Piccolo Forno to open Grapparia

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

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Sometime next month, Piccolo Forno owner Domenic Branduzzi hopes to start the build out for Grapparia, a wine bar and grappa destination behind his Lawrenceville restaurant. 

"I wanted to have a space where my customers can hang out while they're waiting for a table," he said. Piccolo Forno will remain BYOB.

His landlord at Piccolo Forno suggested the space, in conjunction with the relocation of Jeffrey Smith Salon to Bryant Street in Highland Park.

The inspiration for the name, said Mr. Branduzzi, "is an inside thing with my dad. He wasn't much of a drinker, but he loved grappa." 

Originally from the Tuscany region, his father Antonio died in 2007. "When he still lived in Italy, he and his friends had a little shack where they'd get away to drink some."

Grappa is not for beginners. The fiery, clear booze is made from grape skins, seeds and pulp, remnants from wine making in the press. It often starts as a sipper and ends up a shot.

The late R.W. Apple, Jr. cited its use as "a form of central heating" by peasants in Northern Italy. "A shot in the breakfast espresso -- yielding a 'corretto' or corrected coffee -- got the motor started in the morning gloom." 

Mr. Branduzzi said he'll also serve wines by the glass and the bottle, amari, Italian-inspired cocktails and Italian microbrews. The 800-square-foot bar will seat 30 to 35 guests. 

He said he hopes to open before the year's end, but with buildouts and the permit process far from predictable, we'll have to wait and see. 

Speaking of waiting, Mr. Branduzzi said plans for ARDE on the North Side are on hold as the project developers "navigate issues with the city," he said. 

The wood fired oven at Piccolo Forno. Post-Gazette photo






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Cocktail bar to open in Squirrel Hill

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

CocktailrehabThere's a bar-in-progress from lawyers-turned-restaurant owners Peter and Matt Kurzweg, in a secret-ish location on Shady Avenue near The Independent Brewing Company.

The to-be-named bar will feature "innovative modern cocktails with respect to classics," says Lucky Munro, more widely known as Lucky the Painproof Man.

Mr. Munro has earned a reputation as a tiki-cocktail aficionado at Tiki Lounge on the South Side and has been making cocktails at The Independent once a week.

With low lighting, mutiple rooms and menus, the bar originally was scheduled to open by New Years Eve. The opening date has been pushed to early spring 2015. 

Creative Commons photo


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In Homestead, Dorothy Six will open mid-October

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

dorothy6Since April 2012, Olivia Crocker and Tom Kazar have been working on the Homestead building at 224 E. 8th Ave.

On Oct. 18, they'll officially open Dorothy Six Blast Furnace Cafe, named for Duquesne Steel Works furnace that residents fought to save from demolition. In the meantime, diners can book a reservation during the soft opening, Wednesday through Saturday nights through mid-October. 

"I knew what an amazing space it could be," said Ms. Crocker. The three-story building has a large kitchen that fans out on either side of the bar and a patio. The main floor is approximately 2,000 square feet, with floors from 1908.

The restaurant offers 20 craft beers on tap with a menu of reuben balls, stuffed cabbage, salmon croquettes, housemade pierogies and steaks cut to order. 

"I want to bring more light into a really cool neighborhood," Ms. Crocker said. "It's very much what Homestead deserves."

Dorothy 6 Blast Furnace Cafe Facebook

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An update on fall restaurant openings

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

mezzoMezzo is scheduled to open on Monday, confirms general manager Chris Clark. The middle floor of Sienna Mercato will offer a menu of wood-fired pizza, charcuterie and cheeses, pasta and entrees. And, like Emporio and Il Tetto, the restaurant has been designed with outdoor access in mind, with garage doors that open to Penn Avenue. 

Asiatique Thai Bistro is seeing construction delays, says owner Ling Robinson, with a projected opening at Bakery Square pushed to early October. The restaurant from the owners of The Green Mango will feature a small menu of healthy, reasonably-priced fare and BYOB. It seats 48, with limited outdoor seating.

The Commoner in the newly-built Kimpton Hotel Monaco at 435 Sixth Ave., Downtown, will open in the winter with a wood-fired oven as the centerpiece of an exhibition kitchen. The menu will feature flatbreads, roasted fish and seasonal vegetables. Also expect classics such as beef tartare and grass-fed burgers topped with a drib of onion soup and gruyere as well as dishes such as roasted cauliflower with sage and walnut pesto. The 16-seat beer-focused bar will display 20 taps for local brews, plus wine and cocktails. Stay tuned for pop-up dinners with executive chef Dennis Marron, above, in the meantime. 

Other fall openings include Tako in November. It's the two-story tequila-fueled taqueria from Tolga Sevdik and Rick DeShantz, next door to Butcher and the Rye Downtown. Smoke BBQ Taqueria in Lawrenceville also is coming along as the space continues to come together. 

Mezzo logo

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Carmella's Plates & Pints drafts Austin chef

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

CarmellasCarmella Salem has been celebrating the one-year anniversary of her Carmella's Plates & Pints on the South Side. Meanwhile, she's been building a kitchen so the place can offer a full menu by mid-October. 

Through a serendipitous turn of events, she has drafted David Murphy, a former sous chef of Uchi in Austin to move to Pittsburgh to run the kitchen. The restaurant's chef owner Tyler Cole won "Best Chef: Southwest" for the 2011 James Beard awards. 

She met Mr. Murphy through his brother who lives in town. After a series of interviews over several months, she offered him the position and he arrived in June. As construction winds down, he has been developing the menu, which he'll tweak in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates here and on Carmella's Facebook page. 

Carmella's logo

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Russian restaurant, Diyor Cafe, now open Downtown

Written by Melissa McCart on . Openings

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Diyor Cafe & Lounge (14 Smithfield Street) opened Downtown last month, a Russian restaurant with an interesting bar and tapestry-covered tables and walls. It's owned by Oybek Babajanov who started Diyor Pizza that had been in the Parkway Center Mall, now closed.

He's one of three cooks who offer plov ($9), samsa pastries ($2.75 each), manti ($7.99), and delicious khonim ($9) among other dishes. 

Here's the menu and the interior, below. 

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Melissa McCart photos

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