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Scratch & Co. Emanates Flavors of Home


Ribeye
Ribeye

If you didn’t know where Scratch & Co. was, you might drive right past it. The restaurant is nestled in the residential neighborhood of Troy Hill, which overlooks the river and Route 28 below. When I walked in, I could immediately tell this was a well-loved neighborhood spot. Troy Hill residents and visitors alike were greeted by the host with warmth. The restaurant’s interior radiated that same kind of coziness with dark wood, warm lighting and an eclectic collection of trinkets and plants lining the walls.


After you make your way up the harrowing Rialto Street, you deserve a drink. Scratch & Co. has a robust drink menu with alcoholic and NA options alike. The entire beer and cider section is sourced locally from different breweries across Pittsburgh, including Cinderlands Beer Co. and Dancing Gnome Brewery. They also have several signature cocktails, including the Martini Fetish made with Parking Chair vodka and the Rizz Fizz made with Lucky Sign gin. Both spirits are made locally. There’s also the bartender’s choice option for those who are feeling a bit adventurous. Scratch’s bartender will craft you a cocktail of their choice with your favorite spirit. I’m a tequila girl, so I opted for the Bikini Bottom BBQ made with blanco tequila, charred pineapple, jalapeño shrub and lemon. It was tart and spicy and transported me somewhere tropical when I took a sip. It made me completely forget about the monsoon happening outside.




The smells emanating from the kitchen made me incredibly excited to order. Scratch’s menu is petite and leans towards both fresh and rich flavors, which may seem like an unusual juxtaposition. However, the combination of artfully prepared vegetables and homey classics, like meatloaf and chicken, complement each other well.


I opted to start with Scratch’s homemade focaccia served with ricotta. The focaccia was perfectly baked, with a crunchy, salty top and a warm, pillowy middle. The ricotta was creamy with a hint of lemon zest for freshness. My dining partner and I devoured every bite. Next, we wanted something to balance out the carbs, so we ordered the radicchio salad. The bitter radicchio was paired with sweet apples, candied walnuts and a tangy sherry vinaigrette. The sweet elements of the salad balanced the flavor of the radicchio, and the acidic vinaigrette brought all of it together. This salad was the burst of freshness we needed in this meal.



Focaccia
Focaccia

We were dining at Scratch on a Thursday evening, which is their steak house night. In addition to their regular menu, they offer ribeye. I highly recommend ordering this. It was everything you want in a cut of meat: tender, juicy and fatty all at the same time. I was in meat-lover’s heaven. We couldn’t have steak without potatoes, and Scratch’s take on this classic steak side didn’t disappoint. The potatoes are boiled, smashed and lightly fried, so they’re crispy on the edges and fluffy in the middle. I could’ve eaten a bucketload of these. They were served with a potent garlic aioli that added another layer of luxuriousness.


Dessert continues the restaurant’s theme of homey classics. The menu is small with only four options, but trust me— that’s all you need. I was tempted by the icebox pie made with chestnuts, brown butter crust, bourbon caramel, whipped cream and chocolate and the chocolate chip cookie sundae with Millie’s soft serve, but ultimately I went for the simplest dish: milk and cookies. These cookies would have impressed my grandma, who was the reigning chocolate chip cookie queen. They came out warm and were crispy around the edges and delightfully tender in the center. I upgraded my dessert by adding  Millie’s soft serve, and it was the sweetest accompaniment.


Scratch & Co.’s menu is always changing with the seasons, and I’m looking forward to what summer brings. I know next time I dine there, I’d love to try the asparagus with tarragon ghee and the fusilli with ramp pesto. While Scratch & Co. is not over-the-top decadent, they use quality ingredients in a thoughtful way, which is exactly what you want from a cozy, neighborhood spot.

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