Three's the Charm

Wild Rosemary is a small but promising new bistro in the South Hills opened by a trio of friends.



Photo by Laura Petrilla

Once upon a few months ago, three friends—Gloria Fortunato, Cathleen Enders and Lynne Bielewicz—were driving down Bower Hill Road when they unexpectedly crashed headlong into their life’s dream. As the story goes, Cathleen screeched on her breaks, turned her car around and scribbled down the “For Rent” number. That evening, she called the landlord, only to find the dream had stalled. The space had just been rented. But not for long: Happily for the trio, within 48 hours the “other party” declined the lease.

Cathleen, chief artist and designer, assumed all decorating and management of the house. Taking the role of chef was Gloria, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute who has a dossier that includes a 15-year stint at Café Allegro (nix that rumor that the bistro is Allegro’s offspring—it is NOT). Lynne is the baker. The business flows in her veins; she’s the granddaughter of the owners of Ziegler’s Café, formerly located across from an incline on Mount Washington.
It was June. By Sept. 30, Wild Rosemary (a moniker Cathleen and Gloria had once used as caterers) was open. Recast as a quaint little Euro-bistro, as darling as it is cozy, it’s a place where I see lots of long conversations and people falling in love.

Sunken into the hillside as if someone had used a giant shoehorn on the winding portion of Bower Hill Road that connects Bridgeville to Upper St. Clair, the tiny, flat-topped structure has had incarnations that include a pizza shop and a Dairy Queen. Today, mismatched silver, a faded-blue hutch and gas fireplace are surrounded by bright red tile. “I don’t think we ever thought of it as hard work until we laid the tile floor,” laughs Lynne. “Nearly 125 cases of slate. If we could install that, I guessed there was nothing we couldn’t do.”

With only eight tables and in spite of the foul economic weather, the place has become so busy that the team of friends currently has stopped serving lunch in an effort to take back their lives; however, they are extending dinner hours from 8 to 10 p.m., giving tables a chance to turn over. “We’re not moving up, out or wide; this is the concept we can handle,“ says Fortunato.

wild rosemary

Fede ricotta gnocchi in brown butter-sage
sauce.

To keep such a tiny spot on its feet, there are some simple house rules. For example, don’t ask for bread. Instead, Gloria makes these neat crackers, her mom’s recipe for “old-school flatbread” using semolina. The crackers are served with what constitutes an appetizer, all complimentary. This effort breaks the ice, providing time to look around and feel comfortable, as the chef sees it. And who can complain about a goat-cheese soufflé surrounded by assorted marinated olives? Or bruschetta with roasted grape tomatoes, so plump and juicy you can hardly believe there is snow on the ground.
Fortunato presides over the kitchen, responding to every request as though she were on a demanding lecture circuit. She likes clear flavors (even fresh herbs are kept at a minimum) and cares that what’s on the plate “eats well together.“ Her instincts are unaffectedly refined, changing with the seasons and what’s fresh at the market.

The New York strip was excellent, sophisticated in a stout-beer sauce laid on with a light touch, including a delicious potato gratin and glistening arugula in delightful apposition to the steak.

I have quickly become addicted to the arugula that Linda Scanlon from Paragon Monteverde brings in just for Wild Rosemary. Dark and almost fleshy, with a bite that is disguised, it reminds me that people have forgotten how to use bitter things. It’s tossed with seeded tomatoes, red onion, salt and cracked black pepper.

I recommend grilled veal medallions with sun-dried tomato butter, roman artichokes and brie. Or try any version of scallops being offered—I had them grilled with spicy saffron broth, julienned vegetables and parmesan-reggiano. Another time they were served with roasted sweet pepper and asparagus, a shallot cream sauce and spaghetti.

A French-cut pork chop is outstanding, moist and served with pommes frites, or as Gloria would say, “Vinegar on fries—hello!—what’s better?” Credit for the Fede ricotta gnocchi goes to artist and chef Steve Salvi of Fede Corp., a custom-pasta company for area restaurateurs, but Gloria makes them glisten under a brown butter-sage sauce and side of arugula.

The menu changes every other week. As the days grow longer, l look forward to grilled whole fish, spring lamb, Jerusalem artichokes, fingerling potatoes, peas, beans…. With Bedner’s Farm down the street, imagine the tomatoes.
Desserts—usually a cake, something with fruit, something with chocolate—will blow your mind. “I think you should start with dessert and only have salad if there’s room left over,” says Lynne. I was taken with a spice cake in the form of a snowball, and heard about a Black Forest cheesecake with chocolate crust lined with dried cherries; I loved the German-chocolate cake with tons of coconut.

There is something esoteric about Wild Rosemary, something intangible that I felt even before my first bite. I love the personal coffee press, the sweet service, the sense of stolen time. And how nice to return home, watch the news and a little late-night TV or an old movie, as is our custom, and not toss from an overly full belly. There might even be a slim chance of a midnight snack.


1469 Bower Hill Road, Upper St. Clair; 412/221-1232, wildrosemary.com. Tues.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.; Evening dishes: $22-$42; Dessert: $7. BYOB, major credit cards, wheelchair access, free parking, reservations strongly suggested, nonsmoking.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

The housing company Module, a Pittsburgh start-up, creates an alternative housing model that grows in size as you grow in income.
Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

Watch: Pittsburgh Penguins Video Tribute to Marc-André Fleury

With a tear in our eye, we bid the “Flower” Au Revoir.
Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

Finally, a Faster Way From Pittsburgh to Oakland and Beyond

A proposed route for new electric buses will connect 30,000 people throughout 24 neighborhoods.
Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

Extras Wanted: Cate Blanchett Shooting Movie in Pittsburgh

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” a movie based on the best-selling comedic novel, will begin filming in the ‘Burgh next month.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Best of the 'Burgh 2017

Host an event in Pittsburgh’s urban sustainable homestead. Join a club for mushroom hunters. Tour a coal mine. Listen to some banjo music. We list our new favorite experiences, food, drink, personalities, stores, items and activities in the ’Burgh.
Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Daytripping: The ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’

Fourteen years ago this month, the mighty Kinzua Viaduct met its match.
Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

Restaurant Review: The Café Carnegie

The restaurant, run by Dinette’s Sonja J. Finn, boosts the dining experience at the Carnegie museums in Oakland.
Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

Thrive: Smooth Moves While Getting Lost in the Music

FASTER Pittsburghʼs Hip Hop Cardio promises to get your workout into a groove.
Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

Curling in Pittsburgh: ‘It's Basically Golf and Chess on Ice’

On the eve of its largest annual event, the Pittsburgh Curling Club has plans to increase Pittsburgh’s appreciation for its intricate sport.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in June

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

See The Tiny House with Room to Grow

The housing company Module, a Pittsburgh start-up, creates an alternative housing model that grows in size as you grow in income.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Pusadee's Garden Will Close at End of Year (But Not Forever)

Look for some big changes at the Upper Lawrenceville restaurant, which is expected to shutter for at least a year.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

High-Wire Acts at Carnegie Science Center

The North Shore landmark's new ropes course is a draw for adults and youths alike.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

History Can Wait Until Penguins Are Done Making It

The desire for more a year ago helped fuel the Penguins’ quest to repeat this season. Should their thirst for yet another Cup prove as unquenchable next season, there’s no limit to what they might yet achieve. Even a Three-peat.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

Make the Cut with Jonathan Moran Woodworks

The Strip District-based woodworker's cutting boards can be custom made with the wood of your choice.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Buckle Up ... Again, as Cars 3 Hits Theaters

Reviews of "Cars 3" and "47 Meters Down," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

Enchanting Summery Trends to Illuminate Your Wedding Palette

You’ll definitely want to pin these new summer wedding trends to your Pinterest board.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

Blooming: Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Hosts Town & Country Tour

From a forest of Japanese maples to a rocky urban sanctuary, the annual tour covers 14 very different gardens across the East End.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

Visit Thiel College for a Summer BBQ

On three days this summer, the college will host visit days for prospective students.

Comments

Edit Module