The 509 Café and Catering | Restaurant Reviews | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

509 Greenfield Ave., Greenfield


Over the past two decades, Tom Moore says he's worked pretty much every job in the food industry. He's been a bartender, a chef, a restaurant manager and, most recently, a salesman for a major food distributor. Throughout those years, however, one title was missing: restaurant owner.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," says Moore, of Regent Square. 

Moore's dream finally came true in October, when he and his wife, Victoria Clavelli, opened The 509 Café and Catering. Housed in a modest Greenfield storefront (the dining room is currently undergoing renovations), the restaurant combines Moore's culinary experience with Clavelli's catering skills. 

While it offers traditional, inexpensive diner fare -- pancakes, salads -- both the 509's café and catering menus include creations derived from Moore's career as a chef in upscale, Southwestern-style restaurants. "We have some different flavors," says Clavelli.

Take, for example, the 509 Café's best-selling quesadillas. Caramelized onions perfectly complement the melted cheeses and jalapeño of Moore's chicken quesadillas, while his homemade guacamole and salsa provide an added fresh kick. "Our chicken quesadillas are just so good," Clavelli says.

So is the adovo chicken sandwich. Served on a jalapeño-cheddar bun (which Moore makes from scratch, as he does with his white bread), the sandwich features a red-chili seasoning with traces of roasted garlic. "He's really got a lot of signature sauces," explains Clavelli. (Moore's sauces, as well as pre-made sandwiches and salads, will soon be sold in a space adjacent to the dining room, which currently sells grocery items like milk and bread.) 

Moore, who previously worked in restaurants in Phoenix and Atlanta, says the café has been successful, but the catering business "has been off the charts." Its menu boasts some of the chef's most unique dishes.

Seafood options include sweet-potato crab cakes, served with a chipotle rémoulade; vegetarians can enjoy the roasted-pepper burrito, made with roasted poblano and red bell peppers. Meat eaters, meanwhile, can try the 509's fresh tamales.

"We make our own tamales, which is really unusual around here," says Clavelli, who grew up in a family that worked in the catering business. "A lot of people we cater to have never even witnessed a tamale."

For dessert, Clavelli bakes her own specialties, including Mexican chocolate macaroons and chocolate-walnut brownies. Holding two trays of baked goods, she smiles and says, "People rave about my cookies."

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