Nu Bistro in Squirrel Hill is the kind of place you could easily walk right on by. A Jewish restaurant in a Jewish neighborhood? Sounds okay, but not very interesting for those who do not know better.
Sure, Nu Bistro is the kind of place where you can get classics like a Reuben and other Jewish delicacies (which are readily available throughout Squirrel Hill).
But it's also the kind of place that takes totally not Jewish foods, turns them into Jewish versions, and does such an awesome job of the transformation that it makes you think those foods were Jewish all along.
So before you visit Nu Bistro, be sure to take all expectations and throw them out the window.
A Unique Twist on Popular Sandwiches
At first glance, the menu at Nu Bistro seems somewhat predictable: you've got potato latkes, matzo ball soup, Reubens, and other deli style sandwiches. If you take another look, though, you'll notice a few less common menu items like kishka and kreplach, which have helpful descriptions on the restaurant walls.
But the curve ball comes when you notice the Jewbano (smoked corned beef and roasted brisket standing in for the roasted pork and ham) and the Jewish style banh mi (with your choice of turkey or corned beef).
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The most wonderful thing of all, though, is that the restaurant smokes and cures their own meats, along with making their own pickles.
Although we were tempted on getting the Jewbano because, let's face it, that's an awesome sandwich hybrid, we ultimately chose the Jewish banh mi because it's one of our favorite sandwiches and we wanted to see how it stacked up.
With smoked corned beef, jalapeno slaw, spicy mayo, chopped liver, and onion, there's a lot going on. If you're expecting a traditional banh mi flavor, you'd probably be disappointed as the toppings only give a subtle nod to the Vietnamese original.
However, we went into it with an open mind and thoroughly enjoyed the predominant flavors which were the delicious corned beef and the very umami chopped liver. Our choice of side was french fries which were adequately crispy and tasty.
We also got a side of potato latkes which were fried to golden perfection, had a nice onion flavor, and came with a complimentary refill of sour cream (which is almost necessary for a serving this large).
For our second sandwich we had to try something Reuben-esque as we are on a quest to find the city's best iteration of this iconic sandwich. Because I like coleslaw more than sauerkraut, I chose the Rachel with smoked corned beef, cole slaw, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing.
The rye bread was grilled in a good amount of butter, one of the hallmarks, in my opinion, of a great Rachel or Reuben. The toppings were good, but the best part of the sandwich was the meat. The corned beef had so much flavor- smokey, spicy (with hints of baking spices like cinnamon), and rich without being overly fatty.
I think it's rare to find a Reuben where the meat is the most memorable component, but it definitely was on this sandwich.
We're so glad we didn't just walk on by this one!
Nu Bistro is located at 1711 Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.
For more delicious Reubens in Pittsburgh, check out our reviews of the very best in the city at the previous link!