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Pittsburgh’s Exploding Food Scene Includes Local Favorites, Texas Transplants

Sally Ann’s

One thing we know for sure—you will not go hungry in Pittsburgh. Icons like the Primanti Brothers’ fry-topped sandwiches are here along with tasty cultural treasures like pierogies. But now there’s a plethora of new hot spots joining local favorites, and it doesn’t look like this growth will be slowing down anytime soon.

The big Burrito Restaurant Group’s Alta Via Fox Chapel opened in 2019, paying homage to the flavors of northern Italy with a menu centered around homemade pasta, seasonal vegetables and fresh seafood. Recently the company opened Alta Via Pizzeria, adding casual Italian flare to Bakery Square.

In early 2023, a new location will open at Two PPG Place in Market Square, with seating for 140 in its dining room and large bar. In warmer weather, additional outdoor seating will be added. There’s also a private dining room for up to 75 guests.

“It’s really been exciting to see a longtime dream of ours come to fruition,” said big Burrito Group President and Corporate Chef Bill Fuller in a recent press release. “We had a lot of fun with the first location and look forward to bringing our second Alta Via to downtown Pittsburgh.”

The newest addition to the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, Sally Ann’s, opened in late May at 136 Sixth Street downtown. Named for DeShantz’ late mother, the restaurant’s menu offers hearty sandwiches along with vegan choices including cauliflower Cubano and “kimcheese” melt. Expect a tasty macaroni and cheese of the week thanks to acclaimed James Beard Award-winning chef Jamilka Borges, who brought her talents to Sally Ann’s as executive chef.

Back to the Foodture owners Angel Magwood and Eddie Barnz have announced plans to expand on the success of their first year at SouthSide Works with the opening of a larger restaurant in the former Buford’s space on Fifth Avenue in Uptown. The buildout of the new 6,000-foot space is expected to be complete by early August. Expect even more pool and air hockey tables, dart boards and arcade-style basketball hoops.

Magwood plans to expand her already abundant menu of 38 burgers, 154 wings, 18 hot dogs and 26 varieties of fries by adding pasta boats, salads, zucchini poppers, vegan burgers and more. The new location will have a liquor license and a downstairs pastry kitchen.

Continuing to work with the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Learn and Earn Program, Magwood and Barnz plan to employ 10 to 15 students who will learn culinary arts along with business management skills while working at the restaurant.

Popular chains from across the country have an eye on Pittsburgh as well, and Texas-based Layne’s Chicken Fingers is one of them. Opened in 1994 in College Station, TX, home to Texas A&M University, Layne’s Chicken Fingers is known for its namesake chicken fingers and four specialty sauces. The restaurant also serves sandwiches, chicken wraps, milkshakes and cookies. Through a partnership spearheaded by Pittsburgh native Erik Mansmann, director of operations at 3E Franchise LLC and Carnegie Mellon alum Henry Wang, founder Mike Lane plans to open five locations across the region—the first outside of Texas.

Dallas-based Twin Peaks’ CEO Joe Hummel is also expanding his restaurant into the ‘burgh, planning to open three locations in Allegheny, Westmoreland and Washington counties. The first will be located on Park Manor Drive in North Fayette.

“Pittsburgh is a huge sports town, and Twin Peaks is the ultimate sports lodge with wall-to-wall TVs and sports on from every angle,” said Hummel, noting that the city’s reasonable jurisdictions make it feasible to develop and operate a new restaurant. “Pittsburgh can always count on Twin Peaks to show every local rivalry and primetime matchup.”

He added that Pittsburgh’s unique food scene was part of the draw for several reasons. “Comfort food is welcome in the ‘burgh! People aren’t afraid of a huge sandwich filled with beef and cheese,” Hummel laughed. “Twin Peaks never bunts when it comes to the menu. Whether it’s for lunch, happy hour or dinner, our guests can expect made-from-scratch menu items capable of satisfying every appetite.”

While Pittsburgh has a very diverse food scene, Twin Peaks believes it can deliver a bit more. “To get the same experience that we offer, you’d have to go to as many as three different concepts,” said Hummel. “We don’t have a national competitor that offers Twin Peaks Girls, a scratch kitchen, teeth-chattering 29-degree beer in a perfectly frosted mug, and sight lines to five or more flat-screen TVs from any seat in the lodge.

“Further, we’ll deliver an experience to the Rust Belt in a building that immediately transports you to an environment reminiscent of a comfortable cabin in the mountains,” he added.

No doubt, there continues to be an interest in bringing even more food scenes to the Pittsburgh area. Eat up, folks!

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