Asian-inspired restaurant will open in Lawrenceville's Tamari space

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

tamariLast week, owner of Tamari, Allen Chen, announced that, after six years, the restaurant's last day in Lawrenceville will be May 2.

Here's an update of what to expect around mid-June in the space: an Asian-inspired restaurant from the group that runs Andora, confirms Nickie Kredel, operations manager.

Andora, with locations in Fox Chapel, Adams Township (Cranberry) and Sewickley, is affiliated with Toscana Brick Oven in Canonsburg. 

We'll keep you updated as the name and concept progresses.

Post-Gazette photo

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Market St. Grocery opens today

Written by Gretchen McKay on . Openings

grocery
For all you folks who have to pick up something on your way home from work for dinner, here’s a reminder: Market St. Grocery opens today.

Be it a box of pasta, sauce, a block of imported parmesan to grate on top of it or a bottle of Italian vino to wash the meal down — or maybe all of the above — you can get it at this one-stop shop.

marketcheeseTwo years in the making, the European-style market at 435 Market St. is Downtown’s first grocery in five years. It’s located in the space of the former Ciao Baby restaurant, nestled between Nettleton (shoe) Shop and Camera Repair Service.marketshelves

The small market won’t offer as many items as a soup-to-nuts suburban grocery store, but it still features an impressive array of food and drink. Along with fresh meats and fresh and frozen seafood, customers will find a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, deli meats, prepared foods and cheese — more than 50 varieties, both domestic and imported.

The store also sells wine by the bottle or the case, or if you can’t wait until you get home to sample it, by the glass at a table at the back.

Looking for a mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up? The 2,400-square-foot grocery, which offered an advance peek to invited guests last Wednesday, boasts a coffee and liquor bar. And Squirrel Hill French bakery Gaby et Jules is leasing space at the front of the store in which to sell its fresh-baked macarons, French breads and pastries.

marketfishExpect slightly higher prices that what you’d find in a suburban grocery store, but remember — you’re paying for the convenience of not having to stand in a long line with dozens of grumpy people after a long day on the job.

Market St. Grocery is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sun. The wine bar is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m. to midnight Sat. and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun.

Lake Fong/Post-Gazette (top) and Gretchen McKay photos

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Smoq Pitt now open in Brookline

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

smoqpitt

The barbecue restaurant Smoq Pitt opened on Saturday iat 600 Brookline Blvd. in Brookline in what had been Bama's Southern Kitchen

Chicagoan Mitch Liebovich is the proprietor. He's living at his in-laws in New Sewickley Township before his wife, Linda, wraps up her job in Chicago and they find a house. This is the former marketing and advertising guy's first restaurant, but he says he has been into barbecue for awhile, making it for family and friends.

"Barbecue is my passion. I've been doing it for a long time," he says. 

At Smoq Pitt, he says he starts with a dry rub that's "closest to a Texas style." It "comes out naked," and if you're into sauces, he has three choices. "The tangy sauce is inspired by the Carolinas; sweet is like KC Masterpiece meets Sweet Baby Ray's; and the spicy sauce comes from the Texas-style."

The 15-seat restaurant offers takeout and online ordering. The hours, for now, are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday;  noon to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays. 

Menu from Smoq Pitt website



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Blue North has opened in McCandless

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

BlueNorth1
The former owner of the Mighty Oak Barrel in Oakmont, Grainne Trainor, opened what had been Blue Dining and what's now Blue North in McCandless this past Thursday night. The images, above and below, are sample menus. The final can be accessed at the website, bluenorth1701.com.

Since she bought the restaurant in February, Ms. Trainor's plan has been to transition the restaurant and martini bar at 1701 Duncan Ave. into a contemporary American restaurant with a focus on wine.

She has opened with executive chef Eric Leibering, who had been at the Elbow Room and 1947 Tavern in Shadyside.

"I'm really pleased with the staff. I'm pleased with the facility. I'm pleased with the menu. It's a good feeling," she said.

Terri Sokoloff, of Specialty Group, handled the sale. She also sold Ms. Trainor the Oakmont restaurant in the late 1990s.

Ms. Trainor fashioned the Mighty Oak Barrel into a well-regarded restaurant from July 1998 through November 2013. It has since been under new management.

Ms. Trainor comes to the Allison Park area by way of Northern Ireland. She said her answer to the question, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" was often, "I want to move to America."

After she graduated from college in Belfast, her wish came true. She visited her mother's sisters who had settled in the New York and New Jersey areas and eventually made her way to Pittsburgh, where she settled.

When I spoke to her this morning, she said that some of her Mighty Oak Barrel regulars already have made their way to her new place.

"You look a little tired," one of them said to her. Ms. Trainor acknowledged she's put in long hours and tons of work to get the place ready.

The customer noted: "But you've got that sparkle back."
BlueNorth2


Blue North menu

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Apteka European restaurant getting real

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Openings

04032015PierogieNight

Got a nice email earlier this week from Tomasz Skowronski, who, with his girlfriend, Kate Lasky, put on the regular Pierogi Night pop-up dinners at the Stephen Foster Community Center in Lawrenceville.

They're hosting what looks to be their biggest from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. this Saturday, Pierogi Night vs. Banh Mi. The vegan buffet of Eastern European dumplings and Vietnamese sandwiches is $10 and you can take away a meal for $10, too.

Meanwhile, just this morning, the couple launched a Kickstarter.com crowd-funding campaign for their long-planned brick-and-mortar restaurant and bar, Apteka.

Mr. Skowronski reported Wednesday that "we just signed a lease today on a space." He got the keys that morning to the building at 4606 Penn Ave., which he described as "kind of in the no-man's land between Bloomfield and Lawrenceville, right across from the Allegheny Cemetery."

He predicted the restaurant -- its name is Polish for pharmacy and one that you see all over Eastern Europe -- could open by early this fall. They're looking to raise $40,000 by May 3. "We're going to be focusing on Central and Eastern European food." You can learn more about it in the Kickstarter pitch. 

He shared more details from a blurb for their newly updated website:

Apteka is a new restaurant springing from our Lawrenceville pop-up event, Pierogi Night.  About every month for the last four years, we've hosted an event where we make pierogi paired with a guest food. At every event we explore different regional dishes, often favorite street foods from around the world.  We research and experiment with these dishes to seek ways in which we can reproduce them in a way that's true to their original design but innovated with different ingredients and techniques to create new and interesting food. In the spirit of this pop-up, Apteka aims to go back to the start and examine and innovate upon the food that inspired us from the beginning.

The Rust Belt has deep roots in Eastern and Central Europe.  We aim to celebrate and color in those ties, as well as add to this relationship a better understanding of the food and aesthetics of these countries. Apteka will be an unique space that examines the food from this region through a modern perspective and a global pallete to provide an eatery that’s as much a product of Pittsburgh’s past as it is its future.

The restaurant will deliver a menu that's made completely in house, uniquely centered around vegetables and representing a more comprehensive Eastern European cuisine of dishes that focus on fresh produce, mushrooms, pickles, heavy breads, soups, and pastries, making the menu ideal for vegans and vegetarians. The bar and space will be simple but curated, starring a lineup of unique Eastern European staples but served alongside mixed drinks that we've all grown to expect. In this spirit, Apteka aims to keep the food & drinks affordable to provide a space with a dark but cozy atmosphere that's as much staple for dinner as it is a space for gathering. We hope to see you soon!

The menu specifics won't be announced until closer to opening, but they elaborated a little: 

"The restaurant will be vegan like Pierogi Night, and cooking this way has encouraged us to highlight interesting ingredients. With Tomasz going back to Poland every year to visit family, and the time we've spent traveling around the region, we've gotten to love a lot of foods that remain rare and a little exotic here. We cook with a lot of different kaszas, foraged mushrooms and fruit; we bake hearty and dense breads; we smoke and pickle a lot of produce. As much as our menu will have our take on favorite staples, we plan on having some interesting new dishes that rely on certain ingredients we think are really special and represent areas of this region but aren't what you'd see in a cookbook."

They planned to dole out further details of this stage of their dream in coming days.

But first, they have a bunch of pierogies to cook and serve, with banh mi. 

Here's a photo the couple posted to Facebook in announcing the news, showing them before and after signing the lease.

04032015apteka

Pierogi Night graphic at top

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Chef Roger Li leaves Tamari to start his own restaurant

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

Tamari-restaurant
Roger Li, the chef who has been with Tamari in Lawrenceville since the day it opened, has left to take on a new project. His last day was March 15.

His plan is to open a Japanese izakaya called Umami that will feature, "traditional Japanese dishes using modern techniques and local ingredients. Every dish will have umami flavors," he said.

Umami will have a sushi bar and a robota grill. He'll also serve ramen, housemade tofu, gyoza (Japanese dumplings) and other Japanese street food. His drink menu will include sake, cocktails and Japanese whisky.

He's waiting until the sale goes through before announcing the address in Lawrenceville. Should all go as planned, he is hoping to open late summer.

In the meantime, Tamari owner Allen Chen says they are planning to celebrate the restaurant's sixth anniversary at the end of June.

Bill Wade/Post-Gazette photo of skewers from Tamari

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