Little Bites: Restaurant news this week

Speakeasy Social Lounge Opens

The 45-seat Speakeasy Social Lounge has opened in the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown, a re-creation of a speakeasy that used to be there.

The hotel uncovered, in a storage area under the lobby stairs, a hidden hallway leading to street level that alluded to its earlier life as a hotel bar.

The Speakeasy reopened yesterday, on the anniversary of Repeal Day, the celebration of the end of Prohibition in 1933. The bar is open for business from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thurs.-Sat.

With a menu of more than 40 classic cocktails and light appetizers, the bar fills a niche in a city with a dearth of historic hotel bars. A $25-million hotel renovation has adhered to the decor of the period, from flocked wallpaper and tin ceilings to the original shape of the room.

Dawn Young is head bartender. She will shake and stir classic drinks with brands from the era and local spirits such as Boyd & Blair Vodka and Wigle Whiskey.

Ramen Bar opens in Squirrel Hill

Ramen Bar has opened at 5860 Forbes Ave. in Squirrel Hill in the space that had been Lilly's Gourmet Pasta.

The menu includes shoyu (soy sauce), shio (salt) and miso ramen, as well as an array of toppings, such as kimchi, fried eggplant and egg. The average cost for a bowl of soup is $9, with add-ons $1 each. The Ramen Bar is cash-only for now and open from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. weekends. It will eventually be open for lunch.

Forbes Avenue is shaping up as an Asian-restaurants and noodle-house destination. Everyday Noodles is slated to open at 5875 Forbes Ave. and will join Rose Tea Cafe and How Lee on that stretch.

Vanilla Pastry to Move

Vanilla Pastry Studio, known far and wide for its luscious cupcakes, is moving to Regent Square next spring.

April Gruver, owner of the bakery in East Liberty, posted the announcement on her Facebook page. She'll be moving into a 2,000-square-foot, street-level space in Swissvale at the corner of Braddock Avenue and Sanders -- with a dozen off-street parking spaces -- next to the specialty lighting store Typhoon.

Ms. Gruver, a former pastry chef at the Duquesne Club, said the space would allow for "new and exciting elements including space to offer cupcake decorating parties."

A beer event at the seminary

East Liberty's Pittsburgh Theological Seminary might be the last place you'd expect a beer event, but more than 130 people have registered for a lecture on ancient brewing by "the beer archaeologist" Patrick McGovern at 7:30 tonight, after which there will be a tasting of historically inspired brews.

Mr. McGovern is the scientific director at the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia and the author of two books, including "Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages." His research helped inspired beers brewed by Dogfish Head Brewery that will be sampled after his talk.

You might still be able to get in for the lecture, but they're running low on beer. Register at or call 412-924-1395 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).

Santa Taps the Good Stuff

Santa Claus will tap the first kegs of St. Nikolaus Brewer's Reserve, the high-test version of St. Nikolaus Bock, at 7 p.m. Friday at Penn Brewery on the North Side. There from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, he's hosting a lunch at the brewery, along with the Pirate Parrot and the Penguins' Iceburgh mascot. Reserve for lunch: 412-237-9400, ext. 120.

Rooney's Old Irish Ale Turns 1

A year after the decades-old brand was relaunched here, Rooney's Old Irish Ale (brewed by Penn Brewery) is celebrating with a birthday bash at from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the Wheelhouse of Rivers Casino on the North Side.

Read more about these and many other stories at The Forks, the Post-Gazette's food and drink blog at


Hot Topic