Hotel’s Whitfield aims to be cut above
Whitfield, the restaurant inside East Liberty’s Ace Hotel, is one of the newest additions to the Pittsburgh dining scene.
Named after the street that Ace occupies, South Whitfield, as well as a nod to Andrew Carnegie’s wife, Louise Whitfield Carnegie, this restaurant is the brainchild of culinary partner Brent Young, executive chef Bethany Zozula and pastry chef Casey Shively.
The three are all Western Pennsylvania natives: Young from the North Hills, Zozula from rural Fayette County and Shively from the South Hills. The menu and space are reflective of their upbringings with nods to Pittsburgh.
“The idea for the restaurant is based on a neighborhood tavern,” says Khuong Phan, food and beverage public-relations manager for Atelier Ace. “We are fortunate to have Brent as a culinary partner. We want to offer people who want a burger in the morning to be able to have one or if they want eggs at 2 p.m., they can have them. And we have some amazing steaks and lots of other delicious food.”
Young’s tenure with Ace stems back five years when he first heard about the company opening its boutique hotel in Pittsburgh. He stalked the company until he made a connection, he says, offering to be a bridge between Ace and his hometown. This connection eventually turned into his position as culinary partner in opening Whitfield.
Young’s introduction to the culinary industry began at age 16 at Tomato Pie Cafe in Allison Park. During college at the University of Pittsburgh, he worked at Shadyside’s Girasole before moving to Richmond, Va., for grad school. It was there he found his culinary calling — butchering. That led him to Brooklyn, where he eventually opened his own butcher shop, The Meat Hook, with friends in 2009. Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, which followed in 2014, was the first sandwich shop to be reviewed by The New York Times.
Shively, a Point Park University graduate, switched careers from working in the advertising industry to begin studies at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. While working at David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, she learned most of her pastry training and then focused solely on pastry at Del Posto, a creation of Mario Batali and associates. Through an apprenticeship at The Meat Hook, she met Young and formed an instant friendship, realizing that they both had cell phone numbers with the 412 area code.
Zozula’s relationship with Whitfield came by pure chance. After plans to go camping fell through, she found herself at a Girls Rock! event at Lawrenceville’s Spirit. She ran into a friend and asked if the executive chef of Whitfield had been named. Within five minutes, she was in email correspondence with Young, and they talked the next morning. Later that week, she was testing menus and signed on to the team the week following. She comes from Big Burrito’s Eleven, where she was executive sous chef under Derek Stevens for the past four years.
The menu is a collaboration centered around the in-house butchery program.
“We made a menu for people we know and love, inspired by our grandparents, friends and people we go out to eat with,” Zozula says.
Good meat is sourced, cut and presented in a way that showcases the product, they promise. The same care and craft are shown with the other ingredients, Zozula says, from produce to cheese. Rotating cuts of steaks are featured, as well as pork shank, rabbit, duck, trout and lamb.
Vegetarians will not be disappointed, as there is a variety of options planned for them, too.
“We’re not forgetting about the vegetables,” laughs Zozula.
Whitfield, opening Dec. 12, serves brunch 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. daily. A late-night menu will be available until 2 a.m., and 24-hour room service is available.
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