Squirrel Hill is a wonderful place to live for the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. It offers kosher products, has kosher schools and many Jewish organizations. Despite all of these great outlets, those that keep to a certain level of kosher have few dining options when it comes to going out for dinner. Thanks to the opening of Eighteen, the cafe at Pinksers, now those that keep kosher have another option as well as everyone as a new cultural restaurant to explore.
A couple of my coworkers keep kosher, so we decided a work lunch at Eighteen would be the perfect place. Working at a Jewish organization I’m pretty knowledgeable and used to kosher cuisine, but I had a couple questions about the menu.
The first was – What is Shakshuka?
Shakshuka is a dish of typically poached eggs, the runniness can vary, in a tomato sauce mixed with chili peppers, onions and often cumin. It originates as a Tunisian and Moroccan Jewish dish but is now very popular among many ethnic groups of the Middle East and the Maghreb.
Once explained to me, I decided that sounded very tasty. It came in a few varieties, but I selected the sheep’s milk feta and spinach. The waiter asked how I typically enjoyed my eggs and responded I prefer the sunny-side-up fashion.
When the dish arrived it smelled amazing and was served in an iron pan. Several bowls of fresh pita were brought to the table to pair with the dish. Several other co-workers ordered the same dish, we all grabbed some pita and dove in.
I scooped the sauce mixture and egg on top of the pita – it warmed me inside and was extremely flavorful. Before my eyes, the pita was gone and we were requesting more of the delicious bread. More pita was warmed up and brought to the table to continue the gorging.
The other half of the table took advantage of the sushi menu.
The spicy tuna was ordered. Thinly chopped tuna, spicy mayo and avocado laid beautifully on the rectangular plate. The sushi connoisseur gave the dish two thumbs up.
In addition to bagels, the restaurant has a very extensive sushi menu for a cafe. They have the classic rolls, spicy if desired- California, salmon, tuna and veggie and special recipe rolls like their Rainbow, Garden or Pittsburgh roll.
The 1,100-square-foot cafe doubles as a wine bar and that specializes in the concept of mezze plates or smaller dishes that pair well with alcohol. Their style is inspired by the Pittsburgh-raised Israeli chef and restaurateur, Michael Solomonov.
Parts of Eighteen’s venue is still under construction, but it already includes several lovely touches like their repurposed stained-glass windows from a former synagogue in West Virginia.
The menu is not yet complete. In addition to hummus, Reuben and vegetable sliders they hope to add pasta and fish dishes once recipe experimentations are complete and customer feedback is collected.
I always enjoy a new experience and a new dish. I welcome Eighteen to the neighborhood and I hope you will too.
Experience Pittsburgh, One Bite at a Time.