Chef shuffle at Up Modern Kitchen

Written by Melissa McCart on

upmodernkitchenEric Wallace, former executive chef of Casbah in Shadyside and Lidia's in the Strip District has taken the helm at Up Modern Kitchen.

Mr. Wallace had been slated to be executive chef at Consol Energy Center. With the NHL lockout, he decided to change course.

The restaurant formerly known as Walnut Grill in Shadyside changed names and concept this spring with Ron Deluca as executive chef. 

"Ron is great, but he wasn't the right fit," said restaurateur Gregg Caliguiri.

"We wanted to transform Walnut Grill to something special for the neighborhood," Mr. Caliguiri said.

"Pittsburgh is becoming a foodie city, with restaurants like Spoon, Toast!, Avenue B and Salt of the Earth. But we did not have something right on Walnut Street."

Mr. Wallace has been trying out a Monday night menu with such dishes as haluski layered with duck fat and bacon paired with "city chicken," which actually is pork loin breaded, fried and served on a stick. 

This week, Mr. Wallace will serve picnic chicken (not a euphemism) to the music of Good Brother Earl. The side is to be determined.

Best thing about Monday nights? The food is free.

Also new for Up Modern Kitchen is a late-night menu on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.  and Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

For after hours, there's beef jerky, "wrapped in butcher paper and served like a baton," said Mr. Caligiuri.
Warm olives arrive a Mason jar. A crispy mozzarella sandwich, minus crust, is breaded and deep-fried. 

"Eric's not going to be your doctor," said Mr. Caliguiri. "I can tell you that."

Check out the new menu here.

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