IN Bethel Park Spring 2018 - Page 16

INGOOD TASTE Candid conversations with the dining scene’s most engaging chefs Edward Shvarts, Owner, Vilka Bistro Vilka Bistro 4607 Library Road, Bethel Park; 412.409.2480, On the Menu: Upscale American fare with an innovative menu of steak, seafood and pasta. The fresh, made-to-order and locally sourced menu begins with lunch, offering a range of op- tions including but not limited to a NY-style Reuben with corned beef, burgers, chicken sandwiches and chef’s specials. Dinner is a succulent selection of crab, steaks, and a mix of pastas and seafood. Ten different drafts are on tap with a variety of beers, IPAs, seasonal beers, crafts, malt and single malt, as well as a tempting wine selection. Describe what led you to open Vilka Bistro. I’ve been in the restaurant industry all of my life. I grew up in this industry in New York City. I attended school in New York and Baltimore and studied business and marketing with a culinary concentration. In 2005, I moved to Pittsburgh. I have family here, plus it’s a great place to raise a family. Before opening Vilka [which is Russian for Q A fork], I owned serveral other concepts. However, within the next few years I plan on opening four new restaurant concepts in the Pittsburgh area. I’ll be focused on giving back too, which is important to our company and I’m happy to donate whenever I can. At my other concepts we contributed product for fundraisers and foundations for hundreds of kids to raise money for local sports teams. There’s a little bit of something for everyone. Who has influenced your cooking the most? When I was 12 years old and living in New York City, I worked for my uncle, Sam, as a dishwasher (back then was the day when you could make kids work and they had no smartphones). He was the owner and chef and I would watch him all of the time. He knew every one of his regulars. He knew when they were coming in, what they would order and he would have it ready for them. To watch him was amazing. What is your inspiration at Vilka Bistro? Mainly, I love to create the menu with my amazing chef, John Curry. I’m inspired by the culinary trends found in New York City, Atlanta and South Beach. I want to take these regions’ colorful presentation and utilize the various fresh ingredients and meats to create something special for people. I like to make sauces and distinctive mixes—food you eat with your eyes. This is very Owner Edward Shvarts (center right) with Chef John Curry (center left) and the staff (and friends) at Vilka Bistro. important to me, as was to develop a fresh menu where nothing is frozen in my restaurant. We have no freezer to make sure of it. What kitchen tool can’t you live without? I would have to say the million-dollar spatula. It saves you a lot of money. It’s like air and you don’t appreciate it until you don’t have it. My spatula is a basic plastic in white with a red top and I carry it with me from place to place. What is your best cooking advice for a novice? It has to be in your blood and it has to be your passion. What is your favorite quick meal to prepare at home? My kids love when I make a grilled, three-cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato bisque soup on the side. I usually use mozzarella, Swiss and American, but I can use Gouda, Muenster—any kind of cheese. It’s all fresh, and the combo of the sandwich and the soup is delicious. Other than your own restaurant, where’s your favorite place to eat? Eleven in the Strip District. They have a pretty good wine menu and happy hour. What is your favorite go-to ingredient? Salt. I don’t even taste my dishes anymore before I dash it in—no matter what. What’s the next big food or dining trend? The next big trend is—and I don’t know if Pittsburgh is ready for this yet—smaller- proportioned meals, tapas style found in designer menus. You have a full dinner, but for example you order fish, and it’s cut and prepared in four different ways. It’s fresh, new and made to order. n Shrimp Gumbo with Cajun rice and a Creole sauce. 14 724.942.0940 TO ADVERTISE ❘ —Reese Randall