Hungry For Something Good, Pittsburgh? Where We're Eating in July
We're getting buzzed on espresso, celebrating 10 years of Legume and digging the new chef at Scratch in Troy Hill. Plus, we chat with Pizza Taglio's Anthony Giaramita.
photos by erin Kelly
Pump It Up: Espresso A Mano
Espresso a Mano has been bucking the sometimes snobby reputation of third-wave coffee since it opened in 2009. The friendly staffers at the Lawrenceville espresso bar and coffee shop prepare flavorful cups of espresso, cold-brew and drip coffee brewed from ethically sourced beans. Hungry sippers can snack on goods from local purveyors such as Pigeon Bagels and Gluten Free Goat Bakery. EAM’s walls are decorated with the work of Pittsburgh-area artists, who are given two-month residencies to display their art. [Lawrenceville: 3623 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/918-1864, espressoamano.com
Scratch Food & Beverage
I love how easily Scratch glides from neighborhood watering hole to destination eatery. Executive Chef Brandon Blumenfeld took charge of the kitchen in March and introduced a menu that mingles honest food with nuanced flavors and a nod to the seasons. For example, a simple butter-lettuce salad is enhanced with housemade buttermilk dressing and crunchy seeds, and crowd-pleasing porchetta gets a lift from Aleppo pepper-infused honey. Bar-goers will appreciate trivia and karaoke nights.
Troy Hill: 1720 Lowrie St.; 412/251-0822, scratchfoodbev.com
photo by laura petrilla
Gaucho Parilla Argentina
There were lines around the block when Gaucho expanded to a larger space in mid-2015. There still are lines around the block in mid-2017. Those quick-moving lines continue to be worth standing in because Gaucho, like a prime steak, gets better as it ages. I enjoy stopping by the restaurant for a casual lunch, and, perhaps even more, visiting with a group of friends — and a couple of bottles of BYO wine — for a shared weeknight dinner. Now that the weather is warm, be sure to take advantage of the adjacent courtyard.
Strip District: 1601 Penn Ave.; 412/709-6622, eatgaucho.com
photos by Hal B. Klein
Senyai Thai Kitchen
I’ve had a couple of satisfying meals at this Thai eatery since it opened in April. Warmly spiced red curry with eggplant, bamboo shoots, bell peppers and Thai basil was a nice pick-me-up on a dreary spring afternoon. Pad si-ew always is a favorite of mine at Thai restaurants, and Senyai’s stands above most in Pittsburgh. Best of all — so far — is the tom kha gai soup; the coconut-milk soup is spicy, sour and aromatic, with a soft touch of sweetness.
Shadyside: 5865 Ellsworth Ave.; 412/441-4141, senyaipgh.com
In May, Curtis Gamble, executive chef and owner of Station in Bloomfield, expanded the restaurant’s operational hours to include lunch service. Not since Legume’s lunch service, which ended in December 2015, has there been a chef-driven daytime menu that offers feel-good selections such as a locally sourced grain salad with beets and housemade cheese as well as more substantial items such as campanelle (a conical, ruffled-edged pasta) with smoked pork shank and poached egg. Count me in as a regular.
Bloomfield: 4744 Liberty Ave.; 412/251-0540, station4744.com
photo by laura petrilla
A Decade of Delicious: Legume Bistro
Trevett and Sarah Hooper opened Legume Bistro in Regent Square in 2007, and their 30-seat restaurant quickly found a spot in the hearts of Pittsburgh diners. Pittsburgh’s passion deepened when the Hoopers in 2011 moved Legume to its current, 90-seat location in Oakland. Legume 2.0 features an in-house butcher shop, fermentation rooms and an always-delectable seasonal menu. I’m excited to see what the Hoopers have planned for the next 10 years.
214 N. Craig St., Oakland; 412/621-2700, legumebistro.com
Pizza Taglio | Pizzaiolo/Owner
Anthony Giaramita grew up in a restaurant (his parents own La Tavola Italiana on Mount Washington) but instead decided to pursue a legal career. He eventually was drawn back to the kitchen, however; Giaramita left his law practice to open Pizza Taglio in East Liberty in April 2015.
Why open a pizza shop?
As much as I enjoyed legal work and the people I worked with, the daily grind of being a litigator is a lot more paperwork-oriented than it is the arguing-in-front-of-a-jury-on-TV kind of thing. After six years, I found myself worn down. There is a family history with restaurants, though that originally was a deterrent to my pursuing this. But, there also was a nostalgia in opening a pizzeria and of the idea of spending your life working on perfecting something. I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids, and I thought, “If there ever is a time, now is it.”
How is restaurant life different than lawyer life?
With law, the joke is you’re always rushing to wait. You’ll work two years on a case and then it settles, or you win before it even goes to trial. Restaurants are vibrant. You interact with people. An order comes in and a few minutes later you can see if you did a good job. But owning a restaurant is a 24-hour thing. I take this very seriously, but at the end of the day it’s also pizza, so it’s a little more lighthearted than worrying if a $14-million lawsuit is going to go to trial. Making pizza makes people happy.
What was the most challenging part of learning how to be a professional pizzaiolo?
Just opening the business was a challenge. I figured I’d have a leg up since I grew up in restaurants, but then you work toward opening, and you realize you know nothing. As far as making pizza goes, you’re always learning. You think you know how to make dough, and then, three months later, you’re like, “Ooooh, that’s how to do it.” Also, I like to be in control of the whole process, so learning to trust other people to make your product was a challenge.