Eat: Crepes and waffles at Geppetto Café
New businesses are springing up in Lawrenceville at a dizzying pace. Take a stroll down Butler Street and you’ll likely spot a half-dozen shops and restaurants that weren’t there a month ago, and a half-dozen more storefronts under construction. Case in point: Geppetto Café, a sunny crepe and waffle shop that popped up last month.
Geppetto Café is at 4121 Butler Street in the former home of Double D’s Saloon. The dark bar has been replaced by a cheery, quirky café, complete with books suspended from the ceiling and a Pinocchio figurine peeking from the uneven brick wall. The hiss of an espresso machine mingles with a subdued soundtrack of synth-y pop, making for an atmosphere that’s miles away from the raucous saloon that came before.
The focus of Geppetto’s menu is an impressive array of crepes. Options range from a savory chicken and Gruyère preparation to a sweet signature crepe that comes with sautéed apples, cream cheese glaze and caramel sauce. The sweet styles are available on waffles as well, and a selection of challah French toasts and entrée salads rounds out the brunch-inspired menu.
While Butler Street buzzes with dinner and nightlife options, Lawrenceville has been wanting for more daytime eateries. Geppetto Café, which is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., adds several unique breakfast and lunch options to the mix.
Drink: An opening day cocktail at Smallman Galley
Major League Baseball’s opening day was this past Sunday, and of all the many ways people celebrated around Pittsburgh, the crew at Smallman Galley’s bar surely found one of the most unique. Their new spring menu unites two things that fuel some of the most passionate nerds in America: cocktails and baseball.
The new drinks on Smallman Galley’s menu are arranged by baseball position, each one corresponding to a famous Pittsburgh Pirate. “We had way too much fun making this menu,” jokes bartender Cat Cannon. The whimsy is evident in drinks like Bobby Bonilla’s Tortillas, a margarita riff that features tortilla chip-infused mezcal. The drink pays homage to Bonilla, who played right field for the Pirates in the ’80s and early ’90s. The cocktail doesn’t just ride on novelty, however: the combination of salty chips and smoky Vida mezcal is a home run on taste as well.
Bonilla is one of the lesser-known players referenced on the new menu. The Clemen-Ti Punch, for instance, doubles down on the punning, using Clement VSOP rum in a preparation of Ti’ Punch, a rough-and-tumble island staple. Perhaps the best name comes with the Dock LSD, a frothy gin and Chartreuse drink named for Dock Ellis, the outspoken Pirate who supposedly pitched a no-hitter while on acid. And if you don’t like cocktails, you can always go for a Bob Nutting Is Too Cheap: a three dollar can of Genesee Cream Ale.
Smallman Galley’s baseball-themed menu is a welcome addition to a bar that is fast becoming a standout in Pittsburgh. Though it could have been overshadowed by Smallman Galley’s much-buzzed-about approach to food, the bar stands on its own, from the hyper-local beer selection to a focused, intriguing wine list. The new menu proves that the bar staff at Smallman Galley knows how to have some fun while still flexing some serious cocktail muscle.
“I’m hoping to add a drink called the El Toro,” quips Cannon. “It’s an empty pint glass served eight feet away from the person who ordered it.”
Do: Springtime seafood celebrations
All across the country, the warm weather brings celebrations of the bounty of the sea. From New England clambakes to Cajun crawfish boils, few things say summer like a messy, communal seafood feast. And although Pittsburgh is a half-day’s drive from the nearest ocean, local restaurants are making sure we get a healthy dose of that fun.
On Sunday, April 10th from 4 to 8 p.m., Legume is hosting a Maine Shore Dinner. The stars, of course, are the lobsters, the cooking of which will be presided over by chef/owner Trevett Hooper’s mom (“a seventh-generation Mainer with seven decades of lobster boiling experience”). Clams or mussels, corn on the cob, coleslaw and blueberry pie will accompany the crustaceans. Call 412-621-2700 for reservations.
On Saturday, April 23rd, Hough’s is holding a classic Maryland Crab Boil. For $60, attendees will get unlimited Maryland Blue Crab, boiled in the brew kettles at next door’s Copper Kettle. The crab will come with the classic sides, including shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn. And since the boil falls at the tail end of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week, tickets will also get you unlimited drafts of Flying Dog Dead Rise, a summer ale spiced with Old Bay seasoning. Grab tickets for one of the two sessions here.
Finally, head to Homestead for Blue Dust’s 3rd annual Oysterfest. Also happening on April 23rd, Oysterfest is a briny, boozy bash under the Homestead Grays Bridge. Oysters will be flown in fresh from Oregon’s Rogue Farm, who will also be providing seven of their much-lauded craft beers. A dozen more beers will be on tap, along with cocktails, live music and food from trucks like Blowfish BBQ and Franktuary. Admission to Oysterfest is free. Head to their Facebook page for more details.