Updating classic comfort food has been A Thing in contemporary dining for a while. So perhaps it's no surprise to see Jewish comfort food getting its turn. It's certainly no surprise that it's being done in Squirrel Hill by Pam Cohen and Gail Klingensmith, who own Pamela's Diner next door.
Their "modern Jewish bistro" is called "Nu," which is both a Yiddish expression (meaning "so? well?") and a reflection of culinary approach. The menu, compiled by chef Kelsey Sukel and Cohen's sister Risé, "uses Jewish ingredients in a modern way," says Cohen.
Located at 1711 Murray Ave., Nu retains a global perspective (though everything from making pickles to carving meat is done on site). The vegetarian sandwich, for example, includes fried eggplant and mango chutney.
Nu had a soft launch about two weeks ago, garnering positive word-of-mouth. But you can't please everyone, especially when you're updating Jewish recipes in Pittsburgh's most traditional Jewish neighborhood.
"We've had 85-year-olds come in and say, ‘This isn't how you make it,'" Cohen says. Especially controversial is whether matzoh balls should be "floaters or sinkers" when added to soup: "It's a cultural thing from family to family," says Cohen. (Nu is in the sinker camp.)
But Klingensmith and Cohen stress the universal appeal of their "Montreal smoked meat" — a new-to-Pittsburgh beef brisket that is salted and dry-cured.
"You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy it," says Klingensmith. Though of course ... it couldn't hurt.