After a summer of traveling, coming back to Pittsburgh has and continues to excite me. Yes, Asheville has amazing things going on in music and New York is on a pedestal, but its time to recognize that Pittsburgh is coming into its own across the board. This certainly is evident in the food scene with openings popping up all over town, many offering new/interesting additions to the market. That being said, there is still much room to grow in this arena. Here are a few of the types of places that I would love to see pop up in the city filling a hole in my heart for some of my favorite meals/experiences.
NEIGHBORHOOD WINE BAR. Not a bar that serves wine. Not a restaurant with a great wine list. A dedicated wine bar that begs for you to order the next glass, even though you should be getting home cause you have a 9am meeting. il Pizzaiolo's Enoteca in Mt. Lebanon is hands down my favorite place in the city for wine. Not because their wine is remarkable (though it is) but because with two people or 25, the place feels warm and good. Fingers crossed their soon to come Market Square location can pick up the same vibes and that others can corner this elusive feel. Pictured below is another one of my favorites (along with my DC partner in crime Abbie), called Room 11. Fantastic wine list, amazing small bites, intimate setting. Brilliant
BISTRO. People working on computers with a coffee, people drinking a beer with friends. Anything goes. There aren't too many places I can think of in the city where the vibe is relaxed and welcoming where you don't feel guilty for sitting for three hours with a newpaper or compt. We have our fill of coffeeshops and certainly bars but where is something in between that bridge the two? I would love a place where you feel no pressure to rush through your experience whether thats coffee or beer, with yummy food, that is open late. The self-employed coffee shop crowd with be banging down the doors! Think it won't work? Try and find a seat at Tryst in DC at any hour of the day!
SMALL SPACES. Bars. Restaurants. Any and all. NY's Lower East Side is great examples of places that thrive in this market segment. You are hard to pressed to find a place with more than 30 seats. And most aren't doing high end food and drinks; but rather focus on a fun, vibrant crowd. So if they can make it paying NYC rent and selling $5 beers and $15 dinners then Pittsburgh's cheap rents should absolutely be able to support this model.
Curated Options. Why not just have four REALLY good beers on tap and another few in bottles. Do you really need 40 handles? Same with food. Four snacks, four or five mains and call it a day. It lets you change it up and bring yummy seasonal foods in the door. The higher end places in town have certainly jumped on board with this, but who's to say it doesn't work with a sandwich shop or other casual places.
DESIGN. Menus, wall color, chairs, exterior, bathrooms, kitchens, plates, napkins, signage. All of it, more of it! Wow me!