Best of the 'Burgh 2018: Food and Drink

From a goat rodeo farm and dairy to a Spanish revival to a secret lunch –– discover what our editors chose for the Best of the 'Burgh in food and drink.


photo by laura petrilla
 

During a January deep-freeze, a busted water pipe in the apartment above Morcilla led to catastrophic flood damage and a three-month shuttering of Justin Severino and Hilary Prescott Severino’s second Lawrenceville restaurant. Rather than letting it rain on their parade of accolades, the Severinos took the opportunity to rejigger the restaurant and solve a couple of long-standing issues. Justin Severino stepped beyond his role as executive chef to become lead contractor — overseeing the build-out of a freshened-up dining room complete with layers of soundproofing. He and chef de cuisine Nate Hobart updated the restaurant’s menu, too, adding large-format dishes such as lamb tagine with roasted pears, golden raisin, labneh, pistachio and mint served with saffron paella and arroz con pitu de caleya — cider-braised chicken with calasparra rice and herbs. (3519 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/652-9924, morcillapittsburgh.com) —HBK


photo by hal B. Klein
 

Legume in Oakland has a long history of pushing beyond generic seasonal menus with quick rotations of dishes made with ingredients that actually are in season in Pittsburgh. Nowhere on the menu is that more evident than Executive Chef/Co-Owner Trevett Hooper’s seasonal soups, which are a delicious journey through the year. Peak-summer means corn soup with chili oil, cilantro and corn fritters, and pumpkin-mussel soup signals that the weather is about to turn cold. Winter brings beef and kimchi soup and shchi, a Russian-style soup with a sauerkraut base. Threadbare cupboards in late winter and early spring call for zurek, a fermented rye soup with a delicate tang that will warm both bones and souls. The cycle begins again as spring awakens the fields and forests, and wild stinging nettles are mellowed into a soup with chive creme fraiche and croutons. (214 N. Craig St., Oakland; 412/621-2700, legumebistro.com) —HBK


photo by hal b. klein​
 

Steps from Butler Street in Lawrenceville is the courtyard of Poulet Bleu, a quick and pleasing transition from Pittsburgh to Provence. The French restaurant is the most food-forward establishment in the growing Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group (tako, Butcher and the Rye, Meat & Potatoes, Pork & Beans) restaurant empire. DeShantz, as he always does, designed the interior, in this case an elegant, soft mix of blue and white, popped with pewter, zinc, marble and wood. The menu is equally transportive, with best-in-class French onion soup, Burgundy escargot with garlic butter and parsley, trout almondine and steak frites. Don’t miss the chocolate soufflé, crisp on the outside and buttery chocolate within. The wine list, very heavily tilted toward France, is one of the best in town. (3519 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/325-3435, pouletbleupgh.com) —HBK


photo by hal b. klein
 

Earlier this year, esteemed bartenders Carrie Clayton and Spencer Warren combined forces with Penn Avenue Fish Co. owners Henry B. Dewey and Angela Earley to open Penn Cove Eatery (and its adjoining bar and gastropub, The Warren Bar and Burrow). Inside the storefront is a wine bodega where, using the establishment’s restaurant license, the owners can sell bottles of wine — as well as beer and wine-based aperitifs and digestifs such as vermouth and certain types of amaro — for takeaway. Clayton and Warren curate a collection of more than 400 bottles, most of which are not available at the PLCB stores, with a selection that ranges from high-end to best-on-a-budget. (245 Seventh St., Downtown; 412/201-5888, penncoveeatery.com) —HBK
 

 


photo courtesy aurochs brewing co.

 

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved at all, but that adage didn’t prove true for Ryan Bove. When he learned his body couldn’t tolerate gluten, he also learned that his body wasn’t able to drink the craft beer he loved. His childhood friend Doug Foster had been diagnosed with Celiac Disease when he was 5, so the two of them decided to try brewing homemade, gluten-free craft beer. Fast forward 10 years, and the pair are now the owners of Aurochs Brewing Co. in Emsworth. The gluten-free brewery opened in 2016 and offers limited hours where patrons can enjoy samples and purchase growlers and beer to go. The brewery is also open on Saturdays for tours and tastings, and Aurochs beers are available in more than 100 locations in western Pennsylvania. (8321 Ohio River Blvd., Emsworth; 724/260-8737, aurochsbrewing.com) —JM
 


photo courtesy Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy’s Hootenanny
 

Lauded by the American Cheese Society, the award-winning Hootenanny, a goat’s milk Gouda from Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy in Allison Park, offers the smooth, creamy texture and nuttiness you’d expect from the category. It’s one of Goat Rodeo’s seven varieties, made from both goat and cow’s milk; you can find Hootenanny, with its vibrant yellow cream wax rind, in local grocery stores and on restaurant cheese plates around the city. (goatrodeocheese.com) —ET
 


photo courtesy bloom cafe
 

From the pergola covered in flowers to the barnwood sign displaying its name, you know you’re someplace special before you enter the door at Bloom Cafe. Located in the former Hawkins Farm Market adjacent to the Quality Gardens greenhouse and nursery in Valencia, the charming daytime eatery serves up an assortment of fresh, handmade sandwiches (the Fig Panini with prosciutto, fig butter, apple and goat cheese is a must), seasonal coffees and ice creams made from locally sourced ingredients. The cafe’s patio backs up to the nursery’s grounds, allowing diners to sit among the flowers as they enjoy a lavender vanilla latte or flavored housemade lemonade. For an extra treat, head over to the greenhouse to peruse the aisles of plants, as well as Quality Gardens’ expansive selection of artwork, outdoor decor and other gifts. (409 Route 228, Valencia; 724/625-1211, bloomcafeqgi.com) —JS
 


photo courtesy soup du jour
 

We’re months away from winter weather, but there will soon come a time when you’ll need something to warm your bones. On that first cold day, stop by Soup Du Jour in Hampton Township, a small shop tucked off of Wildwood Road. You’ll find bargain-price bowls of soup and sandwiches waiting for you — if the stuffed pepper soup is available, don’t miss it — as well as to-go containers of soup, Italian entrees and more. (2228 West Hardies Road, Hampton Township; 412/486-2313) —SC
 


photo by chuck beard
 

If you’re in need of a lunch getaway that’s still within sight of Downtown, scale Rialto Street. Atop the steep hill, you’ll find Pear and the Pickle, a welcoming cafe awash in charming touches. Order a sandwich or a salad — the meatloaf sandwich is filling and flavorful, and a steal at $8.50 — or a breakfast sandwich and Stumptown coffee, select a book from the collection in the back room, head out to the rooftop deck and forget about work for an hour. Or two. Whatever you can get away with. (1800 Rialto St., Troy Hill; 412/322-0333, pearandpickle.com) —SC
 


photo by chuck beard
 

The Hartwood Restaurant near Hartwood Acres park is constantly writing new chapters in its history. The building, which was once the headquarters of the Harmar Coal Co., was transformed into a bookstore and retail space in 1988. Soon tables were added so you could dine amongst the tomes, and over the years, the restaurant flourished and a garden-like outdoor dining area was added, along with Whispers Pub. Today it’s strictly a restaurant with an eclectic locally sourced menu designed by Chef Jonathan Holzer, although the books still line the shelves “as a nod to our history,” says John Muth, general manager. If you see a book you want to buy, The Hartwood still will sell it to you — with all proceeds being donated to the Epilepsy Foundation of Western/Central Pennsylvania. (3400 Harts Run Road, Glenshaw; 412/767-3500, hartwoodrestaurant.com) —BH
 

Categories: Best of the ‘Burgh