The Possibilities of an Excellent Breakfast
There are lots of local places for eggs, bacon and wonderful surprises.
Columbia Ave., Vandergrift, home of G&G Restaurant.
I eat breakfast most mornings in my car. I’m a semi-distracted driver with a bagel or some toast in my hand, coffee in a paper cup between the front seats.
Since this past November, however, I’ve been working on a new TV program that celebrates good places to go for a morning meal, and I’ve been to some wonderful eateries nearby and across the country. (My show “Breakfast Special” premieres July 14 at 8 p.m. on most PBS stations.)
And while we shot at a couple of local eateries—Hot Metal Diner in West Mifflin and Square Café in Regent Square—I’m still exploring, and that’s one of the joys of my job: I don’t have to stop doing research. Ever.
Early on in the production process, I met video editor Matt Conrad one morning at the Gab-N-Eat in Carnegie. This much-loved little restaurant has a perfect name, an obscure location (we both drove by before finding it on Washington Avenue) and a totally comfortable and homey atmosphere. We sat at the counter—always the best seats. I got the legendary Mixed Grill there, and it was tremendous: a jumble of potatoes and meat and eggs, topped with Italian toast. We gabbed and ate. Actually, I appreciated that the waitress had no problem getting me a small side order of corned beef hash, too. It was unnecessary but excellent, and I will find a way to get back for more soon.
Then one Saturday, while editing “Breakfast Special,” I drove through Bloomfield and saw the bright plastic signs in the windows at Rocky’s at the corner of Liberty and Edmond, and I had to stop in for bacon and eggs. Not bad. It’s a small neighborhood spot where breakfast is no-nonsense and fast, cooked right in front of you. A valuable place.
When I had a bit more time, on a Sunday when our editing system was down, I drove to Vandergrift for breakfast at the G&G Restaurant. I had eaten lunch there in March 2009 after I slipped and fell into the Kiskiminetas River, and back then, I had the amazing Vanderburger, but the owner, Mike Kakias, told me I really should stop back for breakfast because that is what they are known for. Then a friend in Vandergrift recently reminded me of the place and said the Gyros Omelet was truly tasty. Yes, it was giant and meaty, scrumptious and tomato-y, with that sour-creamy cucumber tzatziki sauce that comes on gyros. Mike took my order and suggested feta on top. I took my time, attacking this mega-breakfast with Italian toast and countless cups of coffee. Worth the drive.
These three places remind me that there are no rules about breakfast and prove that all the wonderful breakfast spots are not on TV. They’re all around us. You just have to look around, keep your eyes open and figure out where you might go tomorrow. Be sure to order something you’ve never tried before.
- GAB-N-EAT, 1073 Washington Ave., Carnegie.
- Info: 412/276-8808.
- ROCKY’S, 4759 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield.
- Info: 412/682-4538.
- G&G RESTAURANT, 149 Columbia Ave., Vandergrift.
- Info: 724/682-4538.
Rick Sebak produces, writes, narrates and eats his way through TV programs for WQED and PBS. Don’t forget to tune in for “Breakfast Special” on July 14 at 8 p.m.