Last Updated on by Jeremy
What do you get when you combine the food hall concept found in East Asia with executive chefs and Pittsburgh's Strip District?
The answer is Smallman Galley, and this addition into Pittsburgh's food scene is going to change the way you look at new restaurants.
The reason? This one features not just one chef, but four.
Two chefs left Smallman Galley at the beginning of June, and two concepts will be joining in shortly. Once we visit the new concepts we will update this review to feature all the chefs again!
The Concept of Smallman Galley
Described as an incubator restaurant, Smallman Galley is focused on helping four chefs take the leap from being executive chefs at local restaurants to becoming business owners- which is accomplished through a number of ways.
The first is the food hall concept. The design of the restaurant is such that each chef works in a micro kitchen out in the open for all to see. Rather than ordering at your table with the chefs hidden in the back kitchen, at Smallman Galley you go up to each stall, check out the menu, and even talk to the chef who is preparing your food.
The second is the training that is involved. The galley is closed on Mondays which is a training day where the chefs learn concepts useful to business owners and to meet with potential investors.
The third is the timeline. Most chefs at Smallman Galley receive a 12-month contract. At the end of the 12 months new chefs will come in, while these chefs head out (hopefully in Pittsburgh) to launch their very own restaurant (however recently a few concepts received extensions so the replacement schedule is more staggered now).
Smallman Galley doesn't end there, as they also feature an incredible bar- with one of the best draft lists for local beer in the city, a coffee corner, and a beautiful restaurant design worthy of the Strip District's rich history.
Naturally, to truly give Smallman Galley a fair shake we had to eat at all four micro restaurants with four large meals and several trips to the restaurant's amazing bar. But rather than separating our reviews out into four articles, we're featuring micro reviews of each here in this not so micro post.
If food could give you a hug, the food at Home would definitely do just that. It's straight up comfort food with a few modern twists thrown in.
The menu has hints of southern influences like the chicken and buttermilk biscuits with pimento cheese grits and pepper jelly, and the fried green tomatoes on top of the pulled pork sandwich.
We opted for the meat and potatoes, which was a saucy short rib ragu that was super tender combined with creamy parmesan gnocchi. Blistered cherry tomatoes provided an acidic counterpoint, and dots of a whipped basil sauce brought the freshness.
Desserts are served in cannning jars and the flavors change daily – on our visit it was their take on a strawberry pretzel salad with a buttery pretzel crust layer topped with a strawberry jello layer, a cheesecake layer, and whipped cream. This dessert is huge, so definitely share it with others!
Ba-Co opened at Smallman Galley in early 2019 and focuses on artisan tacos that are one-part street food and one-part barbecue.
This means you can get gems like Not Your Grandma's (topped with southern hot chicken, honey and garlic slaw, pimento cheese, and red onions) and the Trail Blazer (smoked pork belly, street corn, chili lime aioli, onion, queso fresco, and creme frech) on a single plate.
The portions are large (overflowing with toppings, really) and, to be quite honest, rather delicious with well-balanced flavors that you can tell have been thought out and tested many times over. On our first visit the only slight complaints we had was that the southern hot chicken was labeled as spicy, but had virtually no heat, and at $12 for two you are indeed paying a premium compared to conventional tacos- but are compensated for their generous sizes and unique flavor profiles.
Looking forward to trying more from this one soon!
Mangiamo is an Italian themed concept at Smallman Galley which features an array of small plates, paninis, pastas, and flat breads.
During our first visit we were able to sample a mix of the calamari small plate as well as the eggplant parm panini.
The calamari was lightly fried and served with a rather substantial amount of Calabrian chilies as well as a lemon aioli on the side. For the price (about $10), you really cannot beat the portion size in this one.
The eggplant parm panini featured fried eggplant as well as fresh mozzarella, basil, parmesan, and red sauce as well as a light salad on the side. For the price (~$12) the sandwich was a wonderful portion; however, we would've preferred just a bit more of the eggplant to fill the sandwich relative to the bread. All things being equal, call us impressed.
Sultry opened at Smallman Galley in mid-2019 and focuses on an array of Eastern European dishes including schnitzel, pierogies, chicken paprikash, and more.
What we really like about this one is how well executed the dishes are with complex and often hearty flavor profiles. The beef shortrib in the pierogies offers a nice compliment to the potato-filled classics, and the dumplings that accompanied the chicken paprikash have a pillowy texture you really need to try to understand.
Our only one downside for this particular stall is that the price is on the higher end, but that being said for perfectly executed Eastern European fare we can get behind that!
An Incredible Addition to Pittsburgh's Restaurant Scene
After this recent round of visits, we have to say that Smallman Galley is quickly making its way onto our list of all-around favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh.
An awesome happy hour (half off all drinks), a fantastic local draft beer list, creative and delicious food, lots of variety so that there's something for everyone, and a buzzing atmosphere make this spot one of our go-to's for a fun night out, weekend brunch, or entertaining out of town guests.
It should be yours, too.