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Local Chefs Changing the Pittsburgh Food Scene

Jul 01, 2014 12:55PM ● Published by Mary Margaret Fisher

Local Chefs Changing the Pittsburgh Food Scene

By Veronica Davidson Tucker

They have taken different paths, studied different styles and opened different restaurants. But four 
local chefs, all born and raised in Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas, knew that this was the place where they wanted to showcase their expertise, talents and creations.

“The food scene in Pittsburgh continues to grow, which is one of the reasons why I decided to 
return to Pittsburgh,” explained Chris Bonfili, chef and owner of Avenue B in Shadyside and 
B Gourmet in Sewickley. “The culinary scene here is up-and-coming, and improves every day.”

Bonfili, a native of North Hills and an alumnus of North Allegheny High School, trained at the 
International Culinary Academy and worked in restaurants in Colorado, Utah and New York before 
returning to his hometown in 2004. “Like many Pittsburghers, I missed home and came back here to build my career and start my family,” explained Bonfili, who opened Avenue B in 2009. Avenue B is a Bistro with a chalkboard menu featuring globally fused contemporary American cuisine; B Gourmet, which will 
celebrate its third anniversary this Christmas, has a café menu and includes a local market with to-go items.

Chris Culp, executive chef at Andora in Sewickley, entered the restaurant business as a dishwasher many years ago and then learned the trade through hands-on experience. He credits the growth of the area’s food culture with providing more opportunities for chefs and local restaurants. “As Cranberry grew, I grew,” he explained. “As Pittsburgh and the areas that surround it continue to grow, more residents are seeing the restaurant growth and discovering that food is an enjoyable part of life.

“People work hard to provide the food for those entering their restaurants,” continues Culp, adding that Andora has been in its current location for the last 14 years. “We are proud to carry on the tradition of fine dining in this location, providing fresh fish products and making everything from scratch.”

According to Donato Coluccio, owner and chef of Donato’s in Fox Chapel, as more restaurants arrive in Pittsburgh, more people arrive as well. “This is a very good thing,” he shared. “As the growing restaurant scene pulls more people into the area, every restaurant benefits.”

Following high school, Coluccio attended the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, which led to his current career. “I have had the privilege and pleasure of working for some great chefs; through their mentorship, self-teaching, schooling and some mentoring of my own, I have developed my own style,” he explained.

Donato’s, which has been open for four years, is similar to an Italian steakhouse. “We are the only restaurant in the area serving certified, free-range, all-natural Piedmontese beef, which is very unique,” said Coluccio. “We focus on making the basics excellent, and executing 100 percent every time.”

Fiore Moletz, owner and chef at Burgh’ers and Della Terra in Harmony, worked at various restaurants while attending college in the Carolinas 
before finding his niche in Pittsburgh. “When I was 17, I was washing dishes and one of the chefs didn’t show up; I filled in and was given his 
position,” he explained. “I then moved to other local restaurants and quickly rose up through the kitchen ranks. I worked for Lidia Bastianich’s 
restaurant group, alongside her top chefs, and from those amazing chefs, I learned techniques and the importance of attention to detail.”

Moletz honed his technique before opening Burgh’ers four years ago this month. Burgh’ers features a chef-inspired menu featuring high quality 
meats from a local farm in Saxonburg. “It’s the best food anywhere,” said Moletz. “There’s nothing like it, and it has caught on very quickly.” 
Della Terra, an Italian bistro, opened last October. Everything at Della Terra is made by hand and is inspired by the regions of Italy.

As the restaurant scene continues to grow, it presents diners with a wealth of opportunities. “When thinking about a place to eat, please 
support local, independent restaurants,” encouraged Bonfili. “This is a hard industry with amazing employees who give their all.”

“Restaurants are the last, true, person-driven businesses,” added Coluccio. “Machines and technology don’t do the work. I want to give a 
shout-out to all of the employees devoting their passion and time to the restaurant industry. Success in this business is hard.”


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