The Scrumptious Kevin Sousa
I suppose we could have arranged an interview with this delicious Pittsburgh celeb, but we felt so compelled to discuss what this cat’s been up to now that he’s opened not one, but two new restaurants in the same month, that we couldn’t wait! Having only dined at one of the three restaurants the chef owns, we’ll refrain from foodie comments and instead tell you about each of his fantastic restaurants, all of which are located in the East End of the PGH. Leave the critiques to the food blogs, such as our friends over at EatPGH, who we stole this photo from (thanks ladies)!
Kevin got his start working at the Duquesne Club as senior saucier and rounds person under chef Keith Coughenaur. He also worked for Big Burrito Restaurant Group at the restaurants Soba and Kaya, as well as Bigelow Grille, Red Room and was a consulting chef at Nine On Nine. Speaking of, Sousa also operates a consulting company which specializes in concept redevelopment and implementation. You might remember the death of Iguana Grill in the South Side. I was hooked on their key lime pie martinis, so I certainly do. Little did I know that what would take its place, now known as Yo Rita, would be ten times more fabulous than what previously resided in that space. Kevin has moved on to bigger and better things now, opening a series of restaurants in the past few years – the reputable Salt of the Earth, and the brand new Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop and Union Pig & Chicken.
Salt of the Earth, located at 5523 Penn Avenue on the cusp of East Liberty is a breath of fresh air for dining in the neighborhood. Nestled across from a Babyland and a beer distributor, there wasn’t much else for folks in the neighborhood to do but get drunk and pregnant and then buy baby items for their new nest…until Salt opened. Salt has a pricier menu, with entrees ranging from $20-$30 a pop. Rumor has it their apps, cocktails and desserts are also to die for, so bring some extra cash to try something else on the menu. Salt of the Earth was recognized in Food and Wine magazine as having one of the “ten best restaurant dishes of 2011” and by The New York Times as being an integral part of Pittsburgh’s farm to table movement. They offer a unique communal dining experience and also have an upstairs dining room for those looking for a bit more privacy.
Station Street Hot Dog & Sandwich Shop, located at 6290 Broad Street in East Liberty, opened on February 2 and has generated quite the buzz ever since. My mouth waters just thinking about this place, and that picture is frankly killing me, as I’m starving right now and have been craving one of their hot dogs since every single person I know has been posting them to their Facebook walls, relentlessly rubbing the deliciousness in my face. They have a variety of unique hot dog combinations such as the devil dog, bahn mi dog, kimchi dog and the traditional New York and chili cheese styles. Also on the menu: duck fat fries – as if fries weren’t bad enough for you! Pop a tums and get your workout in before hitting this place up because we predict a glorious food coma to ensue afterwards, and we don’t plan on moving for at least 12 hours after one of these puppies are ingested.
Union Pig & Chicken, located at 220 N. Highland Ave in East Liberty is chef Sousa’s newest addition to the PGH food scene. Sousa claims this BBQ is “not fancied up esoteric “BBQ” but straight up tasty American BBQ. no quotations needed.” Comfort food at its finest, this place offers an exemplary selection of classic BBQ eats – mac and cheese, corn bread, potato salad, beans, and of course, MEAT! This place hasn’t even been open a week yet, so we’ve yet to hear much about it, but we’re sure it will follow in the footsteps of his other restaurants and be nothing short of superb. We can’t wait to check this place out!
Extra props to Kevin Sousa for snagging a prestigious James Beard nomination this year. Full details can be found here.