Where We're Eating in March

From arancini to top-of-the-line pickles, Pittsburgh's culinary scene continues to churn out food that delights.

Wunderbar Coffee House

Wunderbar gives the ubiquitous crepe a mini-makeover. Owners Roc and Vicky Dornbrook source their main ingredient, buckwheat, from Zanella Milling in West Sunbury, Butler County. Fillings for the gluten-free crepes range from the expected to the unexpected; the chicken, mozzarella, pesto option is our current favorite. Regardless of the time of day, Wunderbar’s Italian-style coffee is the perfect match for your crepe.
[253 Mercer St., Harmony; 724/256-7383, wunderbarharmony.com; photo by Laura Petrilla]

 

Clifford’s Restaurant

The Enslen family makes you feel at home at this tucked-away eatery. Chef Jesse runs the kitchen, where he specializes in protein-driven dinners. This is home cooking 2.0: All components, down to the raspberry-walnut salad dressing, are made from scratch. Favorite meals include the boneless duck breast with risotto and chicken piccata with polenta.
[514 Upper Harmony Road, Evans City; 724/789-9115, cliffordsrestaurant.com]

 

Arancini House

Arancini are everyman’s food that you can down in a few bites. Here, the Italian rice balls are stuffed with everything from Bolognese sauce and peas to Nutella and cherries. The Al Burro’s bechamel is spot-on; you get just enough of it with peas and ham. An upgraded pepperoni roll offers stick-to-your-bones sustenance.
[615 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon; 412/561-0400, arancinihouse.com; photo by Laura Petrilla]

 

Earth Inspired Salads

The Thai One On salad wins us over with its base of seaweed, carrots, daikon radish and broccoli; the addition of shrimp, almonds and miso-soy-ginger vinaigrette completes the flavor profile. The Southwestern-style Borderline and Bovine Bleu also please. Like to be in control? You also can choose everything that goes into your salad.
[218 Fifth Ave., downtown; 412/281-1113, earthinspiredsalads.com]

 

Pittsburgh Pickle Co.

Pittsburgh Pickle Co. nails the flavor of its chief product by balancing the sugar-salt ratio, says co-owner John Patterson. He and his brothers Will Patterson and Joe Robl own The BeerHive, where they’d served their own pickles for years. The trio got serious about pickle production after regulars nudged them. The result: a line of sweet-and-salty “Pittsburgh-style” pickles. “[The pickles are] like Pittsburghers — a majority of time, we’re sweet people,” says John, who notes that roughly 2,000 cucumbers go into each 500-jar batch. Order plain or deep-fried spears at The BeerHive, or pick up a jar at a local market.
[2117 Penn Ave., Strip District; pittsburghpickle.com; photo by Laura Petrilla]

 

Salud Cuban-American Restaurant and Lounge

The lechon sandwich is a showstopper; the slow-cooked, marinated pork is tender and balanced by cheese and tangy mojo sauce. The Cuban beef hash picadillo is a no-fuss dinner option, as is the chorizo-beef-pork meatball sandwich. Grab a friend and a stool to take in a game at the restored bar.
[4517 Butler St., Lawrenceville; 412/605-0233, facebook.com/saludpittsburgh]


 

Shelby Ortz, Co-Founder | Lux Artisan Chocolates

Shelby Ortz, a former pastry chef at Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, established Lux Artisan Chocolates about two years ago and already has aspirations of one day becoming a (cocoa) “bean-to-bar” operation. Her bars and boxed assortments feature four percentages of Guittard’s fair-trade chocolate. 

Key ingredients for a perfect creation?
Besides good chocolate, I’d say good nuts, fresh fruits  . . .  and sugar’s pretty important.  Overlooked aspect of chocolate making? You have to know how to temper chocolate. . . . If not, it’s not going to be shiny. [It needs] that crunch. . . . I’d say that’s the biggest thing. 

Personal style?
I like there to be a good balance — not too sweet. . . . Texture’s really a big thing for me, too. I don’t like things to be sticky. 

Industry idols?
When I was a pastry chef, Emily Luchetti and Gale Gand. For chocolate, Jacques Torres. For companies, I really like Chocolat Moderne. Also, Garrison Confections. 

Good for home cooks to try?
Truffles — you don’t really need much special equipment to make [them]. You can make [them] all by hand.

luxartisanchocolates.com; chocolates sold at area shops including Mon Aimee Chocolat; photo by Laura Petrilla

 

Categories: Eat + Drink Features