Has Pittsburgh become the next foodie destination? asks Bill Addison in a new (and mouthwatering) story in Eater.
The question brought the food writer back to Pittsburgh for the first time in over two decades. Addison cites a previous visit in 1989, when he attended a summer music program at Carnegie Mellon and got his first taste of Pittsburgh’s food scene.
“In groups we’d head off-campus to Primanti Bros. for roast beef or kielbasa sandwiches famously piled with fries and slaw, or to the “O” for super dogs and onion rings. A summer romance stirred over slices of coconut cream pie at Gullifty’s, a gussied-up diner in nearby Squirrel Hill. (It closed in 2013 after 31 years in business.) With money I’d saved from my video-store job back home, we splurged on duck a l’orange and other Continental thrillers at fancy Le Mont, with its city views atop Mount Washington,” writes Addison.
And now? The city is gaining national attention for a diverse and innovative food scene.
“Was there a defining shift that had made this Rust Belt survivor the next must-fly-to-eat destination?” The author asks as he comes back to Pittsburgh and eats his way to the answer.
His food crawl begins with new purveyors in Lawrenceville and downtown, including Cure, Meat & Potatoes, Butcher & The Rye, and Tako. He writes with appreciation for the creative techniques used at these spots, particularly the liqueur-infused trout and cured meats served up at Cure and the cross-cultural fares at Tako.
Next, the author writes about new takes on Pittsburgh classics, including a rendition of the pierogie at Butterjoint and its adjoining Legume in Oakland and a homage to the cookie table at The Commoner in the Hotel Monaco.
“Just as an emerging food town needs restaurants that uplift the deep-rooted culture, it calls, too, for places that elevate less familiar global fare,” Addison notes. He found these places in Gaucho, Conflict Kitchen, and Chengdu Gourmet.
His last stop was at the recently opened Bread and Salt, where Addison sampled the bakery’s special loaves and even stowed away a pane locale for the plane ride home.
While his return to Pittsburgh convinced him of the city’s diverse and expanding food scene, the author isn’t convinced that Pittsburgh is ready to take its foodie title yet.
“The dining scene is still shaping a distinct identity, though the dynamism among its strongest players is tangible.”
“Beyond national talk, proud Pittsburgh doesn’t strike me as a city of people clamoring for validation. Its character will keep developing on its own time, in its own way.”
In other words, he gets us.
Read the full story here.