first course

Dine at Jambo Grill, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s First Sit-Down Restaurant

By Liz Petoniak | August 25, 2015
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jambo grill at pittsburgh zoo & ppg aquarium
Photographs from Tracy Gray / Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium

Say “hello” to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s first sit-down, full-casual restaurant: Jambo Grill. Located adjacent to the zoo’s newest exhibit, “The Islands,” the inviting space features soaring ceilings, bamboo accents, and life-size animal murals. Admire panoramic views of the giraffes, elephants, zebras, and cheetahs roaming the African Savanna from both the air-conditioned indoor and outdoor patio seating as you enjoy your meal. By asking guests to “rethink zoo food,” Chef Jess Rattanni and General Manager Steve Schurr are appealing to the city’s blossoming taste buds with delectable, fresh, and healthier menu items, such as the Strawberry Fields salad with chopped kale, strawberries, and balsamic honey vinaigrette, or the Bianca Pizza, comprised of roasted garlic; herbed olive oil; mozzarella, Parmesan and Asiago cheeses; smoked bacon; and finished with lemon-dressed arugula salad. All bread is baked in house and many of the produce items are sourced right from the restaurant’s garden. Other dishes utilize local ingredients, like meats from Parma Sausage or ricotta from Wild Purveyors.

jambo grill strawberry fields salad
jambo grill pizza
Photo 1: Strawberry Fields salad with chopped kale, strawberries, and balsamic honey vinaigrette. Photo from Tracy Gray / Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
Photo 2: Bianca Pizza with roasted garlic; herbed olive oil; mozzarella, Parmesan and Asiago cheeses; smoked bacon; and lemon-dressed arugula salad. Photo from Tracy Gray / Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

“The combination of the fresh food and all of the animals around make for a really great experience. It’s really different and something we’ve never had at the zoo before,” says Rattanni. Even items once considered standard fare have received a makeover. Chef Jess’s baked and hand-dipped chicken tenders are crispy, juicy, and flavorful, while the adorable kids’ meals feature whole grain peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in fun, animal shapes, no-sugar-added applesauce, grapes, and animal crackers. Rattanni also reports a great response from diners who are loving the spot’s vegetarian and gluten-free options, such as the seasonally rotating ancient grains salad. Schurr says, “The seasonal and local menu gives Chef Jess the ability to harness her creativity and put it in front of our daily visitors. It’s not only a way for us to step up our game atheistically, but it also lets us provide a greater variety of foods and helps us educate the public on the healthier options for both kids and adults.”


Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, 7340 Butler St., Highland Park. 412.665.3640.

Article from Edible Allegheny at http://edibleallegheny.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/dine-jambo-grill-pittsburgh-zoo-ppg-aquarium-s-first-sit-down-restaurant
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