Where We’re Eating in September
This month, we love the provencale quiche — comprised of feta and red peppers — from La Gourmandine.
Photos by Laura Petrilla
The quiche’s French roots run deep. Chef Fabien Moreau shares the flavors of his childhood via homemade creations at his patisserie, La Gourmandine. The provencale quiche — comprised of feta and red peppers — features Moreau’s signature custard: milk, cream, egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Each quiche is baked with care and cooled so that Moreau can make the best cuts. Don’t dilly-dally if you want a slice to enjoy there or on the go; this offering frequently sells out.
[4605 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/682-2210, lagourmandinebakery.com]
Given its name, you’d guess that this place has greenery. You probably wouldn’t have imagined the picturesque back patio — a prime place to enjoy tea or mango juice — looking as if it belongs in Thailand. A family-run business, Pusadee’s Garden feels homey. We recommend the vegetable tempura starter, served with cilantro-peanut sauce; curry puffs, with their flaky crust; or old-favorite chicken satay and peanut sauce. Turn your attention to the menu’s garden specialties section, where a rotating lineup of seafood- and meat-focused dishes are listed. Get the custard over black stick rice before you leave.
[5321 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/781-8724, pusadeesgarden.com]
Randita’s Organic Vegan Cafe
Putting fresh produce on a pedestal, Randy and Dale Cinski serve dishes you’d never believe were vegan. Their passion for organic ingredients shines through; we’re hooked on the African peanut stew, packing flavor and twice-baked potatoes in a soy milk-based broth. Fans also love the spicy kale soup and tofu dogs with Caribbean sauce. Some entrées celebrate a single vegetable, such as the eggplant served in hoisin sauce with rice. Cafe hours are limited when the couple operates Randita’s food truck, which offers bean burgers, salads and smoothies.
[210 W. Main St., Saxonburg; 724/822-8677, facebook.com/randitasgrill]
Tin Front Café
Borrowing a page from Julia Child’s book, the crew at Tin Front Café has crafted a nourishing, healthy dish that will carry you through the fall: ratatouille served over polenta with spinach. Owner Daniel Valentine uses an old Italian recipe for the gluten-free, vegan polenta that serves as the entrée’s base. Farm-fresh eggplant, zucchini, tomato, garlic, red-bell pepper, onion and basil are surrounded by a helping of sautéed spinach. There may be no more enjoyable way to eat your veggies.
[216 E. Eighth Ave., Homestead; 412/461-4615, tinfrontcafe.com]
Tootie’s Famous Italian Beef
Given our city’s European roots — we have a “Little Italy,” after all — it’s surprising that Tootie’s is our first shop focused on classic Chicago-style sandwiches. Karl Horn prepares his mother’s Italian beef recipe, layering the main ingredient with provolone and giardiniera on a roll. It’s rather filling, so we recommend ordering the smallest of the three sizes at first. Famished carnivores can get a sausage-beef sandwich (aka the “Treat”) or the newly added slow-cooked chicken sandwich. Keep an eye out for the Tootie’s food cart, which is generally parked on Smithfield Street downtown.
[93 S. 16th St., South Side; 412/586-5959, tootiesfamous.com; limited seating]
Shouf’s kitchen staff whips up Lebanese and American fare, but it’s the Lebanese-style dishes that inspire us to return. Grape leaves are perfect, stuffed with lamb and then steamed in lemon juice. Other must-try appetizers are the loobyeh, green beans with onions, tomatoes and spices; and riz & dejaj, chicken cooked with pine nuts, rice, almonds and spices. Lamb is the most appealing of meats offered, served on kabobs, in shank form and over salads. Families can try the “feast,” including filet mignon, chicken and lamb along with fresh pita bread, rice, salad, a mazza platter and a side dish.
[200 Washington Ave., Bridgeville; 412/221-2595, shoufs-café.com]
Andrea Danielson, Chef/Owner | sugarmaid stroopwafels
As a kid, Andrea Danielson couldn’t get enough of the stroopwafels she ate while visiting family in Holland. A lifelong food lover, Danielson enrolled at New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute after being inspired by a meal in Italy. She went on to work at a few bakeries but always kept those caramel-filled Dutch waffle cookies in mind. In March, she launched sugarmaid stroopwafels from her Pittsburgh home; the cookies are a soy- and nut-free interpretation of the delicacy she enjoyed growing up.
Be creative. Add something that’s a little unusual. [I like] adding cayenne pepper or paprika.
York peppermint patties. They’re so good — I don’t know why. I want to do my own version.
Similarities between your culinary approach and that of the Dutch?
I really like using [every bit of ingredients]. I’ve been using fronds of fennel. I hate wasting.
Go-to kitchen equipment?
My KitchenAid [mixer]. It’s great for dough, batter and meringue.
New favorite ingredient?
I just went to the farmers market and got smoked-paprika goat cheese. I’ve been slathering it all over everything.
Second-best use of caramel?
Pour it on ice cream and add sea salt. [That] makes anything better.
[facebook.com/sugarmaid; stroopwafels available via mail order; chef photo by Laura Petrilla]