Arancini House will open in Mt. Lebanon mid-November

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

arancinihouseJoe Reale and his soon-to-be father-in-law, Emanuel Lacommare have been working toward the opening of Arancini House in mid-November at 615 Washington Road in the building's terrace-level cafe.

The duo started catering in July, specializing in Sicilian street food: panelle sandwiches of chickpea fritters, four kinds of arancini, pepperoni rolls, sausage and pepper rolls and desserts such as cannolis and nutella balls. 

Born in Brooklyn, Mr. Lacommare returned to Sicily with his family when he was a child and grew up working in his uncle's bakery. It was here where he learned to make the foods he'll sell.

Mr. Reale of Greentree was introduced these delights seven years ago, when he started dating Mr. Lacommare's daughter. He liked them so much he wanted to find a way to sell them to the public. Mr. Reale and Mr. Lacommare originally intended to find a catering kitchen. Instead, they've found a little restaurant space. The 30-seat spot will open with limited hours and an emphasis on counter service or takeout. 

Until November 17, you can keep an eye on the restaurant's progress on Facebook and check out the menu on the website here.

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Szmidt's to open Downtown next year

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

Darren-Smith-file-szmidtDarren Smith signed a lease Tuesday on 955/957 Liberty Ave., Downtown. The addresses had been Mercy Life Center Corp. and an Indo Asian-fusion restaurant. It's going to be Szmidt's Old World Deli (pronounced Szmeeds).

"I'm really excited and really nervous and I just can't talk myself out of it," he said, acknowledging that he's taking on quite an ambitious project in comparison to the deli's original Greenfield location. 

Though he will keep much of the current format and menu, he said to expect a few surprises, including dinner hours.  

Currently, Szmidt's sells Old World (potato and kraut), New World (Buffalo chicken) and sweet pierogies, sides and hefty sandwiches dressed with housemade condiments, served on bread baked on-site. He says that he hopes to also make the cheese in his new location.

Named after his Polish grandparents, Szmidt's opened in 2011. He hasn't decided if he will keep the original shop open. "I have to feel confident that it remains the place that people expect it to be," he said. As a small-business owner, he's concerned about quality.  "I don't have the deep pockets of a company," he said. "If I'm not there, it's a different place."

Last September, he was in negotiations with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp. about taking over the Quiet Storm location on Penn Avenue. Instead, E Properties and Development bought the building as part of a townhouse project. E Properties recently listed 5430 Penn Ave. for lease.

Ideally, Mr. Smith would like to open the Liberty Avenue location by early 2015, but, "there are so many variables with the build-out," he said. Szmidt's will post progress on its Facebook page.

Bill Wade/Post-Gazette photo


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Think you're the next MasterChef Junior?

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Food TV

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Do you think you're the next MasterChef Junior? Well, you can give it a shot if you're willing to drive/train/fly to Philly.

The show's casting associate producer Nina Steffel told me she's "aware that it's not necessarily next door. It is an open call and we'd like to get the information to as many interested kids as possible. We sometimes have people drive in several hours if they aren't close to an open call location," and this is the closest one to Pittsburgh.

Fine. 

I get a little cranky when people mix up Pittsburgh and Philly, as berries.com -- Sheri's Berries -- did earlier this week when it posted on its blog an otherwise innocuous list about "Which City has the Biggest Sweet Tooth?" that ranked Pittsburgh at No. 4.

However, they lost me when the post talked about how much we love cheesesteaks, so I kindly corrected them that that's not us.

In the updated post, they cite Primanti's and Pittsburgh's love of sandwiches -- and of "combining peanut butter an chocolate." 

Sigh. 


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An Absolut-ely cool new bottle

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Spirits

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Did you know that there's a new "Andy Warhol Edition" of the Absolut vodka bottle that the artist helped make famous in 1986?

His original artwork is incorporated in the bottle, "allowing anyone to bring home their very own Warhol," says the vodka maker.

Absolut went on to work with hundreds of other artists and celebrities, but none of their work became as iconic as Warhol's. The Pittsburgh native created dozens of pieces of Absolut art in the '80s.

This limited-edition bottle (they're making about four million of them to distribute worldwide) was developed with the nonprofit Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, which gets a portion of the proceeds.

Absolut is hosting a private party on Monday, Nov. 3, at the Andy Warhol Museum on the North Side.

Absolut image

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Local food groups making an impact

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . The Forks blog

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News today from Food Tank, which, with the James Beard Foundation and some other experts, has produced a developed its first annual "Good Food Org Guide" highlighting nonprofit organizations that are "doing exemplary work in the United States in the areas of food and agriculture, nutrition and health, hunger and obesity, and food justice. Only nonprofit, scholarly, and municipal initiatives have been selected in order to spotlight efforts that are focused on community building and engagement, advocacy, and service."

Included are seven groups from Pennsylvania, three of which are based here in Western Pennsylvania. Here's what a news release had to say about them:

Grow Pittsburgh
Grow Pittsburgh was formed in 2005 by three urban farmers in Pittsburgh, PA. A small nonprofit, Grow Pittsburgh teaches communities to farm, manages urban farms, and supports community gardens.

Hunger-Free Pennsylvania
Hunger-Free Pennsylvania (HFPA) has spent the past 25 years connecting food banks across Pennsylvania and working to find excess food. HFPA now also advocates for policies that prevent hunger in the Commonwealth and represents 21 member food banks in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

Springboard Kitchens
Springboard Kitchens is an organization in Pittsburgh, PA that solves two commonfood problems in one. The organization rescues up to 10,000 pounds of perishablefood that food banks cannot use and uses the food to train others on how to build a meal from scratch.

The other Pennsylvania groups are the The Food Trust, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, Greensgrow Farms and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture,

You can download a copy of the guide here.

Food Tank collage

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Carmella's Plates & Pints will open for dinner Nov. 8

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

CarmellasDavid Murphy, the new chef at Carmella's Plates & Pints on the South Side, said the restaurant will begin dinner service on Nov. 8. 

Carmella Salem opened the place a year ago and has been putting the finishing touches on the kitchen buildout, which has taken a bit longer than anticipated. South Side residents may have known her as a beloved manager and bartender there for years. 

Mr. Murphy moved here from Austin in June, where he was the sous chef at the acclaimed Uchi. The native Texan has also worked at restaurants in New York and San Francisco.

He said he's nearly finished with staff training and an opening menu, which will include chicharrons with charred shishito and pickled serranos, lime creme fraiche and micro cilantro, served with watermelon acqua fresca. Another dish may be wagyu strip and tongue with pickled mushrooms and fried yucca for a Latin spin on steak frites. 

In the meantime, look for progress on the restaurant's Facebook page here.

Carmella's logo


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