Welcome back to You Ask, We Answer, where we try to answer all of your Pittsburgh food-related queries! Have a question for us? Email [email protected], and we’ll do our best to help you out.
Q. Happy Birthday… to me! I need your help! My husband and I are trying to think of where to go for dinner on my birthday (on Sunday) and I am blanked on ideas! We go out a lot and I feel like I have been to all the top/ most favorite places pretty recently so where should I go? What have I not thought of? For reference, here is where I have already thought of (and been to recently) Morcilla, Tako, Butcher and the Rye, Umi, Or The Whale, Station, Dinette, DiAnoia’s. I want to be going to Cure (sad!) so where should I go?! – Sara
A. You definitely have been to some fantastic places recently, so cheers to that! Okay, let’s dig in. If you’re looking for something elevated and a little celebratory, I would suggest Poulet Bleu (it’s my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh right now, though they are sadly closed on Sundays, so you’d have to celebrate on a different day). Whitfield, Superior Motors, LeoGreta, Spork, Bar Marco, Fl. 2, Fish nor Fowl, and the Twisted Frenchman are all good, fancy-ish suggestions, depending on what kind of food you’re looking for.
Oh! And if you’re up for a drive, Cenacolo in North Huntingdon is outstanding. Dark horse contention is The Vandal, which has recently changed chefs and gone through a bit of a menu disruption. I haven’t tried it since the change, but I’m really interested in seeing what they’re doing now. I hope that this helped! Please let me know where you end up, and have a very happy birthday!
Q. Best dessert chefs Who are the best dessert chefs at the moment in Pittsburgh? – @schell_shock
A. I’m SO glad you asked! I have a thing for dessert chefs – they do so much work, and they don’t nearly get enough credit. There’s a few that I’m loving right now. First off, Dianne DeStefano, who runs the dessert program at Lorelei, the Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor, is insanely talented, and is churning out some of my favorite desserts in the city right now, like a Linzer Torte, and this amazing Belgian and sea salt chocolate chip cookie that you must try right now. I also went to a 412 Food Rescue benefit once where she was in charge of an ice cream sundae bar (with Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream), and she created so many delicious treats and toppings, like homemade marshmallow fluff and pecan brittle, that I wouldn’t stop talking about it all for days.
Casey Renee, the head pastry chef at the Whitfield at the Ace Hotel, is another standout, and creates really lovely, delicately-flavored desserts, and some of the most beau-ti-ful birthday cakes I’ve ever seen, along with wedding cakes that make me want to get re-married just so I can have one. The Whitfield’s dessert menu changes seasonally, but you can find treats like Whipped Butterscotch Cheesecake with apple butter and an oat cookie crust, and frozen Lemon Mousse, with toasted lemon meringue. She also has her own business, Confections, taking dessert orders from everyone.
Have you ever been to Sumi’s Cakery in Squirrel Hill? The very talented pastry chef Sumi Chun creates standout Korean pastries and desserts, and if you haven’t been, it should be on your list.
Finally, I’m mildly obsessed with following the Instagram account @kait_bakes from Pittsburgher Kait Wakefield. Her desserts are beautiful, and she shows her baking process and shares recipes in her stories. Follow her!
Q. Cheese, please. I’m trying to get my parents a good meat & cheese platter for a family party. Any recommendations? – Seth
A. Yes! I’d start in the Strip District. The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company and Stamoolis Brothers will have everything you need to put your own platter together – sometimes, they even have ready-made platters, or can make one for you. While you’re in the neighborhood, you can stop by Wholey’s for some ready-to-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce, an unexpected, but always welcome addition to a traditional meat-and-cheese spread. I also really love shopping at Chantal’s Cheese Shop in Bloomfield. They usually have baskets and platters ready-made, or someone to help you put one together
We also recently published a cheese guide with some other options for creating your own platter.
Thanks for the questions, everyone! If you have more, email us at [email protected]