Dumpling ProjectIntroChinaE/SE AsiaHimalayasUzbekistanItalyE EuropeWrap-up
Pressure cooker momo with garnishes at Allegheny Spice Kitchen in Baldwin. (Justin Guido/for the Post-Gazette)
Dumpling Project Wrap-up
6 parts, 64 places to eat. The Pittsburgh Dumpling Project highlights ‘the very definition of comfort food’
By Hal B. Klein
June 20, 2024

Over the past three months, the Pittsburgh Dumpling Project took on a 6,000-mile journey from the bustling cities of East Asia to the sun-soaked boot of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea. We explored thousands of years of global culinary history, stuffing it into the contemporary tapestry of Pittsburgh dynamism.

We did it all without leaving Western Pennsylvania.

Also see:

The best dumplings in Pittsburgh

Instead, we met people living in the region who take pride in preparing dumplings from China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Italy and Eastern Europe. Each dumpling they make is deeply personal. All of them are vital to the fabric of our collective home.

Amazing Dumplings owners Fenping Geng and her husband Feng Gao inspired the Dumpling Project. (Post-Gazette)
Longtime cook Carla Calvitti, 85, cuts cheese ravioli at Tillie’s Restaurant in McKeesport. (Sebastian Foltz/Post-Gazette)
Arati Thapa and her husband, Dinesh Nepal, owners of D’s Bubble Tea and Cafe in Whitehall, hold four kinds of momo. (Lucy Schaly/Post-Gazette)
Mike Chen, owner of Everyday Noodles, introduced Pittsburgh to xiao long bao when he opened his Squirrel Hill restaurant in 2013. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette )
Soju executive chef/owner Simon Chough with a bowl of foraged ramp and morel mandu at his Garfield restaurant. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette )
Helen Mannarino shows off freshly cooked potato and cheese pierogies made before opening at Pierogies Plus in McKees Rocks. (Esteban Marenco/Post-Gazette)

“When you think about the influence migration to the United States has on its cuisine, it's an unbelievably robust thing, more than anywhere else in the entire world,” says Tim Ryan, the Pittsburgh-born president of the Culinary Institute of America.

This undertaking hatched during a meal at Amazing Dumplings last winter. Two years ago, I wrote about how owners Fenping Geng and Feng Gao represented a wave of Chinese chefs who had been cooking in Pittsburgh for years, yet only recently fully embraced placing the regional specialties of their first homes front and center on their menus.

Eric White makes his PGH Dumplingz in the Catapult Greater Pittsburgh commercial kitchen. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)

The more I thought about their story, the more I understood that what the couple adds to Pittsburgh’s food history is profoundly interconnected to what waves of Polish, Ukrainian and Italian immigrants in search of a better life brought here more than 125 years ago.

It’s a remarkably similar edible narrative that refugees from Bhutan brought here 15 years ago and what immigrants from Uzbekistan and refugees from Afghanistan are bringing to Pittsburgh today.

“When people come from other places, they bring their background in food and they share it with the greater community — and that’s just wonderful,” says Dana Gold, chief operating officer of the refugee resettlement organization Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh.

Edward Lai, head chef and co-owner of Bae Bae's Kitchen, left, and Anthony Gilmore, lead prep cook, prep chicken dumpling stuffing. (Benjamin B. Braun/Post-Gazette)

All of these diverse groups are connected through dumplings.

For the Pittsburgh Dumpling Project, we traced the lines of what Italians called “stuffed pasta” from its nexus in the remote regions of Northern China to the personalized mandu prepared in Korea. We found cheese and cumin replacing tofu and chives in the momo of the Himalayan mountains.

Potatoes enter the conversation in Uzbek dumplings via vareniki from Siberia, and those tubers take on a starring role in the Eastern European pierogi. The famous 13th-century merchant Marco Polo didn’t actually bring ravioli to Italy, yet there are substantial similarities between the skin of those dumplings and that of a wonton.

“The history of cuisines are all about things getting mixed and mingled, exported and co-mingled,” says Ryan.

Longtime Jimmy Wan's chef Ken Wu prepares dim sum dumplings at the O’Hara restaurant. (Sebastian Foltz/Post-Gazette)
Nilvfar Mirzaeva sprinkles seasoning on veggies and beef for juvava dumplings at Chaykhana, an Uzbek restaurant in the West End. (Lucy Schaly/Post-Gazette)

The best part about this history is that we all get to actively participate in Pittsburgh’s contribution to its story. In the six-part series, we listed 64 places to get them.

“Everyone can come here. Everyone can eat all the different foods from where we are from,” says Pawan Ghimirey, owner of Allegheny Spice Kitchen. “It’s not easy to run a restaurant, but you get to share your food and your cuisine with other people who will enjoy it.”

PG Food editor Gretchen McKay took the helm of home-cooked dumplings, learning about silky jiaozi from former Pittsburgher Hannah Che, author of the James Beard Award-winning “The Vegan Chinese Kitchen;” crispy gyoza from Rie McClenny, author of “Make it Japanese;” juicy momo from home cook Radhika Acharya; luscious mantu from Afghan caterer Mastoorah Fazly; chewy ravioli from chef and TikTok sensation Ryan Peters; and indulgent pierogi from small business owner Olive Visco.

Pasta maker Carla Branduzzi with ravioli at Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville. (John Colombo/For the Post-Gazette)

“Dumplings are very labor intensive, but often you make them as a big group. So you're sharing family time, you're sharing your culture,” says Jimmy Wan, Jr. of Jimmy Wan’s. “It's a skill that's passed down from generation to generation.”

McKay estimates she prepared “hundreds” of dumplings while testing recipes from each geography. Her big takeaway, she says, is dumplings might take some time to make, but they’re easier to prepare than you think they might be. They’re also always delicious, even if you haven’t mastered a perfect crimp on the edges.

As we delved deeper into the personal stories behind these beloved dumplings throughout the Pittsburgh Dumpling Project, we found juicy, flavorful bites proudly rooted in the delicate crimp of xiao long bao, the aromatic burst of a momo, the comforting heft of a pierogi bridging past and present. Dumplings are a living, active embrace of cultural and family histories intertwined with joy in making them distinctly Pittsburgh.

They also freeze well.

“Isn’t that the definition of a comfort food?” says Edward Lai, chef and co-owner of Bae Bae’s Kitchen. “They’re right there when you need them.”

Hal B. Klein: hklein@post-gazette.com

Korea Garden 2 co-owner Seok Kun Han at his stall in Novo Asian Food Hall in the Strip District. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)
Carl Funtal, chef and owner of Cop Out Pierogies in Etna. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)
Pizza Bari owner Khurshid Toshpulatov with an assortment of manti. (Justin Guido/For the Post-Gazette)

These 18 dumplings stand out as we conclude our Pittsburgh Dumpling Project

I listed 64 establishments serving terrific dumplings over the course of the six chapters in the Post-Gazette’s Pittsburgh Dumpling Project. Each location mentioned represented the best dumplings I found during my reporting for the specific geography of that installment.

Narrowing down an already-excellent list to a smaller number of top choices was a deliciously challenging endeavor. I decided to honor all of the sections with three top picks from each.

Colorful dumplings and other noodle dishes at Amazing Dumplings. (Post-Gazette)

Amazing Dumplings

Spicy hot oil sesame dumplings (Chinese)

Amazing Dumplings is Pittsburgh’s go-to spot for classic and contemporary northern Chinese dumplings. Co-owner Fenping Geng’s artful creations begin with scratch-made wrappers. She then adds vibrant layers of colors with homemade vegetable dyes, bringing fantastical creations such as dumplings inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” to Pittsburgh.

Geng and her husband, Feng Gao, offer a menu of traditional northern dumplings, such as pork with pickled cabbage, plus contemporary spins including General Gao’s beef and mapo tofu. Our favorite are the spicy hot oil sesame dumplings. They hit that sweet nexus of heat, earthiness and savoriness that keeps you digging into the bowl for more.

5882 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; instagram.com/amazing_dumplings

Xiao long bao at Everyday Noodles. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)

Everyday Noodles

Xiao long bao (Chinese)

The Squirrel Hill restaurant introduced Pittsburgh to xiao long bao in 2013. These craving-inducing specialties, first prepared near Shanghai in the late 1800s, are sometimes known as soup dumplings in the U.S. At Everyday Noodles, they’re filled with gelatinized pork and chicken broth, chopped pork with aromatics, or pork and crab filling.

Poke through the gorgeous top crimping, slurp some intoxicating broth, add a dash of black vinegar and go to town. The restaurant also sports silky-crispy potstickers, earthy vegetable dumplings and occasional weekend specials such as shrimp with loofah.

5875 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; everydaynoodles.net

Pork and Shaoxing wine with scallion oil juicy dumpling special at Parlor Dim Sum. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)

The Parlor Dim Sum

Rotating juicy dumpling special (Chinese)

Everything is scratch-made at Parlor Dim Sum, where you’ll find a strong and varied selection of Hong Kong- and Cantonese-inspired dumplings.

Over the last few months, chef/owner Roger Li began experimenting with juicy dumpling specials, spinning out hits such as pork neck and watercress wrapped in a beet-stained skin, juicy pork shoulder with Shaoxing wine and vibrant scallion paste, as well as a vegan miso-seitan permutation. This project is what puts the Lawrenceville restaurant on our best list over some worthy contenders.

4401 Butler St., Lawrenceville; theparlordimsum.com

Mandu at Soju. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)


Rotating mandu (Korean)

Chef/owner Simon Chough’s mandu are an exquisite expression of his Korean American heritage. He tends to offer the from-scratch dumplings at his Garfield restaurant once or twice a week, so be sure to jump on them if they’re on the menu when you visit (and check Soju’s social media to see when he’s serving).

His dumplings have a silky skin filled with a dynamic blend of ingredients and toppings. An April iteration included a mixture of foraged morel mushrooms and ramps, pork, beef, kimchi and tofu perfumed with aromatics and garnished with scallion oil, chili oil, green onions and sesame seeds. Although we prefer a steady output on our “best” lists so that readers can be sure to get some, Chough’s heart and attention to detail give these beautiful dumplings a special occasion boost.

4923 Penn Ave., Garfield; simonchough.wixsite.com/sojupgh

Gui chai (garlic chive dumplings) at Took Took 98. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette )

Took Took 98

Gu chai (Thai)

Nathanan “Natalie” Manjeen offers a lens into Thai street food at her charming Squirrel Hill restaurant. Go for gu chai, a Thai favorite that’s hard to find in Pittsburgh. The crispy, chewy wrapper is prepared with glutinous rice, wheat and tapioca flours. It’s filled with pungent Chinese chives, crimped in a style similar to xiao long bao, and then pressed to form a patty. The steamed and pan-fried dumplings are a study of texture and flavor, given an additional boost by a sweet chili dipping sauce.

While you’re there, get an order of dumplings simply listed as “dumplings.” These are Manjeen’s spin on siu mai, except with a top folded like an envelope to enclose the family-recipe blend of pork, egg, scallions, onions and chestnuts.

2018 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; tooktook98.com

Fried mandu at Korea Garden 2. (Sebastian Foltz/Post-Gazette)

Korea Garden 2

Mandu (Korean)

As of press time, Seok Kun Han’s gorgeous dumplings are only available on weekends at his Korea Garden 2 restaurant in Novo Asian Food Hall.

They’re so tasty it’s even worth making a trip to the Strip (even though it’s hectic down there at week’s end) to crush an order or two of the blend of ground beef, tofu, vermicelli noodles, zucchini, onions, garlic, green onions, and a touch of sugar to balance them, all stuffed inside handmade wrappers that are steamed and then pan-fried to a gorgeous golden brown.

1931 Smallman St., Strip District, novoasianfoodhall.com

Pressure cooker momo at Allegheny Spice Kitchen. (Justin Guido/For the Post-Gazette)

Allegheny Spice Kitchen

Pressure cooker momo (Himalayan)

Fresh-made and innovative are the two driving qualities at Allegheny Spice Kitchen, which opened in February in a space that previously housed a different Bhutanese-Nepali restaurant.

Right now, it’s the only place in town to get pressure cooker momo. Those are worth ordering simply for the theater of a small, oblong pressure cooker hissing aromatics as tender dumplings are revealed in a vigorously bubbling, brick-red broth. The combination of warm baking spices and building heat makes these a must-get for their flavor, too.

4871 Clairton Blvd., Baldwin Borough

A spread of momo including juicy jhol momo, front, at Taste Of The Himalayas. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette )

Taste of the Himalayas

J-momo/steamed momo (Himalayan)

The wrappers on Taste of the Himalayas’ J-momo get extra supple as they inhale the earthy baking-spice seasoning of the artfully prepared, deceptively hot broth. Be sure to order steamed momo, too; the skins have a pleasant chew that yields a filling with big flavors of onion and cilantro.

The Baldwin restaurant’s achar, sometimes called momos chutney, is light and zesty, with heat that crescendos to an impact.

5134 Clairton Blvd., Baldwin; tasteofthehimalayapa.com

Steamed momo with a spicy chutney at Double Fresh. (Tim Robbibaro/For the Post-Gazette)

Double Fresh

Steamed momo (Himalayan)

The small restaurant tucked inside a grocery store of the same name offers some of Pittsburgh’s most refreshing and invigorating momo. The two-person kitchen crew prepares light, fresh vegetable dumplings with vegetal cabbage notes balanced by creamy bites of farmer's cheese.

The chicken filling is well seasoned, juicy and packed with more vegetables. What puts these dumplings over the top is the establishment’s assertive momo chutney. Its pull-no-punches heat and dominant cumin flavor offer a perfect balance to the mild vegetable dumplings.

5250 Brownsville Road, Baldwin; doublefresh.net

Manti at Chaykhana Pittsburgh. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)

Chaykhana Pittsburgh

Manti (Uzebek)

Pittsburgh’s newest Uzbek restaurant came onto the scene in late 2023, when owner Sarvar Abdurashidov decided to refurbish his pizza parlor, Bella Monte, into a haven for the foodways from his native country.

Among the highlights of the still-growing menu (and most excellent) dumpling menu are sturdy, savory manti. They’re filled with tender, hand-chopped beef, onions and a blend of spices, with the low-hydration dough held together with a football-like pleating. We’re also big fans of Chaykhana’s light, uplifting pelmeni soup.

410 S. Main St., West End; instagram.com/chaykhanapittsburgh

Chewy pelmeni in a lamb and dill broth from Pizza Bari. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)

Pizza Bari

Chuchvara in broth (Uzbek)

Khurshid Toshpulatov and Sultonmurod Dshbulatov opened Pizza Bari as an all-halal pizza joint intending to cater to Pittsburghers who follow Islamic dietary principles. Even now, you’ll have to visit the Downtown establishment to find the restaurant’s terrific Uzbek menu.

Dumplings are offered in a number of ways. Our favorite is the restaurant’s version of chuchvara (sometimes known as pelmeni). The marble-sized dumplings have a doughy skin with a meaty-oniony punch in the filling. Served in a dilly lamb broth, it is among Pittsburgh’s best comfort foods.

955 Liberty Ave., Downtown; pizzabaripgh.com

Mantu at Afghan Kabab House. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)

Afghan Kabab House

Mantu (Afghan)

Primary chef Gul Ghoati’s mantu at Kabab House appear like miniature volcanoes, with double wrappers folded over a blend of finely chopped, gorgeously seasoned juicy meat. Once steamed, they are thicker at the bottom and nearly translucent on the sides, adding a textural adventure to the mix.

They are topped with a hefty helping of lentils and dressed with yogurt, oregano and a pleasingly oily tomato sauce, turning the dumplings into the primary player of a complete meal. Notes of garlic, turmeric, cumin and coriander permeate the plate, bringing this balanced, luscious dish deeper into a world of craveable dumplings.

Preparing mantu is labor-intensive, so it’s best to call ahead to make sure the kitchen’s handiwork is offered at the small restaurant on any given day.

231 E. Main St., Carnegie; kababnow.com

Roasted butternut squash ravioli in a brown sage butter sauce from Senti. (Sebastian Foltz/Post-Gazette)


Whatever stuffed pasta is on the menu (Italian)

Senti in Lawrenceville is a celebration of Northern Italian cooking. Executive chef Antonio Garcia and his team are big on nuance, coaxing the best flavors out of ingredients without overcomplicating them.

Stuffed pasta on its elegant menu varies with the seasons, but you can expect whatever is offered to be beautifully prepared. In April, silken ravioli skins contained subtle spinach-ricotta filling. The dumplings were bathed in gorgeous butter sauce, with woody thyme adding enough herbal punch to uplift the dish and a hint of lemon to bring brightness.

Last year, agnolotti di vitello, wondrous dumplings stuffed with veal and herbs, swam in a bright veal and sage broth.

3473 Butler St., Lawrenceville; sentiresaurant.com

“Parmioli” a combination of chicken parmesan topped with cheese ravioli from Tillie's Restaurant. (Sebastian Foltz/Post-Gazette)


Parmioli (Italian)

The McKeesport restaurant, established in 1962, is one of the region's last vestiges of excellent classic, old-school Italian-American dining restaurants. Dragicia “Carla” Calvitti, 85, makes the saucer-sized cheese ravioli for Tillie’s, just as she’s done for several decades. The pillowy skins ooze a delectable cheese filling that mingles magnificently with the establishment’s signature tomato sauce.

The move here is to order parmioli, which features one of those gorgeous dumplings set atop a chicken Parmigiana, forming the region’s dreamiest dumpling-plus experience. Get a standalone order of those cheese ravioli, too.

308 36th St., McKeesport; tillies.com

Saint Ravioli ‘Philly Cheesesteak” ravioli prepared with owner Justin Avi's sesame whiz sauce, dressed with chili oil and parsley. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette )

Saint Ravioli

Monthly selections (Italian)

Justin Avi brings a modern spin on Italian cuisine to the city's historic “Little Italy” with his handmade stuffed pasta enterprise, Saint Ravioli.

He offers a rotating variety of dumplings at the Bloomfield takeaway, drawing influences from the classics (burrata alla vodka, quattro formaggi), sandwiches (porchetta, Philly cheesesteak), holidays (elotes for Cinco de Mayo) and bar food (Buffalo chicken). Avi also offers sauces designed to pair with specific flavors, though, of course, you can also dress them as you please.

The ravioli and sauces come frozen, along with instructions for cooking. Place orders in advance via Avi's website to schedule a pickup.

4615 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; saintravioli.com

Pierogi with stuffed cabbage and kielbasa at Pierogies Plus. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette )

Pierogies Plus

Cottage cheese and chives pierogi; everything else (Eastern European)

Over the past 30-plus years, Warsaw, Poland-born Helen Mannarino has turned her McKees Rocks storefront into the central hub for Pittsburgh pierogi. They come with a variety of fillings, most of them classic. Pierogies Plus is primarily a takeout spot, though a few outdoor tables are available for guests to savor hot versions of offerings such as airy, herby cottage cheese and chive, a spin on what can sometimes be a heavy dumpling. Mannarino’s classic buttery pierogi topped with sautéed onions are a go-to as well.

Mannarino offers an extraordinary diversity of ingredients via special order, which requires 48 hours' notice. You’ll find Pierogies Plus dumplings at bars and restaurants such as Gooski’s in Polish Hill and Knossos Gyros in Dormont.

342 Island Ave., McKees Rocks; pierogiesplus.com

Potato pierogi with melted leeks, sauerkraut and onion sour cream at EYV. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)


Potato pierogi (Eastern European)

Michael Godlewski's EYV is a celebration of vegetables. His progressive, forward-thinking menu at the Deutschtown restaurant is one of the most of-the-moment in town. Godlewski gets there by being rooted in respect for classic dishes, including his homage to pierogi. The plating of the dish is refined, with laces of onion-infused sour cream framing precision-browned dumplings topped with a web of dehydrated sauerkraut.

The technique, however, is timeless: tender-chewy house-made dough enriched with eggs and sour cream offers a yielding tug when boiled, and the creamy Yukon gold potato filling resembles the best holiday mashed potatoes.

424 E. Ohio St., Deutschtown; eyvrestaurant.com

Yuca pierogi at Lilith in come topped with salsa verde, salsa criolla and fresh herbs. (Hal B. Klein/Post-Gazette)


Yucca pierogi (Eastern European meets Puerto Rican)

You’ll find the most visually stunning pierogi plate in Pittsburgh at Lilith in Shadyside. Co-chef/co-owner Jamilka Borges draws influences from her Puerto Rican heritage to craft a sophisticated dumpling stuffed with yuca, a starchy tuber.

The vivid colors on the plate go well beyond aesthetic satisfaction, adding harmonious notes of tartness, herbaceousness, warmth and tang.

238 Spahr St., Shadyside; lilithpgh.com

Hungry for more dumplings? Visit the Pittsburgh Dumpling Project’s landing page to begin your Pittsburgh dumpling journey. 



Hal B. Klein


Hal B. Klein

Sebastian Foltz

Justin Guido

Lucy Schaly

Benjamin B. Braun

Estaban Marenco

John Colombo

Tim Robbibaro


James Hilston

Design / Development

Laura Malt Schneiderman