Bakn will open in Carnegie in May

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

Bakn Render1Upscale casual breakfast and lunch spot, Bakn will open in May in the Carnegie Granite Works building at 335 E. Main St. in Carnegie. Chef Randy Tozzie and partner Susan McMahon have been looking for a space for three years and are pleased to have landed in this spot.

Mr. Tozzie has held positions at Giant Eagle and Market District stores, supervising chefs in prepared foods. Before that, he worked under chef Keith Coughenour at the Duquesne Club, Downtown, and attended Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts (class of 2004). He was named the American Culinary Federation chef of the year for the Pittsburgh chapter for 2011. 

Check out the sample menu below.

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Bakn photo and menu



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Bill's Bar & Burger to open in the Westin in April

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

billsbarRestaurateurs are still betting on burgers in the Pittsburgh market: Bill's Bar & Burger will open mid-April in the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown. It's the first location outside of the New York-New Jersey area.

Bill's Bar & Burger comes here via BR Guest Hospitality, the restaurant group behind Blue Water Grill in Union Square in Manhattan and Isabella's Uptown and Dos Caminos in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and several New York locations. This is the group's first venture into the Pittsburgh market. 

Ivy Stark has been the corporate chef for the company for the past 12 years and Clare Lise will be the local chef. Ms. Lise had been the executive chef at Diamond Market Bar & Grill in Market Square. In addition to burgers such as those on this menu, there will be a sushi bar run by a chef from the Original Fish Market, which closed in the Westin in November.

A few years ago, inimitable food writer Josh Ozersky -- James Beard award-winner, author of "The Hamburger: A History"  said this about the Fat Cat burger on Bill's Bar & Burger menu in 2013: "Two crispy, greasy patties of rich Pat LaFrieda meat, cheesed, topped with caramelized onions and butter and served on a toasted English muffin: This sandwich isn't technically a burger, and nobody goes to Bill's for authenticity or atmosphere, but I don't care. It's the only burger in America I like that doesn't come on an enriched bun."

Bill's Bar & Burger website photo

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Smoke Barbecue Taqueria has opened in Lawrenceville

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

smoke2Fans are delighted that Smoke Barbecue Taqueria has quietly opened this week at 4115 Butler St. in Lawrenceville. So much that there have been small crowds peeking in the windows and waiting around outside. The staff is still in training and the hours are irregular, so be flexible if you visit this week.

Smoke is BYOB, which is easy enough with Atlas Bottle Works next door. It will soon announce cold beer selections in honor of the opening.

And, starting next week are Smoke Mondays, when you can bring Smoke tacos into Row House Cinema next door while you watch a movie. 

Owners Jeff Petruso and Nelda Carranco opened Smoke in Homestead in 2011, originally as a take-out place. The couple from Austin, Texas, debuted with a menu of smoked meats, homemade tortillas and artisan drinks. The menu has expanded to include breakfast tacos and migas served all day as well as share dishes such as brisket salad, duck quesadillas, slaws, beans and various iterations of mac and cheese.

The owners had grand plans for the Homestead location, "including a bar on the main floor, a courtyard in the back and perhaps a small brewery in the basement," reported the Post-Gazette in a 2011 Munch column.

As it turns out, said Mr. Petruso back in September 2013 when they announced the move to Lawrenceville, "We need a bigger space."

Here's the menu for now,  thanks to a reader. 


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The Vandal to open in Lawrenceville in early spring

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

thevandalHave you seen the demolition at 4306 Butler St. in Lawrenceville? It's a build-out from Joe Hilty and Emily Slagel for The Vandal, a 30-seat restaurant they're hoping to open in early spring.

Mr. Hilty had been a manager at Bar Marco before he decided to break off for this project. Emily Slagel is the owner of Mid-Atlantic Mercantile across the street.

Their inspiration for the place has been shaped by recent trips in Iceland and Europe. She said the restaurant will be a "warm, community-focused space," with a beer garden and outdoor patio that will open later in the year.

The Vandal will serve lunch and dinner for eat-in or takeout, six days a week, with a menu of snacks as well as sandwiches. A dinner-only menu will include a short list of items such as a bucket of fried chicken or steak frites. Meal prices will fall in an affordable range of $8 for lunch and $14 for dinner.

They'll also sell housemade lavender-hibiscus soda and Mr. Hilty’s favorite Korean apple soda. Otherwise, it's BYOB, with the potential for collaborations with breweries and bottle shops.

Check out the menu preview on Monday, Mar. 2 at Bar Marco in the Strip. For reservations, call 412-471-1900 or visit thevandalpgh.com.

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Allegro Hearth owner to open Lawrenceville vegan restaurant

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

MauramoriOmar Abuhejleh, the owner of Allegro Hearth Bakery in Squirrel Hill, has signed a lease at 5202 Butler St., in what had been Mauramori Cafe, now closed. 

He wrote to me in an email that sometime in May, he plans to open a casual "vegan-coffee shop-bakery-cafe," focusing on traditional American fare and savory pastries for breakfast and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods for lunch and dinner.

There will be a full-service espresso bar, where he'll serve coffee from Commonplace Roastery. Everything will be made from scratch in-house. And,"the business will be completely separate from Allegro, with no overlap in the offerings."

Google Maps photo

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Longhorn Steakhouse opens today in McCandless

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Openings

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At 11 a.m. today, this LongHorn Steakhouse opens at 9150 Covenant Ave. in McCandless.

Just before that, at 10:30 a.m., managing partner Brian Doemel will be part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

And then, things will start sizzling.

The 6,363-square-feet restaurant, the newest of nearly 500 of them in 40 states, seats more than 240 diners -- and creates up to 100 new jobs.

Its hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. through Thurs. and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.

LongHorn Steakhouse Managing Partner Brian Doemel photos

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