Pittsburgh food in 2018: The year’s biggest openings and closings

Rossilynne Culgan

Published December 22, 2018


Pittsburgh welcomed dozens of new restaurants this year, from bars to pizza joints to fine dining spots, some which established themselves so quickly it’s hard to believe they’re less than a year old.

But it also lost several iconic establishments, including a classic college bar and a Downtown destination.



🍴 Carmi

Billing itself as “the best soul food in Pittsburgh,” this restaurant moved its longtime operation to the South Side this year.

🧀 Chantal’s Specialty Cheese Shop

A dream: Fresh-cut cheeses, savory charcuterie, artfully arranged cheese plates, and paninis in Bloomfield.

🥘 Choolaah Indian BBQ

This quick-serve Indian BBQ brought drool-worthy tikka masala and pillowy naan to Shadyside (on the East Liberty border).

🍔 Coughlin’s Law Kitchen and Ale House

This casual pub atop Mount Washington boasts an extensive beer list and a solid menu, and it drew crowds basically immediately.

🍕 Driftwood Oven

After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the roving pizza shop Driftwood Oven established roots in Lawrenceville along Butler Street where it cranks out sourdough pizzas.

🐟 Fish Nor Fowl

Restauranteur Richard DeShantz had a busy year, launching two highly anticipated restaurants, Fish Nor Fowl and Poulet Bleu. Fish Nor Fowl, located in the Salt of the Earth spot in Garfield, describes itself as “an American restaurant that celebrates an evolved perspective on thoughtful usage of ingredients and preparations.”

🍪 Insomnia Cookies

It finally happened. After a year of waiting, Insomnia Cookies opened its South Side location, serving up all the cookies you can eat into the wee hours of the morning. Btw, an Oakland location opened, too.

🍕 Iron Born Pizza

Pittsburgh’s first Detroit-style pizza shop, Iron Born Pizza, opened a location in Millvale, in addition to its spot at Smallman Galley where the deep-dish restaurant got its start.

🍺 Lorelei

A dual concept bar and beer hall from the owners of Independent Brewing Company and Hidden Harbor, Lorelei in East Liberty drew the love of bar-goers and the attention of media for its lager-forward beer program, Alpine-inspired cocktails, and food by renowned chef Jamilka Borges.

🎂 Madeline Bakery & Bistro

Tucked inside a cozy Wilkinsburg storefront, this bakery is serving up decadent pastries, savory croissants, and coffee.

🍝 Molinaro Ristorante

Molinaro Ristorante took over the high-profile spot in Market Square that used to house Poros. This Pittsburgh Magazine review begs the question: “Ron Molinaro’s Downtown restaurant offers high-end Italian dishes made with top-notch ingredients, but is it worth the price premium?”

🌮 The Pennsylvania Market

The Pennsylvania Market transformed a former tomato warehouse into a one-stop shop for all of your eating desires in the Strip District with vendors including Romulus Pizza, Dante Pizza, Cherish Creamery, Warrior King Pastries, Edgar’s Tacos, and Women of the Cloud Forest.

🍳 Pie for Breakfast

One of the most anticipated openings of the year, Pie for Breakfast is serving up breakfast all day. The Oakland restaurant describes itself like this: “We offer more than pies and breakfast. We are like if a European coffee shop had a baby with a truck stop.”

🇫🇷 Poulet Bleu

The other major opening from DeShantz this year, this French concept along Butler Street in Lawrenceville is getting lots of love for its soups, desserts, and restaurant design.

🍗 Spork Pit

After enticing Penn Avenue passersby for months with the aromas from his custom-built smoker next to Spork, Christian Frangiadis launched a brick-and-mortar barbecue spot called Spork Pit just around the corner in Garfield.

🍻 Spring Hill Brewing

Light and fruity Belgian-style beers found a home inside the century-old Workingmen’s Beneficial Union hall in Spring Hill. Here’s the full tale.

🍅 Sugar and Smoke Southern Kitchen/Bar

Sugar and Smoke describes itself as “traditional Southern cooking with elegant flair.” This new spot in Bloomfield is serving slow-smoked brisket, lobster po’boys, crab cakes, and fried green tomato sandwiches.


The nation’s first bakery incubator, TBSP in Mt. Oliver, is a haven for sweet treats, from cheesecake to pączki to sourdough bread. TBSP’s inaugural cohort of four bakers in residence includes Who’s Nexter Jewel A. Edwards.

🍖 Walter’s Southern Kitchen

Walter’s Southern Kitchen quickly established itself as a fan favorite in Lawrenceville. It became so popular that the restaurant had to weld an addition onto their smoker to increase capacity and help meet demand, especially for brisket. We predict that this restaurant’s dog-friendly outdoor picnic tables will again be packed this summer.

🍸 The Warren / Penn Cove

The Warren specializes in craft cocktails. Penn Cove specializes in sushi. They’re attached, meaning you can order sushi from Penn Cove while sipping a cocktail at The Warren, which has achieved the feat of establishing itself as a neighborhood bar in Downtown.


Avenue B

After an eight-year run, the Shadyside classic Avenue B closed its doors. In a Facebook post, the restaurant wrote: “Although we will miss feeding your faces dearly as we close this chapter, we are aggressively exploring our options to open the next one.”

The Beehive

Ardent fans are bidding a fond farewell to The Beehive, a coffeehouse known for its funky vibe and late-night drinks, which is closing after 28 years on Carson Street in the South Side. It was expected to close in December but will now stay open until mid-January.


Cruze Bar, a “gay-owned, gay-operated, gay-proud” establishment, was expected to close this year, citing development in the neighborhood. But Cruze is indeed still open and an exact closure date has not been announced.

Peter’s Pub

Pittsburgh bid a sad farewell to Peter’s Pub, the quintessential college bar, an Oakland staple for four decades. The bar will be turned into a third Mario’s Saloon location.

Sharp Edge Beer Emporium

The long-time Friendship beer spot was sold and will turn into SYN Tacqueria + Pizzeria, per the Post-Gazette.

Six Penn Kitchen

Citing a plan to focus more on its other restaurant brands, Six Penn Kitchen, owned by the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, closed Downtown in early 2018.

Uncle Sam’s Subs

After 35 years, the beloved Oakland sandwich shop closed, citing the age and layout of its building, the Pitt News reported.

Photo by Jason Waltenbaugh/Courtesy of Iron Born

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