The Sprawling Suburbs
Head east for a robust mix of shopping, dining, keeping active and relaxing options — all tucked in these communities found along some of the region’s main throughways.
IMAGE COURTESY THE PITCAIRN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Monroeville: This epicenter for temples, shopping and recreation also is home base to a Community College of Allegheny County campus. Many Italophiles believe this is the place to get the area’s best cannoli — at Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop [4209 William Penn Highway].
Murrysville: Murrysville is a great little hub for housing and retail. Here you’ll find a few campuses of Philips Respironics, maker of sleep and respiratory devices, along with lots of land for those who love the great outdoors.
Penn Hills: As with many area neighborhoods, Penn Hills has an assortment of community recreation programs: softball and baseball for kids and adults, swim clubs, soccer and more.
Plum: This connector to Monroeville boasts a fairly new YMCA location [2200 Golden Mile Highway], along with great dining and shopping choices. The summertime community festival [plumboro.com] gives residents and visitors a reason to come together, eat and hop on some rides.
Pitcairn: The Pitcairn Historical Society helps to document the area’s past through 2011. Residents have formed a beautification committee, dedicated to keeping the borough looking sharp.
Export: The community-oriented area of Export has been the site of many a road race — 5Ks, mud runs and others. On the borough’s website, residents are encouraged to send stories about their home to firstname.lastname@example.org to preserve and illuminate local heritage.
Delmont: Instead of passing this quaint town while en route to Greensburg, stay for a while and go geocaching at a park. Geocaching is a hobby that involves either stashing or locating a hidden item at specific GPS coordinates; consider visiting its flagship website to get up to speed.
PHOTO BY JOHN ALTDORFER
10 Things We Love in the Sprawling Suburbs
1 Itching to tee off? Good news: Monroeville has a fully loaded putt putt center in Par 2 Golf Courses [4259 Northern Pike], where you can play a game of mini-golf. If the weather is working against you, there’s always Monster Mini Golf [3813 William Penn Highway], a glow-in-the dark indoor course.
2 What would a diner be without oversized stacks of buttermilk hot cakes and plates of hot beef sandwiches? Dick’s Diner in Murrysville [4200 William Penn Highway] offers those dishes and then some. Save room for a slice of Boston cream pie.
3 Calling all carnivores: Splurge on an all-you-can-eat feast of open pit-cooked chicken, steak, lamb and more at Penn Hills meat mecca Green Forest Churrascaria [655 Rodi Road].
4 The vibrant spirit of Pitcairn borough residents is evident: Folks gather regularly for events including the annual Community Day, held in the fall.
5 Be the hit at your next picnic by placing an advance order at Pittsburgh Barbecue Co.’s Delmont site [6625 William Penn Highway]. Hop off the main drag to pick up such items as smoked chicken or brisket, or have a seat in a booth while enjoying a piece of cornbread.
6 Export’s PRL Motorsports [1101 Pontiac Court] is the place to get your ride — domestic, European or other model — tricked out; the company also heads to area race tracks to show off its work.
7 During high-school musical season, you have a shot at seeing the work of budding thespians and stagehands up close at Plum and Penn Hills high schools, which have been recognized in the regional Gene Kelly Awards for theatrical excellence.
8 Make the most of cold, snowy weather by taking advantage of the frost-covered slopes at Boyce Park [675 Old Frankstown Road] in Plum. From mid-December through mid-March, use your season or day pass to snowtube, snowboard or ski.
9 Flowers in the Attic in Penn Hills [7505 Saltsburg Road] does triple duty: It’s an eatery, a prime place to snag antiques and presents and, as you might expect, a floral shop.
10 The Behrenberg name has been associated with glass since the 1920s. At its Delmont manufacturing site, Behrenberg Glass Co. [55 Mark Drive] produces glass that’s ordered online or via phone and shipped across the globe. Though the company doesn’t have a showroom to showcase its products, the website’s store provides potential buyers with details about the glass’s potential uses, including jewelry and dinner plates.
PHOTO BY JOHN ALTDORFER
Under-the-radar food and drinks
Twist through Penn Hills to land at the Sri Venkateswara Temple [1230 S. McCully Drive]. The barebones canteen serves fantastic vegetarian cuisine daily from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. (9:30 on Fridays). It’s the perfect spot for budget-conscious diners; each grab-and-go dish is $2. The tamarind rice — packed with lentils, seeds and nuts — is an especially flavorful item. Elsewhere in Penn Hills, Frankstown Wood-Fired Pizza [12911 Frankstown Road] has one of the only hardwood-fired brick ovens in the region. Stick to the classics (marinara, margherita) at this cash-only joint, and you’ll be a happy camper. — Hal B. Klein
PHOTO BY CHUCK BEARD
Looking for a new way to get strong? Check out Kettlebell Fusion Fitness [4415 Old William Penn Highway] in Monroeville, which offers classes that make use of these cast-iron cannonballs with handles. There are boot camps, strength training classes, a suspension-training class (which uses your bodyweight and kettlebells to challenge your strength) and yoga classes to keep you all stretched out. We’re tired — and inspired — just thinking about it. No experience is necessary to start. — Jennie Dorris