Hit the Street: Carnegie
Check out the transformations this town has undergone since Hurricane Ivan hit it hard in 2004.
All roads lead to Carnegie, according to the signs lining its streets. Those roads are conducive to walking and, even better, parking. The baby-blue color that dresses up the trashcans, parking meters and chairs inside the new Carnegie Coffee Company keeps things bright and cheerful as you explore the shops and restaurants popping up in the revitalized town. Spend a day window-shopping, or attend the Pittsburgh New Works or jazz street festival — two events among many that are making outsiders take notice of Carnegie.
Start your morning at the Historical Society and Honus Wagner Museum [1 W. Main St.], which is open only on weekdays. One room is devoted to “The Flying Dutchman,” a Carnegie native, and contains photos, newspaper clippings and memorabilia related to the Pittsburgh Pirates legend. Also worth a look is the intricate miniature replica of Main Street from the mid-1900s — exteriors as well as interiors are built to scale — constructed by Carnegie-born Walter Stasik.
A little before noon, stop by Bob’s Diner [211 Mansfield Blvd., eatatbobsdiner.com] for a bit of hometown charm. The waitresses call you “darling,” and a comfy booth offers a view of the beautiful St. Peter & St. Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church across the street. If you’re in breakfast mode, try Claire’s Veggie Benny, which substitutes tomato for the ham usually found in eggs Benedict, or the Crispy Stuffed Strawberry French Toast. For lunch, try the Monte Cristo or Rachel sandwich, and don’t forget a side of Bob’s Signature BBQ Chicken Soup.
Make your way down to Modern Mercantile [233 E. Main St., modernmercantilepgh.com], where you’ll find locally made jewelry, candles and scarves as well as upcycled goods, including sweaters remade into pillows.
Also on that strip is Black Lamb Consignment [323 E. Main St., blacklambconsignments.com], which specializes in fine furniture and home décor with some funkier things thrown in. Looking for a statue of a frog dressed in a pink jacket? Or a framed picture that at first glance looks like Abraham Lincoln but actually contains a cross and a naked woman?
If you need a pick-me-up, step inside the Carnegie Coffee Company [132 E. Main St., facebook.com/CarnegieCoffeeCompany], one of the coziest java houses you’ll ever encounter. Built in the former post office, the cafe features a front counter made of mailboxes. Enjoy a tome from the stocked bookshelves while sitting in a comfortable armchair sipping a Nicciola, the shop’s hazelnut latte.
Enjoy a nice dinner with white tablecloths and fine Italian wine at PaPa J’s Ristorante [200 E. Main St., papajs.com], a Carnegie institution for 26 years. Try the daily homemade specialty Italian bread in flavors such as pepperoni or olive, or one of the many popular pasta dishes. Don’t forget a lady lock or cannoli made in-house. There’s live music twice a week.
End your evening at Riley’s Pour House [215 E. Main St., rileyspourhouse.com] — voted by Pittsburgh Magazine readers as one of the region’s best pubs in 2012. The menu features Irish beers on tap, shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.
While You're There:
Browse: It’s close by, but you may want to hop in the car before heading up the hill to see the “Carnegie Carnegie” [300 Beechwood Ave., carnegiecarnegie.org]. The first floor of this library is similar to others named for Pittsburgh’s benefactor, but upstairs houses the recently reopened Espy room — a virtual time capsule that was once a meeting place for Civil War veterans.
Applaud: Take in a show at Off The Wall Theater [25 W. Main St., insideoffthewall.com], increasingly known for its nontraditional performances in an intimate setting.
Write Stuff: Do a little shopping at More Than Words Fine Papers [33 E. Main St.], which recently moved from Mt. Lebanon, and pick up interesting souvenirs for the wordsmith in your life.