8 Best New Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2022
These 8 new openings bring casual dining to the forefront.
You don’t have to have white, linen tablecloths and serve perfectly plated meals to qualify as a best new restaurant in my book. Many eateries that opened this year are casual operations, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on quality ingredients or customer service.
In an industry still reeling from the pandemic, food is once again uniting people — dress codes and maître d’s be damned.
I believe each entry in this round-up of the Best New Restaurants of 2022 is worth multiple trips with multiple friends so you can try a little bit of everything — and create great memories in the process. But the culinary adventure doesn’t have to end once you’ve checked off all of these establishments from your list.
When your stomach starts to growl like an angry bear and you’re paralyzed by the nightly dinner decision-making process, my advice is to go explore a different neighborhood. You may find that your favorite new restaurant is one that opened 20 years ago in a part of town you’ve never been to before.
In 2023, I’ll be tackling a new monthly series where I visit hidden gems as well as hotspots that, for whatever reason, I haven’t yet tried. If there’s a spot you’re passionate about,
send me an email.
I can already hear my belly rumbling.
136 Sixth St., Downtown
Richard DeShantz and Tolga Sevdik assembled a culinary dream team to operate Sally Ann’s, which opened on Sixth Street Downtown last summer.
The casual, counter-service eatery, which is named after DeShantz’s late mother, was a passion project for the restaurateur; he called in his friend and frequent collaborator Jamilka Borges, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2018 Chef of the Year, to help open it. It’s the latest entry in the 10-restaurant chain and replaced Pork & Beans, which closed during the pandemic.
Borges, a native of Puerto Rico, had spent a few months in her homeland reconnecting with family and finding a new groove in the kitchen during the pandemic. In late June, she began a summerlong stint alongside DeShantz and Wyatt Lash, culinary director of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group who was formerly with The Commoner at Hotel Monaco.
The team cranked out fun and casual fare in an equally playful environment. Where else can you eat gourmet grub while playing Ms. Pac-Man?
In the morning, Sally Ann’s has a coffee-shop vibe with fresh breakfast pastries and hot and cold beverages. The lunch menu is sandwich-heavy, but not the kind you take in a brown bag to work — you need two hands to hold these babies. (And a bib wouldn’t hurt if you decide to go with the Crispy Chicken.) The restaurant gives you lots of bread and topping options, so you might want to order online to avoid holding up the line.
Sally Ann’s jazzes up mac ’n cheese with pimento cheese, mornay, ranch breadcrumbs and chives, while the house fries are addictively delicious thanks to a sprinkling of fresh herbs and lemon garlic aioli.
I recommend weekend brunch, a summertime cocktail on the patio or a late lunch when the workday rush has subsided. Although there are video game systems set up at multiple booths, I enjoy sitting at the bar and talking to the friendly staff and other patrons. Conversations flow like the beer taps because everyone appears to be in a good mood. How can you not smile while eating a custard-battered Monte Cristo with ham, Swiss, turkey, provolone, mayo, jalapeno jam and a dusting of powdered sugar?
Once Sally Ann’s began running at full-steam, Borges departed for her next project (stay tuned). Now DeShantz, Lash, Drew Robinson (executive chef of Butcher and the Rye) and Dan Carlton (former executive chef of Garfield’s Fish Nor Fowl) are preparing the food.
“It’s a culinary team of titans working to train the next group of chefs to take over the space and move it forward,” says Casey Henderlong, the restaurant group’s director of events and public relations.
I’m not into sports, but I will continue cheering for this foodie team.
The Parlor Dim Sum
4401 Butler St., Lawrencevillle
I’m a fan of appetizers.
Rather than limit myself to just one dish or stealing bites off my dining companion’s plate, I like to order multiple foodstuffs for the whole table.
Chef Roger Li’s latest venture in Lawrenceville specializes in dim sum, a variety of steamed, fried or sweet Cantonese apps. Obviously, you won’t find mozzarella sticks or jalapeno poppers on this menu, but it just may open your eyes (and mouth) to rare and interesting flavors that are the hallmark of Li’s culinary heritage.
It was a busy night on my recent visit so I settled at the dark, sleek and sexy bar in the rear of the three-tiered restaurant. The space was once occupied by Ki Ramen, Li’s popular noodle and bao shop that closed in December 2020 after a water main break destroyed the interior.
The late August opening of The Parlor Dim Sum marks the building’s triumphant rebirth.
I didn’t know anything about Cantonese cuisine, so I asked the bartender for recommendations and assured him I wasn’t afraid to try anything “weird.”
Will braised chicken feet replace boneless Buffalo wings as my go-to app? No, but they are an interesting and flavorful delicacy that, ahem, have a lot of kick. You’re supposed to suck the sauce-slathered cartilage off the foot, which doesn’t sound very appetizing — but it makes for a great photo op.
Dumplings are more my speed, and there are a lot of them. I got Ha Gow crystal shrimp dumplings, Siu Mai (open-faced dumplings), Taro dumplings with pork shoulder, scallions and preserved radish and corn and the pork-and-chive potstickers. You’d think bite-sized helpings wouldn’t fill you up, but I had to take a breather to make room for dessert: sesame balls with red bean and cube-shaped coconut pudding topped with fresh fruit and boba, a nice, light end to a heavy meal.
If you want a main course, The Parlor Dim Sum serves whole or half Cantonese roast duck that is cured and dry-aged in-house. The bird is chopped into bone-in pieces and served with the drippings over rice. There’s also numerous rice and noodle bowls, soups, plant-based dishes, wok-fried meals and various types of congee, or rice pudding.
Li, whose parents hail from Hong Kong, also brings Chinese tea service to Lawrenceville, and the full-service bar is constantly coming up with creative cocktails that complement the food. Even the chicken feet.
424 Broad St., Sewickley
I never get tired of eating Italian food. It probably has something to do with my heritage or my insatiable appetite. Blood is thicker than water, but marinara sauce is thicker than blood.
My parents took a tour of Italy last year. On the anniversary of their journey, I took them to Mambo Italia in Sewickley so they could pretend they were still exploring the Amalfi Coast.
Mambo Italia has been around for nearly a decade, but this version has a whole new look and menu. Aside from the name, everything’s different.
When the original eatery shut down two years ago, it was purchased and overhauled by business partners John Schiavo and Joe Piccirilli, who owns the nearby restaurant 424 Walnut.
Diners were welcomed back on Jan. 4, 2022 for a little la dolce vita.
The revamped space is anchored by a wood-burning pizza oven that heats up to temperatures above 900 degrees. Despite the heat, pizzaiolo Justin Giammario looks so cool making Neapolitan pies.
Mozzarella is made in-house each day, and you can definitely taste the difference between it and the pre-made variety when you order a pizza. The fresh cheese combined with a crunchy and chewy crust and sweet and slightly tangy red sauce and it’s no wonder people are doing the mambo.
Along with pizza, you’ll find authentic Italian fare representing different regions of the Big Boot country, including pollo alla Parmigiana, pasta Bolognese, seafood arrabbiata and rigatoni alla vodka. Of course, there’s also the Italian-inspired, American favorite: spaghetti e polpette with a meatball the size of Mount Vesuvius.
The owners plan to open more Mambos around Pittsburgh — which should make local foodies want to dance.
The Cafe at Field Day
3706 Butler St., Lawrenceville
It’s well known by now that I’m a sucker for a good sandwich, and that’s pretty much all The Cafe at Field Day sells.
Like a kid at recess, Chef Joey Hilty is having fun helming the counter at this Lawrenceville spot. As founder of The Vandal a few blocks away on Butler Street, he wanted a new place where he could flex his culinary muscles in a more laid-back space. Field Day is a membership-based collaborative workplace with a restaurant and recreational programs open to the public.
The menu changes quite often, but no matter when you go you’re sure to find heaven between two slices of Mediterra Bakehouse bread. On my last lunch visit — which was before 10 a.m., but I was starving — I ordered a warm chicken melt, which is the perfect lunch on a chilly day.
Field Day’s version features chunks of chicken, roasted cherry tomato, American cheese slices and thick slabs of bacon on ciabatta bread. Hilty demonstrated the chicken melt preparation in an Instagram video, which I watched on repeat until I could no longer resist temptation.
My Field Day BLT was one of the best I’ve ever had: thick, yet soft, slabs of toast and a generous amount of bacon strips. Avocado joins the lettuce and tomato, adding a creamy texture to the crunch of the meat and bread. Even a bologna sandwich made at home can be satisfying, but Hilty’s attention to detail and tiny twists on familiar favorites are what make his food — both at Field Day and The Vandal — so memorable.
The Cafe on the ground floor of the 30,000-square-foot building is open and airy, especially on warm days when the garage door is up and a soft breeze blows through. The scents from inside waft onto Butler Street. I’ve seen more than a few people walk by and then do an about-face so they can chow down.
Hilty’s menu changes with the seasons and availability of ingredients, guaranteeing you’ll find something different to eat during each visit.
Order at the counter and pull up a chair or take a seat on one of the comfy couches. Who says you can’t dine like an epicurean when you’re chillin’ on a sofa, bopping your head to a curated playlist.
Food, like an elementary school field day, is supposed to be fun.
Blue Sky Kitchen & Bar
211 N. Whitfield St., East Liberty
In Pittsburgh, we don’t see blue skies very often. Matt Turbiner wants to change that.
The restaurateur, who opened the East Liberty dining spot in July, has been operating Shadyside hotspot Shady Grove for more than two decades. Blue Sky Kitchen & Bar has been two years in the making.
Named after an Allman Brothers tune, not atmospheric conditions, the eatery is located on the ground floor of the 211 Tower, an eight-story office building off of Penn Avenue that is obstructed by other structures in the vicinity. Trust me: It’s worth looking for.
The clean, minimalist interior features a long, full-service bar and plenty of booths and table-top seating. At nearly 4,500 square feet, Blue Sky’s patio is one of the largest dog-friendly dining areas in the city, and it boasts numerous games such as cornhole and giant Jenga. There’s a four-season room with a projector screen in the corner, guaranteeing that at least a portion of the outdoor space will be bumpin’ year-round.
I might be poppin’ sweet potato tater tots year-round, too. I lost count of how many I ate in my first sitting. I dipped the orange orbs in chipotle romesco sauce and threw them into my mouth like a foodie Michael Jordan.
Opt for other apps such as pork dumplings, grilled wings, spinach and artichoke dip or fried pickles or save room in your stomach for a sandwich or entree.
My chimichurri cheesesteak also hit the sweet spot. The fresh baguette was piled high with thin-sliced New York strip steak, sharp provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, garlic aioli and chimichurri.
Sandwiches will always be my first love, but I plan to return to Blue Sky to try a main dish. Right now it’s a toss up between braised Wagyu beef cheek, butternut squash ravioli and grilled pork chop.
Who knows? I might go for three. (Swish!)
1534 Brighton Road, North Side
Even on a dreary day, a meal at ShadoBeni makes me feel like I’m on a tropical vacation.
The vegan eatery on the North Side is small, but a colorful mural depicting co-owner Ulric Joseph’s childhood view in Trinidad brightens my mood in a big way. And so does the food.
In April, Joseph and his wife, Jennie Canning, opened ShadoBeni, which is how Trinidadians phonetically pronounce chadon beni. The potent herb — a distant cousin of cilantro but with much more intense flavor — is a common sight in island cooking. Joseph, an art teacher by trade who painted the aforementioned mural, was taught how to cook by his mother and grandmother.
Now he and other family members are cooking up a storm on Brighton Road. For me, they prepared a bowl filled with coconut rice, channa (chickpeas are my go-to legume), spinach and Tamarind sauce.
On the side, I got zaboca (avocado) salad with plantain chips, a nice alternative to traditional guacamole and tortilla chips. I washed this all down with a Barritts ginger beer.
The entire menu is light and fresh with pops of color that mimic the mural on the wall. Even the potato-based offerings, such as the Indian-inspired dhal puri roti, doesn’t feel like a brick in your belly. The flatbread is stuffed with a choice of fillings (curry stewed soya, channa and potato, spinach choka, pumpkin choka or seasonal vegetables) and baked with seasoned split peas.
Even after my feast, I felt rejuvenated. My body didn’t quite know how to respond to the intake of healthy food, so I took a long walk around the North Side.
Maybe by this summer I can fit into my bathing suit and take that much-needed vacation.
107 Penn Ave., Suite B, Mt. Oliver
If you stop into Mt. Oliver’s Echt Coffeehouse for a quick caffeine fix, you’ll certainly find a wide selection of hot and cold beverages to help you power through your day — but the business has so much more to offer early risers.
“Echt” means “genuine” in German. This place is just that.
Jörg Gerlach, who owns the 15,000-square-foot building with his husband, James Tyler, designed much of the ornate metalwork in the attached fabrication shop. There’s also an open kitchen space on the second floor and a basement distillery and tasting lab in the works.
For now, let’s talk about what’s in the middle of this eclectic space. The coffee lounge, with its stained-glass windows, exposed brick and wooden beams, spiral staircase and trinkets from the couple’s travels abroad, is a feast for the eyes.
This isn’t a grab-and-go spot; it takes a while to soak it all in.
Gerlach and Tyler both have medical backgrounds. Gerlach, who moved to the United States from Germany in 2003, is researcher and professor of surgery and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Johnsontown native Tyler, whose late mother taught him to cook, recently retired from a career in nursing.
Making good food and beverages in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere is another way for them to make people feel better.
You’ll always find house-made pastries and breakfast offerings that double as desserts. The almond bread pudding includes homemade cherry coffee syrup, toasted almonds and a small scoop of ice cream that’s also made in-house.
I prefer savory meals in the morning, so I’m a fan of Echt’s braised greens with cashew creme, red onions, garlic and poblano peppers over grits. You can also add bacon, which I do.
If you really want to “pig” out, your best bet is the seasoned sausage patty that’s smash-fried in bacon fat on a biscuit (yep, house-made) with cheese, gravy, a fried egg and microgreens.
Warm up this winter with a bowl of soup, from traditional chicken dumpling to roasted carrot and fennel served with orange-peel-infused olive oil.
I look forward to seeing what other tricks Gerlach and Taylor have up their sleeves and how many more delicious creations they can make in-house.
1721 E. Carson St., South Side
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I beg to differ. I’m not a morning person, so, for me, brunch is where it’s at.
And that’s why I’m at Sultry F&B on the South Side.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, Chef Brian Forrester and Pastry Chef Melissa Barth join forces like a culinary Voltron to dole out a seemingly endless menu of mid-morning meals. The joint is still BYOB, so bring your own — or try a signature mocktail.
The husband-and-wife team offers sweet shareables and sides, including four donuts of your choice, ranging from beignet-style with powdered sugar, churros or glazed. My daughter devoured the warm, fluffy glazed donuts with caramel dipping sauce (because a pastry that arrives already dripping with liquified sugar is just not sweet enough for her teenage palate).
If you’re a saccharine fiend, the cinnamon maple sticky bun (photo at top) — which would be enough of a jolt on its own — is served with cinnamon-infused maple syrup and sweet whipped cream cheese. Bring a toothbrush.
My tastes fall on the savory side of the brunch spectrum. Thankfully, Sultry F&B caters to salt-lovers, too.
Corned beef hash is my go-to, and Forrester puts a lot of time into the main ingredient, slow-cooking the meat with aromatics until it’s tender and packed with flavor. The corned beef is then mixed with a generous portion of fried Yukon potatoes, peppers, onions, poached eggs, Swiss cheese and Hollandaise sauce, which adds a creaminess to the dish and always makes me feel more sophisticated.
I sopped up the remnants of my fancy hash with an enormous cheddar jalapeño biscuit fresh out of the oven. It’s a recipe Barth’s been perfecting for a long time. Flecked with fresh peppers, it provides a nice kick that can be tempered by slathering it in butter or chicken sausage gravy.
Once you’ve finished brunch, make plans to go back for lunch or dinner. I recommend revisiting the corned beef on a Reuben or trying a main course. From seafood pasta and pan-seared New York strip to fried chicken and braised short ribs, these nap-inducing meals are perfect for foodies who just can’t get enough sleep.