Acclaimed Chicago-chef-turned-Pittsburgh-transplant Scott Walton will open Acorn, a 60-seat restaurant with a full bar and a rustic New American menu, later this summer at 5528 Walnut St. in the former home of Thai Place.
Mr. Walton studied at the Joliet College of Culinary Arts in Illinois and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. In Chicago he worked at the prestigious Olympia Fields Country Club, opened the uber-popular Markethouse and Howells & Hood restaurants.
He moved to Pittsburgh three years ago, after his wife, a North Allegheny graduate, took an executive position here with FedEx. Mr. Walton initially explored opening a restaurant on the South Side, but that never came to fruition. Instead, he took a job as the executive chef at Heinz Field, overseeing the day-to-day operations, purchasing and menu planning for the luxury suites and major functions at the stadium.
“This is the place we wanted to plant our seed,” Mr. Walton said of Shadyside and the restaurant’s name.
More restaurant news
• Morcilla, the nationally acclaimed Lawrenceville restaurant, will begin a much-anticipated brunch service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Details are available on its website: morcillapittsburgh.com/daytime-menu.
• Lidia’s in the Strip District welcomes new executive chef Daniel Walker. The Kansas City native was a former sous chef at Lidia’s Kansas City and at Lidia’s flagship New York City restaurant, Felidia’s, where he worked alongside Lidia Bastianich herself.
• Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant is conducting an anonymous online survey to gather data about how consumers make decisions on where to dine: surveymonkey.com/r/JY2ZZHR. Founded in July 2015, Sustainable Pittsburgh Restaurant program focuses on a restaurant’s social equity, economic and environmental impacts. Restaurants are certified following an initial assessment of 149 sustainable actions across seven broad areas of focus: general, waste reduction, water conservation, energy efficiency, people, responsible sourcing, and nutrition. More information: www.sustainablepghrestaurants.org.
• Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley will host its first Muddled + Mixed spring fundraiser from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday. The event will feature cocktails by Nicole Battle of tako and DiAnoia’s Eatery, Amanda Schaffner of The Butterjoint & Legume, Collin McNamee of Soba, Michael Mincin of Allora Wine Group as well as cocktail making demonstrations by Rob Ricci of Boyd & Blair Vodka and small bites from Soba, DiAnoia’s Eatery and Mezza Luna Cafe. Tickets $45 at the door. Information: http://www.sweetwaterartcenter.org/muddled-mixed.
• It is perhaps the ultimate symbol of La Dolce Vita, and once again Pittsburgh bartenders will celebrate the Italian classic during the fifth annual Negroni Week from Monday through June 11 to raise money for various charities. The Pittsburgh chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild will host a kickoff event from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday at Smallman Galley in the Strip District. The event is open to the public. Guests making a $5 donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will receive a drink ticket for Smallman’s specialty negroni, the “You’re Killing Me Smallman,” inspired by the movie “The Sandlot.” The new class of Smallman Galley chefs will have food available to purchase, and there will be a cash bar for the event.
• Moving from one Italian liqueur to another, Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh will host the first local Festa di Limoncello (Limoncello Festival) from 1 to 4 p.m., June 17 at its Downtown restaurant. The celebration of the citrus-y Sorrentine digestif will feature house-made limoncello (bottled on site), handcrafted limoncello cocktails, small plates of authentic Italian fare from the Vallozzi kitchen, citrus-y sweets, breezy Amalfi coast-inspired décor, and world music provided by local DJs. Tickets are $65 in advance via showclix.com limited to 100 guests. Tickets may be available at the door in limited quantities for $75. Availability of door sales will be announced on Vallozzi’s social media pages and the Festa Di Limoncello Facebook event page.
• Amanda Wright, head chocolatier and co-founder of A519 Chocolate in Millvale, will pair up withBarsotti Wines of the Strip District to exhibit six pairings of chocolate with wines from around the world at 6 p.m. June 12 at Barsotti Wines location at 2828 Smallman St. (rear, enter on Mulberry Way). Tickets are $30 per person; RSVP to email@example.com.
9. Festa di Limoncello at Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh: June 17, 1-4 p.m.
Sip Italy’s second most popular liqueur, picture yourself lounging along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast and kick off the season of al fresco drinking and dining at Festa di Limoncello. The first-of-its-kind festival is bringing the mouth-watering flavors of Southern Italy to Downtown where Vallozzi’s will showcase delectable house-made liqueurs and small plates. Traditionally created from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, the century-old old liqueur is served chilled, often an after-dinner digestivo. The result is an irresistible combo of lemon zest, water, alcohol and sugar that’s refreshing anytime. In addition to classic limoncello, the restaurant will also serve grapefruit, strawberry and orange varieties, including authentic recipes passed down to owner Julian Vallozzi. Celebrate all things citrus as you enjoy tastings and pairings, take beach chic photo opps and tap your sandaled toes to world music. Helping to create the breezy vibe will be lush garlands and an open-air lounge lined with Amalfi’s signature striped beach umbrellas. Buy tickets.
Today, Eater returns to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to focus on nine newish restaurants that have been garnering some serious buzz. Back in 2015, Eater’s restaurant editor Bill Addison asked whether Pittsburgh was the country’s next destination food town, noting that “the dining scene is still shaping a distinct identity, though the dynamism among its strongest players is tangible.”
Now, Pittsburgh Magazine associate editor and dining critic Hal B. Klein is here to offer up his picks on the hottest openings of the past 12 months. The city is loving elevated museum fare (the Café Carnegie), restaurants that embrace homey Italian cuisine (DiAnoia’s Eatery, Talia Cucina & Rosticceria), and the first solo venture from one of Pittsburgh’s star chefs (Derek Stevens’s Union Standard). Without further ado, and in geographic order, the Eater Heatmap to Pittsburgh:
3. TALIA CUCINA & ROSTICCERIA
Spit-roasted meats are the go-to at Talia, located on the ground floor of the historic Alcoa Building. Porchetta, leg of lamb, chicken, and more spin on the rotisserie, slow-cooked and basted in their own fats, while antipasti, pasta dishes, and entrees round out the menu. The broad, well-organized amari list is a nice (and, after eating all that meat, perhaps necessary) offering.
Owners of a popular fine dining restaurant are swapping the white tablecloth for a more casual concept at their newest venture.
Talia Cucina & Rosticceria, now open in the former Alcoa building at 425 Sixth Ave., downtown Pittsburgh, is the laid-back cousin of Vallozzi’s, the longstanding and well-loved Greensburg establishment.
“They’ve had the classic Vallozzi’s for the longest time,” says Talia executive chef Steve Lanzilotti. “This is their venture into something that’s not the norm, something that’s new, more contemporary. We want to have a nice, casual, fun vibe.”
In keeping with the focus on simplicity, Talia’s decor is understated, with high-backed booths, wood floors and dark walls. Lanzilotti says street artists will be commissioned to create pieces to display on the walls as a nod to Italy’s appreciation for such artwork.
Bar manager Scott DiBenedetto has created an approachable, fun program featuring Negroni and prosecco on tap as well as an extensive selection of amari, Italian herbal liqueurs. An array of easily assembled cocktails were created to pair well with menu items.
“With the complexity of the ingredients we are using in the drinks, a little bit goes a long way,” DiBenedetto says.
The business will also use the day to hold an evening fundraiser benefiting Planned Parenthood that will feature a brief bartending appearance by Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, his office confirmed to The Huffington Post.
Mahaney told HuffPost that it was the least he could do to give back to the women who, in his words, “get the short end of the stick from the day they’re born.”
“It’s just one day of the year,” he said. “We owe it to them to recognize the basic fact that they get 80 cents to the dollar.” Women are also more likely to be the victims of sex trafficking, he added. “It’s a really unfair world.”
He credited his female bar manager, Mandi Crosby, with inspiring him to take charge after she requested the day off so she could attend outside events.
“I thought there’s probably a lot of women out there who’d like to take the day off who can’t do so,” he said. “I thought my staff should not have to deal with any of that so if they want the day off they can have it.”
Crosby, who Mahaney said is one of seven women among the restaurant’s 11-person staff, applauded his decision.
“I think everyone I’ve talked to about it so far thinks it’s a really awesome idea, and super generous of the owner Don to really step forward and say this is how it always should be,” she told local station, WTAE.
In the ladies’ absence, Mahaney said that local wellness program, Farm to Table Pittsburgh, will provide male bartenders to cover the women’s shifts, as the fundraiser will take place in the restaurant’s bar area.
Those looking to get a drink from Pittsburgh’s mayor will get a chance between 8:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., a spokesperson told HuffPost.
“They’re a great organization that does a lot to offer general health and reproductive health services and they’re more or less under constant attack,” he told the paper.
While Mahaney says most of the public response has been positive, he acknowledged that there have been some critics on social media who accuse them of “reverse sexism” and have asked, “when’s men’s day off?” (International Men’s Day, for the record, is November 19.)
“People are entitled to their opinions,” he responded.