Review: Root 174

Cultivated comfort food finds a home in Regent Square’s happening food scene.


Photos by Laura Petrilla

Imagine a restaurant where you might fight over the last Brussels sprout (this happened to me) or where the vegan zucchini cake trumps the crème brûlée.  A restaurant whose team organized a two-hour group bike ride that concluded with dinner at their place.  Welcome to Root 174, a promising new restaurant in Regent Square that offers delicious, nourishing “cultivated comfort food.” 

Chef/owner Keith Fuller spent six years “loving” his job as executive chef at Six Penn Kitchen but eventually decided to strike out on his own.  His approach to cooking is very simple—“to make good food and have fun.”  And Fuller’s restaurant is truly an expression of his desires: He wants the staff to feel like family, the customers to relax and the vibe to be rustic. Anyone can see his dedication to Root 174—just check out the restaurant logo he had tattooed on his neck! 

For his new venture, fuller brought together a great team that includes business partner Patrick Bollinger, aka Pat Thetic, drummer for locally based band Anti-Flag; general manager Will Groves, formerly of the Greenbrier Resort and big Burrito Restaurant Group; and sous chef John “Butters” Heidelmeier, formerly of big Burrito and Legume. Groves is just one of the friendly staff members who will add to your dining experience; he will greet you at the door with a smile and check on you while you eat.  

The restaurant’s name was born after Fuller took the square root of the sum of Regent Square’s two zip codes. Root 174 fills the space of much-loved Legume, which relocated to Oakland, so I was happy to see that the interior was transformed to offer a different experience. Independent designer Lauri Mancuso made the space chic yet earthy in a beautiful palette of ochre, copper and burgundy—complete with lovely wood finishes and sophisticated lighting.  

The superb offerings range from vegan vegetable cakes to hanger steak, with interesting flavor combinations and sauces—all of which remain in line with the restaurant's comfort-food focus. Unlike traditional comfort food, the presentation at Root 174 is simple yet neat, with appropriately sized portions.  True to comfort food, though, there are quite a few indulgent options available.  

Great “Beginnings” include the large, beautifully seared day-boat sea scallops ($12) that are served with grilled sweet peaches, scallion hash and bacon-black-pepper jam.  Another great choice is the mussel dish with spicy sausage in a tomato broth ($12), smartly portioned and providing a perfect balance of spicy and sweet.  The root salad is a light, top-notch starter, comprising frisée, root vegetables, tender roasted-beet slices, fennel, pea tendrils, candied walnuts and chèvre ($7).

Of the entrées I sampled, my favorite (so good that my friend and I both ordered one to take home to our spouses) was the tender chicken breast topped with a roasted-corn salsa, sitting on creamy popcorn grits atop a pool of divine mole sauce comprised of peanuts, raisins, ancho chilies and bourbon ($22). Now that is comfort food elevated to the next level.


Ahi tuna spring roll, nori, kimchi, sushi rice, sweet and sour glaze, and wasabi caviar.
 

Another superb entrée is the house-made ricotta gnocchi ($19) with peas, Parmesan cheese and wild mushrooms garnished with egg and cherry tomatoes.  The gnocchi dish boasts rich flavors and a nice contrast of textures and colors.  The grilled hanger steak ($24) is a quality piece of meat that’s presented with blue-cheese croquettes and fingerling fries in a port-wine demi-glace sauce.  

To my disappointment, the wahoo fish ($26) was overcooked—just like the meal given to another diner, who sent it back and received a much-less-cooked replacement.  I chalk this up to opening missteps and am hopeful that this problem will be corrected in time.  The fish is served with a tasty carbonara made of “zucchini linguini” (resembling pasta but made entirely of zucchini) with bacon, peas and Parmesan.

The vegetarian falafel ($15) is a nice surprise.  Rather than the usual dried-out falafel puck, these are made of a creamy blend of chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, roasted garlic and spices, served with a pickled-cucumber salad and (not enough) black-cardamom yogurt.

A must-try is the Brussels sprouts side ($6). Tossed with house-cured bacon and black-pepper jam, the sprouts truly are “to die for,” delivering a marvelous flavor combination with great mouthfeel.  

For dessert, two standouts are the rich, sweet vegan zucchini bread ($7) and the cheese platter ($9) that changes daily but always features two or three cheeses, fruit, candied nuts, artisanal bread and an orange gastrique. Homemade desserts are served with above-average French-press coffee from La Prima Espresso Co. in the Strip District. For every pound of coffee that Root 174 purchases from La Prima Espresso, $1 is donated to Grow Pittsburgh, an organization that advocates "responsible urban-food production."

Although Root 174 is BYOB, house-made sodas and several nonalcoholic beverages are available. I enjoyed the sweet, refreshing lemon-limeade ($3) flavored with basil, jalapeno and mint.  

The restaurant has been so well-received that the team is thinking about adding lunch and brunch sometime next year.  They also look forward to adding “root-themed” art as well as featuring special events; one of the team's ideas was to host movie nights where diners eat food featured in the film that’s being screened.  This restaurant is off to an auspicious start, and I look forward to revisiting after they’ve fully settled in.

Info:
» 1113 S. Braddock Ave., Pittsburgh (15218); 412/243-4348, root174.com
» Tues.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5-11 p.m.
» Beginnings: $6-$12; Main: $15-$26; Desserts: $5-$7.
» BYOB ($5 corkage fee); major credit cards accepted; reservations recommended; vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options; wheelchair-accessible; no smoking; on-street parking; outdoor seating.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.
Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

The actor, director and Mt. Lebanon native is joining the board of trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Matt Scoletti accomplishes the feat in just under nine hours.
Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

They owe their lives to one man who lives on in each of them.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

Chefs Sonja Finn and Becca Hegarty helm the refurbished restaurant at the Carnegie Museums.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

For some reason Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the latest playoff rankings and Penn State is No. 7. That has to change if Penn State beats Wisconsin on Saturday night.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Bigger isn’t always better, at least when it comes to these couples’ wedding ceremonies.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

An adapted version of “A Christmas Carol” will be presented during a seven-show run.

Comments