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Pittsburgh chefs serve up Thanksgiving to go

By Liz Furrer, Point Park News Service:

Chef Jason Dalling of The Habitat Restaurant will not only be cooking up a high-end, takeout Thanksgiving dinner, but will also be helping answer the 'Turkey Hotline' to answer questions about reheating after the meal is picked up. Photo: The Habitat Restaurant
Chef Jason Dalling of Habitat will be cooking a high-end, takeout Thanksgiving dinner — and handling a “Turkey Hotline” to answer questions about reheating after the meal is picked up. Photo: submitted.

Five years ago, John Dziadyk received so many phone calls about whether his restaurant offered Thanksgiving dinner takeout that he decided to try it. Now he receives 30 takeout dinner orders per year.

Across town, executive chef John Fraser will serve homemade cranberry orange relish, and Jeanne Lewis will mash three hundred to four hundred pounds of potatoes for hungry clients.

These restaurants are riding a new wave of turkey day business: the takeout meal, and this non-traditional fashion is becoming a popular alternative to Thanksgiving Day preparation.

“There are many people nowadays who are changing the traditions of having a completely home-cooked Thanksgiving,” said John Dziadky, owner of Michael’s Restaurant and Lounge on Churchview Avenue in Pittsburgh.

Orders at Michael’s must be placed and paid by Nov. 21.

Other local restaurants and caterers followed suit with more  than 15 establishments offering takeout Thanksgiving dinner options in a 20-mile radius from Downtown. Dinners can be as simple as a meal for one at $17.95 or as big as 20 people for $295.

This is Executive Chef John Fraser’s third year making takeout dinners at the Chelsea Grille.

“How we got involved was through Stevie Kubrick, a loyal customer and good friend. He feeds 180 people every Thanksgiving [in the New Kensington area], and we cook him turkeys for that,” Fraser said. “We figured while we’re here doing turkeys for that, we might as well cook turkeys for people that don’t have the time to do it for themselves.”

Each year they prepare 14 to 20 turkeys, slow roasting them overnight starting at 3 a.m. People can then pick up the turkey and fixings between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Orders must be placed by Nov. 21.

“I have passion for the food and I care about my name,” Fraser said. “When people pick it up and take it home, I want them to come back next year or at least tell their friends that they had this bomb turkey dinner from the Chelsea Grille.”

Jeanne Lewis, owner of A Fare To Remember, in Allison Park, has been in business since 1998 but only offered a to-go Thanksgiving dinner for the past five years. She enjoys helping out the local community members with their holiday plans.

“We have a lot of elderly people that can’t prepare meals and wouldn’t have meals otherwise,” she said. “We see a lot of two-income families as well as single parents coming in.”

Lewis takes a more non-traditional approach by providing everything but the turkey in an a la carte fashion. She also will fill any dish that people bring in.

“Without a doubt, our best-seller is the mashed potatoes because that’s the worst part of the meal. You have to cook them all, peel them, mash them and deal with the boiling water while trying to cook the rest of your meal,” Lewis said. “People have turned to this as an option because everything else is kind of easy. I will probably do 300 to 400 hundred pounds this year.”

The Habitat Restaurant in Pittsburgh is offering a high-end, takeout dinner including herb-roasted light and dark turkey, butternut squash and apple-cider bisque, buttermilk mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and more. Photo: The Habitat Restaurant
Habitat’s Thanksgiving to-go dinner includes herb-roasted light and dark turkey, butternut squash and apple-cider bisque, buttermilk mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Photo: submitted.

Orders must be placed by Nov. 23 and picked up on Nov. 27 no later than 6:00 p.m.

Fresco’s manager Alissa Walter in Wexford already has seven orders for takeout meals and she said the list should grow as the holiday gets closer. It had about a dozen orders last year.

“We have found it is less of a hassle for our customers because people just don’t have time anymore,” Walter said.

Dinner orders range from $159 to $259 and must be placed at least one day prior to Thanksgiving and can be picked up on Nov. 28.

Habitat at Fairmont Pittsburgh is offering a high-end, takeout dinner experience this holiday season.The restaurant is in its second year offering takeout. Orders must be placed by Nov. 22 and picked up on Thanksgiving Day.

“We had about 10 turkey to-go orders last year, and we expect that to double this year,” spokeswoman Julie Abramovic said. “We realized there is a demand in the city for a high-end dinner, same quality that you would get at Habitat, but in a family style to take home.”

Abramovic said the restaurant has seen mostly families with working parents who take advantage of turkey to-go. It is also popular with couples that do not have family in town, she said.

Habitat also offers a “Turkey Hotline”: When customers call in, the chef will walk them through the reheating instructions.

Chef Erin Gauntner of Erin’s Fine Foods said she likes to help out on what she calls the “scariest holiday of the year” for people who cannot cook. She has been serving home-cooked turkey dinners for the past eight years to about 15 to 25 customers. All orders must be received by Nov. 19.

“We cut the carrots and celery to put in our homemade stuffing. All of the pies are made from real apples and handmade dough. It’s all fresh,” Gauntner said.

Other options in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving take-out include the following:

Bistro To Go

P: (412) 231-0218

Boston Market


3776 William Penn Highway

Monroeville, Pa. 15146

P:  (412) 373-7010

98 Clairton Road

Pleasant Hills, Pa. 15236

P:  (412) 653-9490

5200 Baum Boulevard

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15224

P: (412) 683-9752

1736 Washington Road

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15241

P:  (412) 854-5840

978 Greentree Road

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15220

P:  (412) 928-0716

300 Davis Blvd., N. Fayette Township

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15275

P:  (412) 494-4027

4826 McKnight Road

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15237

P:  (412) 369-7750

Giant Eagle Market District


Market District Shadyside

5550 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15232

P:  (412) 621-2453

Market District Robinson

100 Settlers Ridge Center Dr.

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15205

P:  (412) 490-5826

Market District South Hills

South Hills Village Square 7000 Oxford Dr.

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15102

P:  (412) 347-0441

Grand Concourse

100 West Station Square Drive

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219

P:  (412) 261-1717

McGinnis Sisters


Pittsburgh South – Brentwood

3825 Saw Mill Run Blvd (Route 51)

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15227

P:  (412) 882-6400 Ext. 3

Pittsburgh East – Monroeville

4311 Northern Pike

Monroeville, Pa. 15146

P:  (412) 858-7000 Ext. 3

Rania’s To Go

100 Central Sq.

Pittsburgh, PA 15228 (Mt. Lebanon)

P:  412-531-2222

Station Brake Café

500 Station St.

Wilmerding, Pa. 15148

P:  (412) 823-1600

Whole Foods


5880 Centre Ave

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15206

P: 412.441.7960

10576 Perry Highway

Wexford, Pa. 15090

P: 724.940.61

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