Little Bites: Restaurant news this week

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen to close

Alma Pan-Latin Kitchen in Regent Square will close Nov. 3, Jamie Wallace announced via Facebook last week. He listed the restaurant for sale on Craigslist through Dec. 8, a move prompted by his desire to spend more time with his family and spend the year in Costa Rica.

His decision to close the restaurant follows the closing of sibling restaurant Abay Ethiopian Cuisine in June.

"So we're going to do something we've wanted to do for a while and satiate that desire by actually relocating from Pittsburgh to another country. The plan is to take a sabbatical of sorts and spend a year in Costa Rica," he wrote.

"On one hand, it will be daunting to sell a commercial building, two businesses and some of our personal possessions so that we can uproot our lives and move three thousand miles away. On the other hand, it will be absolutely liberating."

Since he opened his first restaurant in 2004 and Alma in 2011, Mr. Wallace has helped meet Pittsburghers' cravings for international cuisine. In the review of Alma, former Post-Gazette dining critic China Millman wrote, "He's more than succeeded, proving once again that Pittsburgh diners are hungry for new flavors."

Casa Reyna opens walk-up taco stand

Casa Reyna opened its daytime taco stand, which will serve food from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The offshoot of the grocery and restaurant in the Strip District is part of Nic DiCio's growing businesses.

In addition to Reyna Market and the restaurant, he also runs a tortilla factory and the 50-acre White Oak Farm that straddles Indiana and Hampton townships. He is also working on a distillery-brewery-winery in the Strip with an opening date to be announced.

Pie-making contest at Salt

Salt of the Earth is having an autumn fundraiser for Garfield Community Farms from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Among festivities is a pie-making contest with Rick Sebak among judges.

The rules:

* Each participant can submit one pie that will have one slice removed upon arrival, between 1:30 and 2 p.m., for judging.

* The rest of the pie will go toward the fundraiser. Attendees purchase a supplemental bracelet for $5 and taste as many pies as they want.

Other events include demos from Brazen Kitchen's Leah Lizarondo and producer and backyard-gardening expert Doug Oster of the Post-Gazette.

There's also a pig roast and cider pressing and lots of other fall foods. The indoor/outdoor event is $40 --- kids under 12 are free -- and will take place in the restaurant and its lot.

Butcher and the Rye opens next week

Butcher and the Rye has held a soft opening and has hosted events already, but the official opening date for the restaurant at 212 Sixth St. is Tuesday. And the space is a stunner.

"Space is as important to me as the food," said Rick DeShantz, chef and co-owner of the restaurant. He said he was consumed by designing the space, which includes details such as antique doorknobs for purse and coat hooks, old push-button wall switches and a restroom lock in the form of a spoon. Reclaimed lanterns take the place of candles on some tables and old-fashioned butcher-paper cutters are mounted on the ceiling of one wall, with rolls of papers cascading sheets to the molding.

Mr. DeShantz displays whimsy in his wallpapering the ceiling with a fork, knife and spoon motif in a room downstairs and accenting a wall with tin panels. A 1920s flag with 48 stars faces a window. Chicken wire serves as a backdrop where antique butchering tools hang in a glass case at the entrance and covers globe lighting in the downstairs dining room. Rabbit tracks mark the downstairs floor.

Tables out front crank to bar-height for later in the evening and downstairs doors make for a fluid indoor/outdoor space. Upstairs in the library area, six tables display portraits painted by different local artists and red leather chairs have been tagged by a graffiti artist.

There's a bit of a creepy factor, too, such as a skeleton of a rabbit on a library shelf and a big bear on its hind legs in the corner. "Once it came to mind, we had to find a damn bear."


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