Though Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene is booming, one region scantly represented has been West Africa. That changed Oct. 5, with the opening of take-out and delivery spot African Taste Cuisine. If it’s fufu (a mash of cassava and plantains) or Davi Red-Red (black-eyed peas in red palm oil and tomato sauce) you’re after, this is your place.
Founder Audrey Brooks was born in Ghana, emigrated to New York, and five years ago moved to Pittsburgh to study nursing. (She’s since switched to accounting.) With no West African restaurants around, she often cooked for visiting friends, who finally suggested, “Why don’t you start something here?”
Brooks, 30, cooks long lunch shifts out of Evo, a rental kitchen in a former Bloomfield church; her husband, Kimball Brooks, handles delivery. The extensive menu of mostly traditional fare includes everything from boiled Ghana yams and stewed goat to meat and vegetable pies and emerging local favorites like kelewele (deep-fried, seasoned plantain). For newcomers, Brooks recommends waakye, a rice-and-bean dish, with fish sauce. West African food tends to be spicy, but Brooks — who sources some rare ingredients in Maryland and New York — says she adjusts for milder tastes.
A week after opening, Brooks said that most of her patrons had been non-Africans trying something new. But Brooks, who lives in Greenfield, already hopes to launch a sit-down version of African Taste by next summer.