Cross-cultural cuisine

Caspian Corner owner Gunel Aliyeva, head chef Rufat Sultanov and co-owner Abbas Aliyeve, all holding plates of food.
Owner Gunel “Lula” Aliyeva (left) with head chef Rufat Sultanov, and her brother, co-owner Abbas Aliyeva. Caspian Corner features many dishes from Lola’s Azerbaijani heritage along with touches of other European and Russian flavors.

When Gunel Aliyeva moved to the U.S. from her home in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital city, in 2016, she noticed a lack of restaurants featuring Azerbaijan’s diverse cuisine. Aliyeva’s background is in oil and engineering, and she originally worked in Williston, North Dakota, as a site supervisor, but after moving to Pittsburgh in 2019, she was looking for a new challenge.   

Caspian Corner’s eggplant rolls.

Her brother, Abbas, moved here last year and the two opened Caspian Corner, 663 Washington Road, this spring in the space formerly occupied by Aspendos, a Turkish restaurant. 

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic with a long history as a crossroads between Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The country shares borders with Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Iran. Caspian Corner’s menu incorporates influences from the countries that border Azerbaijan and also those that border the Caspian Sea. 

“We all share the sea,” she said. 

Caspian Corner offers a wide range of salads, including Capital

The decadent honey cake (front) is a creamy, layered cake with Russian roots. While behind it is the equally delicious Napoleon pastry.

Salad, which Aliyeva says is a staple at Azerbaijan weddings. Also on the menu are several rice pilafs with regional variations, a variety of meat and vegetable kebabs, including beef, lamb, chicken, potato, eggplant and tomato. Desserts include murabba, fruit served in a syrup of aromatic spices; an Azerbaijani version of baklava; and Russian honey cake. Aliyeva says the house specialty is the lula kabab, ground lamb served with sliced red onion and parsley. 

Aliyeva traveled extensively in the region before moving to the U.S., and still takes trips to Baku, “but the last time I returned to Baku, I missed Pittsburgh,” she said with a smile. 

Caspian Corner is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, takeout or eat in. 412-561-2330.