Almost as soon as Enrico's Ristorante in Shadyside closed, a new restaurant proclaimed its imminent arrival -- Brasserie 33, announced on paper banners taped into the windows.
A little detective work lead me just up the street, to Omar Mediouni, owner and chef of La Casa. Mr. Mediouni, who moved to Pittsburgh from Morocco in 1998, had been pondering the idea of opening a French brasserie. His mother is French, his father half Spanish and half Moroccan. Mr. Mediouni's hospitality training includes time in France, Spain and Switzerland.
When he heard that a neighborhood storefront would be vacant, his response was both positive and negative. "I love the space, I love the big windows," he said, but on the other hand, "It’s like 100 feet from La Casa. I don’t want to compete with myself."
Still, Mr. Mediouni decided that competition wouldn't be an issue, because both restaurants are small, and they will be very different.
At La Casa, which opened in 2005, he serves casual Spanish tapas. Earlier this year, he added a Moroccan section to the menu, including harira, baked whole sardines in Chermoula sauce, pastilla, tagines and couscous.
At Brassarie 33, Mr. Mediouni wants to serve the rustic French food that he loves, such as bouillabaisse, coq au vin, choucroute garnie and moules frites. "The big difference between a bistro and brasserie, is a brasserie is more seafood and steak and draft beers, there must be draft beers!" he said.
Appetizers will include warm goat cheese salad and frisee aux lardons with a poached egg. Some dishes will be daily specials, say, beouf bourgignon on Mondays, blanquette de veau on Tuesdays, etc. He's also hoping to have a roast free-range chicken for two, served perhaps with sauteed asparagus, pommes frites and "real aioli." Prices will be reasonable. $5-11 for appetizers, $15-20 for entrees.
While he won't have his liquor license until early September, Mr. Mediouni plans to open the restaurant as soon as possible -- hopefully late July -- because of the summer festivals in Shadyside. So for the first four or five weeks, the restaurant will be BYOB.