More than one year ago, New York City restaurateur Brian Keyser got a call from City of Asylum, the North Side arts-and-community space and writers’ sanctuary. It wanted him to open a version of his Casellula Cheese and Wine Bar in its new Alphabet City development.
“At the time, I had no real connection to Pittsburgh,” says Keyser. “But I came and saw the space, and looked around the town, and decided it was a good fit.”
The restaurant, which will open next month, is built around cheese and will offer an ever-changing list of 30 to 40 artisanal cheeses, along with primarily Mediterranean-influenced small plates. Casellula’s other restaurant is located in Hell’s Kitchen, and Keyser says he sees similarities between his hometown and Pittsburgh.
“It’s a cliché at this point, but Pittsburgh is a town that feels like Brooklyn did 15 years ago,” Keyser says. “There’s all this energy and excitement around food, restaurants and cocktail culture. There are a lot of young people who are moving here, or staying here rather than moving away.”
Keyser launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to give the city a sense of buy-in with the new North Side location. The goal is set at $50,000.
“I wanted there to be a connection between the restaurant and the people of Pittsburgh,” says Keyser. “I thought this would be a great way for us to raise a small portion of the money we need from locals — people who are actually going to come into the restaurant and be part of our community.”
For more info, visit www.kickstarter.com, and search “casellula.”