Pittsburgh - Foodie City
Dining and drinking in Pittsburgh
In a town proudly known for its steel-making past, Heinz Ketchup and other condiments, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, institutions of higher learning including the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon, extraordinary architecture, sports, museums, and culture, you can add a thriving and exploding dining and drinking scene.
Food for every mood
“Everyone” says you have to have an impossibly large fries-and-coleslaw-in-the-sandwich Primanti Brothers (a.k.a. Permanny’s) meal or become a member of the “Sheetz Freaks” crew (Sheetz is a Pennsylvania-based gas station/convenience chain that started the Made to Order system that’s open 24/7). Pierogis (or “rogis”) are enough of a local favorite that you’ll find them in many restaurants and even the subject for an annual festival. For dessert, you should try the burnt almond torte at Prantl’s.
Pittsburgh has always enjoyed a multi-ethnic diversity in its restaurant offerings because of the influx of immigrants from Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Africa, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Greece, Italy, Poland, Eastern Europe, and Ukraine to work in the steel mills or otherwise follow the American dream. They set up neighborhoods that celebrated their heritage, And now, there’s an influx of French bistros, cupcake shops, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, and even Ethiopian restaurants.
From fast food to fine dining
There’s more than fast food, though, so it’s time to explore fine dining at LeMont on Mount Washington, which, since 1960, has been overlooking Point State Park and downtown Pittsburgh (where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers merge to form the Ohio River). Another noteworthy establishment that could give you a spiritual experience is the Church Brew Pub that opened in 1999 in the former St. John the Baptist Church in Lawrenceville. The Strip District has about eight blocks of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and fish, with a few great and unassuming restaurants tucked in here and there.
For the most part, dress is casual, and the prices are relatively low, compared to other cosmopolitan cities. Well off the I-95 East Coast corridor and not in the mid-West, it takes the best of both worlds and creates its own food, beer and wine. Chefs have moved from major cities to the smaller feel of Pittsburgh. Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance provides locally-grown food to as many as 100 restaurants (including food trucks and coffee shops), subject to what’s available during each season.
In good spirits
With a population that’s part working class and part white-collar, the beer scene has been booming, with nearly 20 breweries in the city limits and another ten or so planned for early 2017. A push for wine and cocktails has come with the restaurant growth. Of the 200 or so wineries in Pennsylvania, three are located in the Pittsburgh area, helping promote the interest in wine and cocktails to go with the booming food business. Narcisi Winery is located ten miles north of the city and produces a selection of wines from dry red to sweet fruit varieties. All the grapes are grown locally with Vidal Blanc and Frontenac at the winery where there’s a tasting bar and dining options. Kavic Winery, run by the grandchildren of Italians and Serbians who brought the winemaking tradition to Pittsburgh is ten minutes from downtown. Wooden Door Winery, about 30 minutes from downtown, has more than 30 local wines for tasting.
Let’s meet up in Pittsburgh
As the meeting industry heats up in Pittsburgh, more business visitors are discovering the treasures of this exciting city and they’re returning, with spouse and children in tow, so you’ll find lots of restaurants suitable for families.
Whet your appetite with Pittsburgh. WOW air now offers cheap flights to Pittsburg from Europe.
Text and photos by Judy Colbert