As Pittsburghers will tell you, the best versions of the region’s most popular cuisines—pierogies, fried fish and haluski, to name a few—come straight from kitchens in church basements. That said, the soup coming out of the basement of West Homestead’s Bulgarian Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center might beat them all.
The BMNECC rebooted its annual Soup Sega for the 15th consecutive year, offering a variety of 14 soups to fit nearly every palate and popular dietary constraint. While they do solid takes on old staples like Beef Barley and Chicken with Farina Dumplings, it’s the selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings which make the soup sega a mandatory stop for any Western Pennsylvanian hunkering down for winter.
They freeze and reheat incredibly well, and at the eminently reasonable prices of $7 for a quarter and $3.50 for a half-quart (real simple math!), you can enjoy them all winter.
Eat/Drink heartily recommends the White Bean, Balkan Bean and Spicy Tomato with Dill Dumplings. The flaky pastries filled with cherries, apples, walnuts and cinnamon are also a necessary indulgence.
The BMNECC’s soup sega runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. You can pre-order soups through the center’s website, but the experience of visiting the center, perusing the flea market and chatting with the members is a genuinely Pittsburgh experience not to be missed.
Szmidt’s Deli to open Downtown location
One of Pittsburgh’s most popular delicatessens will open a new shop on Liberty Avenune in Downtown, an inside source told Eat/Drink this week. Szmidt’s Old World Deli, the Greenfield deli known for making everything from its bread, pickles and corned beef in-house, could open the new location before the end of the year.
It’s not immediately clear if the Downtown location will be the second Szmidt’s installment, or if owner Darren Smith plans to close up shop in Greenfield and move the whole operation Downtown.
Smith did not return calls seeking comment.
The gyro to end all gyros
It’s only been a few months since Thom Gulish took over Tony’s Gyros, rebranded it as Gyros N’at and started setting up shop on Saturdays in Braddock, but it’s taken even less time for Gulish to make the venture all his own.
He started by adding a few other Greek gourmet staples to his menu, including hummus with vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, pita and baklava. But two weeks ago, Gulish had a game-changing revelation.
“I started grilling the onions with the meat,” he says. “It just made sense.”
Traditional gyros are made of shaved, spiced lamb topped with freshly sliced tomatoes and white onion, tucked into a pita.
Grilling the onions puts a decidedly Pittsburgh spin on the dish. And because the meat goes on the grill after it’s done cooking on the vertical rotisserie, Gulish slices it thicker than you’ll see in more traditional gyros. The result, served with fresh tomatoes and a generous dollop of tzatziki, is hands-down Pittsburgh’s best gyro.
And because he sets up shop hours before the Brew Gentlemen open their taproom, he’s catching a healthy business from lunch sales and has established a great rapport with many Braddock residents.
“On some days, 75 percent of my business comes from local foot traffic,” Gulish says. “My goal is to make Pittsburgh the gyro capital of the eastern United States.”
Boyd & Blair CEO resigns
C. Prentiss Orr, the CEO and co-founder of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, makers of Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka, resigned from the company Wednesday, according to a statement he issued yesterday. Orr’s resignation comes after more than a year of tensions between him and distillery co-founder Barry Young. Orr will retain his spot on the company’s board of managers, but it’s not immediately clear if his resignation will affect his 31 percent ownership stake.