Carrot Risotto at the Whitfield in Pittsburgh

Whitfield – A Score for the Pittsburgh Dining Scene

In Northeast, Restaurants by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch3 Comments

Whitfield in Pittsburgh is a great addition to the city’s dining scene. This farm to table restaurant is serving exciting food in a cool atmosphere.

Whitfield 20160201-20

During our visit to Pittsburgh, our main goal was to check out the city’s burgeoning culinary scene. Our first stop was at Whitfield.

Through the arched early 20th century doorway lies what used to be the Pittsburgh YMCA. This is not necessarily a building refurbished in all its glory. Remove many of the accoutrements that contribute to its repurposing as the new Ace Hotel Pittsburgh and you can still see the stained old concrete and some of the fading paint around the large windows that light the lobby. To the left, through simple latticework, tables occupy the dining room of Whitfield in Pittsburgh. And while the lobby and its trendy, half-finished decor could be described by many as ‘shabby chic’, the food draws from the city’s nearby agricultural surroundings to provide an unpretentious yet refined culinary vision.

Pittsburgh is a town built on butchering, much of it done in the long antiquated yet awakening riverside ‘Strip’ district. It was smart of the Ace to consult with Brent Young of Brooklyn butchery The Meat Hook. For Whitfield, Young has constructed a menu with lofty farm to table ambitions that remain grounded in food tradition while serving up some of the best product that Pennsylvania has to offer… and the food tastes great. As an added twist, two female chefs, Casey Shively and Bethany Zozula, helm the kitchen, adding their special touches to the food.

Food at Whitfield in Pittsburgh

Start with The Wedge. This classic salad is presented as a delicate head of crisp baby lettuce topped with pungent blue cheese and dotted with rectangular house made bacon lardons. The lardons provide a perfect chew against the flavorful blue cheese, demonstrating that you can dress up an old idea in new clothes.

The Wedge with baby iceberg, house bacon, scallion, tomato and blue cheese dressing is a perfect starter when dining at Whitfield. The salad makes excellent use of local ingredients to provide an excellent update to this classic salad.

The Wedge with baby iceberg, house bacon, scallion, tomato and blue cheese dressing is a perfect starter when dining at Whitfield. The salad makes excellent use of local ingredients to provide an excellent update to this classic salad.

The butchering and charcuterie programs at Whitfield are relatively new, and soon the kitchen will begin curing salami. During our dinner, we were served a simple yet focused charcuterie plate constructed with smoky, sweet bacon jam (the star of the plate made by reducing the in-house bacon with onion, brown sugar and garlic), country paté, pork rillettes and creamy duck liver mousse.

The "Butcher's Plate" with charcuterie, potted meat, pickles and mustard is a winner at the Whitfield. In this plate, the restaurant shows its chops with both the quality and presentation of the charcuterie and well chosen sides.

The “Butcher’s Plate” with charcuterie, potted meat, pickles and mustard is a winner at the Whitfield. In this plate, the restaurant shows its chops with both the quality and presentation of the charcuterie and well chosen sides.

Lenny Brown, our passionate server, brought the duck entree to our table – the slices of juicy, crisped breast atop a bed of whole grains mixed with an added surprise – duck confit. Why the duck confit? On-site butcher Steven Bachy confided that the restaurant likes to “use the whole animal”. With beef from Jubilee Hilltop Ranch and duck from Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, this progressive approach makes perfect sense.

The Roasted Duck Breast is served with duck confit, spaetzle, honey beets, sweet and sour cabbage and pepitas. These flavors combine to create a new Pittsburgh classic.

The Roasted Duck Breast is served with duck confit, spaetzle, honey beets, sweet and sour cabbage and pepitas. These flavors combine to create a new Pittsburgh classic.

With all the meat love, the Whitfield team has not forgotten about vegetables. Their carrot risotto is a rich and creamy concoction that fully embraces the oft forgotten orange vegetable. The mighty carrot lends its golden orange hue to the cheesy Carolina rice. Braised, caramelized carrots and kale pesto complete the dish which is then crowned with large parmesan crisps. The sweet carrots impart their flavor in much the same way that saffron colors and flavors the risottos of Milan, but in this case we’re in Pennsylvania in the winter where the carrot is king!

Roasted Carrot Risotto is prepared with Carolina gold rice, kale pesto, parmesan crisps and hazelnuts. The popular vegetarian dish uses carrots to excellent effect, coloring the rice with its bright orange hue.

Roasted Carrot Risotto is prepared with Carolina gold rice, kale pesto, parmesan crisps and hazelnuts. The popular vegetarian dish uses carrots to excellent effect, coloring the rice with its bright orange hue.

Whitfield was buzzing on the Monday night when we dined there, which is exciting for both the restaurant as well as for the city of Pittsburgh’s surging dining scene. The staff set the tone with their enthusiasm, and it was easy to see their pride in working with chefs who are pushing culinary boundaries in their hometown. The female chefs add extra detail to every plate that leaves the kitchen, said Whitfield food and beverage manager Hana Zoufalik.

Those details make the food taste great, giving us yet another reason to return to Pittsburgh and, of course, Whitfield.

It's imperative to save room for dessert when dining at Whitfield. Pastry chef Casey Shively brings lots of creativity to her desserts, like this colorful chocolate cake with blood orange sherbet and candied orange peel. Shively shaped her pastry skills at notable New York restaurants Momofuku Ko and Del Posto.

It’s imperative to save room for dessert when dining at Whitfield. Pastry chef Casey Shively brings lots of creativity to her desserts, like this colorful chocolate cake with blood orange sherbet and candied orange peel. Shively shaped her pastry skills at notable New York restaurants Momofuku Ko and Del Posto.

Whitfield is located in the Ace Hotel Pittsburgh at 120 S Whitfield St, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, United States. 

We thank Visit Pittsburgh  and the team at Whitfield for facilitating our meal for the purpose of this review.


Comments

    1. Author

      The food at Whitfield is totally accessible. You should check the restaurant out when you’re next in Pittsburgh.

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