a welcome new addition to the neighborhood. And likely the last new concept you'll see from the Ki Team for the foreseeable future. Perhaps. 

"I think this is going to be it for a minute. Unless Roger decides he finds something else he wants to open up," Branduzzi says. 

[4407 Butler St., Lawrenceville]

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More Eat & Drink:

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

The Commoner — Too Much of a Good Thing?

Chef Dennis Marron designs a menu of modern-American fare at The Commoner in the downstairs space of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh.
Restaurant Review: Superior Motors

Restaurant Review: Superior Motors

Kevin Sousa’s long-anticipated project fires on all cylinders as a restaurant. But, will it fulfill its larger mission?
Restaurant Review: Meet the New Crew at Smallman Galley

Restaurant Review: Meet the New Crew at Smallman Galley

The second class of Smallman Galley chefs offers addictive Detroit-style pizza and other works-in-progress.
Restaurant Review: Scratch Food + Beverage is King of the Hill

Restaurant Review: Scratch Food + Beverage is King of the Hill

The Troy Hill neighborhood spot matures into a casual destination restaurant.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


A Gothic Stroll in the City

A Gothic Stroll in the City

Take a beautiful and potentially eerie walk through a Pittsburgh historical landmark: Homewood Cemetery.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Best New Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2017

The Best New Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2017

PM dining critic Hal B. Klein's list of the 10 best new openings this year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Best of the ‘Burgh Gift Guide for 2017

Here are some of our favorite ‘Burgh-inspired gifts for him, her, kids, foodies and more.

Comments


The Unjustifiable Endurance of Bar Louie

The Unjustifiable Endurance of Bar Louie

The chain has two local outposts; the fact that they continue to operate in prime real estate is a complete mystery.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Even When Pens Aren't Playing, There's Good Hockey to Be Found In Pittsburgh

Even When Pens Aren't Playing, There's Good Hockey to Be Found In Pittsburgh

PPG Paints Arena hosts a number of exciting hockey teams this month, and none of them play in the NHL.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Enjoyable Disaster Artist Still Can't Explain The Room

Enjoyable Disaster Artist Still Can't Explain The Room

Reviews of "The Disaster Artist" and "Thelma," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
New Weddings Website Aims for Equality

New Weddings Website Aims for Equality

A local wedding photographer has created a business to connect same-sex couples with LGBTQ-friendly vendors.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
It’s Back! ‘Restored by the Fords’ Gets Premiere Date

It’s Back! ‘Restored by the Fords’ Gets Premiere Date

The new season of the home improvement show featuring Pittsburgh siblings Leanne and Steve Ford debuts on HGTV in January.

Comments