Visit Pittsburgh’s historic Little Italy to feel like you’re dining in futuristic Japan.
Located at 4305 Main St., in Bloomfield Cobra is a cocktail lounge, yakiniku (grilled meat) and Korean barbecue restaurant and karaoke bar under one roof. It made its debut Jan. 23 and is open daily except Tuesdays.
Derek Burnell and Miranda Piso spent a year and a half renovating the former Feng Japanese Steak, Hibachi & Sushi House to match the vision in their heads.
Inspired by sci-fi movies such as “Blade Runner,” the couple transformed the 5,000-square-foot space into something straight out of 22nd-century Tokyo. The entire building, inside and out, is black with colorful neon adding an ultra-modern ambiance.
Like Tessaro’s down the street, there are heavenly smells emanating from the building. Burnell and Piso designed the menu with help from Chef Dan Kern, who runs several eateries in Erie, Pa. Chef Julio Peraza and his staff are executing the concepts in the kitchen, expertly butchering Wagyu beef and other meats and creating delicious Korean marinades.
Cobra has 10 smokeless Shinpo Yakiniku grills that seat up to six people at a time. Guests can have a server prepare their meal or take control of the tongs. Starters include spicy cucumbers with fermented red chili, sesame and nori and Cobra caviar potato, a twice-baked spud with crème fraiche and Tsar Nicoulai Caviar. Barbecue is served with rice and various banchan.
The meal can take more than two hours — and, no, you aren’t seated with strangers — so dinner reservations are recommended.
For those who can’t snag a table, there are seats in the bar area and an Anju menu filled with snacks, skewers and shareables such as Japchae, a sweet potato noodle with shiitake, red pepper, carrot, scallion, yu choy and sesame.
The cocktails are Instagram-worthy with their bold colors and decorative garnishes. Tranquility is lemongrass-infused Haku vodka, singani, peach, basil tapioca pearls and lemon.
Revelers can spring for large-format house beverages like the Suntory Toki Highball or get a bottle of premium spirits accompanied by popping boba, fruit and house mixers. There’s also a curated selection of Japanese whiskey, sake, nigori, shochu, specialty beer and non-alcoholic refreshments.
After a few drinks you might be brave enough to hit the dance floor or enter one of Cobra’s three, private karaoke rooms.
Each soundproof space can host about 12 guests and can be reserved for 30-minute increments with a one-hour minimum. The song database is extensive and is controlled from an iPad, which also gives singers control over the tempo and background vocals. The full beverage and Anju menus are available for each room.
Cobra hosts nightlife events each weekend and is looking for up-and-coming DJs to keep its state-of-the-art sound system bumpin’.
Every detail of the space, from the lighting to the glassware, was carefully thought out by Burnell and Piso. They moved away from the Art Deco trend and created a space that is unique and ahead of its time.