Where We're Eating in July
Plus, we go one-on-one with chef Dave Racicot from 314 Pasta & Prime.
>> Grilled Goodness: Juicy chunks of marinated chicken, skewered with onions and peppers and cooked on a hot grill make for a meal that’s delicious from top to bottom. Serving kabobs is especially simple if you let someone else do the prep work: These in particular can be picked up (uncooked) from your local Whole Foods Market meat department. Once the shopping is done, all that’s required is a grill master, a tray of cold drinks and a warm summer night.
(Two area locations; wholefoodsmarket.com)
Winghart’s Burger & Whiskey Bar
For Winghart’s fans, choosing a burger is like deciding which MacBook to buy — they’re all great for many reasons. You could go with the Hula, covered in barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, pineapple and cheddar. Or you could order the Shipwreck, the slightly polished namesake burger of owner Zachary Winghart’s right-hand man. Any choice is fine, as the amazingly large patties are situated atop enormous, puffy buns from Mediterra Bakehouse. The wood-fired pizzas dished out at this small place are also spectacular. Good luck deciding.
(5 Market Square, Downtown; 412/434-5600, winghartburgers.com)
Authentic tacos are meant to be small — not bulky monstrosities — packing a flavorful punch in each bite. Fortunately, this place offers a short list of perfectly planned creations. The chorizo, featuring sweet meat, dippy egg, asadero cheese and a maple-arbol chile sauce, is reminiscent of breakfast fare. Daily taco specials are offered; those who follow the eatery on Twitter will remain in the know. Chips are crispy and fresh, and salsa is spot-on. The small, somewhat dim interior is a nice backdrop to the star tacos.
(1120 E. Carson St., South Side; 412/904-3557, yoritasouthside.com)
Thai Suan Thip
Dark woods and (tastefully) mismatched pieces of decor fill this tiny, cozy Bellevue space owned by a charming husband-wife duo. Guests enter this joint, named after the garden where the owners tied the knot, with intentions of eating fresh, true Thai fare — and do they ever. Highlights include the ever-pleasing pad Thai, samosas and Massaman curry; for a perfect ending, you’ll want to order the sticky rice (accompanied by “perfectly ripe mangoes,” boast the servers) or amazing green-tea ice cream. Tables are scarce — so plan ahead.
(172 Lincoln Ave., Bellevue; 412/766-1899; BYOB)
Ruggeri’s Food Shoppe
When warm weather hits, an instinctual craving for grilled fare sets in. Though Ruggeri’s, a Squirrel Hill mainstay, is primarily known for its decent lunch fare (namely pizza, soups and hoagies), locals can’t get enough of the summertime eats. Twice each week, the Ruggeri’s team breaks out the grill at lunch to prepare some of the most succulent burgers, chicken kabobs and other fine foods. This place is no longer a secret, so if you’re interested in trying one of the steaming meals, you’d better come early.
(5878 Northumberland St., Squirrel Hill; 412/521-0718, foodshoppe.com)
Dave Racicot, Chef, 314 Pasta & Prime
Chef Dave Racicot opened 314 Pasta & Prime in the Oakmont space formerly occupied by his original independent venture, notion.
Best thing to do with red sauce:
Cook meatballs in it.
Favorite way to eat steak:
Grilled, medium-rare. I like A-1 — unless it’s a really high-end steak.
Size of cookbook collection:
A hundred books at least. I like the French Laundry cookbook because it was the first to really influence the way that I thought about cooking.
Food you’re most likely to eat with your hands:
Best meal you’ve ever had: Alinea in Chicago. Eating in a place like that is a barometer of where you are as a chef and restaurant owner and how much work you have to do.
What’s up with notion?
It will reopen in late fall with the same concept — but a bigger and better location in East Liberty, where we’ll be able to offer more to our guests and achieve more in the kitchen.
Chianti or Campari:
Without question, Campari. I like it with vermouth and gin in a Negroni.
(314 Allegheny River Blvd., Oakmont; 412/828-7777, pastaandprime.com)
— Kate Chynoweth