Innovation at Smallman Galley
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
The Strip District, Pittsburgh's foodie capital, is the perfect place for Smallman Galley, Pittsburgh's first and only restaurant incubator. Smallman Galley is filled with four unique restaurants, a well-stocked bar, and an adorable coffee counter. The owners, two U.S. Navy Lieutenants, were inspired by all of the different food halls they saw around the world. They opened Smallman Galley with the aim to introduce new chefs and their delicious food to Pittsburgh, which allows the chefs to gather a following in a low risk environment. The chefs will then hopefully, after 18 months in Smallman Galley, open up their own restaurant in Pittsburgh.
The current restaurants, Josephine's Toast, Provision PGH, Carota Cafe, and Aubergine Bistro, are wrapping up 18 months as we speak. I wanted to get a final taste of these restaurants before they close, so I headed down to the Strip with some friends and my camera in tow.
Smallman Galley's layout is incredibly open. The kitchens, the bar, and the dining rooms all flow into one another. This layout makes you feel that you, the other diners, and the chefs are all just hanging out together. I love that Smallman Galley is all about community and encouraging others to share their ideas with one another.
Josephine's Toast is all about simplicity. They offer a variety of menu items with everything from simple avocado toast to savory seared scallops. They put the focus on the ingredients.
My mom decided to order the baby greens salad made with fresh mixed greens, crisp radishes, crunchy sunflower seeds, chewy sun-dried tomatoes, creamy avocado, rich cheddar, and a simple oil dressing. I had a few bites and all of these flavors and textures worked incredibly well together. This is the perfect dish to order if you're looking for something light to satisfy you.
I decided to try Josephine's Toast's potato and dill soup, as I have a strong love for all things spud. Along with the starchy potatoes and fresh dill, there's also luscious creme, sweet fennel, and spicy horseradish mixed into this soup. The fresh dill and fennel contrasted nicely with the heavy potatoes and creme. The soup complemented my crusty avocado grilled cheese from Carota Cafe perfectly. This soup warmed me up on an incredibly chilly day.
Carota Cafe can be described as a vegetable-forward restaurant with meat and seafood accents. Some of the highlights of Carota Cafe's menu include smoked yams and muhammarah pork.
I opted for an avocado grilled cheese to complement my potato and dill soup from Josephine's Toast. It was one of my better ideas. The sandwich had creamy avocado, a spicy char-roasted poblano pepper, melted homemade queso fresco, and garlicky cilantro pepita pesto on crusty toasted multigrain sourdough bread. The spicy poblano and pesto contrasted nicely with the mild avocado and queso fresco. I loved the wide range of flavors in this sandwich. This sandwich, along with the potato and dill soup, were both incredibly filling. The arugula salad on the side was light and leafy; the perfect addition to this sandwich.
Provision PGH puts their focus on meat and the variety of ways it can be prepared. They have everything from bánh mi to tostadas. They also offer a nice selection of vegetable dishes as well, like lightly fried cauliflower and roasted beets.
My friend, Clara who was visiting Pittsburgh for the week, opted for the Provision's famous burger and fries. I had a bite (or two) and it definitely did not disappoint. The burger itself was perfectly cooked and extremely juicy. The burger was topped with savory roasted mushrooms, crunchy parmesan crisps, luscious umami aioli, sharp cheddar, and fresh greens all on a soft challah bun. The fresh greens were able to cut the richness of the cheddar and unami aioli. The fries were some of the best I've ever tasted. They were thick cut and perfectly crunchy. I couldn't stop swiping them off of Clara's plate.
Unfortunately, we didn't have enough room in our stomachs to sample Aubergine Bistro's array of international food, but I've heard absolutely amazing things about their savory pork belly ramen and homemade pastas.
Smallman Galley is the perfect place to go if you're looking for a wide array of different cuisines. They have something for everyone.
The most amazing thing about Smallman Galley, is that it's constantly reinventing itself. Every 18 months, the current chefs will be replaced with new up and comers and the process starts over again. Even during the 18 months the chefs are always changing their menus, so there's always something new to try. This constantly gives Pittsburgh new food to taste and be inspired by.
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