Four New Restaurants Opening Soon in Pittsburgh

Get ready to eat Pittsburgh — because a number of new restaurants are expected to open this fall. Here are a few I'm most looking forward to trying out.

Morcilla photos by adam milliron


“We’ll be open soon-ish. Definitely this fall,” says chef Justin Severino about Morcilla, his highly anticipated Spanish restaurant in Lower Lawrenceville.

The Cure executive chef/co-owner started working with Morcilla chef de cuisine Nathan Hobart six months ago to home in on recipes for his second restaurant. Prior to that, he and partner Hillary Prescott Severino traveled for several weeks in Spain to get a better sense of what they wanted to offer customers. “This [restaurant] needs to be culturally and historically grounded. I needed to taste what it is, to understand where it comes from,” Severino says.

Morcilla’s front room will be a standing-only tapas bar that’ll fit 20-25 people. Look for a cured meat program featuring items such as chorizo, lomo and chistorra; some of Cure’s seafood charcuterie program — baccala and acetea, mahama — will make its way down this end of Butler Street. The front-room tapas also will include tortilla with garnishes, croquetas and Spanish-style bruschetta topped with morcilla sausage, shrimp and mushrooms.

The main dining room seats 55-60, and there Severino, Hobart and crew will serve a deeper lineup of Spanish dishes. Fabada, for example, is stew from Asturias region of Spain; beans, chorizo, morcilla, pork belly all are part of this dish. Lomo en adobo is a partially dried and cured pork loin that’s finished on the restaurant’s 36-inch plancha. Look for other dishes including octopus, cod with cauliflower catalan and onions and romesco.

Severino says that, “We have a whole deep fryer dedicated to churros” for guest in either room who have a sweet tooth.

Morcilla’s bar program looks to be tightly curated yet very ambitious. There’s a small Spanish wine list, a tight selection of funky Spanish ciders, a variety of gins and tonics, sangria and sherry, plus a short beer list. Zachary Maddox will head the restaurant’s cocktail program.

Severino says that Morcilla will start with evening-only hours but that he expects to be open for lunch service sometime in the future.

poros photos by cody baker


Look for Poros, the newest restaurant from the Big Y Group (NOLA, Sonoma Grille, Perle, Seviche), to open in mid-October in Market Square, downtown. The restaurant will seat 150 inside, plus an additional 100 people on the patio.

Chris O’Brien is the restaurant’s executive chef. O'Brien most recently was the chef de cuisine at Restaurant Echo in Cranberry Township and prior to that was the executive chef of Hyeholde Restaurant in Moon Township. The restaurant’s menu — under development since February — is Greek-inspired but peppered with echoes of other Mediterranean cuisines.

“We’re going to have a strong focus on seafood and lamb,” says general manager Nick Rizzo.

O’Brien will, I believe, be the first Pittsburgh chef to regularly work with both of the region’s celebrated lamb ranches (Jamison Farms and Elysian Fields Farm). Whole fish — chargrilled, cooked a la plancha or in the restaurant’s tandoor oven — are the centerpiece of what Rizzo calls the Poros Fish Market. He says that No. 1-grade tuna and salmon also will be offered.

In addition to the lamb and seafood entrees, diners can expect around 30 different vegetarian, meat and seafood mezze. “Guests are going to have a lot of options on how to dine,” says Rizzo.

They’ll also have a lot of options on how to drink. Carrie Clayton — formerly of Bar Marco and The Livermore, and one of our 13 Bartenders You Should Know — runs the Poros beverage program. Her initial cocktail list features Grecian spins on popular cocktails: Daphne Turned Sour is masticha (an anise-flavored liqueur made from the resin of a small evergreen tree), tequila blanco and lime; Death of Adonis is tsipouro (a strong spirit distilled from grape pomace), Pimm’s No.1 and honey orino; and there’s also and olive-oil-washed martini with vodka, Dolin blanc and orange bitters.

There are about 40 wines, with 40 percent of the list Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Moroccan and Macedonian, rounded out with some staples from Italy, France and California.

“This [concept] is new to us. So instead of us just thinking ‘this is what we want to do,’ we went to a bunch of restaurants in other cities to get a sense of what they were doing,” says Rizzo.

photo by erika gidley


Omar Abuhejleh, owner of Allegro Hearth Bakery in Squirrel Hill, is getting closer to opening his latest venture: B52 in Upper Lawrenceville. “Things are going pretty well. We’re on track for a late October opening,” he says.

The vegan cafe and restaurant, which seats between 25-30 people, will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just about everything will be made in-house. “We’ll probably buy the ketchup, but that that’s about it,” Abuhejleh says.

Breakfast at B52 is going to be a mix of American and Middle Eastern cuisines. There will be crepes, tofu scrambles and pancakes with fresh fruit and compote but also fava-bean spread, hummus and pita.

photo by kevin mccann

Lunch and dinner will lean more heavily Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, with influences of Abuhejleh’s Palestinian heritage, Turkish culture and the contemporary Israeli cooking made popular by chef and cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi. Look for falafel, sleek, lentil soup and vegetable soup. Dinner will mimic the lunch menu, with seasonal specials and limited runs (okra stew for example) added to the mix.

In addition to savory items, Abuhejleh is making chocolates — which also will be vegan — to be sold at the cafe. “We’re having a lot of fun with this. We’re experimenting with a lot of stuff,” he says.

photos by donald j. gabany

Chaz and Odette

Chaz and Odette, the first restaurant from chefs Charles (Chaz) Smith and Odette Smith-Ransome, is expected to open on Oct. 7 on Baum Boulevard in the space most recently occupied by Toast! kitchen & wine bar. According to Smith-Ransome, the restaurant will have a multicultural focus.

“Chaz and I have both traveled extensibly, and I’ve also studied ethnic cuisines from around the world,” she says.

Smith-Ransome was assistant professor of culinary arts and hospitality management at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, a position she held since 2002, before leaving to open the restaurant. Prior to that, she taught at Bidwell and Pittsburgh Job Corps. “I’ve been behind-the-scenes working with my students for all the years, so I’ve seen all the changes in trends and what people are doing with food. It made a great transition for me into the restaurant because I’ve stayed aware of what’s going on,” she says.

Smith, a former student of Smith-Ransome’s, ran the Culinary Artist Catering company for the past 11 years and in 2010 appeared on “Grill It! with Bobby Flay.”

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner. Look for an array of globally influenced burgers and flatbreads: The Italian burger is built with hot Italian sausage topped with roasted red peppers, slow roasted tomatoes and pickled garlic; the turkey burger is a Polynesian-inspired creation with a soy and five-spiced turkey patty topped with roasted peppers, grilled pineapple and onion, served on a soft, sweet bun.


Smith-Ransome says that appetizers will lean heavily vegetarian, and that there will be a lot of fresh salads on the menu, which will change seasonally.

The dinner menu will have some meatier items, too. The restaurant’s signature dish is a tomahawk pork chop served with green mash (Brazilian collard greens with mashed potatoes), creamed mustard sauce and apple chutney. There also will be the chefs’ take on chicken and waffles — spicy chicken with hot and sweet syrup tops crisp waffles made from a pâte à choux base.

For dessert, there will be beignets and a New York cheesecake that Smith-Ransome says “put me through my undergrad.”

“I’ve been teaching this stuff for all these years, but to actually do it feels like I gave myself all the assignments at one time,” says Smith-Ransome.


Categories: PGHeats