Where to eat and drink right now, updated

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

eaterheatmapHere's the updated list of where to eat and drink now that I've written for the Eater National website. The number of new Downtown restaurants is impressive. Click here to read on.

Eater National graphic

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DC chef will move here to run Hotel Monaco restaurant

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

marronfinalDennis Marron, executive chef at Poste Modern Brasserie in Washington, D.C., will be relocating to Pittsburgh to helm the restaurant at the Hotel Monaco. The boutique hotel, part of San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant group, is scheduled to open in late 2014 in the James H. Reed building at 435 Sixth Ave.

The nine-story hotel in the 1902 Beaux-Arts style building will offer 247 rooms, a fitness center, 9,000 square feet of meeting space and a 120-seat restaurant. 

"We're still working out the concept for the restaurant," said Mr. Marron. "The company has made the announcement early to get me involved in the process."

Mr. Marron will move to Pittsburgh in July. Though he's not from the area, his wife grew up in Latrobe and her family lives close by.

Mr. Marron has been an executive chef for the company in the D.C. and Virginia area for the past seven years. Before he helmed Poste, he was executive chef of The Grille at Morrison House and Jackson 20 Restaurant & Tavern in Alexandria, Va.  

Since he's been the executive chef at Poste, Michelle Obama dined there for dinner in January, a late birthday celebration in one of the private rooms. 

His menus have focused on seasonality. A Labor Day menu featured chilled pea and mint puree soup, a summer harvest salad with arugula, garden strawberries, cucumber and a rose vinaigrette; pea and carrot crepes with Monacacy ash goat cheese from Maryland; and Arctic char with a tomato salad and chilled basil cream. 

Kimpton has been discussing a walk-up "sandwich window" for take-out near the hotel entrance to the restaurant at Strawberry Way and William Penn Place, Mark Belko reported last summer in the Post-Gazette.

And while there was talk of landing a Shake Shack at the hotel, the chain will not open a Pittsburgh outpost in this location and the walk-up window "is not a done deal," confirmed Kimpton spokesperson, Kristin Huxta.

Dennis Marron. Photo credit Scott Suchman

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First look: Open Bottle Bistro

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

openbottle1Open Bottle Bistro is shaping up as an interesting neighborhood place. With a compelling wine list, a cozy dining room and a charming outdoor patio, it's likely to pull patrons from outside the neighborhood, too.

The restaurant opened for lunch and dinner service two weeks ago. It's the second spot from Dave DeSimone, wine writer and KQV radio host. His first restaurant, Bridge Ten Brasserie, closed in February.

I went for lunch and was pleased by the initial experience and the service in particular. Speaking of service, at night, expect to see behind the bar John White, the charismatic, single-malt-scotch expert. 

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With a covered section and a koi pond, the patio is available even though it's a work in progress.

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Simply prepared in a red wine mushroom sauce, the sweetbreads ($15) were quite tender. 

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The current list for white wines by the glass.

Melissa McCart photos



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Skinny Pete's, AJ's Inca Peruvian have closed

Written by Melissa McCart on . Closings

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Open just more than a year, Skinny Pete's Kitchen in Avalon has closed. Though the menu did not specialize in lean cuisine, "This is a bright little spot, with a stick-figure logo," wrote Post-Gazette's Munch. "It features a full breakfast menu; salads, sandwiches, pizzas and flatbreads for lunch; and beginning this week, they're making a soft entry into dinner features, and you can BYOB."

AJ's Inca Peruvian, Downtown, also has closed. The restaurant opened on Liberty Avenue in December 2012, with a menu of Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and Peruvian entrees, sides, desserts and juices.

Gretchen McKay photo

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What's dishing on the blogs: Easter recipes

Written by Dana Cizmas on . Shared Plates

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With Easter fast approaching, your kitchen will be filled with sweet and savory goodness that will rock the house this holiday! Here's what's dishing on the blogs we follow:

The Brown Eyed Baker created a festive Chocolate-Covered Banana Cake with Strawberries and Cream Cheese Frosting. Jessica from How Sweet It Is whipped up Chewy Pistachio Macaroon Granola Bars. Sincerely Caroline baked super cute Lemon Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches whereas iheartpgh pointed out via Huffington Post that Prantl's Burnt Almond Torte is the best cake in America!

Let's continue with the savory menu! Linda from Dinner Plan-it prepared tasty Garlicky Spinach, Feta, Tomato & Eggplant Stuffed Baby Eggplants. Katy made flavorful Haluski with Bacon in her BakingDomesticityandAllThingsMini kitchen. Yum Yum cooked wonderful Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce, while Liz from Stiller Snacks opted for easy Honey Mustard Glazed Jack Ham, and Dan from Pizza Walk with Me crafted his own pizza.

Finally, Chew me! ventured out to Oakmont Bakery for some doughnuts, D&T: in the burgh tried out Emporio for some meatballs, and the girls from eatPGH checked out Sacred Heart for more fish fry.

Happy Easter and see you here next week!

Brown Eyed Baker photo

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PaPa J's will auction off memorabilia

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

papajmapPaPa J's Centro at 212 Blvd. of the Allies, Downtown, will auction off everything in the restaurant starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 3.

That includes Madame Dolly Cavanaugh's headboard behind the bar and the bar itself.

Lore states that a false ceiling in her bed chamber yielded a black book of power-broker clients who didn't come there for food or drink.

Papa J's closing was prompted by a gas leak in the building Nov. 11 during the Veterans Day parade. Following the leak, the city revoked the restaurant's occupancy permit.

"We don't have a bathroom on the first floor and it's not handicap-accessible," owner Michael Troiani said. "We could remodel to comply, but the restaurant would not be able to maintain the identity it has now."

Mr. Troiani and his siblings inherited the building constructed in 1862 that was allegedly a stop on the Underground Railroad, followed by a second life as a brothel until 1937.

Then it was a boarding house until 1979, after which it was Tramps Restaurant, which became PaPa J's Centro in December 1994.

Mr. Troiani said he plans to keep the building. "But it's not going to be a restaurant again."

As much a part of the restaurant's identity as the memorabilia, veteran bartender for 18 years Frank Wazny has since moved from the Downtown location to Carnegie.

"I really like Carnegie," he said. "But I miss my Downtown people."

Google Maps photo

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