Best of the 'Burgh 2014

60 of our favorite things — from mobile fashion trucks to off-menu items and big-top apprenticeships.



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Best Reincarnation of a Retro Dessert

Antney’s Ice Cream’s Shoofly Pie Flavor
With its taste of sweet molasses, the old-fashioned shoofly pie is a must-buy when in Amish country. Antney’s Ice Cream owner Anthony Ciotti recreates that flavor in his shop, incorporating bits of the baked good. Shoofly pie is one of the many choices from his rotating lineup; though 16 varieties are available daily, he can accommodate special requests with advance notice. — KM

1316 Poplar St., Green Tree; 412/920-1300, facebook.com/antneys; photo by John Altdorfer

 

Best Spot to Grab a Breakfast Fit for a Camper

David’s Diner
David’s excels at making the type of food that sticks to your bones. Example: The “trash plate” is something you’d expect a bunch of campers to eat before a day of climbing or hiking — two eggs are buried under melted American cheese, spiced ground beef in red sauce, bacon, crispy fried potatoes and two slices of toast. Select breakfast plates have outdoors-inspired names. The diner has a patriotic theme and offers military members a 10-percent discount. — KM

2800 Freeport Road, Springdale; 412/463-8482

 


Best Place for Your Morning Crossword

Rocky’s
Most everyone likes a good group brunch, but sometimes you’d rather enjoy a solid solo breakfast. Rocky’s is a prime place for such a meal. Breakfast is cooked simply and perfectly every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Shake out your newspaper, fold it over to those black-and-white squares and sip from a mug of coffee that’s never less than half full. Get through that crossword as Rocky’s staff, in the background, expounds on the Importance of Potato Skin on Home Fries. It’s like you’re home again. — KB

4759 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield; photo by John Altdorfer

 

Best Dead End You’ll Ever Find

Living Dead Museum and Gift Shop
“They’re coming to get you, Barbra.” Remember that line from George A. Romero’s zombie flick “Night of the Living Dead”? If so, you might want to make a Z-line to this cool little museum in Evans City, not far from where the 1968 classic was filmed. The Living Dead Museum and Gift Shop bills itself as a “celebration of zombies in pop culture.” There’s a video presentation about the movie, a zombie history, lots of cool trivia, artifacts, memorabilia and more. — MM

121 E. Main St., Evans City; 206/350-9641, monroevillezombies.com/museum

 

Best Fondant-Covered Cakes for Kids

Steel Penny Cakes
Smash cakes are high on the priority list for anyone planning a bash for little ones. That’s understandable, but so is having an artful torte to mark the occasion. Steel Penny in Mount Pleasant has been perfecting its batter recipes for years. The company makes five cake flavors. Vanilla is advised for tykes’ birthday cakes, as is any kind of personalized fondant-covered torte. — KM

724/516-7080, steelpennycakes.com

 


Best Way to Take a Dive, With a Guide

Skydive Pennsylvania
We think it’s only right to tell you about Skydive Pennsylvania, which has the largest flight line in town. Licensed instructors give you a 60-minute instruction and make sure you’re familiar with all the sights and sounds before you make that final — or shall we say, first — leap from 13,500 feet. You can even purchase a DVD of your jump in all its glory, perfect for scaring your mom at your next family dinner. — AW

496 Old Ash Road, Mercer; 800/909-5867, skydivepa.com

 

Best Bargain for Budding Sluggers

Batting Practice
Baseball remains an American pastime, and softball still is its beloved sister sport. Droves participate in recreational leagues with hopes of cracking a homer that would make Cutch proud. They’ve got to perfect that swing somewhere, and that place just might be Batting Practice. Tokens are a steal — $10 covers 70 swings. The company has baseball and slow- and fast-pitch softball cages, which teams can rent by the hour. — KM

4635 Buttermilk Hollow Road, West Mifflin; 412/462-5713, battingpracticecages.com

 

Best Locally Produced Alternative to Treadmills

Incline Strider
Certain fitness buffs and instructors despise the treadmill in the belief that it doesn’t allow users to exert their full strength. Chip Kennedy and Douglas McAuley kept that in mind as they developed the Incline Strider, which they built to elevate users’ heart rate during a low-intensity workout. Here’s how it works: Users propel themselves by walking or running on the belt, prompting the wheel to spin. With four attachment options, users can do lunges and more facing or turned away from the unit. The duo produces the green, mobile equipment in Ambridge and has installed it at several area training facilities and colleges. The Pittsburgh Steelers use it as well. — KM

inclinestrider.com

 

Best Big-Screen Second Act

Twin Hi-Way Drive-In
Decades of technological and cultural changes have altered the way people see movies — and made it tough for drive-ins to stay afloat. Locally, some have thrived while others have closed. Twin Hi-Way Drive-In succumbed to the changing market in 1994 . . . only to be resurrected in 2007. Current owner Jerry K. Salnoris had plenty of work to do to bring Twin Hi-Way back from the celluloid graveyard. “Name it, and I did it,” he says. Twin Hi-Way, which added a second screen in 2010, offers double features for $6.50. Seniors ages 65 and up and kids ages 5-11 pay $3.25. — SC

5588 Steubenville Pike, Robinson Township; 412/494-4999, twinhiwaydrivein.com

 


Best Place to Bounce Around

Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
Your mom might have told you to stop bouncing off the walls, but the folks at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park certainly won’t. The floors, the angled walls — nearly everything is one giant trampoline. And it’s for everybody. A head’s up, though: The park separates bouncers by size, so keep that in mind if you’re planning a group outing. You can participate in open jump, fitness classes and 3-D dodgeball. Even if you’re going on a rainy afternoon, buy tickets online in advance to ensure you’ve claimed your spaces. — AW

740 Brickworks Drive, Leetsdale; 724/251-6100, skyzone.com/leetsdale; photo by John Altdorfer

 

Best Way to Show Off Your Dance Skills While Spelling

Bokwa Class at California Cycle Path
Think of Bokwa as the perfect marriage of your favorite cardio program, say Zumba, and a simple line dance. It’s pretty straightforward: You stomp out letters and numbers to upbeat tunes during the low-intensity exercise. California Cycle Path began offering this internationally enjoyed class this winter because it’s accessible and works in a small studio setting. — KM

3635 California Ave., Brighton Heights; 412/761-1671, californiacyclepath.com

 


Best Use of Surplus Goods

Free Store 15104
Braddock First Lady Gisele Barreto Fetterman says solutions exist for some global problems: Why shouldn’t one person’s castoffs fill another’s need? Nearly two years ago in October, she opened the volunteer-run Free Store 15104 to provide a space where people could donate unwanted clothing and household items; furniture is handled separately. Folks from all over with need for such items visit Free Store to “shop.” Stores such as Costco donate food, retailers have sent Fetterman hundreds of boxes of last season’s styles and local film productions have donated costumes and set items. Fetterman says the goal of the Free Store is “to eradicate food insecurity and clothing insecurity in Braddock.” — LD

420 Braddock Ave., Braddock; 201/532-1722, freestore15104.org; photo by John Altdorfer

 

Best Comeback of ’90s Attire

Highway Robbery Vintage
Quick — what’s the biggest blouse you’ve ever owned? Did you wear it in the ’90s? We’re not judging if floral fabric or ruffles were involved. Guess what? That blouse is back. If you thought it never would be or were too young at the time to appreciate its greatness, a visit to Highway Robbery Vintage is in your future. The collection features what owner Kate Colussy calls “vintage casual,” and she makes clothing and accessories from the ’50s through ’90s accessible to all levels of shopper. You can browse through past fashions and stock up on those aforementioned blouses. We have a feeling you’ll need them. — AW

1411 E. Carson St., South Side; 412/251-0818

 


Best Resource for Shopping On the Go

Broke Little Rich Girl mobile fashion truck
Here’s a riddle — the answer to which isn’t “never”: When do bread and women’s fashion go together? When Samantha Lugo’s Broke Little Rich Girl bread truck-turned-fashion truck arrives! Whether you’ve stumbled upon it during the week or spotted it on a Saturday while in the Strip, you’ll find a mini wonderland of clothing and accessories. We’re talking all the glamour of a stationary boutique — hardwood floors, a dressing room — with fashion that is as on the move as the truck. BLRG carries trendy classics and, as if it couldn’t get any cooler, local pieces. — AW

In the Strip District most weekends at 23rd Street and Penn Avenue; brokelittlerichgirl.com; photo by Michael Will

 

Best Place to Play with New Toys, Cost-Free

Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library
If you have kids or spent time around them, you know they want All the Toys. Right This Minute. Two weeks after receiving or earning that new must-have, they are bored with it and on to the next thing. The Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library solves both problems — and then some. Since 1974, the all-volunteer, cooperative organization has been loaning toys to children from newborn to age 6. The 400-piece collection is divided into types of development, such as cognitive, and kinds of play, including imaginative. The library also has similarly dedicated play spaces, an eating area and a place for making art (there’s a weekly group), as well as a collection of parenting books available for borrowing. — AW

5401 Centre Ave., Shadyside; 412/682-4430, pghtoys.org
 

Next page: Throw a birthday party (with cats!)

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