Fresh Fares & Local Libations: An Interview with Spork

Published On February 15, 2016 | By Leah Kennedy | Interviews

A new restaurant will be joining the ranks in our city’s flourishing food network just in time for Spring…

Taking ownership of the name, “Spork,” the East Liberty establishment will be manned by a handful of local culinary creatives who will soon welcome visitors to enjoy fresh fares and curated concepts in a casual setting.

crustaIn coming weeks, the destination will serve up dishes ranging from cured meats, to gelatos and made-from-scratch pastas, complimented by a generous variety of refreshing cocktails, craft beers and fine wines.

Spork‘s kitchen will be headed by a familiar face in the restaurant scene–Executive Chef Christian Frangiadis–who is credited with a string of successful  establishments in the late 90s and early 2000s, including Southwest Bistro and Isabella at Grandview. Alongside Frangiadis will be General Manager, Jonathan Corey, who comes forth from McCrady’s Restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina; and co-owner Andy Tepper, a local software developer who’ll provide forward thinking ideas and creative inspiration.

We recently got to chat with GM Jonathan Corey to find out what’s in store for this hot new staple on Penn.

First up is the restaurant name’s origin–where did it come from, and what was its chosen purpose? The management team is fully prepared to break the stigma surrounding the utensil’s quirky (yet, seemingly unfavorable) connotation. Corey shared:

vegballs“The name Spork was Andy Tepper’s idea… We had all talked about how there is a tendency in the industry to sometimes take oneself too seriously, so we wanted to pick a name that had a whimsical element to it. In naming the restaurant Spork, we have set out on a mission to elevate the lowly utensil to its proper place among the great flatwares.”

Following through with commitment-to-scratch preparation, Spork’s menu will offer small plates featuring fresh pastas and house-cured meats, and a cocktail list with seasonal selections of ingredient-driven mixtumuddleres to indulge the senses.

We asked John to select a few of his choice beverage and dish picks to share with readers; preview a taste of what’s in store below:

  • charred octopus: smoked fettuccine, chorizo, root vegetables, aioli, lemon gel
  • braised pork cheeks: cider jus, polenta, tempura apple, spiced pistachio
  • ceviche: corn, tomato, lime, chili, tostones
  • spiced wine: brandy, lemon, orange

Regarding the decor and atmosphere, Corey shared details on their local collab with Steel City Arts, of whom he says “played a huge part in bringing our vision to fruition.”

steel city arts“[Steel City Arts] designed and fabricated the reclaimed wood banquettes and booths, as well as our concrete bar top which features distressed elements filled with contrasting black epoxy. They constructed our kitchen counter from a gorgeous live-edge maple slab featuring inlaid exotic woods. The list goes on and on. The contributions from Steel City Arts can be seen in every area of the restaurant. We can’t speak positively enough about the work they have done; it is a true blend of art and craftsmanship.”

Corey also assured us that the staff is hard at work preparing for launch, and management will begin training new staff members as early as this week.

Be sure to scope out the full menu online, and stay up with Spork’s social accounts to catch the opening date announcements!

*Dish/Drink Photos: 1.) burger: pancetta, portabella, tomato, pickles, cheese, brioche 2.) spiced wine: description listed above 3.) vegetarian “meat” balls: lentils, tomato jam, olive oil, harissa 4.) ginger: rosemary, gin, lime

(Twitter/Instagram: @sporkpgh)

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