Russian restaurant, Diyor Cafe, now open Downtown

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

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Diyor Cafe & Lounge (14 Smithfield Street) opened Downtown last month, a Russian restaurant with an interesting bar and tapestry-covered tables and walls. It's owned by Oybek Babajanov who started Diyor Pizza that had been in the Parkway Center Mall, now closed.

He's one of three cooks who offer plov ($9), samsa pastries ($2.75 each), manti ($7.99), and delicious khonim ($9) among other dishes. 

Here's the menu and the interior, below. 

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Melissa McCart photos

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Bea's Taco Town now open Downtown

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

beastacosBea's Taco Town opened on 633 Smithfield on Monday, the little taqueria from the owner who had briefly set up shop last year on the South Side near the Birmingham Bridge.

Bea Martinez mans the cash register as the line files out the door for a super inexpensive pair of tacos ($2.50), dorados (also called taquitos or flautas for $7.50), burritos ($7.50-$8.50), enchiladas ($9-$12), quesadillas ($7.50) and sides such as rice and beans, chips and guacamole. 

Don't set your heart on the beef and chicken on the chalkboard menu overhead, since additional meats are listed at the register. Though seats are available, perhaps on afternoons such as this one it's preferable to order take-out and head over to Mellon Square Park a block away.

Bea's is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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Vegetarian tacos. Melissa McCart photo. 

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Aiello's is open in Harrison City and serving breakfast

Written by Beth Kurtz Taylor on . Openings

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So, breakfast in a pizza shop? Like many residents of Penn Township, my son and I were anxiously awaiting the opening of Aiello's Pizza LLC here in Harrison City for what seems like an eternity. (It's not affiliated with the famed Squirrel Hill Aiello's, but owner Pete Aiello used to work for his late father's business, now run by Pete's brother Mike.)

A flashing sign on a neighboring business advertised that we also could expect zeppole and Commonplace Coffee as Aiello's would be opening daily at 7 a.m. Commonplace Coffee? In the middle of Westmoreland County? The area is starved for good coffee.
 
We had to investigate the decadent Italian breakfast treat. Fried to order, the puffy, buttery, cinnamon and sugar dough pieces melted in our mouths. We could have opted for powdered sugar, and topped it with Nutella and crushed hazelnuts, Ghirardelli chocolate sauce or caramel.

Pete Aiello was busy forming fresh mozzarella (made daily) upon our arrival, so of course we
had to try that. It was still warm and perfectly balanced with the right amount of salt.

We went back another day for pizza. A bit overwhelmed with more than 32 offerings of gourmet and artisanal pizza options, we settled on pepperoni. The fresh homemade sauce was perfectly sweet and the savory-and-a little-sharp house cheese blend made it the best pizza I have tasted outside of Allegheny County. Appetizers, (including savory versions of the fried dough), salads, sandwiches and pasta round out the menu.

The response from the community has been enormous and positive; the business has run out of handmade dough on at least two days during its soft-opening week. 

Beth Kurtz Taylor photo

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Asiatique to open at Bakery Square in September

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

Ling-RobinsonWalnut Capital has partnered with Mark and Ling Robinson, owners of The Green Mango to open a third restaurant at 102 Bakery Square Blvd. by mid-September called Asiatique Thai Bistro.

Ms. Robinson, who calls herself "the high-heeled chef" since she always wears heels to work, said her small menu will include healthy, reasonably-priced fare. The 48-seat restaurant will be a family-friendly, BYOB place with limited outdoor seating.

Though Ms. Robinson has had her hand in six restaurants in her career, she pared down to one restaurant when Mr. Robinson had surgery in 2012. Asiatique will be their second eatery after The Green Mango in Monroeville, which has opened and closed in two smaller locations.

It's not just cooking that fuels her passion. It's community. "I want to guide young people. I want to offer meals for mothers who want to feed their kids well. I want to give back," she said. 

"We think we know how to live but we don't know how to treat ourselves. I have a lot of ideas to share about that."

Post-Gazette photo

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South Side BBQ Co. is parking on 17th St.

Written by Dan Gigler on . Openings

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Pat and Mike Joyce offer Bar-B-Cones from their South Side BBQ Co. truck.

As the food truck trend has rolled its way across the country, many an upstart chef has used a truck to propel him- or herself to a brick-and-mortar venue.

Typically, however, it does not entail an established restaurateur buying a truck with an altogether different theme and then changing his existing restaurant accordingly, but that is the unorthodox path that Pat Joyce will take next month when he shuts down his long-running 17th St. Cafe in the South Side and rechristens it the South Side BBQ Co.

“I haven’t had this kind of spark in years,” Mr. Joyce said of the impending excitement of his new venture, which will be heavy on the three B’s: barbecue, beer and bourbon.

Last fall, sightings of the South Side BBQ Co.’s “CarnivoreMobile” began around Pittsburgh, and Mr. Joyce has developed both a following and a novel menu including items such as the Redneck Club sandwich (pulled pork and brisket) and the Bar-B-Cone: a large waffle cone filled with mac-and-cheese, pulled pork and Carolina cole slaw.

“I’m so excited the truck has been going off,” he said. “The reception has been overwhelming. It’s amazing how much people love it and are interacting with it."

The Cafe will close for business on July 3 and re-open at 4 p.m. the following Tuesday, July 8, with proceeds that evening going to the South Side-based Brashear Association, a neighborhood social-services organization.

Mr. Joyce -- with his wife, Brigitte, and brother Mike -- has run the cafe since 2001, when he took it over from the DeRoss family, who founded it in 1988. For several decades prior to that, dating back to the 1940s, the building was Bendick’s Tavern and a butcher shop before that. It was originally constructed as a single-family home in the 1880s.

He learned to appreciate and to cook what he calls “slow and low” Southern food while living in South Carolina.

Though the cafe’s menu was moderately priced Italian and American food in a more formal atmosphere, he said that he increasingly felt “in limbo” in the increasingly younger demographic in the South Side.

“We weren’t super high-end, but we weren’t low-end either,” he said, adding that while the South Side has a lot of dining options, it doesn’t have a place that strictly does barbecue.

“With change in the tide on the South Side, this seems like something people will want. A fun atmosphere that’s good for the neighborhood. People can embrace it.”

Dan Gigler photo

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Taglio to open in East Liberty

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

foodspottingTony Giaramita, from the family that owns La Tavola Italiana in Mount Washington, will open Taglio at 126 S. Highland Ave., a 45-seat place that will specialize in Roman-style pizza, antipasti and desserts, hence the nameIt's inspired by the Italian pizza-god, Gabriele Bonci, known for square-sliced pizza with unusual toppings, baked in blue-steel pans. Open for lunch and dinner, the BYOB restaurant will debut in August or September.

Mr. Giaramita, a lawyer, returned to the restaurant industry about a year ago and has been focusing on high-hydration dough in response to his studies that have included a five-hour class for industry types led by Mr. Bonci at Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan. 

He hopes to install a wood-fired Stefano Ferrara in the space, an extraordinarily expensive endeavor in Pittsburgh because of regulations and contractors' reticence following the NOLA fire five months ago. He's also looking into a second oven for the space, a super high-end electric one in the style used at Mr. Bonci's bakery. 

If you're looking to try his pizza in the meantime, it's sold by the slice weekends at Espresso a Mano in Lawrenceville.

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