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#51 DonRocks

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:55 PM

Congratulations both to the city of Pittsburgh, and also to our own MeMc who has become the new restaurant critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Find the kitchen bar at Salt Of The Earth if you haven't found it already. A wonderful all-around dining experience, with interesting dishes, rock-solid cooking (right before your very eyes), and, what I remember most of all, exceptional hospitality. Look at this level of attention to customer satisfaction - old-world manners in a very new-world restaurant.

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From: Don Rockwell <donrockwell@dcdining.com>
Subject: Re: "Come As You Are" Dress Code /
Date: July 3, 2012 1:37:15 AM EDT
To: Salt Of The Earth <hello@saltpgh.com>

Hi! I'm very interested in trying Salt of the Earth tomorrow night, but there are a couple reasons why it might not work:

1) Your website says "Come As You Are," but I'll be coming with my 15-year-old son from Cedar Point amusement park (and a 4-5 hour drive), and we'll look like a couple of decrepit rats. We won't have tank-tops or anything, but we'd definitely be in t-shirts, shorts, and athletic shoes. Obviously, you could stick us in a back corner of the downstairs bar area. Is this okay?

2) Also, your website says your kitchen is open until 11 PM. On a Monday night in summer during a heat wave, a lot of places will close early. Would it be safe to show up as late as 9 PM? We aren't looking for your restaurant's best effort; it would be more like "sustenance" at that point, but I would love to see your place because I've never been before, and since we'd be passing through, this is my one only chance.

And with this said ... there's probably only a 50-50 shot of us coming anyway because we'll be exhausted. Ah, the joys of working in the restaurant industry. :-)

I hope this letter finds you well (and obviously, if you reply, a simple "yes / no" or "yes / yes" (or whatever the answers are) is all that's necessary.

Kind regards,
Don Rockwell

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From: Salt Of The Earth <hello@saltpgh.com>
Subject: Re: "Come As You Are" Dress Code /
Date: July 2, 2012 3:27:37 PM EDT
To: Don Rockwell <donrockwell@dcdining.com>

Hello Don,

You're definitely welcome to dine with us after a Cedar Point car trip. We really mean it when we say feel free to come as you are to our restaurant.

Additionally, our kitchen is open until midnight Monday through Saturday. We take reservations until 10:45pm, and welcome people to join us in our walk-in seating as long a we're serving food. I would say 9pm is a fine time to come in.

Take care and have a fun trip with your son.

Best regards,
Amanda

Salt of the Earth
5523 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

www.saltpgh.com
(412) 441-7258

---

From: Don Rockwell <donrockwell@dcdining.com>
Subject: Re: "Come As You Are" Dress Code /
Date: July 3, 2012 1:37:15 AM EDT
To: Salt Of The Earth <hello@saltpgh.com>

Dear Amanda,

What a lovely response to my email.

We did, in fact make it in, and had a wonderful meal - we could not have been happier, and I don't know of a better meal that I've had in Pittsburgh.

Thank you SO MUCH for having taken the time to write, and please look for a little review on www.donrockwell.com - I love your restaurant, and have nothing but good things to say. May I have your permission to cut/paste your most thoughtful response to my email?

Kind regards,
Don Rockwell

---

From: Salt Of The Earth <hello@saltpgh.com>
Subject: Re: "Come As You Are" Dress Code /
Date: July 3, 2012 6:43:11 PM EDT
To: Don Rockwell <donrockwell@dcdining.com>

Hello Don,

We're glad you enjoyed your experience at our restaurant. I hope you and your son enjoyed the kitchen bar.

You are more than welcome to copy and paste our correspondence on your website.

Have a great holiday,
Amanda

Salt of the Earth
5523 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

www.saltpgh.com
(412) 441-7258

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#52 jayandstacey

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 10:18 AM

Spent a few days in Pittsburgh:

Church Brew Works - no smell! Last time I was there it was intense and as we approached this time my daughter whined...once inside, very nice. Maybe last time was during a certain stage of brewing, or the wind wasn't right, or something - glad I went again. The pierogie pizza is awesome - basically, pureed potato replaces the red sauce and cheddar replaces the mozzarella - delicious, with a nice chewy crust. The standard and special pierogies were also delicious. This is decent pub food with fresh beer at a reasonable price, plus a neat, cavernous place. I wonder how they heat/paint/repair the place without going bankrupt...yet they seem to do fine as this was my 3rd or 4th trip over about 12 years.

Salt of the Earth - we went early on a Monday night and we had the place virtully to ourselves, so we (with the kids) sat at the counter and chatted with the kitchen staff. The food was really interesting and well executed. The hanger steak is cooked sous vide and comes out more like filet mignon. The scallops were also very nice on a cool evening, with lots of kale and squash. For us, a special part was the kid's noodles with butter - what I assume were house made noodles that were really delicious and stood up well in such a simple preparation. The crab appetizer included fresh, chilled stringy crabmeat with some roe and crispy chicken skin (very crispy, like a pringles chip) and we also really enjoyed the turnip appetizer, almost a slaw, with its interesting flavors. The upstairs seating area is dramatic and would make a nice romantic dinner. Downstairs the communal seating is a bit more relaxed. The_Smiths on the sound system fits right in.

Primanti Brothers - seems you either love this place or throw up in it, or maybe both. For my first time, it was fine - an interesting sandwich at what seemed a fair price and with fresh ingredients. For $6.29, I thought it was a decent value and of a quality that exceeded my expectations a bit. But at $6.29 I did't have lofty expectations. So - it was fine and if I am near there again I might go again. Or, I might not. Just depends.

Lidia's - also in the Strip District, we stopped here for their Sunday family-style special. First, the place is on the large, even huge side and obviously a ton of money was spent on decor and infrastructure. Valet parking and a mini bookstore featuring Lidia's latests greet you as you enter. We (two adults, 12 yr old, 9 yr old) got the family style approach and it was just an avalanche of food. I guess Italian dining is supposed to be that way but we ended up with takeout that weighed...I dunno....about 4 pounds. I feel like we did something wrong. The prices were fair- $25 per adult, $9 or 10 per kid - it just seemed like SO much food. The mussels were excellent, though with 2 large bowls full it felt more like all-you-eat; I might have eaten 50 mussels. The chicken picatta was tangy and tender. The 3 other pasta dishes were decent, though I think the ravioli had been sitting awhile. My advice - order a la carte, share some dishes and order as you need. Otherwise, this is a place you can dress up a bit, take some friends and sit for some time. The service was excellent, the food pretty good (and plentiful) and the ambiance is really nice.

#53 Waitman

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 05:46 PM

Well, it seems I have little to add, since the consensus around Salt of the Earth -- apparently named after a Rolling Stones song :P  -- existed long before I stumbled in the other night, having been drawn by proximity and availability (Cure was booked) as much as the sterling and trusted recco's here.

 

But having nothing to add never stopped me.

 

I wandered into Salt late-ish with the boy and decided against the kitchen bar because why is watching a saute station fascinating?  And that shit is loud.  We switched over to the communal table with the other socialists, and I decided that  the woman who'd guided us looked decidedly familiar.  Unlike Don's kid,* mine favors designer neckties and designer cocktails and so I left him waiting for his unfortunate Scotch concoction and looking for a local girl who appreciated his gangster style and made my way back to the front to confirm that the manager was indeed better half to former DR Superstar John Wabeck, the esteemed Melissa Horst.  Melissa pretended to be glad to see me, which was heartening, and texted Wabeck who immediately texted her back not to tell me where he worked.

 

The food was quite tasty.  Tastier, in fact than some of the newer and better-reviewed spots here in DC, in a sort of pan-global, neo-American kind of way.**  Chestnut and celery soup tasted more, it seemed, of celery, but I liked it -- bright on the palate and stuff.  It's hard to fuck up beef cheeks with cavetelli, but Salt went one better than not fucking up, the rapini and pepper lifting it (them?) from comfortable to intriguing. The winner of the night was pork belly -- again, an easy winner, and again elevated by a deft touch, in this case, steaming the belly to the melting point and then sauteeing the outside until crisp.  You practically expected it to run liquid onto the plate like a ripe Epoisses after you cut through the crust.  The boy stopped checking out the girls until he was through.

 

The millionaires shortbread -- gilded with a little gold leaf left behind when the Mellon family fortune fled East Liberty for the suburbs -- tasted like a million bucks, stupid good with peanuts and chocolate and caramel atop the shortbread.

 

if there was a downside, it was a rather lame wine list, chalked on the wall and featuring pedestrian selections like Lohr Cabernet and Trapiche Malbec and such-like. 

 

So, put me on the SOTE bandwagon -- I left wishing that they'd move the whole operation a little closer to my house, where I'd be among the many to make it a regular stop.

 

And let's drive the bandwagon past the projects that also sprang up when the Mellon Family Fortune fled, in the general direction of the less menacing Whole Foods that sprang up more recently, and park in front of Spoon, where John Wabeck seems to have assembled a fine wine list despite the absurdity of Pennsylvania's liquor laws. Their kitchen was closed and we were too happy with what we'd already eaten to eat more but John  -- who, I was happy to see, seems immensely happy with life -- generously poured out a few glasses of Italian and Portuguese plonk.  No tasting notes, alas, but the selection was creative and tasty and I suggest that the Pittsburgh-bound consider exploring the list, and the food, at greater length. 

 

Primanti Brothers has a certain low rent charm, a great place for a breakfast beer before the Steeler's Game or a drunk munch anytime after.  It's hard not to like it but I'd have to be too drunk to drive to drive out of my way for it.  

 

And the Strip itself was surprisingly un-horrible -- you know how these redeveloping yuppie magnets can feel more like a "concept" than real life.  The Strip gets a little bit of everything in terms of customers and sellers (it seems) so you can buy organic, raw milk cheese and grass-fed onglet at the barely-relocated Pittsburgh Public Market and then bulk frozen wings and fries at the butcher shop a half block down (and then -- a breakfast beer, of course, and some hippie tiny donuts).  I wish I'd had more time.  I'll let you know about the cheese and onglet.

 

*Don, you do know you can just change in the amusement park parking lot, right? ;)   Hell, I once changed in a rest-stop restroom on the New Jersey en route to lunch at Jean-Georges.  Aside from the sound of a key in your mistress's front door, nothing much makes you dress faster than realizing you're in a Turnpike men's room stall wearing only socks and a pair of plaid boxers. (yeah, get THAT image out of your head, bitches!)  (Sorry, Breaking Bad marathon).

 

**Once we get past the inevitable "fresh, seasonal and local" drivel, what do we call the sort of cooking that these days pretty much defines any not-obviously-ethnic mid-to-up-scale place that does all those things that everybody does now: slices heirloom tomatoes in the summer, braises pork belly in winter, revels in root vegetables and pasta stuffed with corn and other oddities, serves kale 24/7/52, and appropriates techniques from whatever culinary culture seems appropriate at the moment?  If I was 65 (instead of a stripling of 54), I'd call it "Continental (except when they play with curry or raw fish) and if it was the 80s I'd say "New American." There was a lot of "Mediterranean" talk there for a while, because of pasta and arugula and cured pork, but then people rediscovered butter and the French and ladled those on top so, while it's often very good stuff, I'd say today's benchmark style lacks a shorthand name to slap on it. If anyone calls it "mindful," I will punch them.


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"Don't go braggin' about how cool and clean your kitchen is. 'Caus if your kitchen's so cool and clean, ain't nothin' cookin'!"

-- Jesse Jackson


#54 Waitman

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Posted 18 November 2013 - 06:01 PM

With her permission, the list former DR contributor and current P-G restaucritic Melissa McCart was kind enough to send me (thanks, Zora, for hooking us up):

 

For me the list goes: cure, legume or butterjoint, salt. Here is the more extensive version.

 

South Side

Dish Osteria or Stagioni on the South Side (prefer the scene at Dish)

Acacia for cocktails

 

PGH Pierogi Cart (follow hours on Twitter)

 

Oakland

Legume or Butterjoint (the bar is less expensive, serves til midnight.Don't

miss this place)

 

Lawrenceville

Cure for dinner

Allegheny Wine Mixer for drinks

 

Garfield

Salt of the Earth (also open late night, from 11-2. much less expensive, fun

scene)

 

Strip

Casa Reyna for surprisingly interesting Mexican food, homemade tortillas,

etc.

Penn Ave Fish Co. for lunch

Bar Marco drinks, brunch, dinner is hit and miss

Eleven for happy hour, brunch

Thin Man Sandwich Shop

 

East Liberty

Spoon (this is where Wabeck went, Missy) for dinner although it's a bit

conservative for me.

Notion -fancy dinner)

Dinette- pizza, lovely seasonal

 

Downtown

Butcher and the rye. Go for a drink.

 

Elsewhere

 

Root 174

E2 (BYO. Super charming, good not great food)

Park Brugges

I Tea Cafe for shabu shabu

Max's Allegheny Tavern (old school. Food is terrible. Good place for beer)

East End Brewing

Everyday Noodles soup dumplings.


"Don't go braggin' about how cool and clean your kitchen is. 'Caus if your kitchen's so cool and clean, ain't nothin' cookin'!"

-- Jesse Jackson


#55 SeanMike

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:59 PM

At Tender in Pittsburgh, I had the best burger I've had in longer than I can remember. For $7 on Mondays, you have your choice of several burgers. I got the blue burger - 1/3rd pound burger, cooked perfectly medium rare, with blue cheese, fried egg, onion jam, and balsamic aoli.

 

Also, great cocktails (bias: I have friends who work there and hooked me up while there) and a great atmosphere.

 


http://www.scofflawsden.com/
The Scofflaw's Den, Cocktails and Cigars
It just keeps going, and going, and going...
 


#56 Gerry Dawes

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 03:02 PM

Grandview Bakery and Sweet Shop, Vickie Pisowickz, owner.  Highly recommended on Mt. Washington


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#57 Shaho

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Posted 22 November 2014 - 06:04 PM

Salt of the Earth and Legume were the best restaurants I've been to in Pittsburgh. Had dinner twice at Salt, I can't really recall any specific dishes, but everything I tried there was delicious. I agree with Waitman it was on par with several popular DC restaurants, although I remember both times feeling portion sizes for the main courses were a bit small for their price. Sitting at the kitchen bar is definitely a worthwhile experience.

 

I only had lunch at Legume once, but it was a great lunch. The Summer Vegetarian Explosion is a steal at $12, with a salad, slice of quiche, soup, and a piece of grilled bread. The salad had a bit too much vinegar, the quiche was solid, but the bread paired with the soup was spectacular. I had a corn soup, and it was rich, complex, and extremely satisfying on a slightly chilly day. The bread was fresh off the grill, fluffy, and complemented the soup perfectly, both in terms of flavor and being able to use it to mop up every last drop. I finished off with a pair of fresh chocolate chip cookies for $3. 

 

IMG_20140916_123704.jpg

 

Point Brugge Cafe, Smiling Banana Leaf, and Noodlehead were all reliable places to grab a meal. Noodlehead in particular does a variety of Thai noodle dishes at $6-9 apiece, which are packed with flavor and heat if you ask for it, although my last visit there was a bit disappointing. The Porch was pretty tasty the one time I went, although it seemed to close down every so often with hygiene issues. If you're ever in the mood for Chinese near Pitt/CMU (not recommended), the best of the bunch was Little Asia.

 

There's a place called Teppanyaki Kyoto in Highland Park that makes traditional Japanese dishes in front of you at the kitchen bar, including their specialty Okonomiyaki, made with your choice of filling and optional soba noodles. This was the only Okonomiyaki I've had and I didn't particularly care for the combination of cabbage and mayonnaise, but the restaurant as whole seemed authentic and I enjoyed their other dishes.







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