Little Bites: Chef shuffles at Bar Marco and Legume; Benkovitz closed

Chef shuffles at Bar Marco, Legume

The kitchen at Bar Marco in the Strip District has orchestrated changes as Chicago-based chef Brandon Baltzley takes the helm as executive chef.

Mr. Baltzley will be in Pittsburgh for the next year as his self-sustained 15-seat restaurant TMIP is built outside Chicago in Michigan City, Ind. He plans to eventually split his time between locations.

Joining Bar Marco as chef de cuisine is Jamilka Borges, who had served the same role at Legume under executive chef Trevett Hooper. Legume recently was nominated as a semi-finalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic for the coveted James Beard Award and will learn on March 18 whether it makes the short list.

Ms. Borges worked at Legume for five years. She cited current and not-yet-announced projects as inspiration for the switch, saying, "There comes a moment in your life when you need something new."

Justin Steel will remain in the kitchen as sous chef as well as partner, along with Bobby Fry, Kevin Cox and newest partner Mr. Baltzley.

Benkovitz closed

After nearly 100 years in business, Benkovitz Seafoods, at 2300 Smallman St. in the Strip District, has closed. The fish market opened on Centre Street in 1916 by Joseph and brothers Reuben and Morris Benkovitz under the name Live Fish.

Eventually Live Fish was renamed Benkovitz Seafoods. In the late 1960s, the business, which supplied restaurants and home cooks, relocated to the Strip and built additions to include a restaurant and catering operation. Eventually Joseph's son Bernard took over the helm.

The year 2007 was the last one the Benkovitz family owned the business. Listwak & Associates incorporated Smallman Market, LLC, which had purchased Nordic Holdings, LLC, the partnership between R.J. McSorley and the Benkovitz family. Bernard Benkovitz died in July 2009.

"Benkovitz used to be the best in the city," said Henry Dewey, former chef at Benkovitz Seafoods.

He was notified of the closure by a customer on Saturday. A supplier confirmed orders ceased over the weekend. And a leasing agent told the Post-Gazette the 4,000-square-foot space is now listed as for rent.

"We had more fish back then than we do now," said Bernard Benkovitz in a 2003 interview with the Post-Gazette. "Much of it came from a very clean Lake Erie and from the New Jersey coast."

At its peak, Benkovitz Seafoods supplied the most intrepid eaters, who weren't shy to feast on cold-smoked haddock, turtle soup, conch chowder or escargot.

"People were much more adventurous in those days," Benkovitz said.

These items initially appeared on The Forks blog at


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