Jon Barr, most recently Sous Chef at Acorn, is living his Jewish deli dreams on his new Haskel’s Deli food truck. Barr’s offers its take on the Lower East Side deli classics without straying too far from their origins. Pastrami sandwiches are at the heart of the humble menu. The tender meat is smokier and less coriander-heavy than, for example, at Katz’s Delicatessen or 2nd Ave. Deli. Barr says he is an influence on the smoked brisket that is a signature of Montreal’s Jewish deli, and it’s a pleasure to have in Pittsburgh. Barr makes a shoyu ramen tara for the base of his matzo ball soup; It is richer and sweeter than you would expect from a matzo ball soup. His matzo balls are sinkers, but even those of us who prefer the floater style will appreciate the taste and texture of his dumplings. The menu is rounded off with knishes, a seitan sandwich, stuffed cabbage, fried rice and coleslaw. And of course a selection from Dr. Brown’s lemonades. You can find the schedule on Instagram or on the Haskel’s Deli website.
Casey Renee confectionery
For the past 18 months, Casey Renee has been making her superb sweet treats in various locations around town. This week, the former Whitfield pastry chef, a two-time James Beard-honored semi-finalist and one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s 2016 Chefs, opened her own space in Wilkinsburg. Although she has long-term plans to expand into a retail operation, the ordering process remains the same for now – order Renee’s cakes, cookies, truffles and more online at least 48 hours in advance as everything is made to measure. Renee says that having a bigger, dedicated space gives her the freedom to be more creative. That’s why she plans to expand her range, which includes both standard items and seasonal specials. Cake parfaits, for example, are something she wants to delve deeper into. “I can make a composed dish, which I miss as a pastry chef. It gives me more space to work with fun seasonal things, ”she says.
Above the bar, Bicycle Cafe Hastings
The popular bar and restaurant Over The Bar now have a third iteration, this one in the South Hills. The Bridgevale location, which is roughly two years in development, joins owner Michael Kotyk’s original location on E. Carson Street (2009) and the North Park office (2011) as part of a small chain of bike-friendly – but real friendly customers all – meeting point. The spacious interior can accommodate approximately 200 guests at full capacity and there is plenty of space for al fresco dining which is the way to go for the moment. The OTB Hastings menu is similar to the other two locations. We have already praised OTB as one of the best hamburgers in Pittsburgh. So expect this to be a tie here too. The rest of the menu consists of a range of crowd pullers, from energy-building “healthy ride bowls” to wings and nachos. With Kotyk’s long history of offering a wide variety of beers on their premises, it’s no surprise that OTB Hastings is following suit with a mix of local and national breweries that will suit everyone from your Keep-it-Miller buddy to microbrew Will delight enthusiasts.
1595 Mayview Rd., Bridgevale; 412 / 319-7212, otbbicyclecafe.com/hastings
Allegro Hearth Bakery
Allegro Hearth Bakery is back in business after being closed for more than eight months. Owner Omar Abuhejleh, who also runs B52, temporarily closed his company in Squirrel Hill at the end of March for health reasons in connection with the then emerging COVID-19 crisis. In the meantime, he and his team have completely restructured the bakery’s recipes. The most important of these changes – the entire operation is now vegan. Abuhejleh says that while the recipes are ready, he’s still busy getting the rest of the business going. Expect limited working hours in the first few weeks. An updated website and online ordering system will be available in the near future.
2034 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412 / 422-5623, instagram.com/allegrohearthbakery