Nearly seven months after he closed Avenue B in Shadyside, chef Chris Bonfili is fired up to get back in the kitchen full-time.
“My kids are wondering why I’m home on Saturday nights,” he says with a laugh.
This fall, Bonfili will open Bonfire Food & Drink on the South Side. Unlike his Sewickley eatery, B Gourmet, which specializes in quick, lunchtime bites, the new venture is a double-decker dining experience featuring casual grub, local brews, upscale cuisine and late-night cocktails.
The first floor, slated to open in late October, will be a place to grab a craft beer and a wood-fired pizza, flatbread, sandwich or salad.
About a month later, customers can visit the upstairs portion of the restaurant for a more sophisticated atmosphere, complete with wine and cocktails to complement a menu similar to the options that made Avenue B a go-to destination for foodies.
The chef, who is bringing some of his Avenue B staff along for the ride, calls the whole Bonfire concept “elevated comfort food.”
“It’s not over-the-top or pretentious,” he says. “We want to keep it approachable and fun.”
Bonfili, a North Hills native who earned most of his culinary chops in Colorado, came back to Pittsburgh just as the local restaurant scene was exploding.
He worked in kitchens all over the East End, including Casbah, Soba and the Red Room Cafe before opening his own places. After nine years in Shadyside, with his lease about to expire, he decided to try something different.
Located at 2100 East Carson St. in a building most recently occupied by Circolo Woodfired, Bonfire Food & Drink will be his first foray into the South Side market.
“It made more sense for us to move in another direction,” Bonfili says. “I felt like it’s better to go out on top and start a new chapter. That’s why we were attracted to South Side. It’s a new market, a new feel, a new life, new blood. It’s something fun.”