Hungry for Something Good? Where We're Eating in January

Find fresh fish, Spanish tapas, vegan delights and then wash it all down with Pittsburgh-distilled rum.


photo by Michael Ray
 

Maggie's Farm Rum
Tim Russell’s Maggie’s Farm Rum quietly has become one of the most awarded craft distilleries in the country. The Strip District distiller started piling up numerous distinctions over the past two years, including the prestigious prize of “Best in Class” by the American Craft Spirits Association for his Queen’s Share rum. Queen’s Share is distilled from the best part of the “tails,” a flavor-rich byproduct of the primary distillation run. Try the cask-aged versions of Queen’s Share for the smoothest experience.
[3212A Smallman St., Strip District; 412/709-6480, maggiesfarmrum.com]
 


Photo by Laura Petrilla
 

Estiatorio Poros
Poros is the newest and most ambitious restaurant yet from the Big Y Group (Seviche, NOLA, Sonoma Grill). There’s a diverse array of small plates, a focus on local lamb and a dynamic fresh-fish program complete with a dedicated poissonnier. I’m digging the forward-thinking, unique cocktail program and deep wine list, too.
[PPG 2 Market Square, Downtown; 412/904-2051, porospgh.com]
 


photo by donald j. gabany
 

Chaz & Odette
I’m particularly enchanted with the wood-fired flatbreads at Chaz & Odette, which begin with a sourdough starter named “George.” There are classic combinations such as sausage and peppers and grilled Tuscan vegetables as well as global mixes such as Korean BBQ chicken and spicy Moroccan beef.
[5102 Baum Blvd., Shadyside; 412/683-8300, chazandodette.com]
 


Photo by Laura petrilla
 

Root 174 
New chef de cuisine Kevin Costa (Crested Duck) takes the helm of the Root 174 kitchen this month. He’s working under executive chef/co-owner Keith Fuller to keep the rustic yet modern menu strong at one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Best Restaurants. Look for Fuller’s new project, a partnership with the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group called Pork & Beans, later this year.
[Regent Square: 1113 S. Braddock Ave.; 412/243-4348, root174.com]
 

Randita’s Vegan Cafe 
I love the hospitality and cozy atmosphere at Randita’s in Aspinwall. The 100 percent vegan restaurant (which also is organic and GMO-free) has a menu that includes soups, salads and wraps, plus a changing selection of weekend dinner entrées. I especially like the African peanut stew.
[207 Commercial Ave, Aspinwall.; 412/408-3907, randitas.com]
 


Photo by Michael Ray
 

Bakn
​The family-friendly restaurant in Carnegie is, you guessed it, focused on bacon. Guests will find sweet and smoky cured pork belly in everything from the traditional dishes (bacon and eggs, BLT) to the decadent (braised short ribs, pork belly pastrami reuben). Applewood smoked bacon adds the perfect touch to Bakn’s grilled chicken sandwich. Vegetarians aren’t left out here, though: the fennel & citrus and the quinoa & kale salads are very good. 
[335 E. Main St., Carnegie; 412/275-3637, eatbakn.com]


 

Dustin Gardner 
Executive Chef | Soba

Gardner took the reins of the Soba kitchen in October 2014. He will return to Casbah (also a big Burrito group restaurant), where he previously was sous chef, as executive chef in 2016.  

What was it like transitioning from a Mediterranean restaurant to one that is more focused on Asian food?
I thought it was going to be easier than it was. It’s still a progression for me. It’s gradual, and the constant theme is that I’m slowly evolving to cook this new style [for me] of cuisine. 

What ingredients are you excited about right now?

My favorite thing that we’re using right now is dehydrated kimchi. We first make it in-house and then spend a day and a half dehydrating it. It gives a great, deep umami flavor to everything. That flavor is really intense. We’re making batches now specifically for dehydrating. 

What chefs do you look to for inspiration?
Locally, not to sound cliché, but I rely on [big Burrito corporate] Chef [Bill] Fuller and everything that he’s experienced. Then there’s a local home cook I talk to a lot named Susanne Park. She’s a huge inspiration for this restaurant. We kind of compete with each other now when we’re making dishes. Nationally, chef Melissa Kelly who runs Primo in Maine. She’s flying under the radar but doing really amazing things out there. 

If you were to give advice about how to cook something at home, what would you tell people?
Don’t be scared to experiment. People come to restaurants to get an experience they think they can’t have at home, but there are a lot of techniques that you can learn and make really good food. If you have the passion and drive to learn something, be bold and go for it. 
 

 

Categories: Eat + Drink Features