Recommended Pittsburgh Dishes For January
PM dining critic Hal B. Klein is into arugula salad, a dreamy hamburger and more.
Arugula Salad at Fet Fisk
Fet Fisk was my favorite pop-up series of 2019. In October, it looked as if the nautically inclined band of chefs and farmers set sail to culinary journeys over the horizon, but the crew, led by Nik Forsberg and Sarah Laponte, surfed back into action earlier this month. They served oysters aplenty and delightful mussels with cream and dill; the strip steak with tatsoi, dutch sauce and crispy potatoes was an indulgent delight. The star of the show, however, was a salad of Tiny Seed Farm arugula, preserved sour cherries and horseradish; it was bitter, peppy and pungent, just the right feel for a chilly winter night. Look for Fet Fisk to hoist again on Jan. 20.
One More Chance Burger at Back To The Foodture
I never thought I’d be extolling the virtues of a hamburger sandwiched inside a pretzel bun, but here we are. At Back to the Foodture in Pitcairn, chef/co-owner Angel Randolph offers an ambitious menu that features hamburgers, wings and fries in myriad combinations. Her One More Chance burger is two thin patties of griddled beef, house-made sweet chili sauce, pepper jack cheese and crispy onions. It’s a compelling harmony of flavors made even better by the pretzel bun, which she caramelizes deeply. I’ll have much more on Back To The Foodture in the March issue.
378 Broadway Blvd, Pitcairn; 412/372-3100, instagram.com/back2thefoodture
Brisket Ramen at Mitch’s BBQ
Luscious meat photos posted on Instagram drew me to Mitch’s BBQ in Warrendale. The food tastes even better than it looks. Mitchell Evanitsky is an old hat at smoking meats and making ice cream; he’s been at it since the early ’90s. In 2018, he partnered with his son, Justin, to open the North Hills restaurant. The slices of brisket added to a very good ramen broth were textbook perfect Texas-style, with a heavy hit of smoke, melting fat and meat that has a little tug before it melts in your mouth. The Evanitskys’ smoked pork was equally impressive, with sweet back-notes informing tender meatiness. I’m bummed it took me this long to get there, mainly because I’m going to have to wait until Mitch’s winter break is over in a few weeks to go back again.
16070 Perry Hwy, Warrendale; 724/940-1899, facebook.com/MitchsBBQandicecream
Chicken at The Vandal
There are few things I love to eat more than a crispy chicken. I’m adding a new bird to my list of places to go when I’m having a craving for it: the one on the dinner menu at The Vandal in Lawrenceville. Here, a half-chicken is brined overnight and then cooked sous vide prior to being finished in the deep fryer. What I appreciate about this technique is that the chicken has a crispy-skinned bite that gives way to succulent meat.
4306 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/251-0465, thevandalpgh.com