First look: Open Bottle Bistro

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

openbottle1Open Bottle Bistro is shaping up as an interesting neighborhood place. With a compelling wine list, a cozy dining room and a charming outdoor patio, it's likely to pull patrons from outside the neighborhood, too.

The restaurant opened for lunch and dinner service two weeks ago. It's the second spot from Dave DeSimone, wine writer and KQV radio host. His first restaurant, Bridge Ten Brasserie, closed in February.

I went for lunch and was pleased by the initial experience and the service in particular. Speaking of service, at night, expect to see behind the bar John White, the charismatic, single-malt-scotch expert. 

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With a covered section and a koi pond, the patio is available even though it's a work in progress.

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Simply prepared in a red wine mushroom sauce, the sweetbreads ($15) were quite tender. 

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The current list for white wines by the glass.

Melissa McCart photos



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Skinny Pete's, AJ's Inca Peruvian have closed

Written by Melissa McCart on . Closings

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Open just more than a year, Skinny Pete's Kitchen in Avalon has closed. Though the menu did not specialize in lean cuisine, "This is a bright little spot, with a stick-figure logo," wrote Post-Gazette's Munch. "It features a full breakfast menu; salads, sandwiches, pizzas and flatbreads for lunch; and beginning this week, they're making a soft entry into dinner features, and you can BYOB."

AJ's Inca Peruvian, Downtown, also has closed. The restaurant opened on Liberty Avenue in December 2012, with a menu of Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken and Peruvian entrees, sides, desserts and juices.

Gretchen McKay photo

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What's dishing on the blogs: Easter recipes

Written by Dana Cizmas on . Shared Plates

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With Easter fast approaching, your kitchen will be filled with sweet and savory goodness that will rock the house this holiday! Here's what's dishing on the blogs we follow:

The Brown Eyed Baker created a festive Chocolate-Covered Banana Cake with Strawberries and Cream Cheese Frosting. Jessica from How Sweet It Is whipped up Chewy Pistachio Macaroon Granola Bars. Sincerely Caroline baked super cute Lemon Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches whereas iheartpgh pointed out via Huffington Post that Prantl's Burnt Almond Torte is the best cake in America!

Let's continue with the savory menu! Linda from Dinner Plan-it prepared tasty Garlicky Spinach, Feta, Tomato & Eggplant Stuffed Baby Eggplants. Katy made flavorful Haluski with Bacon in her BakingDomesticityandAllThingsMini kitchen. Yum Yum cooked wonderful Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce, while Liz from Stiller Snacks opted for easy Honey Mustard Glazed Jack Ham, and Dan from Pizza Walk with Me crafted his own pizza.

Finally, Chew me! ventured out to Oakmont Bakery for some doughnuts, D&T: in the burgh tried out Emporio for some meatballs, and the girls from eatPGH checked out Sacred Heart for more fish fry.

Happy Easter and see you here next week!

Brown Eyed Baker photo

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PaPa J's will auction off memorabilia

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

papajmapPaPa J's Centro at 212 Blvd. of the Allies, Downtown, will auction off everything in the restaurant starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 3.

That includes Madame Dolly Cavanaugh's headboard behind the bar and the bar itself.

Lore states that a false ceiling in her bed chamber yielded a black book of power-broker clients who didn't come there for food or drink.

Papa J's closing was prompted by a gas leak in the building Nov. 11 during the Veterans Day parade. Following the leak, the city revoked the restaurant's occupancy permit.

"We don't have a bathroom on the first floor and it's not handicap-accessible," owner Michael Troiani said. "We could remodel to comply, but the restaurant would not be able to maintain the identity it has now."

Mr. Troiani and his siblings inherited the building constructed in 1862 that was allegedly a stop on the Underground Railroad, followed by a second life as a brothel until 1937.

Then it was a boarding house until 1979, after which it was Tramps Restaurant, which became PaPa J's Centro in December 1994.

Mr. Troiani said he plans to keep the building. "But it's not going to be a restaurant again."

As much a part of the restaurant's identity as the memorabilia, veteran bartender for 18 years Frank Wazny has since moved from the Downtown location to Carnegie.

"I really like Carnegie," he said. "But I miss my Downtown people."

Google Maps photo

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World Beer Cup honors local brew

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on . Beer

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I had to scan the list of winners in this year's World Beer Cup competition, which was held this past week in Denver.

I was a bit surprised to see just one Western Pennsylvania brewery on the list: Export, Westmoreland County's, Rivertowne Brewing Co., which won a silver medal for its Maxwell's Scottish Ale (as in brewer Andrew Maxwell).

Just over the Ohio border, Fat Head's Brewery won a silver in the hotly contested American-Style India Pale Ale category with its Head Hunter and a silver for Imperial Red Ale with its Bonehead.

Here's the full list of winners.

Rivertowne photo

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San Lorenzo now open in Lawrenceville

Written by Melissa McCart on . The Forks blog

sanlorenzoSan Lorenzo Ristorante, a 44-seat Italian restaurant from the owners of Cafe Vita in Oakmont, has opened at 4407 Butler St. in Lawrenceville.

The BYOB restaurant offers a menu of arancini, artichokes Romano, greens and beans, beet and goat cheese salad for the first course. Pastas include linguini carbonara, puttanesca and gnocchi, all priced at less than $20. Entrees such as braciole, ribeye steak and scallops range between $20 and $28.

"This is the first restaurant we have opened from scratch," said co-owner David Ariondo.

It joins Piccolo Forno and Matteo's among sit-down Italian eateries on Butler Street.

Melissa McCart photo


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