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CP photo: Amanda Waltz
Con Alma location in Shadyside
Con Alma, the popular Shadyside jazz lounge and restaurant, has changed its menu and is entirely vegetarian on Ellsworth Avenue.
After the opening in 2019 with menu items such as ceviche, ropa vieja (braised and shredded ribs with rice and black beans) and the Cuban chicken dish Arroz Con Pollo, the decision to live completely vegetarian at this place comes as a surprise. but one that is not unwelcome.
“Con Alma means ‘with soul’, so I develop recipes based on traditional dishes that are mostly found in Latin America and that incorporate other influences from around the world – not fine dining, but dishes that grandmas would cook, homely and communal, but sublime, “says Con Alma-Koch Josh Ross.
The restaurant is known for presenting South American, Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. Dishes like pulpos al ajillo (Squid cooked in a deep red garlic sauce were on the old menu.
The downtown Con Alma location, which opened in July, will continue to serve meat and seafood dishes.
A Con Alma press release suggests that many jazz greats have stuck to a vegetarian diet for most or part of their lives, including Sun Ra, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, and Sonny Rollins.
“Being a vegetarian myself, owning a vegetarian restaurant has always been a goal, and having a jazz club that is also vegetarian is something very special and something I’m very proud of,” says Aimee Marshall , General Manager of Con Alma. “Combining my love of jazz, the vegetarian lifestyle and love of wine and cocktails has come together to create something that I would very much like to be a part of.”
The menu offer changes frequently. Currently, the new menu offers vegetarian versions of carnivorous favorites such as the palm heart ceviche or the tomato, wasabi and avocado tartare in the small plate department. Large plates include a West Indian chickpea curry, a Peruvian Bolognese with seitan, and a potato gnocchi.
That change would turn Con Alma into what they believe to be the only vegetarian jazz bar in the city of Pittsburgh, and perhaps even the country. It helps differentiate it on the local food and music scene and on a national level. In May it was named one of the 27 Best Bars in America by Esquire, who said of the Shadyside spot, “If you want to instantly and inexplicably become the star of your own film noir, you are within ten feet of Con Alma.”
Con Alma employees say they are “enjoying the opportunity to bring soulful food from around the world to the palate of herbivores, reinventing beloved existing dishes and creating brand new ones.”
For updates and the full menu, visit conalmapgh.com.
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