Village Pizza and Leon’s Caribbean Restaurant were cited for numerous health code violations.
Seven Pittsburgh eateries will get a national nod on Andrew Zimmern’s Travel Channel show, “Bizarre Foods, Delicious Destinations,” which will air at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
The array of Pittsburgh foods more closely represents the “Delicious Destinations” half of the show’s title because there’s nothing too freaky on the menu; it’s really just a collection of Pittsburgh favorites.
The eateries and their highlighted dishes are: Pierogies from Pierogies Plus, McKees Rocks; kielbasa from Butcher on Butler, Lawrenceville; “hunky food” (stuffed cabbage in particular) from Emil’s Lounge, Rankin; greens and beans from Sarafino’s, Crafton, sandwiches from Primanti Brothers, Strip District; the half-pound fish sandwich from Wholey’s Market, Strip District; and turkey Devonshire from Union Grill, Oakland.
In 2013, Mr. Zimmern visited Pittsburgh to unearth some delicacies representative of the “Bizarre Foods” side of his show. He ate catfish reeled in from the Allegheny River, braunschweiger from Silver Star Meats, cured trout from Wild Purveyors and several preparations of goat at Cure. He also visited several of the haunts that he has reprised for Tuesday’s show — Pierogies Plus, Emil’s, Primanti’s and Wholey’s. And he featured WQED-TV’s Rick Sebak in both episodes, though he’s not identified in Tuesday’s episode.
The other difference is that Mr. Zimmern did not visit Pittsburgh in preparation for Tuesday’s episode. He sent a crew to film, and producers later added him into the episode.
Emil’s owner Krissy Kochis said he had just ripped the front off the restaurant to install new windows in the spring when the Travel Channel called and asked if it could come and film in two weeks.
“The night before, I was in there hanging blinds on the windows,” she said.
The other complication was that the film crew got held up at their previous destination and arrived at Emil’s much later than expected. Ms. Kochis had called in her loyal customers for the filming, “and they’d been sitting around for three hours drinking wine,” she said. Then the crew needed several takes in order to get the filming of cabbage roll preparation just right.
“At the end of the night, I was so tired. I told them, ‘Please make me sound reasonably intelligent,’” she said.
Ms. Kochis plans to put together a little screening party on Tuesday night for the customers who were on-site during the filming.
Sarafino’s owner Joe Caliguire is planning something bigger.
“We’re having a party at our house because we think there might be too many people to have it at the restaurant,” he said. “We invited the whole neighborhood, and we’ve been telling customers about it. My wife’s scared.”
He’s going to prepare appetizers and cocktails for the guests — and, of course, greens and beans.
In the episode, Mr. Caliguire says he once had a chef quit, complaining that the dish was so popular with customers that all he ever got to make was greens and beans.
The episode features many visually intriguing scenes. At Pierogies Plus, employees stretch flat sheets of dough out of a pasta machine and use a custom-made rolling tool to cut many circles of dough quickly. At Wholey’s, an employee dips fish in batter and demonstrates how he drags it across the hot oil before letting go, which keeps the fish pieces from sticking together. At Union Grill, close-up shots show the preparation of a cheese sauce so creamy that you can almost feel the texture on your tongue as you watch.
The episode shows Pittsburghers enjoying the food. At Sarafino’s many were family members who Mr. Caliguire called in for the filming. At Primanti’s, a truck driver extolled the virtues of the legendary sandwich, claiming you could drive for 12 to 14 hours as long as you had two Primanti’s sandwiches to fill your gut.
For more on the episode, go to travelchannel.com/shows/bizarre-foods.
Rebecca Sodergren: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.