By Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor
Sicily. Quebec. Rio de Janeiro. Three continents. Three vastly different culinary traditions. Yet somehow, an example from each was sitting perfectly presented on a table in Pittsburgh, no travel required. That, friends, is the beauty of Streets on Carson.
As the name would suggest, Streets on Carson can be found nestled along South Side’s main drag, a mere two blocks east of the Tenth Street Bridge. Streets made its Pittsburgh debut at the tail end of last month and has been serving up cuisine from around the world to its eager customers ever since.
The goal of the eatery is to provide to its patrons a whirlwind of a dining experience, with a menu built around food found in bazaars, markets and street corners across the globe. From good old American wings to French artisan cheese plates to Chinese spring rolls, options abound for any taste.
Upon entering, guests are greeted with a smattering of art — both permanent murals and impermanent installations — all created by local artists. The “Streets on Carson” moniker also applies to more than just the food on offer, with each table bearing a different roadsign of various streets found in South Side. We got Sarah Street, an airy booth right by the front windows.
The menu isn’t overwhelming in length, but it does pay to get an explanation or two from the server; some of the terms are unsurprisingly foreign. In a somewhat unique take on the ordering process, “courses” aren’t really how to think about the selections. All plates being small to medium portion sizes, attendees are encouraged to order multiple dishes as they go, trying out the various flavors on offer.
Seeing as our group of three wasn’t feeling voracious, we decided to stick with just three: arancini from Sicily, tapioca from Rio de Janeiro and poutine from Quebec. While none of us were in the mood for an adult beverage, Streets does offer an extensive menu filled with craft beers and exotic homemade cocktails. Celery infused vodka, anyone? Maybe next time.
After a short wait, our orders arrived, looking and smelling even better than expected. The arancini — fried rice balls filled with cheese, prosciutto and basil served over a tomato sauce — was as rich and dense as it sounds. There’s just something about melted cheese, basil and tomato that’s perpetually amazing. Highly recommended.
The tapioca is a bit harder to explain. Similar in construction to a crepe or a quesadilla, a soft outer shell made of rice envelops, in our case, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and basil. Yes, it sounds weird. Still, it tasted quite good, much like a novel reinvention of a caprese salad.
Finally came Quebec’s poutine, in this instance with duck fat fried french fries. Poutine with regular fries is one thing, but when they’re made in duck fat… well, just don’t think about the calorie count on that one. It’s a heart attack in a bowl, but boy does it taste good.
As we were short of time and full of stomachs, the dessert menu had to be passed up. It was hard with traditional crepes, cheesecake and gourmet chocolates, but that’s all the more reason to head back for a second go around. If the main courses were any indication, the sweet stuff is sure to be a knockout as well.
In the end, Streets on Carson turned out to be the perfect place for an early evening, light dinner. The menu they’ve curated is well suited to any time of the day and any hunger of the stomach. And, best of all, it’s a hell of a lot easier than hopping on a plane.