Crafting a Summer BBQ with Pittsburgh Businesses

It’s officially BBQ and grilling season, but it’s also poolside season, which is grounds to let someone else do the work for you. While you and your friends chill this summer, crack a few Personal Day Hard Seltzers from the folks at Maggie’s Farm. They’re full of real juice and fresh fruit. Then, turn up the heat with a mouth-watering BBQ spread from one of the Pittsburgh gems below.

Businesses for the Seasoned Grill Master

Gordon’s Butcher and Market

4815 Peach Street, Erie

Grill gatherings are oh-so casual when all it takes is one box of supplies from Gordon’s Butcher and Market. Named for its hometown, the Erie Box, for example, contains everything necessary for relaxed outdoor dining. Choose from either a slow simmered Angus ox roast with mushrooms or half-pound wagyu patties prepared on a wood, charcoal, or gas fire grill. Or use a flat top to make smash burgers for a “really nice crust on the outside while keeping the flavor on the inside,” suggests owner and Erie native Kyle Bohrer.

“A lot of people break the patties up into two pieces,” he says. “Then they add caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, or cheese from our huge selection.” Bohrer recommends chipotle or garlic cheddar, or a pepper jack.

The kit also includes Erie-centric items such as Stanganelli’s pepperoni balls to air fry or microwave, Steffanelli’s sugar-coated chocolate sponge candy, and Smith’s natural casing hot dogs. Gordon’s ships about 3,000 Erie Boxes a year.

Bohrer, his school teacher wife, Allison, and business partner, Jonathan Markley, purchased their circa 1980 neighborhood butcher shop in October 2019, five months pre-covid. With popularity gearing up and grocery store stocks depleting from panic buying, Bohrer and his crew ground 10,000 pounds of beef each week. They moved to curbside service and online ordering, running pre-orders to cars.

Later that year, Bohrer purchased a nearby plaza and spent $1.2 million dollars on equipment, including walk-in coolers, freezers, deli slicers, meat saws, and cases. He had help from the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative grant, geared toward those investing in new or expanding grocery and healthy food retail outlets serving low-income communities in Pennsylvania.

Partnering with Executive Chef Martin Firestone and former Wegman’s Beverage Manager Ryan Paris, he opened Firestone’s restaurant and craft beer and wine store Paris’ Cap ‘n Cork under the same roof. It’s a complete dining and shopping resource.

Salem’s Market & Grill

2923 Penn Avenue

For a more local option, Salem’s offers some of the most ethically sourced meat in the city, and their in-house butcher processes it, so be sure to sample a little bit of everything. Go for a whole red snapper on a base of golden biryani, fall-off-the-fork lamb chops, and tandoori shrimp with a heaping bowl of tabbouleh. You can never have too much naan or hummus on the side.

Billy’s Country Smokehouse

107 Smokehouse Lane, Greensburg

Add smoked salmon from Billy’s Country Smokehouse in Greensburg to your summer smorgasbord. Owner Shirley Stana says it’s best traditionally with cream cheese or just about any type of sauce. They sell 500 pounds of it a week at the Mount Lebanon and Market Square farmers’ markets from April through October

At age 75, Stana still runs the specialty sausage kitchen her father, William Kocevar, started nearly 70 years ago. One of her first lessons in the business was making her dad’s recipe for kolbassi and sausage. The secret? To be clean and organized.

The country store specializes in hard-to-find cold and slow hickory-smoked pepper sticks, turkey, beef jerky, bacon, ham, and more. “Everything is done naturally,” says Stana. “There is no liquid smoke in our product.” And it’s all locally sourced.

During the summer, the precooked kolbassi is popular — “just grill it for a little,” she says. And, their fresh sausage can be cooked like any meat; grilled, fried, or added to a favorite sauce.

Located at its original site, Stana’s father first smoked his homemade kolbassi in a converted ice box. Today the family-owned business still works without “fancy automated machinery.” It’s Stana’s hope that she can find a committed partner to train who will eventually take over her business. “If not, it’s going to be a thing of the past,” she says.

For an Instant Backyard Party

ShadoBeni

1534 Brighton Road

For a vegan twist on Trinidadian BBQ, try a takeout order of Ulric Joseph’s multi-cultural dishes from North Side’s ShadoBeni. His burgers feature a 15-ingredient sauce made — like everything in his shop — from scratch. Or how about a soy-based “fake” chicken sandwich topped with homemade slaw on coconut milk bread? As an alternative, swap out the chicken for fried hen of the woods mushrooms.

“People love it because they know I make the bread in-house,” Joseph says. Joseph also creates a flatbread-like dhal (which means “crushed yellow pea”) puri “on the spot” for each order. Taco-like, it includes curry chickpeas for protein alongside butternut squash, spinach, or cumin okra. Then, it’s all drizzled with that signature sauce.

Originally from Trinidad, Joseph grew up with a family that relied on herbal remedies for common ailments. He would drink lemongrass tea for a fever or, for a sore throat, chew on ginger, which is prevalent in many of his current recipes.

With a full scholarship in 1995, Joseph moved to the United States to study art at Baltimore’s Maryland Institute College of Art. He eventually earned his master’s degree and stayed on to teach at the school. Many of his large, social commentary paintings hang in his “destination restaurant.”

At the advice of his wife, Joseph decided to pursue his passion for cooking full-time, and three years ago, he gained a following at local farmers’ markets — from which he still sources his vegetables. His neighborhood organization provided gap funding to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in April 2022, where his daughter, Nia, also works alongside a staff of seven.

Even further, Joseph is an advocate for sustainability. “All of my food waste is composted with Worm Return composting business,” he says. He also supplies a nearby homeless shelter for men with ShadoBeni’s daily leftovers.

“I have been pleasantly surprised by the support we have been getting,” he says. “I am having to expand more quickly than I thought I would have to.”

Gaucho Parrilla Argentina

146 6th Street

For hosting an outdoor feast at home or a picnic at the Point, Anthony Falcon of Gaucho Parrilla Argentina recommends their version of a charcuterie board, the picada (or “pick”) plate. It’s a sampling of cured meats, cheese, sundries, and snacks.

“We do lots with grilled veggies,” he says. “And we are always trying to accommodate all types of allergies.”

If you’re not dining in or taking out, he’ll wrap up raw cuts of steak, chicken, beef, fish, or pork chops. Be sure to include one or all of their four versatile chimichurris with your order. “A must-have for any grilling party,” they can be used on vegetables, on grilled or roasted meats, as salad dressing, or even stirred into eggs.

The primary sauce is made with plenty of fresh oregano, chopped garlic, pepper flakes, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. The pimento sauce is made with daily wood-fired roasted sweet red bell peppers, grilled slowly until they “weep.” The Ajo chimichurri combines salmuera (Argentinian brine), and roasted garlic cloves pureed with extra virgin olive oil, and the cebolla is a tangy sweet and sour mixture of caramelized onions, salmuera, and vinegar. “Try a flight of all four with grilled toast as a starter,” he suggests.

Falcon describes his restaurant as an extension of his family’s heritage. A first-generation American growing up in Brooklyn, he says his dishes represent what his service-industry parents — excellent cooks in their own right — prepared for family meals in his hometown of Brooklyn.

Falcon, says the magic of any Argentinian meal happens when fire interacts with food. And the seasonings are simple: extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and cracked black pepper.

“Argentine food is based around the hearth,” he says. “You grow up spending time with family and friends and eating food that is cooked over flames and coals.”

Story by Laurie Bailey and Quelcy Kogel / Styling by Quelcy Kogel / Photography by Chrissie Knudsen

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