The Food Lovers' Guide to Pittsburgh
We’ve outlined some of the most scrumptious producers and purveyors in the region—from farms to specialty stores and everything in between.
Demographers may decry the relatively homogenous ethnic makeup of our city, but, fortunately, their woe doesn’t have to extend to our plates. The Steel City’s large grocery stores are getting better every year, stocking more and more products from around the world. But if you have extra time (or you’re looking for something extra special), seek out one of these neighborhood ethnic groceries. You’re likely to find a wider selection, lower prices and a neighbor behind the counter.
The find: Huge selection of Indian produce
The largest Indian grocery chain in the country, Patel Brothers now has 35 stores nationwide, including its Monroeville outlet. The produce selection is larger than many other Indian groceries, with universal basics like onions and potatoes next to more Asian-centric offerings—from chili peppers and curry leaves to spiky gourds and turmeric root. Wander down the wide aisles to find fragrant spices by the pound, legumes in almost every color and jar after jar of pickles, chutneys and sauces. Patel Brothers stocks dairy staples like ghee, yogurt and paneer, the farmer-style cheese used in many vegetarian dishes. Frozen and fresh breads from across the Indian subcontinent—paratha, chapati, roti and naan—are accompanied by a vast catalog of rice, wheat and bean flours for making them yourself.
4145 William Penn Highway, Monroeville; patelbros.com
More Indian groceries
Kohli’s Indian Imports
319 S. Craig St., Oakland
Bombay Food Market
4605 Centre Ave., Oakland
Kohli’s Indian Emporium
3013 Banksville Road, Dormont
Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.
The find: Pittsburgh’s largest and best-priced cheese selections
When discussing Penn Mac, you could talk about the deli counter, where you can get imported prosciutto, pancetta, sopressata and rare roast-beef cold cuts. You could talk about the aisle with the huge cans of imported olive oils or the giant bags of semolina flour. But what you’re probably going to talk about is the cheese. Penn Mac stocks more than 400 cheeses from around the world, offering some of Pittsburgh’s lowest prices. And while you can certainly walk up to the counter knowing exactly what you want, it’s even more fun to let one of Penn Mac’s supremely knowledgeable cheesemongers be your guide (and maybe call you “Dearheart”). Tell them what you like—for instance, “I’m in the market for a creamy raw-milk blue.”—and they’ll choose just the cheese for you, plus several more for a well-rounded cheese plate that will wow any guest.
2010-2012 Penn Ave., Strip District; pennmac.com
The find: Freshly made tofu
On any given Saturday morning, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a busier, better-stocked Asian grocery in Pittsburgh, where the high volume means there’s plenty of product turnover. On the fresh side, Lotus Foods stocks hard-to-find produce common in Asian recipes, like baby bok choy, whole bamboo shoots, thin Japanese eggplant and enoki mushrooms. Freshly made tofu is a particular draw for Pittsburghers of Asian descent, with its silky, soft texture and rock-bottom price of 30 cents per block. The front of the store is bursting with a near-infinite selection of bottled and tinned kitchen staples like tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), fish sauces, red and green Thai curry pastes, and rice cooking wines and vinegars. Centrally located, you’ll find rice, wheat and buckwheat noodles; packaged foods; sweets; and, of course, vacuum-sealed packages of spindly dried squid (which can be delicious).
1649 Penn Ave., Strip District
More Asian groceries
Pittsburgh Asian Center
705-709 Penn Ave., Wilkinsburg
4770 McKnight Road, Ross Township
The find: Hand-stuffed ravioli
Take a detour off Bloomfield’s main drag to this diminutive corner grocery to satisfy your craving for fresh pasta. Gloria Mazzotta hand-stuffed the heavenly ravioli at Groceria Italiana from 1983 to earlier this fall; since then, other employees have taken the reins. Fillings range from best-seller cheese to more adventurous pockets stuffed with artichokes and Gorgonzola or prosciutto. Additional fresh pasta selections include plain-egg noodles, flavored linguini and full sheets that can be cut to fit your pan if you call in advance. Beyond the fresh pasta, Groceria Italiana offers a hot-food bar, featuring made-from-scratch goodies, like pepperoni rolls and soups simmered in homemade stocks—all prepared in the grocery’s downstairs kitchen. There are full pans of ready-to-eat tiramisu, house-stuffed sausages and all of the Italian grocery staples you might need.
237 Cedarville St., Bloomfield
Located on Cedarville Street, one block off bustling Liberty Avenue, Groceria Italiana has been a mainstay of homemade and imported Italian foods since 1958.
The find: Fresh tortillas
In the back corner of Reyna’s, a Willy-Wonka-esque contraption of rollers, conveyor belts and heated spirals turns out the tortillas that envelope tacos at restaurants like Kaya, Mad Mex and Yo Rita. At Reyna’s, toasty, just-made tortillas are stacked in steamy bags at the front door, but do yourself a favor and walk all the way inside. You’ll find everything necessary for a delicious Mexican meal. Top your tortillas with Pittsburgh’s own Cinco de Mayo Salsa, or create your own sauce from the generous selection of fresh and dried chili peppers. Reyna’s also produces traditional tamales—available with carnivorous or vegetarian fillings—and tortilla chips under the Mejico brand. You’ll also find staples like cotija cheese, crema, masa harina and cane-sugar-sweetened Mexican Coke. Outside, grab a freshly made taco filled with your choice of meat (options include chorizo, carnitas and even lengua, aka beef tongue). In 2012, look for the Tortilla Factory, a new on-site restaurant that will offer diners the chance to watch tortillas being made moments before landing on their plate.
2031 Penn Ave., Strip District; reynafoods.com
Tortilla maker (and pro boxer!) Hugo Garcia can be observed in action several days a week at Reyna Foods, cranking out warm, fresh tortillas on a Wonka-esque machine.
Young’s Oriental Grocery Store
The find: All types of kimchi
We may be decades away from an H-Mart (the giant Korean grocery in some major U.S. cities), but Pittsburgh’s neighborhood Korean stores pack a surprisingly rich selection. The shelves and cases of Young’s Oriental Grocery Store in lower Squirrel Hill are stocked with Korean staples like fermented chili pastes (gochujang), ready-made sauces for Korean barbecue dishes like bulgogi and frozen dumplings (mandu). When you come in, head straight down the aisle to the large fridge to find a dozen (or more) kinds of kimchi, vegetables fermented in a flavorful brine of ginger, garlic, scallions and chili pepper. The most common cabbage preparations are available in massive two-gallon jars—or try a sampling of different regional specialties in more modest containers. And while Korean ingredients are Young’s focus, the establishment also carries essentials for many kinds of East-Asian cooking as well as basic produce and meats.
5813 Forward Ave., Squirrel Hill
The find: Pita, obviously
If you’ve eaten at a Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern restaurant in Pittsburgh—Ali Baba, Aladdin’s, Kassab’s, Khalil’s, Baba D’s and the list goes on—chances are you’ve already eaten Pitaland’s signature creations. Pitaland is the leading Steel City supplier of Middle-Eastern baked goods and supplies from its Brookline outlet. Bulk bins of bulghur wheat, dried beans and rice line one wall, and shelves are stocked with foundational ingredients like oils, olives, grape leaves and flours. Production happens on the main-level, where up to 3,000 bags of fresh pitas are produced daily. You’ll find large and small, whole wheat and za’atar-crusted pocket breads alongside house-made savory and sweet pastries, including spinach-and-cheese pies and honey-drenched baklava. You can even buy Pitaland’s dough in bulk if you’d like to try your hand at making fresh pitas at home.
620 Brookline Blvd., Brookline; pitaland.com
Tokyo Japanese Food Store
The find: Pittsburgh's widest selection of miso
Tucked into a tiny shopping center on the quiet end of Ellsworth Avenue, Tokyo Japanese Food Store is brimming with goodies for Pittsburgh's shinnichi (aka Japanophiles). Tokyo partners with producers from around the country to stock everything from specialty vegetables (think daikon radish and burdock root) to Japanese-style baked goods. In addition to impressive selections of staples like rice, noodles and soy sauce, you'll also see fish and meats ready for traditional Japanese preparations, an aisle full of sweets and frozen fishcakes and dumplings. In the far corner, you'll find several brands each of red, yellow and white miso, the salty fermented soybean paste that adds instant umami to any dish—Japanese or otherwise. Bento boxes and sushi are available for carryout.
5855 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside; tokyostorepgh.com
The find: High-end pastured lamb
Lamb from southwestern Pennsylvania is a hit with chefs at some of America’s toniest restaurants. Jamison Farm lamb has been featured on menus by New York chefs like Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse, but you can order directly from the Latrobe farm yourself. Raised on white clover, bluegrass and wild carrot, Jamison Farm lamb is lean and tender with delicate, deep flavor and none of the greasiness that mars less carefully raised meat. Jamison Farm has created a line of award-winning lamb pies, hearty stews and lean lamb sausages, including a spicy North-African merguez that’s delicious when grilled.
Order online at jamisonfarm.com
Crested Duck Charcuterie
The find: Moroccan lamb coppa
Bringing old-world techniques to locally sourced meats, Kevin Costa creates patés, sausages, confits and artisanal deli meats. As the chef behind Crested Duck Charcuterie, Costa works with 10 area farmers to get his hands on whole heritage hogs, pastured lamb, rabbits, turkeys, ducks and even elk. Try the thinly sliced Moroccan coppa, a dry-aged lamb shoulder that’s been salt-cured and seasoned with a blend of North African spices. Also popular are Costa’s six salamis, like the Penn Avenue, which combines hand-leaned pork with small chunks for fat, fennel seeds and peppercorns. Offerings rotate with seasons and can include products as diverse as duck-leg confit, rabbit rillettes and house-cured bacon.
Available at Pittsburgh Public Market, Farmers@Firehouse and select farmers markets. crestedduck.com
S&D Polish Deli
The find: Kielbasa
Pittsburgh has pierogie mascots but boasts few Polish grocers. Fortunately, S&D Polish Deli is fantastic, offering delicious carryout foods (four pierogies for $4) and a plethora of Polish delights. S&D has some of the greatest sausages in the city—from best-selling kielbasa to more adventurous choices like headcheese. On the pierogie front, S&D offers more than a dozen different dumplings made from imported low-gluten flour and Polish cheese. While basic potato-and-cheese is available, expand your repertoire with mushroom-and-sauerkraut or spinach-and-meat for dinner, followed by plum or cherry pierogies dressed with sour cream. S&D also offers imported jams, blintzes, syrups, teas, pralines and chocolates.
2204 Penn Ave., Strip District; sdpolishdeli.com
Heilman’s Hog Wash Farms
The find: Pittsburgh’s juiciest pork chops
“Pork is one of the easiest meats to differentiate by flavor when it’s raised in nature versus stainless steel and concrete,” says Dave Heilman of Sarver, who has 30 to 60 pigs in his pastures at any given time. Confirm this yourself by grilling one of Heilman’s Hog Wash Farms’ pork chops ($7.50 per pound) with nothing more than salt and pepper. Heilman’s hogs, a crossbreed of standard Yorkshire and heritage Duroc stock, live outdoors, where they root through half-acre paddocks for scattered feed. This gives them two things that conventionally raised pigs never see: greens, which are inevitable as they chomp through the grass to get to their goodies; and daily exercise, which builds muscle, marbles their meat and occupies their intelligent minds so they don’t act out. Heilman raises a small number of animals at one time, so supplies can be limited. No chops available? Try a pork steak. Heilman says it’s his best-kept and most flavorful secret.
Heilman’s Hog Wash Farms is available only at Farmers@Firehouse on select Saturday mornings.
Penn Avenue Fish Co.
The find: Sustainably fished seafood
If you’ve ever felt like the fish you’re cooking at home just isn’t as good as what you order at restaurants, you might be right. The solution is Penn Avenue Fish Co., where owners Angela Earley and Henry Dewey’s only goal is to bring sustainable, restaurant-quality fresh fish to home chefs. “This isn’t fish that you have to bread, fry and cover with an inch of tartar sauce to make it taste good,” says Dewey. “This is fish that can stand out in very simple preparations.” Penn Avenue highlights a few in-season selections each week, like Rhode Island skate or Spanish mackerel, to complement a regular stock of high-turnover favorites like No. 1 tuna, snapper, swordfish, shellfish and hand-cut smoked salmon. Specials are unpredictable and depend solely on what Dewey thinks is the best fish available right now, so prepare to be surprised. Penn Avenue also operates an on-site restaurant that’s a favorite for its Taco Tuesdays – two fish tacos for $4.99 – and sushi rolling classes.
2208 Penn Ave., Strip District; 308 Forbes Ave., downtown (restaurant only). pennavefishcompany.com
More Seafood in the Strip
Wholey’s Fish Market
1711 Penn Ave., Strip District
Benkovitz Fish Market
2300 Smallman St., Strip District
Ron Gargasz Organic Farm
The find: Organic grass-fed beef
Ron Gargasz is a certified-organic farmer in Butler County, producing grass-fed beef for conscious carnivores. His pastures are full of nutrients and healthy fatty acids trapped in cellulose, a plant fiber that humans can’t digest. Cows, however, are built to digest cellulose. So, according to the “you are what you eat” principle, Gargasz’s pasture-raised beef—as opposed to its grain-fed counterpart—is full of heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Indeed, a 2006 Penn State University study showed that Gargasz’s beef had almost four times as many Omega 3s and twice as much CLA as conventional retail beef. Enjoy those health benefits in Franktuary’s “Locavore” hot dog or Sonoma Grille’s burger and short ribs—all of which feature Gargasz’s beef. You can also find it at area farm markets and specialty stores, or fax your order to the farm (see the farm’s website).
Available at McGinnis Sisters Special Food Stores, East End Food Co-Op and other area markets. rongargaszorganicfarm.com
Smallman Street Deli
The find: Smoked fish, all types
Upon entering Smallman Street Deli’s Squirrel Hill location, it’s possible that a ready-to-flake smoked fish (inside the case) will be the first thing you see. Sample Nova lox, whitefish salad, sable, cream herring, peppered trout or mackerel—all ready to be smeared on a bagel, stacked in a sandwich or packaged up for you to take home. Part deli, part restaurant, Smallman Street Deli is Squirrel Hill’s go-to eatery for Reubens, Rachels and pastrami on rye. And while this kosher-style deli might be best known for its sandwiches and matzoh-ball soup, it has also become a favorite destination for time-honored Jewish dishes like matzoh Brie, noodle kugel and potato latkes. Many dishes are available hot or cold, and the deli is a popular source for bar and bat mitzvah catering and holiday feasts.
1912 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; smallmanstreetdeli.com. Also at 2840 Smallman St., Strip District
The Farmer’s Wife & Henry Family Farms
The find: Hardy heritage poultry
Naragansett. Blue Slate. Bourbon Red. Midget White. Speckled Sussex. Silver-Laced Wyandotte. Freedom Ranger. Maggie Henry’s Lawrence County farm is a living encyclopedia of heritage poultry. Henry raises chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows and goats for the table and also raises laying hens who produce eggs with brilliant orange yolks. Birds peck on chemical-free pastures, eat high-protein heritage grains and are never pumped with hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. Her methods have recently been recognized by Certified Naturally Grown, an organization that offers low-cost certification to farmers using organic techniques in farming. Despite her recent recognition, Henry considers herself more old-fashioned than organic. “I do it the way it was done before any of those chemicals were ever invented,” says Henry. She takes advance orders for holiday birds, both for the common broad-breasted bronze and for heritage breeds, which have a deeper, juicier flavor and a more even balance of dark and light meat. At press time, Henry is still accepting holiday turkey orders.
The Farmer’s Wife products are available at Farmers@Firehouse on select Saturday mornings, at the Whole Foods Farmer’s Market and at the East End Food Co-Op (eggs and veggies only).
You’ve probably heard that locally grown fruits and vegetables are better for the environment, the local economy and/or your health. But nobody told you that buying produce from a farmer you can meet, see and talk to is way more fun. We’ve yet to meet a farmer at a stand who’s not willing to talk for hours (days or weeks, even) about what they’re planting, why they’re planting it and how you should cook it. These folks are passionate, hard-working entrepreneurs with big ideas about what farming means in the 21st century. Here’s just a sample of what’s happening in the region.
Blackberry Meadows Farms
The find: Pittsburgh’s most community-focused CSA subscription
Blackberry Meadows takes its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program literally: “Our members are our financiers, and they have an open door to the farm,” says co-owner Greg Boulos. CSA subscribers invest in the certified-organic farm’s crop early in the season, then stop by once a week to take home a box of just-harvested produce, eggs and more. The unique CSA attracts about 80 percent of its subscribers to the farm for in-person pickups, where farmers and members get to know each other throughout the course of the season. CSA members are an integral part of farm operations, contributing hours of labor in exchange for vegetables, sending in seeds for seed-saving programs and investing in farm initiatives like a new summer kitchen. The outdoor kitchen will allow the farm to sell edible (yet imperfect) produce that would otherwise be wasted: zucchini with dents, tomatoes with bruises and greens with minor insect damage. The kitchen, which will be ready for the 2012 CSA season, includes a wood-fired community oven and a range for canning and preserving.
Blackberry Meadows sells at the Farmers@Firehouse and Phipps Conservatory Farmers Markets.
7115 Ridge Road, Natrona Heights; blackberrymeadows.com
More Local CSAs
Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance
Kretschmann Organic Farm & CSA
Triple B Farms
Specialty: Pick-your-own farm fun
Triple B Farms is a family farm with a family focus. Open to the public June through October, the farm hosts family events and fruity festivals that get kids excited about agriculture. Triple B offers pick-your-own harvesting for strawberries, apples and other fruits as they ripen during the growing season (just call ahead to confirm fruit is ready). Outside the fields, there’s a petting zoo with farm animals, a big tube slide, a farm-themed playground complete with tractor and an observation beehive. School trips and children’s birthday parties are common on the farm, helping children connect the foods they eat to the fields they come from. The store offers a wide assortment of jams and jellies— many made of Triple B’s own fruits—as well as pies, fudge, Amish dairy products and produce straight from the farm.
823 Berry Lane, Monongahela; triplebfarms.com
More Juicy Fruit
Sand Hill Berries
304 Deer Field Road, Mt. Pleasant
Soergel Orchards Family Farm Market
2573 Brandt School Road, Wexford
528 Trax Road, Finleyville
Goose Creek Gardens
Specialty: Salad greens and herbs
While many farms look at diversifying their offerings, this Oakdale farm has specialized in culinary herbs and greens. The best basil for drying? That would be cinnamon basil, and they have it. The best mint for ice cream? Chocolate mint, and they have that, too. French sorrel? Lemongrass? Trendy microgreens? All available, and all certified naturally grown (CNG). CNG is a grassroots alternative for small farms committed to organic agriculture practices but don’t have the manpower to file the rigorous paperwork required for USDA certification. Goose Creek Gardens’ focus on greens means goods are for sale early in the growing season, and the farm offers a Spring Greens CSA for those who can’t wait for fresh produce each year. The wildflower fields nurture a healthy honey business, and they grow catnip that will make your kitty’s eyes go buggy.
Goose Creek Gardens sells at several area farmers markets and the Pittsburgh
Ever heard of food miles? That’s how far your food has to travel before it reaches your plate. Locavores usually set the radius of “local food” at 100 miles. Fortunately, these specialty producers are adding treats usually associated with far-away places to Pittsburgh’s locavore menu.
Originally from: Krzesk, Poland
One of a handful of craft distilleries in the state, Pennsylvania Pure’s Glenshaw operation started production of Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka in 2008. Made from local potatoes, each bottle is hand-filled, dipped in wax, signed, then distributed in various states across the Eastern seaboard and as far away as California.
Get it: Most local PLCB Wine & Spirits stores; boydandblair.com
Food miles saved: 4,551
Originally from: Plain, Wis.
In his Lawrenceville basement, Jonathan Gaugler of Arsenal Cheese is making Cannonball Curds, squeaky-fresh Wisconsin-style cheddar curds that are turning up in poutine at Highland Park’s Park Bruges. Next up from Arsenal Cheese: Herb & Bourbon, a chèvre-flavored round mozzarella-textured cheese crusted with bourbon-soaked herbs of tarragon and thyme.
Get it: East End Food Co-Op and Whole Foods; arsenalcheese.com
Food miles saved: 650
Originally from: Abruzzo, Italy
Since 2005, Steve Salvi’s custom Fede Artisan Pastas have graced dishes at nearly 100 fine Pittsburgh restaurants like Spoon, Girasole and Osteria 2350. The pastas are available for purchase both in-store and online.
Get it: Banco Business Park, 1061 Main St., North Huntingdon; fedepasta.net
Food miles saved: 4,620
Originally from: Hereford, England
Get your “Daily Rations” at Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar, a Civil War-themed winery tucked into a Lawrenceville duplex. Find small-batch hard-apple ciders, cider-style fruit wines and mead—many made from Pennsylvania ingredients.
Get it: Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar, 300 39th St., Lawrenceville
Food miles saved: 3,602
Mileage calculations based on major brands or famous producers of these products.
Originally from: Parma, Italy
The magicians at Parma Sausage have been curing meats in the Strip District since 1954. Their own Gigi Brand prosciutto, made from heritage Berkshire hams, is aged up to 18 months before slicing.
Get it: Parma Sausage, 1734 Penn Ave., Strip District; parmasausage.com
Food miles saved: 4,357
Mon Aimee Chocolat
The find: E. Guittard baking chocolate
Bars packed with bacon? Check. Bars oozing with burnt caramel and encrusted with Hawaiian sea salt? Check. Bars speckled with incendiary chipotle bits? Check. Mon Aimee bursts with confections from around the world, making it a grand destination for holiday shopping and weekend snacking. Old-fashioned confectionary jars house malted-milk balls, chocolate-covered espresso beans and oodles of other chocolate treats. If you’re already hungry, enjoy a steaming mug from the hot-chocolate bar or a cooling cup of Capogiro gelato. But for home bakers, the real find is Mon Aimee’s collection of smooth-melting baking chocolates from San Francisco’s E. Guittard, America’s oldest family-owned chocolate company. Choose from chips, wafers or blocks of white, milk, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, averaging about $8 per pound.
2101 Penn Ave., Strip District; monaimeechocolat.com
The finds: Saffron you can probably afford
Just about every seasoning you might desire is for sale at this spacious Strip District outlet of the mail-order spice store. Each display includes a jar that you can sniff to discover the difference between ancho and chipotle pepper and determine whether you’d prefer Vietnamese extra fancy or Korintje Indonesia cinnamon. The store has sections for baking, whole and ground chili peppers, ground or dried herbs, salts, and all manner of spices neatly arranged in alphabetical order. One area features Penzeys Spices’ own blends, including salad-dressing herb mixes, meat rubs and a cadre of curries. Penzeys also offers wooden gift boxes in a number of themes, spanning hot chocolate, barbecue and Mexican collections. Standout items include double-strength vanilla extract and saffrons packaged in half-gram jars for less than $10. Pro tip: Take your favorite cooking compadre and go Dutch on spices packaged in plastic; you can buy empty jars or refill your own at home.
1729 Penn Ave., Strip District; penzeys.com
East End Food Co-op
The find: Bulk ... everything
Born of the anti-establishment food co-op movement of the 1970s, Pittsburgh’s last remaining member-owned grocery is still going strong. With a special focus on environmental sustainability, EEFC is the go-to grocery for Pittsburghers following alternative diets, with an extensive collection of macrobiotic, raw, vegan and gluten-free offerings. Nowhere is that more true than in its endless bulk-food section. EEFC stocks spices from agar agar and alfalfa leaf to yarrow and yohimba. Flours to suit every diet: barley, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, and spelt. House-ground almond butter and tahini. And we haven’t even talked about the beans, candies or the natural and organic cereals. The co-op prides itself on locally sourced meat and dairy products, its vegetarian cafe and an extensive vegetarian prepared-foods selection.
7516 Meade St., Point Breeze; eastendfood.coop
Pittsburgh Public Market
The find: 25-plus local purveyors of everything edible
Pittsburgh Public Market’s old-school market celebrated its first birthday this past September. Under one roof, the market offers a diverse collection of locally produced food, beverages and crafts and is open year-round. There are artisanal home-cooking essentials, such as infused olive oils from Cosimano e Ferrari, jams and jellies from the Berry Patch and fruits and vegetables from Clarion River Organics. There are products that are possibly non-essential but still delightful, like bacon-maple marshmallows from the Pittsburgh Marshmallow Factory or sweet cheese baklava from The Baklava Co. For shoppers who are hungry now, Blighty’s stall offers traditional Cornish pasties (meat pies), while Kahlia’s Island Taste deals in ready-to-eat Caribbean specialties. Libations are available from East End Brewing Co. and Glades Pike Winery. And that’s only information about nine of the 25-plus stalls! Most are open weekly from Friday to Sunday; vendors change periodically.
2100 Smallman St. (market is on 17th), Strip District; pittsburghpublicmarket.org
It’s happened to almost all of us: After a long day, you come home to find there’s nothing in the fridge—well, nothing safe to eat, anyway. And even if there were, the prospect of cooking tonight is bringing on a panic attack. Never fear: Delicious food is just a phone call (or short drive) away! Local food blog Burghilicious asked, “What’s your go-to takeout option?” From barbecue to sushi to pizza, here are the most mouth-watering recommendations from Pittsburghers.
Fat Head’s Saloon
1805 E. Carson St., South Side; 412/431-7433, fatheadspittsburgh.com
“The classic bacon cheeseburger is full of flavor and cooked to order. It always brings me joy.” — Jenn T., Regent Square
The Green Mango
1109 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square; 412/244-3310
3462 William Penn Highway, Monroeville; 412/ 824-9500
142 W. Bridge St., Homestead; 412/476-9100
“King tofu is my ultimate takeout favorite because not only is it delicious, but the portions are generous enough to cover lunch the next day.” — Monica C., Regent Square
How Lee Chinese Restaurant
5888 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/422-1888
“The pork-fried rice has lots of veggies, and the steamed dumplings have the perfect ratio of meat to pastry.” — Cate S., East Liberty
La Tavola Italiana
1 Boggs Ave., Mt. Washington; 412/481-6627, latavolaitalianrestaurant.com
“The pizza margherita has the homemade taste of grandma’s without the lecture about your long hair or why you don’t have a girlfriend.” — Joel A., Bloomfield
Multiple locations; madmex.com
“Mad Mex has takeout salad prep down to a science: cold things in one container, hot things in another and wet things in a third, which means the salad tastes as good at home as it does in the restaurant.” — Andrea S., Highland Park
Nicky’s Thai Kitchen
856 Western Ave., North Side; 412/321-8424, nickysthaikitchen.com
“Pad thai and dumplings go great with friends and glasses of wine, and won’t make you feel terrible after you eat, like some other takeout might.” — Jen O., North Side
5147 Penn Ave., #1, Bloomfield; 412/661-3160
“I love the chana masala with sides of raita and naan. The perfect accompaniment is the homemade chai, which is better than any coffee shop’s.” — Cari T., Allison Park
Multiple locations; pesaros.com
“The Greek pizza was the first meal we had when we moved into our new house. They’ve got great sauce.” — Sara R., Lawrenceville
4917 Penn Ave., Garfield; 412/661-7443
“A hot, fragrant bowl of spicy rare-beef pho with fresh basil, lime juice and hoisin will cure what ails you for $6.” — Todd O., Garfield
Smiling Banana Leaf
5901 Bryant St., Highland Park; 412/362-3200, smilingbananaleaf.com
“It’s super convenient to pick up rad na, pumpkin curry and fresh rolls on your way to a Highland Park picnic.” — Martha R., Highland Park
5107 Penn Ave., Garfield; 412/362-7725, spakbrothers.com
“A Philly seitan hoagie is super good, super quick and super cheap. It’s everything I need.” — Andrea L., Bloomfield
299 Beverly Road, Mt. Lebanon; 412/344-7874
“Anything with avocado and cream cheese is bound to be good, so I like the Shadyside roll.” — Emily C., Green Tree
Szmidt’s Old-World Deli
509 Greenfield Ave., Greenfield; 412/904-3558
“The ‘rages’ are sandwiches topped with homemade pierogies. They make the bread, meats and spreads, so everything is super-fresh.” — Eileen S., Greenfield
700 N. Taylor Ave., North Side; 412/322-7427
“This is a barbecue institution in Pittsburgh. It’s smoky and perfectly done. Get everything. Seriously, everything.” — Andrew T., Lawrenceville
Zaw’s Asian Food
2110 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/ 521-3663
“I’ve tried General Tso’s at a lot of places, but none do it as well as Zaw’s. I don’t know if they use better ingredients or different proportions, but I love it.” — Eric W., Greenfield
3 Burghilicious Takeout Favorites
Rose Tea Café
5874 ½ Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill; 412/421-2238
My husband introduced me to takeout from this tiny, authentic Taiwanese restaurant on one of our first dates. We love the steamed dumplings, Taiwanese chunk chicken, beef with hot peppers and any dish with the fat rice noodles.
3025 Banksville Road, Banksville; 412/344-3420, cityoven.com
This wood-fired pizza shop has ovens built into an old coal mine. Get the vodka pizza with vodka cream sauce and provolone and Mozzarella cheeses. The herb-crusted wings are for special occasions.
2911 Glenmore Ave., Dormont; 412/343-0234
I get the Texas Avenue dog with chili, cheddar, sour cream and Fritos, while my husband orders the Connecticut Avenue dog with cole slaw, baked beans and onions. Then we split a bruschetta dog with pesto cream, Parmesan and tomatoes.
Take the money you might spend on a fancy dinner to any area cooking school, and you’ll enjoy an evening of entertainment, the excitement of learning something new, recipes to take home and a fancy dinner. Cooking classes are a great way to expand your kitchen repertoire and explore new foods with family and friends. Reservations are required for cooking classes, and many fill up well in advance. Plan ahead with a class at one of these local cooking schools.
Crate Cooking School & Kitchen Store
1960 Greentree Road, Scott Township; cratecook.com
Pittsburgh’s oldest cooking school offers both hands-on and demonstration-style classes in two state-of-the-art kitchens. The schedule includes frequent visits from area chefs including big Burrito’s Bill Fuller, Wild Rosemary’s Gloria Fortunato and Penn Avenue Fish Co.’s Henry Dewey. Regular offerings include Wednesday Lunch & Learn sessions, which are quick demonstrations that take up lunch hour; Knife Skills classes, where everything you chop turns into something delicious; and a series of classes on basic cooking techniques.
Chop, Wok & Talk
5404 Penn Ave., Garfield; chopwoktalk.com
An avid home cook, Dorothy Tague opened Chop, Wok & Talk almost 10 years ago after teaching neighbors to prepare Chinese cuisine. Throughout the years, Tague added classes that featured dishes from countries like Thailand, Morocco and Greece, and now, she’s teaching hands-on cooking classes almost every night of the week to groups of six to 10 people. “My husband says we don’t do any ‘normal food,’” Tague says with a laugh. “And he’s right.”
Enrico’s Bread-Making Class
2022 Penn Ave., Strip District; enricobiscotti.com
This time, you’re the one putting loaves in the massive stone oven at Enrico’s Italian Strip District bakery. The bakery’s popular monthly bread classes open with a gut-busting family-style brunch, complete with tastings from the on-site winery. Owner Larry Lagattuta will entertain you while you dine with the rollicking history of bread. Once your tummy is aching from eating and laughing, head into the kitchen and start playing with dough. You’ll get to shape your own loaf to take home.
Larry Lagattuta of Enrico’s demonstrates the traditional use of a peel in preparing bread dough to go into the brick oven.
Self-respecting home cooks supplement their efforts with purchased baked goods. Whether you need an eye-popping dinner-party dessert, a basic bread for sopping up salad dressing or cookies for snacking, these Pittsburgh bakeries — and many others — have exactly what you need.
The find: Baguettes de Tradition
It’s 9:20 on a Saturday morning, and there’s a line. When the line starts to move, each customer sighs as they pass through the door, entering a cloud of yeast and butter aromas so strong that stomachs immediately rumble. This is La Gourmandine, a pocket of Paris in a tiny Lawrenceville storefront, combining a boulangerie (bakery) and pâtisserie (pastry shop) in one location. Owner Fabien Moreau, who studied at Paris’ famed Lenôtre culinary school, came with his wife Lisanne to Pittsburgh, where French bakeries did not exist. La Gourmandine, which opened in 2010, now produces dozens of traditional French baguettes daily: long, thin, deeply colored loaves with crisp crusts and chewy centers. Other shop favorites include flaky plain, chocolate and almond croissants; sandwiches and quiches; and decadent pastries like chocolate éclairs and cream puffs that fly off the tray.
4605 Butler St., Lawrenceville; lagourmandinebakery.com
More Crusty Bread
801 Parkway View Drive, Building 8, Robinson Township
Allegro Hearth Bakery
2034 Murray Ave., Squirrel Hill
601 Mancini Way, McKees Rocks
mancinisbakery.com (open 24/7!)
Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery
The find: Salted-caramel macarons
The building exterior is unassuming, showing the high-water mark from the 2004 Millvale flood. But inside, raspberry-pink, lemon-yellow and pistachio-green macarons are cheery enough to brighten even the murkiest November day. A far cry from the coconut-crusted puffballs that most Americans call macaroons, French macarons sandwich heady fillings between wafers of delicate almond meringue. All the flavors at Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery are divine, but the salted caramel is particularly luscious, with buttery caramel oozing from between the crisp-chewy cookies. Chatellier’s signature Breton shortbread is another unique treat, a 7-inch round cake that’s a hybrid of flaky puff pastry and dense shortbread (it crumbles, it flakes and it tastes like butter).
213 North Ave., Millvale; jeanmarcchatellier.com
2022 Penn Ave., Strip District
531 Allegheny Ave., Oakmont
Food Glorious Food Bakery
The find: A must-visit bakeshop
During your first visit to Food Glorious Food’s bakery, you’ll want to allot an extra 20 minutes. The first five minutes are to get over the shock that all of the stunning cakes, tarts and pastries that adorn this tiny Highland Park storefront could be produced by two people running a bakery Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The remaining 15 minutes are to recover from indecisiveness. The bakery is an international smorgasbord of baked goods: French madeleines, Italian focaccia, Austrian strudels and (American) apple pie. Regular offerings range from dense and rich (Black Orchid, a decadent brownie topped with chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache and whipped cream) to airy and light (strawberry napoleon, crisp puff pastry layers with light custard and fresh strawberries). Every week, there are numerous specials—from a 15-layer crepe cake to local peach charlotte and seasonal pies. Once you’ve finally made your selections—many of which cost less than $4 each—you’ll understand that the only real cure for indecision is to return next week.
5906 Bryant St., Highland Park; foodgloriousfoodonline.com
More Sinful Sweets
Vanilla Pastry Studio
6014 Penn Circle South, East Liberty
5525 Walnut St., Shadyside; 438 Market St., downtown
Since 2007, Lauren Bracey has written Burghilicious, a blog about eating and cooking in Pittsburgh. You can find it at burghilicious.com. Thanks to Ben Pilcher, Sharon Siah, Andrea Shockling and Zarin Balaporia for their assistance with this article.