If you read my cover story in the February issue about the region’s distinctive pizza styles, you will know how much I love pizza and the people who make it. If you haven’t already, read it. Step into Doughbar, which opened in late March. Matt Porco’s recent contribution to the Pittsburgh restaurant landscape appears to be an outstanding addition to the new wave of pizza destinations in Pittsburgh. Porco, co-owner of Sienna Mercado (and previously Sienna on the Square and Mio), has a track record of pairing popular hangouts with tasty things, and it looks like he’s continuing that run at Doughbar.
The New York style cake is impressive and something I will definitely be craving for. It’s not quite what I would call New York style, but sitting in the great tradition of American bar pizza – a type of medium-heavy cake meant to be eaten with friends chatting over a beer or lemonade. Bar pizza is often generic in the process and just okay to eat, but when it shines, it shines … and Porco’s, cooked in an electric Cuppone oven, has an extra crispy crust, hot sauce, and plenty of cheese that is just right correct is notes. Haven’t tried the other style offering, a 48 hour fermented pan pizza, yet. Given how much I liked the first one, I’m pretty excited to come back and delve into it.
Porco runs the restaurant with longtime colleagues Chris Clark and Donnie Amman. In addition to the pizzas, the Doughbar offers a roast chicken with crispy skin and juicy meat. I would recommend the homemade hot sauce, sweet and flavorful with a warm finish to go with. There’s spacious seating, an energetic atmosphere, and colorful, themed murals by Shane Pilster and Max Gonzales. All in all, my first impression of Doughbar is that it’s a space that strikes a balance between addressing the now returning South Side fun crowd and a place you’d be comfortable with if you wanted some excellent pizza. crispy, juicy chicken; and a good slope.
1831 E Carson St., south side; 412 / 910-9100, teigbarpgh.com
Gluten-free goat relaunchGood news for people who need or want to eat alternative baked goods – Gluten Free Goat is back. The original owner, Jeanette Harris, started Gluten Free Goat as a wholesale business focusing on gluten-free baked goods in 2015 and opened a brick and mortar café in Garfield in 2017. Harris built the brand into Pittsburgh’s premier gluten-free option in late 2019, but closed the store front to focus on its wholesale business. Earlier this year, Harris sold the rest of the Gluten Free Goat brand. It will now be relaunched on Friday under new ownership with Selina Progar, formerly Executive Pastry Chef from Altius, as head baker. “Our initial goal is to make a range of baked goods that will be an artisanal baked good for people with dietary restrictions,” says Progar. “But we really want to produce something so good that everyone will want to eat it, no matter how they eat.”
Progar’s initial menu includes cookies, donuts, baguettes, cinnamon rolls, muffins, pretzels, and focaccia. Everything is gluten, soy, and peanut free, and many products will be vegan too. Initially, gluten-free goat products will be available at Adda’s three locations, Mediterra Bakehouse and The Speckled Egg, as well as direct sales to consumers through the gluten-free goat website. Orders can be picked up at Adda Bazaar or delivered on site. Look for regional wholesale accounts to expand after launch. The long-term vision is to offer a comprehensive digital business that serves as a hub for eaters with dietary restrictions and an expanded line of gluten-free goat products includes a curated list of the best products from across the country.
Claussen CafeThe 4600 block of Liberty Avenue has slowly grown into Bloomfield’s row of restaurants. Bitter Ends Luncheonette, Tessaro, Linea Verde Green Market, Lot 17, Thai Cuisine, Caliente Pizza and Draft House, Sausalito, Linea Verde Green Market and Merante Gifts have all the good things to eat. (There are a number of other restaurants nearby as well). Claussen Cafehaus is the newest food-focused restaurant that participates in the block’s culinary carnival. Connor Claussen, co-owner of Axels Brezeln, opened the fast-casual restaurant last month and is a good place for a pick-me-up at lunchtime. Soft pretzels, which are baked daily, are the focus of the menu. Claussens have the chewy, malty, salty exterior and fluffy interior that make this pretzel style a treat. I’m thrilled that Claussen is using organic whole wheat from Frankferd Farms instead of diving into the industrial supply chain. A small selection of sandwiches rounds off the menu – on my first visit I enjoyed the layered flavors of curry cauliflower, rocket, homemade hummus, sunflower seeds, pickled onions and plant butter on Veg Out. The Claussen Cafehaus also offers a selection of coffee and tea drinks.
4615 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; 412 / 910-0528, claussencafehaus.com
In other news
Farmer x Baker is now open for the season at Aspinwall Riverfront Park. I was there on Saturday and really enjoyed the feel-good burrito for breakfast. The line was a bit long so be ready to wait; Owner Jennifer Urich says she has hired more staff and expects the waiting time to decrease dramatically as the crew adjusts for the season.
I watched the long awaited opening of Gi-Jin last month. I had my first meal there last week and enjoyed Ryan Hart and Michael Taylor’s opening menu; Toro Nigiri, Beef Tataki and Tempura Avocado Open Handroll were among the highlights for me and don’t overlook the dessert menu, especially the silk chocolate cake. The drinks menu and the overall energy of the place are also on point. Here’s the bad news: Gi-Jin is currently fully booked through the end of June, with low reservation availability following.