Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Bonfire Food & Drink a Welcome Addition to South Side

The owners of now-closed Avenue B open a dual concept restaurant on East Carson Street.




photos by Hal B. Klein
 

The 2100 block of East Carson St. quietly is turning into a food and drink oasis that runs contrary to the South Side thoroughfare’s reputation as a boisterous, basic party destination. On that stretch, one can find the ace cocktail bar Acacia, the stalwart Italian restaurant Stagioni and the rather good Thai restaurant Dancing Crab. Now, you can add Bonfire Food & Drink to the roster.

Chris and Jennifer Bonfili made a name for themselves in Pittsburgh with Avenue B, the Friendship restaurant that brought contemporary American dining to the East End in 2009 (they also own B Gourmet in Sewickley). The couple closed the restaurant, which was a fixture on Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants list, in March after their lease expired. While searching for a new location in both the city and the suburbs, they landed on the former Cirocolo Woodfired space, which came with a wood-fired oven on the ground floor. Chris Bonfili says it was the perfect location for the dual-concept restaurant he envisioned — a casual first floor space and a more refined upstairs room.
 

“I think the South Side is hungry for a place like this,” he says.

They opened the 60-seat downstairs space last week, and the menu, straightforward, easy and comforting, yet more refined than typical pub food, fills a much needed void. "It's something that elevates food at this price-point, but we're not going so crazy that it won't feel approachable,” Bonfili says.

That’s exactly what I thought when I ate there earlier this week. Nothing on the menu made me think too hard, but everything was skillfully prepared, and each offering had one or two nice touches that elevated the dish. I was particularly enamored with the Brussels sprouts — just when you thought we’d passed peak Brussels, Bonfili’s version, with smoked grapes, hazelnuts and brown-butter aioli, demonstrates why it’s become such a wildly popular vegetable. Same goes for another vegetarian item from the snack menu — roasted carrots and shisito peppers with curry, mint, almonds and yogurt. Flatbreads take center stage in the wood-fired oven and, overall, they are quite good, though I wouldn’t mind a pinch more salt in the dough. There also is a selection of mac-and-cheese; I appreciated the restraint in the “Basic AF” permutation, which was buttery and cheesy without being a gut bomb, and I’m looking forward to trying other builds such as wood-fired cauliflower with fontina and garlic crumbs.
 

Bonfili says that construction is continuing apace in the upstairs space (which also will seat about 60 people) and that he anticipates a mid-February opening. He plans on offering a more refined menu that will be familiar to fans of Avenue B, but, he says, “isn’t the second coming of the restaurant.”

Yes, the famous Avenue B meatloaf will make an occasional appearance either as a weekly offering or occasional special, but it won’t be a fixture on the menu. “Everyone is asking about it,” Bonfili says.

He’s not thinking too much about the meatloaf at the moment though. For the now, he says, after nearly a year away from working in a restaurant kitchen, "I'm just happy to be cooking again. I needed to see people in here eating, drinking and smiling.”

Bonfire Food and Drink, 2100 E. Carson St, South Side, 412-481-3473, Hours: Tues. & Wed.: 11 a.m.-midnight, Thurs. 5 p.m. - midnight, Fri. & Sat. 5 p.m. - 1 a.m. 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

The Summer Movies in the Park Are Awesome This Year

The City of Pittsburgh's annual Cinema in the Park series returns with another summer of free outdoor movies for all.

7 Storylines Which Will Define and Determine Steelers' Season

An unfamiliar underdog status may help the Steelers get back to the playoffs and beyond.

Can't Miss Concerts in Pittsburgh in June

This month's lineup includes Ariana Grande, Hiss Golden Messenger and a full slate at the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

June 2019: Best of Culture in Pittsburgh

Check out some of the finest plays, dance performances and exhibits taking place this month in Pittsburgh.

Joe Morrison Takes the Director's Chair at Pittsburgh Filmmakers

After years of uncertainty, the cinemas of Pittsburgh Filmmakers now have a leader with experience building and engaging audiences.

Unlock Special View of Pittsburgh for a Limited Time

Attention all boaters! The locks on the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers will open most summer weekends, allowing you to visit sights you couldn’t get to before.

Get To Liberty Magic to See the Excellent Billy Kidd

The British magician's new show, "Bridging the Gap," brings theatricality and surprising performance to the parlour-magic stage.

The 400-Word Review: The Perfection

Netflix's troubling new thriller stars Allison Williams and Logan Browning.

Undercover: What We're Reading in June

Reviews of “I”: New and Selected Poems by Toi Derricotte and Regular Hauntings: New and Previous Poems by Gerald Costanzo.

What Are You Doing to be Like Mister Rogers on 1-4-3 Day?

Pennsylvania names May 23 as 1-4-3 Day to celebrate its favorite neighbor.

The 400-Word Review: Aladdin

Disney's live-action remake of the '90s hit stars Will Smith as the iconic Genie.

Sharing Knives Grows into Sharing Farms

For its third season, the collaborative dinner series at Ace Hotel will celebrate the region’s growers.

A Slice of Pizza Kept Sean McDowell Going in the Early Days

After 41 years in the business, the legendary rock DJ on WDVE has announced his retirement.

This New App Will Help You Track Upcoming Cicada Swarm

Follow Brood VIII, which is expected to have three species of periodical cicadas emerging from the soil as early as this month, on the Cicada Safari App.

Best Restaurants in Pittsburgh in 2019

Our annual roundup of Pittsburgh's Best Restaurants covers a lot of ground. The list of 30 includes everything from fine dining at a resort hotel to a scrappy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch counter in Bloomfield.