Gi-Jin sets an opening date
Almost four years after Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group announced its intention to open Gi-Jin in the space adjacent to Tako and Butcher and the Rye, its owners have set an opening date: April 6th. “It’s such a small room and we wanted it to be really special. I think we found the key elements to drive this vision forward, ”says Casey Henderlong, RDRG Director of Events and Public Relations.
Long-time RDRG chefs Ryan Hart and Michael Taylor, previously Umami and Eleven Contemporary Kitchen, run the kitchen and are closely aligned with Chef / co-owner Richard Deshantz’s original vision of an intimate restaurant with a menu that focuses on raw fish, and a bar program that highlights gin. “At the moment we are optimizing the ingredients. What kind of rice do we use? What kind of soy sauce do we use? What kind of vinegar do we use? We try a lot of things, ”says Taylor.
The duo’s opening menu includes hand rolls, nigiri, sashimi, and ceviche, as well as a handful of cooked dishes like miso soup and spicy rice cakes. Be sure to expand the menu as the two chefs settle down. Taylor says he and Hart will always have a core set of fish available, like salmon, tuna, and hamachi, but he also plans to bring fish that are usually hard to find in Pittsburgh restaurants. “We’ll play a little with the ingredients and techniques if we keep going,” he says.
Gi-Jin offers three two-hour blocks of seats with a maximum of four people per table from Tuesday to Saturday. The 20-seat restaurant requires reservations through the gi-jin website or OpenTable.
208 6th St., Downtown, gi-jin.com, 412 / 325-7007
Brothmonger to the mayfly market
Sarah McAlee founded her soup business Brothmonger in 2018. Since then, she has expanded her Instagram to include more than 5,500 starving fans (include me) craving her diverse repertoire, which includes offerings like white beans and broccolini, turkey dumplings, and black bean soups. When McAlee, a funeral director by day, posted her menu on Instagram, they were sold out in minutes.
“My love for soup was passed on from my mother. But I’ve always been a natural caretaker, so I think it’s a matter of course for me to feed people soup, ”she says.
McAlee produced their soups in their house. She knew she needed more space to keep up with demand, and received the inducement when the Allegheny County Health Department ordered her to stop manufacturing at home – the county’s food control laws pose a significant amount of hurdles for them run a small business like McAlee from non-commercial kitchens.
Fortunately, McAlee had a fan in Ann Gilligan, the owner of the great mayfly market on Arch Street on the north side, who suggested McAlee make soup at her market and sell it. McAlee plans to continue making two soup permutations, now twice a week instead of once, and these will be available fresh and frozen at Mayfly. Next comes spring green minestrone and kielbasa and cabbage. McAlee says she will continue to take special batch orders through Instagram and plans to offer popups from time to time as well. “The fact that I can stay on the north side on this occasion is huge. I feel very loyal and proud of this neighborhood, ”she says.
Mayfly Market: 1327 Arch St., North Side; 412 / 322-1300, mayflypgh.com
Expand Con Alma“After two months, we knew we might have to expand,” says Josh Ross, chef and co-owner of Con Alma.
It happens two years later. Ross and partners Aimee Marshall and John Shannon are preparing to open a second Con Alma downtown location in the former Peter Allen room.
Learn more about what makes Con Alma exciting – but bigger – when the second location opens this spring. Shannon, the music curator, will continue to book Pittsburgh’s top jazz artists and use a larger stage (16 feet by 7 feet) to record combos that won’t fit on the cozy Shadyside stage. According to COVID-19 public health measures, guests can expect live music until 2am on some evenings. Ross says he expects to add more global offerings, including a wok station, to his downtown menu. But pan-Latin American dishes such as ropa vieja, arroz con pollo and ceviche will also be part of the mix. Marshall says Con Alma’s classic and seasonal cocktails will be a focal point at the bar, and with a larger dining area, “this is an opportunity for people to see us as destinations for great wine, too.”
Camden Leeds by 1412 Design manages the building, which will have the same high quality acoustic tiles as the Shadyside site. From the day it opened I loved the jazz bar and speakeasy style restaurant. It’s one of the liveliest places in Pittsburgh. We named the intimate Shadyside establishment as the best new bar in Pittsburgh’s newest feature, Best Bars in Pittsburgh.
Ross says downtown Con Alma could open as early as May 1, but that’s pending as there are delays in building and licensing the liquor license.
African cuisineTwo weeks ago I reported on African Cuisine, the new Squirrel Hill restaurant from Saudat Lawal and her family. Lawal is from Ibadan, Nigeria. To the best of my knowledge, she runs the first restaurant in Pittsburgh that focuses on the cuisine of her home country. I’ve had their meal twice and among the dishes I’ve tried are fish pepper soup, jollof rice, bagna and nkwobi that stand out. Please read my first look for more details.
2032 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412 / 307-0295, africaneatscuisine.com
The Night Life Line
Despite some glimmers of hope on the horizon, the financial situation for many Pittsburgh hotel workers remains grim. To this end, the Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Mutual Aid and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Independent Venue Association, along with the Pennsylvania Restaurant Opportunities Center, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild, and Pennsylvania State Representative Sara Innamorato, The Night Life organized line. Managed by the Giving Back Fund, the fund provides $ 500 grants to nightlife workers in the Pittsburgh area, including servers, hosts, bartenders, chefs, stagehands, artists, and more. The nonprofit kicked off earlier this week and intended to raise $ 250,000 for artists – grant applications that opened on March 31st.