By Andrea Bosco Stehle | Photographs by Michael Fornataro


If the walls of 120 S. Whitfield St. could talk, I would listen intently. The century-old building and former YMCA, set in the heart of East Liberty, houses Ace Hotel Pittsburgh. Original wainscoting and terrazzo floors greet neighbors and tourists, who, upon entering, are given a slew of choices anterior to check-in. Offerings are aplenty, from a coffee and cocktail bar, to a utilitarian workspace and built-in window seat for taking ten. Though its major draw, Whitfield, lies at left.

Whitfield Executive Pastry Chef Casey Shively and Executive Chef Bethany Zozula

Whitfield Executive Pastry Chef Casey Shively and Executive Chef Bethany Zozula

The restaurant, which continues to garner national attention, is led by one of Brooklyn’s best butchers, Brent Young, who recruited Executive Chef Bethany Zozula and Executive Pastry Chef Casey Shively to lead his team. The creative forces came together to develop reputable menus, mesmeric to regulars, using their backgrounds, personal appetites, and simply put, their roots.

“Our clientele in general is savvy,” Young says. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, though, which is really exciting. We can make great food, and that’s satisfying because they don’t need something totally insane and brand new.” Shively, who most recently hails from the Batali-and-Bastianich-famed Del Posto in NYC, adds, “We get to create for our families and people we love.” For her, Pittsburgh is like rediscovering a new place because so much has changed in the last decade. “The city has come into its own thing,” she says. “The food scene is exploding, and it’s really nice to be back.”

On the spring menu is roasted rabbit with peas, fingerling potatoes, radishes, pickled pearl onions, and a beurre blanc.

On the spring menu is roasted rabbit with peas, fingerling potatoes, radishes, pickled pearl onions, and a beurre blanc.

Because she was local, Zozula helped to make crucial connections with the restaurant and its purveyors, many of whom she had worked with at her former post as executive sous chef at Eleven. “For me, it’s really exciting to be utilizing the same people,” she says. “I feel like my promotion to chef was good for others as well. Everything has come together just the way we wanted it to.”

Young chimes in, “Beth was the perfect person to tie everything together. Pittsburgh is our hometown and our people. But, in order to actually tie all of those things together, Beth was the one with the actual relationships that make this type of restaurant and eating possible. I think it’s really dynamic that, as a team, we’re pretty comprehensive as far as experience, know-how, and availability to produce.”

Whitfield’s natural light-filled dining room lends to a focus on ingredients and a minimalist approach.

Whitfield’s natural light-filled dining room lends to a focus on ingredients and a minimalist approach.

The kitchen’s humble helm never expected such a sizable response and for Young, they’ve just barely gotten started. “The freedom to create is something we love, and it’s scary at first,” Shively says. “You have to explore what you really want versus should do. I want the things I really love and that always make me happy when I eat them. I feel so lucky because I really love my job. I’ve been really thankful for this opportunity. Coming from fine dining and Michelin stars, it has taught me a lot of discipline, style, and technique, and now I get to do whatever I want, which is great.”

Quips Zozula, “I’m not the person on the Internet trying to find out what everybody’s doing. I’m just trying to make good food that people want to eat. I’m not trying to blow minds. I just want you to come in, eat, be satisfied, and leave…or stay [laughs] — hang out with us!” Don’t mind if we do.

Get lost in the croissant crème brûlée, served with candied croissant and strawberry-hibiscus syrup. Smooth like traditional crème brûlée, Shively purées the pastry into the mixture to achieve its rich flavor.

Get lost in the croissant crème brûlée, served with candied croissant and strawberry-hibiscus syrup. Smooth like traditional crème brûlée, Shively purées the pastry into the mixture to achieve its rich flavor.

Made with vodka, lemon juice, and rosemary simple syrup, the Fritzie Zivic, named for the world-famous boxer from Lawrenceville, is finished with a lemon wheel, cracked black pepper, and smudged rosemary.

Made with vodka, lemon juice, and rosemary simple syrup, the Fritzie Zivic, named for the world-famous boxer from Lawrenceville, is finished with a lemon wheel, cracked black pepper, and smudged rosemary.

Ace Hotel Pittsburgh Food and Beverage Manager Michael Sheets pours steamed milk over Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Hair Bender, a complex espresso blend, for a latte.

Ace Hotel Pittsburgh Food and Beverage Manager Michael Sheets pours steamed milk over Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Hair Bender, a complex espresso blend, for a latte (shown below).

Latte made with Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Hair Bender


+ In April, Whitfield is hosting Weeknight Brewery Dinners, which include four beers (one aperitif and three paired) with a three-course meal, served family-style. Fifty seats are available at $50 each; mega tickets for all four dinners are $175 at acehotel.com.

Monday, April 18
East End Brewing Co.

Tuesday, April 19
Grist House

Wednesday, April 20
Hop Farm Brewing Company

Thursday, April 21
Spoonwood Brewing Company


Whitfield at Ace Hotel Pittsburgh, 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty. 412.626.3090. whitfieldpgh.com.

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