1330 Bingham St., South Side
412-381-4977 or www.gypsycafe.net
Eggs, bacon, pancakes, potatoes and fruit are the foundation of any brunch menu. Diners will find configurations of these staples at South Side's Gypsy Café -- they just won't know what they're called.
Brunch, served Sundays from noon to 3 p.m., offers chef Jim Dietz's hearty, seasonal updates on diner fare. His inventive twists on the classics, plus the reasonable prices and generous portions, are well worth a stop.
But Dietz, a self-confessed lover of geek culture, assigns every brunch a theme, and thus transforms each menu into a detailed homage. Areas of inspiration include cartoons, graphic novels, television, video games and films. Where else can you enjoy a Watchmen brunch, replete with "Smiley Face Pancakes," "Black Freighter Bagel" and a quiz about the famed graphic novel?
Even after six years of such brunches, Dietz keeps finding new ways to describe scrambled eggs. MST3K and Monty Python are two of the recurring themes, and departed celebs such as Mr. Rogers and Michael Jackson have inspired tributes. Dietz can even put together a by-request theme for special events: A recent fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation highlighted classic literature (no doubt exercising Dietz's not-so-useless degrees in English and creative writing).
On Saturday, Dietz posts the new theme to Gypsy Café's Facebook page -- or you can be surprised on site. Last weekend's New Year's brunch understandably heralded some much-anticipated 2010 geek-culture films and events.
Pumped for the remake of Clash of the Titans? Get your stop-motion groove on now with "Hash of the Titans," a brunch fave that combines Hungarian pot roast with home-fried potatoes. Iron Man 2 gets a shout-out as a French toast re-vamp, and "Final Fantasy Frittatas" have eggs quivering for the upcoming Version XIII.
Another popular entrée becomes Dietz's homage to the forthcoming God of War III video game. "God of Porridge" is made from bulgur wheat, the same grain used in tabbouleh. Sweetened with honey, butter and brown sugar, and augmented with cinnamon, dried cranberries, walnut, and slices of fresh pears and apples, it's a stick-to-your-ribs power-load, crucial for smiting troublesome Greek deities ... or surviving a Pittsburgh winter.
Even after dark, Gypsy remains a lively, multi-tasking sort of eatery: Beside the full menu of Pan-European comfort food, there are ongoing regular events such as Gypsy Strings, Mr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School and tarot readings.
But what's for brunch next Sunday? That's still a delicious mystery.