PhotoBlog: Church Brew Works

I can’t believe I’ve never eaten at Church Brew Works – until now. We met a couple friends for dinner on a Friday evening and it was packed.  With great conversation and company, I enjoyed the CBW Beer Sampler, cheeseburger pierogies and the meatloaf. The meal was quite filling – as most beer meals are – and I had a great time.

Church Brew Works Beer Sampler
Church Brew Works Beer Sampler of 8 beers
Pierogi of the Day: Cheeseburger
CBW Pierogi of the Day: Cheeseburger
Church Brew Works Buffalo Meatloaf
Church Brew Works Buffalo Meatloaf

Mike & Tony’s offer “Pittsburgh Best Pierogies” from Pierogies Plus

Gyro from Mike n Tony's Downtown
Gyro from Mike n Tony's Downtown

When someone visits Pittsburgh for the first time, where should you go?  The most common response is Primanti Brothers for the sandwiches with fries and coleslaw.  While I agree that Primanti’s is a required stop for visitors to the steel city, I think that Pierogies are another key food symbol of Pittsburgh.

The hard question is, if you are visiting and want pierogies – where do you find good Pierogies in downtown Pittsburgh?
Answer: Mike & Tony’s Gyros

Piergois from Pierogies Plus
Piergois from Pierogies Plus available at Mike & Tony's

Mike & Tony’s Gyros not only has arguably the best gyros in downtown Pittsburgh, but also care pierogies from Pierogis Plus.  Pierogies Plus were the proud winners of the WPXI Pittsburgh’s Best Pierogies contest.
Pierogies Plus on Urbanspoon
Willing to cross the Allegheny River?  Go to the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy on Foreland Ave on the northside.  The pierogis are homemade and dressed with an infused sour cream that will make your mouth water. (James Street Gastropub opened after the Best Pierogies contest. The Pittsburgh TasteBuds predict that James Street will win next time).

Mike & Tony's Gyros on Urbanspoon

Braised Short Rib Pierogies - Photo by Andrew Russell, Tribune Review

Short Rib Pierogi Debate – gourmet creativity or disgrace to tradition

The city of Pittsburgh is rich in Polish heritage.  So much, that pierogies are viewed as a city icon.  The Pittsburgh Pirates even have four pierogi mascots that run around PNC Park as in-game entertainment.  Though the Pirates have fun with their pierogies, some serious locals scoff when restaurants have fun with them on their menu.

Braised Short Rib Pierogies - Photo by Andrew Russell, Tribune Review
Braised Short Rib Pierogies - Photo by Andrew Russell, Tribune Review

A recent tweet from Braddock’s American Brasserie, which we’ve reviewedbefore, offers a braised short rib pierogi.  But when you stuffed it with a braised short rib, is  it really a pierogi, or is it more of a ravioli?

My answer is yes, it is a pierogi.  Here’s why.

After some of my own personal research, here are some key differences between pierogies (of Polish decent) and raviolis (of Italian decent).

Shape

Pierogies are filled pasta circles that are folded and pinched closed into half moon shapes. Ravioli are square pillows that are sealed the entire perimeter of the square.
The Inside “Stuffing”
Pierogies are traditionally filled with potatoes, onion or cheese, sometimes in combination. Ravioli are traditionally filled with meats and cheeses.
The Outside “Dough”
Pierogi dough is just flour and water. Raviolis are made using an egg pasta.
Preparation
Pierogies are boiled and/or pan fried in butter and onions.  Served pan to plate without a sauce. Ravioli are only boiled and served in a sauce.
I admire a chef that likes to be creative and make creative leaps with their food as long as the integrity of the dish remains in tact.  Though most traditional yinzers (term for a local Pittsburgh native) may say that putting short ribs in a piegori is a sin, I think it is creative genius.
So now you have to decide, is it the shape, stuffing, dough or preparation that would cause you to sway one way or the other?