Chef Talk: Casa Rasta's Antonio Fraga
The Mexico City native's Beechview restaurant serves up some of the city's best tacos.
Casa Rasta's culinary whiz offers tacos with a Caribbean twist
Chef Antonio Fraga of Casa Rasta hails from Mexico City, so it's understandable that buzz has been growing about his Mexican and Caribbean influences — not to mention the tacos and carnitas themselves. Fraga has noticed that many of Pittsburgh's little eateries bloom when customers leave happy and rave about their experiences — and the more we hear about Casa Rasta, the truer this seems. He recently chatted with us about his inspirations, among other things.
How were you influenced by Mexican and Caribbean cooking?
I was born in Mexico City and lived there until I was 14. I started traveling around different states in Mexico until I was about 25 — and for part of that time, I lived in Veracruz on the Gulf. Their food has a lot of Caribbean influences. I worked in different restaurants and learned the techniques before moving to the States.
What's your favorite dish from home?
Cochinita Pibil: pulled pork marinated in annatto seeds. It’s traditionally served with pickled onions and habaneros. My mom used to make it for my brother and me. I had to have that on my menu — I’m still loving it.
Do you have advice for home cooks?
Keep mixing ingredients. Some of the best things in kitchens have come out of mistakes. I think of cooking as modern alchemy.
Any changes on the horizon at Casa Rasta?
In the next week, we’ll be adding more Caribbean dishes — and in the next month or so, we’ll add a Sunday brunch. People here in the States don’t get to experience what breakfast is like in Mexico. Sunday is the classic day to go to the mercado with your family and try the food while your mother shops. We want to offer a traditional Mexican Sunday.
(Casa Rasta, 2102 Broadway Ave., Beechview; 412/223-6106, facebook.com/casarastapgh)
—Lauren Schmeer, PM Editorial Intern
Sumi Cakery brings Korean treats to Squirrel Hill
Back in February, we published our Top Bakeries feature. We said that our offerings here in Pittsburgh are nothing short of sweet — and that our story was only scratching the surface.
Well, that's definitely true because Sumi's Cakery, the newest addition to Squirrel Hill's booming food scene, is officially open. The shop, a labor of love for Korean native Sumi Chun, offers some of the finest, lightest sweets. Showing authenticity, Chun provides patrons with fruit-and-cream cakes plus tiny treats, too. If you're dying to place an order, Chun requests that you give her advance notice (at least two days) to ensure that she can whip up the perfect creation for you.
(Sumi's Cakery, 2219 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/913-6881, facebook.com)
—Kristina Martin, PM Associate Editor
Giant Eagle Market District wants to shop for you
For some, grocery shopping is a nightmare. Maybe they don't like waiting in line. Maybe they fear that they'll spend much more than they intended. Or maybe they don't enjoy shopping with tots in tow (running after a screaming 3-year-old when you've got a full basket isn't exactly fun). Either way, they need to get the job done somehow. And now, it could possibly be with the help of Market District's newest test program.
Currently, the foodie geniuses at the Market District in Robinson Township are allowing you to place your first Curbside Express order for free. Simply go to the Curbside Express section of Market District's site, shop 'til you're sure you've got everything (remember, you're not running around looking for the stuff — so stock up) and select a pickup time. From there, the GE shoppers go to work for you, hunting high and low for everything on your list. When you're finally ready to get your goodies, pull into the designated area and call 412/490-2902 to let your helpers know that you're outside. They'll even load the groceries into your car. That's it. Easy as pie.
(Giant Eagle Market District, 100 Settlers Ridge Center Drive, Robinson Township; marketdistrict.com/curbside)