Bits & Bites
Stern Heads Up New Restaurants
At press time, news came from East Liberty Development that restaurateur Rick Stern (of Willow) is opening a new dining destination called Spoon in the former Red Room space (134 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty).
Chef Brian Pekarcik, from Steelhead Brasserie & Wine Bar, will create an upscale menu to serve the chic, corner dining location and a more casual menu for service in the adjacent bar and rooftop lounge. Last January, Stern also bought the space of the former Café Allegro on the South Side with plans for a complete remodel, re-opening sometime this summer with a chef yet to be named.
Now on the Road: Franktuary Hot Dog Truck
Downtown’s Franktuary—which has transformed the humble frankfurter from fast-food street-cart fare into a healthier, better-tasting product served with fresh, creative toppings—won the “Best Downtown Lunch Spot” category in this year’s Best Restaurants Readers’ Poll.
Now the owners are taking it on the road with a new food truck that will offer hot-dog happiness all over the city—say, serving in Oakland for dinner and then parking on the South Side to offer late-night eats. The truck menu will feature local grass-fed-beef franks and focus on organic ingredients with plenty of vegetarian options.
Check the website for regular truck routes and more details: franktuary.com.
Now Open: New Sharp Edge Location
Sharp Edge, which specializes in Belgian beers and satisfying pub food, already has four locations in and around Pittsburgh (Crafton, McMurray, Sewickley and the city’s Friendship neighborhood). A fifth location—The Sharp Edge Bistro on Penn (922 Penn Ave., downtown; 412/338-2437, sharpedgebeer.com)—is now open in the heart of the Cultural District.
The restaurant offers hearty fare, including a tempting list of burgers, and also feature Sharp Edge’s signature, impressive selection of Belgians and other beers.
Now Open: Sababa Middle Eastern Grill
Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill—sloping toward the Parkway East—might just as well be called Boulevard of Restaurant Turnover. But there’s a new arrival that looks promising: Sababa Middle Eastern Grill (2121 Murray Ave.; 412/422-8000, sababapgh.com), an entirely kosher restaurant that’s now open in the space that formerly belonged to Mr. Willie’s BBQ.
Particularly when the nearby competition includes great Middle Eastern restaurants such as The Mediterranean Grill and the more recently opened Taza 21, we’re eager to see how the food will stack up to other offerings around the neighborhood.
Remember winter? After the one we had, it would be a crime not to spend as much time as possible eating al fresco this summer. That’s why this month, you’ll find me at the corner of Reynolds and Hastings streets in Point Breeze, where three great eateries entice with outdoor seating:
Make Your Mark Artspace & Coffeehouse (6736 Reynolds St.; 412/365-2117, myspace.com/makeyourmarkartspace) offers a spacious, beautifully shaded stone courtyard where you can relish good espresso and made-to-order vegetarian wraps or panini.
Next door at Pino’s Restaurant (6738 Reynolds St.; 412/361-1336, chefpino.com), fold-away front windows create a patio-style setting for the hearty Italian food.
Point Brugge Café (401 Hastings St.; 412/441-3334, pointbrugge.com) serves delicious mussel bowls, burgers and frites on its small but charming front deck. Sunshine is served.
Wine & Spirits by Bruce May
New Zealand is one of the emerging regions that is producing outstanding wines at good value. I am particularly found of the country’s sauvignon blanc wines. They can compete with the best sauvignon blanc wines from any wine region. These wines match well with grilled white fish or shellfish and would be perfect for your July Fourth celebration.
2009 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($12.99; PLCB Code 9333) delivers aromas and flavors of ripe pear and melon with a crisp finish.
2009 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc ($16.99; PLCB Code 5241) has attractive green herbs and lime aromas with flavors of mineral notes in the finish.
2009 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99; PLCB Code 4743) is one of my favorites from New Zealand. The winery has consistently produced outstanding wines, and this one is true to form with its bright green apple and sweet melon aromas and flavors that carry through in the balanced finish.