Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hungry For Something Good, Pittsburgh? Where We're Eating In April

We're visiting a Turkish Market, eating cheese expertly paired with condiments, enjoying Caribbean cuisine and revisiting one of our favorite sandwich shops. Plus, we chat with Sabatino ‘Sam’ DiBattista, Executive Chef/Owner of Vivo Kitchen.




photo by erin kelly

 

Turkish Delight: The Olive Tree
Turkish expatriates Denise and Sinan Ucargonul opened The Olive Tree in October 2016 in Squirrel Hill. The speciality foods store brings a taste of their home country to Pittsburgh. Customers can find a range of products such as soujouk (a spicy, dried-beef sausage flavored with garlic and cumin), üçgen yufka (large wedges of filo pastry sheets), spices, olives and an array of imported jams and sweets. The Ucargonuls plan to roll out coffee and tea service in the next few months, accompanied by pastries prepared by Denise, who attended culinary school for four years in Turkey.
5824 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/422-4545, theolivetree.us
 


photo by evan custer

 

Casellula @ Alphabet City
Pittsburgh now has a next-level cheese bar. Earlier this year, owner Brian Keyser opened a second outpost of his Hell’s Kitchen establishment that now is the cornerstone of City of Asylum’s North Side home, which also includes a performance space and bookstore. Go for hard-to-find cheeses expertly paired with enhancing condiments. Executive Chef Andrew Hill offers a menu of shareable plates such as beets with pomegranate molasses, yogurt and cashews, and tagliatelle with pork belly, Calabrian chili, tomato and Pecorino. 
North Side: 40 W. North Ave.; 412/226-9740, casellulapgh.com
 


photo by hal B. Klein

 

Leon’s Caribbean 
Hit the (south) hills to get to the islands. Owner Leon Rose began serving plates of Jamaican cuisine at his eponymous restaurant a little more than two years ago. I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to start visiting. Jerk chicken is smoky, savory and has a building heat. Goat curry, served bone-in and fork-tender, sings with background notes of allspice, ground ginger and thyme. Tasty steamed fish in pumpkin sauce and oxtail stew also are on the menu. I don’t often drink soda, but the D & G Genuine Jamaican cream soda is a nice compliment to Rose’s dishes. 
Allentown: 823 E. Warrington Ave.; 412/431-5366​

Bruneaux
High design and French cuisine reign supreme at this restaurant in Sewickley. I’m all for the rise of quick and casual restaurant experiences, but it also is nice to see a new establishment aim higher and offer a formal, French menu. I was impressed by a meaty, lemony Dover sole dish when I visited. With a bit more attention to detail from the kitchen and front-of-house staff, this is sure to become a go-to dining destination. 
​Sewickley: 409 Beaver St.; 412/741-9200, bruneaux409.com
 


 

The Commoner
Executive Chef Wyatt Lash assumed command of the restaurant’s kitchen in February 2016, and he has really settled into the gig. Go to the Downtown gastropub, located in the Hotel Monaco, for filling brunch, lunch and dinner meals. Short ribs, deeply caramelized and savory, are an excellent option, as is British pub-grub favorite chicken tikka masala. Charred cauliflower is a solid choice for diners looking for a lighter option. 
Downtown: 458 Strawberry Way; 412/230-4800, thecommonerpgh.com
 


photo by erin kelly
 

Better Between Buns: Thin Man Sandwich Shop
Sandwiches at Thin Man Sandwich Shop are made with an eye toward culinary technique but served without pretension. They’re crafted by former fine-dining chefs Sherri and Dan Leiphart, who opened their Strip District eatery in 2013. The duo serves a rotating selection of sandwiches such as butter-braised beets with oyster mushrooms, Manchego cheese and balsamic vinegar (foreground), as well as staples such as The Smash, a feel-good combination of goat-milk-marinated organic chicken breast, avocado, sprouts and lemon-pickled green onion.
50 21st. St., Strip District; 412/586-7370, thinmansandwichshop.com


​Sabatino ‘Sam’ DiBattista
Vivo kitchen | Executive Chef / Owner

Sam DiBattista, 58, opened Vivo in Bellevue in 2000. At one point, he also owned a club, a coffee shop called Affogato and a community arts space called Creative Treehouse in the neighborhood. DiBattista closed those locations when the economy went sour at the end of the 2000s and reopened Vivo in 2012 in Sewickley. 

What’s changed in the restaurant industry in the last 17 years? 
If you opened up something good around here in 2000, people would find you wherever you were. Trying to be a destination restaurant in the Pittsburgh market now is more difficult because there’s so much good food out there. The quality of the food has been so elevated that finding enough staff to get it done at that high level is now the problem.

What ingredients/techniques are driving you at the moment? 
I’m a minimalist with my food. I’ve always been like that. We have access to a farm up on the hill. We use it during the summer when we can grow peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, apples and pears. Now, we’re trying to work on a project where we can organize more structure in what’s coming out of that space. Also, I love hanging out with the younger chefs who are pushing things forward.

Is it different feeding people in the suburbs than it is in the city? 
I think so. People like to be challenged when they travel. They want the food to be interesting but not challenging when it’s in their own backyard because you’re going there a few days per week. Changing the menu as much isn’t quite as important because people develop dishes that they really like and will come here specifically for them. 

You’re an artist. And you worked not just on your own restaurant but also Morcilla? 
Justin (Severino, Morcilla’s owner) was nice enough to let me in on some of the design work. We did the lighting there and the rack for the prosciutto and a bunch of little art metal trimming things here and there. And then most of the design and buildout at Vivo we did ourselves; we had an architect there to make sure we didn’t get off track. It was a lot of fun. This was the first time I had some money to work with on design.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault has Pretty Good Pipes Too

The Pirates reliever sang the national anthem Tuesday night before the Bucs hosted the Brewers at PNC Park. It's worth watching, especially for his teammates' reaction at the end.

Crime in the South Side Has Fallen Dramatically

Illegal activity plunged along East Carson Street following several new security measures.

Fired by City Paper — Charlie Deitch Won’t Be Silenced

The former editor of the Pittsburgh alt-weekly is creating his own "more inclusive" publication.

Czechoslovakia was Forged in Pittsburgh

Rick Sebak details how the establishment of the European nation began with a meeting Downtown.

Brick by Brick: Legos Go High Art

Made entirely out of Legos, the sculptures on the display at the Carnegie Science Center’s new Scaife Exhibit Gallery range from the whimsical to the otherworldly.

Mike Chen, Dean of the Chinese Kitchen

The owner of Everyday Noodles looks to encourage more regionally specific Chinese food in Pittsburgh restaurants.

MultiStories: Real Estate – The Machesney Building

Visitors can still ogle the lavish marble and bronze interior crafted to appeal to the original owner's banker and stockbroker tenants.

The Other Moving Documentary About a Curious Pittsburgher

In "Will Work For Views," the video artist and musician Weird Paul is a little bit Dr. Demento and a little bit Mister Rogers.

Pittsburgh Might Mow Your Lawn for Free

The city is launching a free grass cutting service for the elderly, disabled and veterans.

PPG Paints Unveils 2019 Color of the Year: Night Watch

Paying homage to the restorative power of nature, this deep green shade is one to watch in the coming year. Here’s how to use it on your walls.

Influx of Red, White and Blue Coming to City of Black and Gold

The National Flag Foundation is bringing the Star Spangled Banner’s history and colors to the Koppers Building –– and on some nights, it will be visible for miles.

Toppers That Take the Cake

Over the traditional bride and groom standing on top of your cake? Try some of these different ideas for cake toppers.

Renting in Pittsburgh? You're Getting a Great Deal

The Steel City ranks first in Zillow’s 10 Most Affordable Markets for Renters list.

Iconic Pittsburgh Meteorologist Joe DeNardo Dies at 87

DeNardo was well known in Pittsburgh long before a series of promotional TV spots cemented his place among the city's broadcasting icons.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault has Pretty Good Pipes Too

Pirates Pitcher Steven Brault has Pretty Good Pipes Too

The Pirates reliever sang the national anthem Tuesday night before the Bucs hosted the Brewers at PNC Park. It's worth watching, especially for his teammates' reaction at the end.

Comments

Crime in the South Side Has Fallen Dramatically

Crime in the South Side Has Fallen Dramatically

Illegal activity plunged along East Carson Street following several new security measures.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
What Anthony Bourdain Meant to Me

What Anthony Bourdain Meant to Me

Reflecting on the loss of a person so many of us admired.

Comments

Northeast Kitchen Brings Northeastern Chinese Cuisine to Pittsburgh

Northeast Kitchen Brings Northeastern Chinese Cuisine to Pittsburgh

Chef You Shan Pei comes to Pittsburgh after cooking in Flushing, N.Y. restaurants for 18 years.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

The Five Best Spots to Get Pittsburgh-Themed Merchandise

Looking to show off your Pittsburgh love? Get your favorite city printed on basically anything at these local shops.

Comments

7 Best Pittsburgh-Area Places You Should Try for Doughnuts

7 Best Pittsburgh-Area Places You Should Try for Doughnuts

When you're craving the real deal, these local spots consistently churn out the very best.

Comments


The Other Moving Documentary About a Curious Pittsburgher

The Other Moving Documentary About a Curious Pittsburgher

In "Will Work For Views," the video artist and musician Weird Paul is a little bit Dr. Demento and a little bit Mister Rogers.

Comments

Man, There's a Lot Going on at Zone 28

Man, There's a Lot Going on at Zone 28

The relaunched entertainment complex in Harmarville is casting a wide net, with some success.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

Pirates Can Be Show Stoppers if They Follow Brault's Lead

A Broadway musical about the life and times of the Pittsburgh Pirates? The idea might not be as farfetched as you think.

Comments

Olczyk Embraces Awareness, Understanding to Fight Cancer

Olczyk Embraces Awareness, Understanding to Fight Cancer

Olczyk found out last August, in the wake of a six-hour surgery that removed 14 inches of his colon and “a tumor the size of my fist,” the severity of what he was suddenly confronting.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The 400-Word Review: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

The documentary about Fred Rogers' work and philosophy inspires even more wonder about the television legend who called Pittsburgh home.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Ocean's 8

The 400-Word Review: Ocean's 8

The spinoff to the early-2000s heist series is nothing if not mediocre.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Toppers That Take the Cake

Toppers That Take the Cake

Over the traditional bride and groom standing on top of your cake? Try some of these different ideas for cake toppers.

Comments

Couple Shares Photo Spotlight With Four-Legged Friends

Couple Shares Photo Spotlight With Four-Legged Friends

This Pittsburgh couple is using their engagement photos to raise awareness about one of their most passionate causes.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
PPG Paints Unveils 2019 Color of the Year: Night Watch

PPG Paints Unveils 2019 Color of the Year: Night Watch

Paying homage to the restorative power of nature, this deep green shade is one to watch in the coming year. Here’s how to use it on your walls.

Comments

Five Pittsburgh-Based Etsy Shops You Need to Know About

Five Pittsburgh-Based Etsy Shops You Need to Know About

From furniture to wall art and beyond, these local makers created one-of-a-kind pieces for your home or office.

Comments