New restaurants continue to pop up here in Pittsburgh but none are as unique and varied as one that opened last year, Smallman Galley. It’s essentially a launch pad for new restaurants and undiscovered chefs to be at the helm of their own establishment. Picture a food hall (Smallman Galley seats 200) and then envision a chef incubator (growing chefs from fledglings to masters of the kitchen) and that’s what it is.
It’s currently home to four restaurants which have been the focal point since opening back in 2015 (applications are currently being accepted for the “new class” of restaurants). Carota Café is vegetable themed, Provision PGH is meat-centric, Aubergine Bistro incorporates global flavors in its cooking, and Josephine’s Toast is all about the toast as its name suggests (but don’t worry, it does more than just toast inspired dishes).
D had eaten here for lunch last year shortly after it opened but I had never been so we went for brunch back in late September. Reservations are not accepted but there’s ample seating. Just be prepared for some loud conversations and tight quarters depending on where you sit. It’s hipsteresque in that regard (hipsters really don’t go for the whole quiet, intimate dining thing).
I decided to order from Carota Café after I saw they had Shakshouka ($13) on the menu. This is a famous Tunisian egg breakfast dish that’s been adopted by other cuisines around the world and has been showing up on more and more brunch menus here in the United States. It consisted of two eggs that had been poached in a spicy tomato vegetable ragout, along with pepper jam, gremolata, and a side of cast iron-warmed pita. It was delicious and I had more than enough to take home.
D went with Provision PGH’s “Sunday Drunch” and ordered the comically titled Hot Mess ($11). This is a crispy tortilla accompanied by green chile chicken, pickled onion, goat cheese, cilantro, and a fried egg. He really enjoyed it as it had some spice to it.
And also from Provision, we split an order of the Provision Smothered Fries ($7) which was massive. They were topped with an English Pea Puree, lentils, goat cheese, lemon aioli, and herbs. Fries are fries but I really enjoyed the more unique toppings on this batch (how often are your fries topped with a pea puree?) Well, and goat cheese makes anything worthy.
Each restaurant has its own staff of workers. Some of the restaurants will text you when your food is ready, others will bring it to you. There are also busboys routinely walking around clearing dishes and refilling utensil and napkin trays, along with bottles of water.
All of the food was delicious but what made my dining experience here so memorable was knowing I was supporting undiscovered chefs because let’s face it, the Georges Perriers, the Thomas Kellers, the Alice Waters were all unknown at one time. Today, their names are synonymous with world class cuisine. And who knows, perhaps the chefs in Smallman’s first class will one day be the same.
Note-there are also two bars and a coffee bar on site too.
54 21st Street Pittsburgh, PA