Musa Caribbean/Cajun Fare provides something of a getaway without leaving the city. The Beechview restaurant is hidden in plain sight, treating Broadway Avenue to island-inspired food inside a deceptively plain brick building.
Owner Kenrick Cheong is from Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast. His parents hail from the Caribbean and Cheong’s relationship to both Cajun and Caribbean cuisine is clear in every dish. Plates are simple but assembled thoughtfully.
Musa provides a respite from the flood of industrial modern gastropubs, going for comfort rather than trend. Musa knows what it is and plays to those strengths. It’s a rainbow of pop-art posters, empty Red Stripe bottles, colored lights, surfboards, and palm trees. Bright chalkboards quip fitting puns, like “wash your palms” or the classic “don’t worry, be happy.”
The menu was concise and captivating. I didn’t just want to taste everything, I needed to. But, for the sake of my stomach and the kitchen’s sanity, I settled on a few things: gumbo, plantain chips, wings, and West Indies curry.
My plantain chips were crisp and thin, not drenched in frying oil. A light sprinkle of salt complemented the tart sweetness. It was the sauce, a handcrafted chimichurri kicking with garlic, that put the dish over the top.
Musa’s gumbo was sensational. The base, a dark roux, was so perfectly spiced I couldn’t discern the blend. Flavors were deep and layered over each other, reaching some kind of gumbo nirvana.
A decadent sauce drew me to wings, though the vague “Cajon joojoo” name didn't do it justice. The wings contend for best in the ‘Burgh, freshly fried and piping hot. They were the type of wings that made me forget I had sauce on my face, my shirt, and all over the table. I refused to put them down.
The West Indies curry was, according to our server, just like his grandmother’s. Curry, paired with roti and rice, was intensely earthy and savory, not sweet like a Thai or Indian curry. It featured fresh, plump shrimp, so fresh I expected a boat to pull out of the parking lot. The roti —a circular, pressed, pan-fried croissant —dazzled me.
If Musa didn’t already have my affection, they won me over with dessert. It was a simple, house-made brown sugar and bourbon custard served plain in a mug. The custard was like velvet, the caramel and nutty sugar coexisting beautifully.
There is no match for Musa. Pittsburgh, you can find paradise right outside your front door. It’s time to go taste.
Musa knows that it’s never a bad time for a boa. The bar is decked out with bright feathers, adorning the tops of rum bottles with flair.
Stacks of plantains block the chef’s view to the dining room, diminishing as the night goes on.
3. Rotating Menu
Every few weeks, dishes are added and taken away. So make sure to grab favorites before they’re gone.