90 Neighborhoods and What We Love About Them
Explore the ins and outs of Pittsburgh’s incredible, diverse neighborhoods with fun things to do in every part of town.
(page 3 of 10)
Summer in Pittsburgh is always packed with hopping happenings, but the annual Full Bloom Summer Dance Party is probably the only one with fire-throwers, hula-hoopers and a kickin’ dance floor in a theater. Each year, Full Bloom benefits the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater as it harvests a vast garden of local and national talent. Looking for an excuse to see what East Liberty has to offer? You won’t find richer entertainment than this. — Robert Isenberg
[5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty; 412/363-3000, kelly-strayhorn.org]
At Unblurred, a regular gallery crawl through the Penn Avenue Arts Corridor, a dozen galleries open their doors; the Pittsburgh Glass Center and Dance Alloy Theater (both heavyweights headquartered on Penn) hold interactive, participatory events; coffee shops and the ultra-popular Quiet Storm Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe bring music and spoken word; restaurants and cafes offer tastes of their fare — and more. Other than downtown’s Gallery Crawl, it’s the only regular neighborhood-wide arts event in town. “There is a very, very wide range of art,” says Michele Morris, president of the Friendship Development Associates Board. “There is something for everyone. Every gallery has its own little following, and you get some spillage into the next gallery.” After being open for less than six months, Salt of the Earth got in on Unblurred; the restaurant’s staff members hung out at the Glass Lofts and handed out samples at Unblurred in April 2011. It’s not surprising that they would participate: Previously, chef/owner Kevin Sousa was a member of the Friendship Development Associates board. By rights, events such as Unblurred should attract more than a fair share of new residents to one of Pittsburgh’s under-appreciated neighborhoods. With world-class food, abundant art, historic homes and so much more, it’s about time. — Sean Collier
Justin Severino, chef/owner of Cure, could write a book about his values related to food production. So then Cure is more than a restaurant — it’s also an expression of Severino’s dedication to ethical farming practices, humane animal husbandry, sustainability and traditional food-preparation techniques. At Cure, the age-old idea that no part of the animal should be wasted is alive and well. For a wide variety of curing, smoking and processing methods, Severino uses on-site equipment to produce homemade delicacies, ranging from more predictable items including sausage and bacon to rarer items such as crispy pig ears and blood sausage. To ensure that each dish is perfect, Severino obtains his meats from local purveyors, including Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, Otterbein Acres and Clarion River Valley Organics. In general, the dishes at Cure include a generous amount of fat and salt. The space matches the cuisine: Severino and friends designed, gutted and built out the eatery. The result feels like a homey farm building, with an original tin ceiling and a wall covered with horizontal slabs of 200-year-old barn wood. The décor has a few amusing touches, including a sculpture of a pig and meat hooks for hanging coats. Cure is a restaurant of our time — a time when we care about the environment, the ethical treatment of animals, eating “clean” and our connection to our food. — Valentina
[5336 Butler St.; curepittsburgh.com, 412/252-2595]
Squirrel Hill North
There’s plenty to love at Chatham University, housed on a picturesque campus in the heart of Squirrel Hill — but now stretching throughout the East End and into the North Hills. Chatham’s interior-design program has been remodeled. Students studying in this field can now earn their bachelor's degree in interior architecture in three years and be prepared for jobs with architects or interior-design firms. The program is located in the university’s new Eastside Building, adjacent to the Bakery Square complex on Penn Avenue. The LEED-certified building is less than a mile from the main campus and gives the program’s 70 total undergraduate and graduate students better access to gallery space, computer labs, drawing rooms and a resource center of design product samples. Meanwhile (and befitting a college for women), Chatham’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship offers undergraduates role models along with five rigorous concentrations within the department of business. Building on the university’s foundation of women's leadership development, entrepreneurial thinking, environmental sustainability and an international focus, the curriculum has two advanced courses in leadership. Those seeking an M.B.A. can get started during their senior year through Chatham’s accelerated graduate programs. Elsewhere, Chatham’s acclaimed, progressive Eden Hall Campus has brought cutting-edge work in sustainability to Richland Township. — Christine H. O’Toole
After its original East End location shuttered in 2010, many wondered if they had seen the last of Mr. Roboto Project; even those closely involved with the co-op weren’t sure what the future held. The improved Roboto, which opened in November 2011 in Bloomfield, would be something different. The new venue includes two separate rooms — the first is a gallery that provides more-than-adequate room for local artists to show their artwork as well as tables for various pamphlets, fliers and assorted literature. The performance room is beyond the steps, toward the back, in a sparse, cozy space equipped with a small stage and P.A. system. With the aid of a new group of volunteers, Roboto’s existence appears to be in good hands. The new location “helps bring a broader scale of people into the new space,” says current project board member Renee Hagens. “Not just for the sole purpose of music — it’s become a place to celebrate art as well.” Because the project is located on Penn Avenue, it’s a welcome addition to the gallery scene, serving as yet another destination for locals to whet their artistic appetites. That the show space has not only continued but thrived in uncertain times is a testament to its backers’ hard work and dedication — and its malleability for numerous activities speaks volumes of its importance in the future of the city’s underground creative culture. — Kurt Garrison
[5106 Penn Ave.; facebook.com/robotoproject]
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium administers the Sea Turtle Second Chance program, rehabilitating members of this endangered species.
Not long ago, Polish Hill was famous for having four bars, a giant church and a basketball court — yet no gas station, post office or supermarket. Pittsburgh’s most improbable neighborhood was well-stocked with beer and fine architecture, but it was almost impossible for its residents to find such daily staples as a decent cup of coffee. The opening of Lili Coffee Shop marked a new era in Polish Hill history. Quaint, pleasant and funky, Lili is the kind of bohemian coffeehouse you’d find in South Side or Bloomfield, except that it’s located on a humble side street in Polish Hill. No matter the time of year, the steaming cups of java are always welcome, but Lili is particularly enjoyable in the summer, when patrons can sit outside at tables and imagine themselves in old Europe. Surreal as Polish Hill is, this tiny cliff-side community is one of the most neighborly in the city, and its sloping streets make it easy for acquaintances to run into each other. With its big windows and cozy seating, Lili Coffee Shop is a bright and cheery place to congregate, and the menu of soups, quiches and muffins offers scrumptious mid-day treats. On some nights, you might catch a movie screening, a singer-songwriter or a poetry release party. Locals often insist that Polish Hill is really “picking up.” This is misleading, of course; Polish Hill has always been a fine place to live. With establishments such as Lili leading the way, the neighborhood could experience a serious renaissance. — Robert Isenberg
[3138 Dobson St.; 412/682-3600]
Many of your high school or college classes dragged on in dull, windowless lecture halls. But there isn’t a drab spot to be found in the Nationality Rooms inside the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning: The 29 rooms are designed to place you within the classic architecture from nations far and wide. You also can experience these one-of-a-kind classrooms for a lot less than the price of tuition. Free audio tours are available on weekends and when school is not in session, with guided tours available for groups of 10 or more (with advance reservations). Be sure to check out the newest additions — the Turkish and Swiss rooms — on the third floor. — James Santelli
[4200 Fifth Ave.; nationalityrooms.pitt.edu]
If you’re on the way home from work, wrapping up a visit to the nearby Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium or celebrating a game down the street at Natoli Field, Eddie’s Pizza Haus is the place for food in Morningside. For more than 30 years, it’s been a neighborhood staple. The menu is as varied as the name suggests, with pizza by the slice and whole pies in flavors ranging from cheese to buffalo chicken. Other choices include hoagies, salads, and such perennial favorites as wings and fries. Seasonal offerings include heart-shaped pies for Valentine’s Day and tuna-salad hoagies on Fridays during Lent. When calling ahead or walking in, know that Eddie’s is cash-only and doesn’t offer seating. — Amy Whipple
[1744 Chislett St.; 412/361-6600]
The cream puff, known as choux a la crème in France, is a flaky pastry — not overly sweet — found in quaint patisseries. La Gourmandine creates these beauties to perfection. Freshly baked in the Lawrenceville shop, the Parisian treat is made with choux dough, split in half and filled with a sweetened whipped cream and finished off with a dusting of powdered sugar. For hazelnut fans, try the Paris-Brest. If you’re hoping to snag one (or a few) of these pastries, plan your visit in advance. When the cream puffs are gone, they’re gone … until tomorrow. — Melinda Urick
[4605 Butler St.; lagourmandinebakery.com, 412/682-2210]
If you’re stuck on I-376 near Bates Street during the colder months, you might catch a glimpse of The Shrine of the Blessed Mother — or “Our Lady of the Parkway.” The real treat is to wind down the narrow streets of Ward and Wakefield to the actual site. In the spring, the virtually secret space is enclosed with the soft purple beauty of irises. The original shrine — a 2-foot statue of Mary with altar and kneeler — was built in 1956 when two strangers came together at the spot after having visions of the Virgin Mary. The site also includes wooden crucifixes for the Stations of the Cross and other small statues and trinkets. — Amy Whipple
[6 Wakefield St.]
“I’ll need these pants taken out,” you’ll sheepishly say to the gruff-looking man behind the counter at New Oakland Tailor. With a wink, owner Gino Deluliis will say, “These things are always shrinking in people’s closets.” — Katie Booth
The secret to an immaculately clean car for less than $25: Get the standard wash at Auto Bathouse, where every trip through involves a waterfall of suds and scrubbers. Spring for the interior service, and a small army of attendants will clean out your cabin in a few minutes. — Sean Collier
Mexican beers, sangria and south-of-the-border fare packed with fresh ingredients make Round Corner Cantina a Lawrenceville favorite.
Want something along the lines of cookies-and-cream ice cream with Twix, Kit Kats, candy corn, Cap’n Crunch — and magic? Well, you can get that exact treat at Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee Co. in Shadyside. — Sean Collier
The neighborhood's angled streets leave room for relaxing green spaces such as the tiny Baum Grove Parklet.