Sultry F&B Heats Up The South Side With Hearty Comfort Food
The husband-and-wife team in this Galley Group alum offer fine dining fare in a casual environment.
Chef Brian Forrester wears his heart on his sleeve in the form of tattoos.
The whimsically inked animals range from a cow and a pig to a turkey and a fish with room for veggies in the future. Food is his passion, one he shares with his wife and business partner, pastry chef Melissa Barth.
The vibe at their restaurant at 1721 E. Carson St. is downright steamy.
Sultry F&B (which stands for food and beverage as well as the owners’ surnames) opened on Aug. 17, but the business has been around longer than that.
The couple began whipping up their brand of classic comfort cuisine in 2019 at Smallman Galley, Galley Group’s first restaurant incubator in the Strip District. When that location closed, they moved to Federal Galley on the North Side. It was there that the out-of-towners got a taste of the Steel City’s dining scene by working for kitchen concepts El Lugar and Provision PGH.
Sultry F&B, located in the former Tres Rios Mexican Kitchen, is a place where you can get upscale fare in a casual atmosphere. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
It’s a big space with comfy booths, two-tops and bar seating (the eatery is BYOB for now). You’ll appreciate the extra room when that plate of stick-to-your-ribs, homestyle grub arrives at your table.
Start off with an order of Insane Crinkle Cut Fries tossed in garlic- and herb-infused oil, salt and pepper. For a few more bucks, you can jazz the taters up with bacon, cheddar, pimento cheese, pickled jalapenos and sour cream.
Those fries also make an appearance in the Pitts-Burger Salad, accompanied by seasoned ground beef, onions, cheddar, roasted cherry tomatoes, baby mixed greens, house pickles and Forrester’s signature Thousand Island dressing.
There are fat-fried chicken wings, sandwiches (including a Reuben, pictured below), burgers and a variety of entrees. So far, big sellers include the Ohh Shorty, braised short ribs, cauliflower puree, roasted mushrooms, broccolini, sweet peppers and truffle cheese and the Parm & Gnocchi. The gluten-free pasta dish is made with flourless gnocchi, Parmesan cheese, spinach, roasted mushrooms and red pepper pesto.
If you partied a little too hard on the South Side at night, Sultry F&B’s weekend brunch has the cure for what “ales” ya.
Barth excels at sweets, from warm donuts with creme Anglaise dipping sauce to sticky buns and a shot of cinnamon-infused pure maple syrup. She also makes a jalapeno cheddar biscuit with a choice of honey butter or black pepper gravy.
Then there are the main courses, which are billed as “Main Events”: New York strip steak with eggs, chicken and waffles, seafood omelet and a fried bologna sandwich.
In addition to serving jumbo, a yinzer staple, Sultry F&B appeases the Pittsburgh palate with the Dirty Dippy, two dippy eggs baked with chicken sausage, mushrooms, sweet peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, Gouda and homemade toast.
Although the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol, it offers a rotating menu of mocktails. Grab a Sweet Summer Spritzer (strawberry, basil, Sprite) or the If You Like Pina Coladas (coconut milk and pineapple juice) before autumnal beverages move in.
The couple used a lot of black chalkboard paint when redecorating the space as a nod to their old sandwich board menu at Smallman Galley. It also allows them to wipe the slate clean and introduce new items and ideas.
Forrester’s tats are represented on two accent walls and there are quotes from famous chefs and pop culture figures throughout the eatery.
Barth says the words of late restaurant critic Craig Claiborne sum up her husband’s take on fine dining: “Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.”