April 2, 2017

General Warranty Deeds Versus Special Warranty Deeds

Ownership of, or title to, real estate, whether commercial or residential, is transferred with certain guarantees or warranties made by the seller that the title to the property is being transferred free and clear of any ownership claims or other encumbrances (including financial ones). 


General Warranty Deed


A General Warranty Deed is one type of deed that is used to transfer real estate. A General Warranty Deed guarantees to the buyer that the title to the real estate is free and clear from any defects or encumbrances, including those accrued by any previous owner.


A General Warranty Deed is not a substitute for title insurance. By paying for title insurance, a buyer shifts the risk of overcoming title defects from himself to the title company. It’s far easier (and cheaper, from a litigation perspective) to for a buyer to make a “title claim” (rely on the title company to overcome the title defect) than to directly sue the seller to enforce their warranty. Sellers may leave town, die, or be insolvent.


Special Warranty Deed


A Special Warranty Deed is the type of deed by which the seller only warrants or guarantees the title against defects in title that may have accrued during the period of its ownership of the property. The grantor of a Special Warranty Deed does not provide a warranty or guarantee against any defects in title that existed prior to its ownership.


Although the use of the word “special” in the name of a warranty deed may imply to a real estate buyer the idea that the deed is of higher quality, this is misleading since a Special Warranty Deed is actually of lower quality, A Special Warranty Deed offers less protection against possible defects in title than a General Warranty Deed because a buyer has no remedy against a seller for a title defect accrued prior to the seller’s ownership.



Does It Matter Which Deed Is Specified in the Agreement of Sale?



The boilerplate language in the PAR Agreement of Sale prescribes a “Special Warranty Deed.” The forms committee of the Pennsylvnia Association of REALTORS® purposefully omitted “General Warranty Deed” from the boilerplate language of the Agreement of Sale.


It is common to see a change the PAR Agreement of Sale to say that a seller shall instead convey ownership by a General Warranty Deed. 


As a practice point, PAR’s legal counsel recommends that a Seller, when faced with an offer that specifies they convey title by a General Warranty Deed, strike that language, thereby reverting the type of deed conveyed back to a Special Warranty Deed.


PAR’s legal counsel further states that “no deal should fall apart on account of the choice of a Special Warranty Deed.” Why?


No rational Seller would take responsibility for encumbrances accrued prior to their ownership. This is why General Warranty Deeds should be avoided by Sellers.


From a Buyer’s perspective, a title policy serves to even the quality between a Special Warranty Deed and a General Warranty Deed.


If a buyer is borrowing money to help with their purchase, the mortgage lender will always require that buyers purchase title insurance. In the case of “cash” purchases, no rational buyer should purchase real estate without also purchasing title insurance. 


Posted in Consumer Advice
Jan. 8, 2017

7 Tips for Staging Your Home

By: G. M. Filisko

Make your home warm and inviting to boost your home’s value and speed up the sale process.


The first step to getting buyers to make an offer on your home is to impress them with its appearance so they begin to envision themselves living there. Here are seven tips for making your home look bigger, brighter, and more desirable.


1.  Start with a Clean Slate


Before you can worry about where to place furniture and which wall hanging should go where, each room in your home must be spotless. Do a thorough cleaning right down to the nitpicky details like wiping down light switch covers. Deep clean and deodorize carpets and window coverings.


2.  Stow Away Your Clutter


It’s harder for buyers to picture themselves in your home when they’re looking at your family photos, collectibles, and knickknacks. Pack up all your personal decorations. However, don’t make spaces like mantles and coffee and end tables barren. Leave three items of varying heights on each surface, suggests Barb Schwarz of Staged Homes in Concord, Pa. For example, place a lamp, a small plant, and a book on an end table.


3.  Scale Back on Your Furniture


When a room is packed with furniture, it looks smaller, which will make buyers think your home is less valuable than it is. Make sure buyers appreciate the size of each room by removing one or two pieces of furniture. If you have an eat-in dining area, using a small table and chair set makes the area seem bigger.


4.  Rethink Your Furniture Placement


Highlight the flow of your rooms by arranging the furniture to guide buyers from one room to another. In each room, create a focal point on the farthest wall from the doorway and arrange the other pieces of furniture in a triangle around the focal point, advises Schwarz. In the bedroom, the bed should be the focal point. In the living room, it may be the fireplace, and your couch and sofa can form the triangle in front of it.


5.  Add Color to Brighten Your Rooms


Brush on a fresh coat of warm, neutral-color paint in each room. Ask your real estate agent for help choosing the right shade. Then accessorize. Adding a vibrant afghan, throw, or accent pillows for the couch will jazz up a muted living room, as will a healthy plant or a bright vase on your mantle. High-wattage bulbs in your light fixtures will also brighten up rooms and basements.



6.  Set the Scene


Lay logs in the fireplace, and set your dining room table with dishes and a centerpiece of fresh fruit or flowers. Create other vignettes throughout the home — such as a chess game in progress — to help buyers envision living there. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.


Make your bathrooms feel luxurious by adding a new shower curtain, towels, and fancy guest soaps (after you put all your personal toiletry items are out of sight). Judiciously add subtle potpourri, scented candles, or boil water with a bit of vanilla mixed in. If you have pets, clean bedding frequently and spray an odor remover before each showing.


7.  Make the Entrance Grand


Mow your lawn and trim your hedges, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before showings to make your lawn sparkle. If flowers or plants don’t surround your home’s entrance, add a pot of bright flowers. Top it all off by buying a new doormat and adding a seasonal wreath to your front door.



Posted in Consumer Advice
Oct. 22, 2016

Exploring City of Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

So-called “Rivertown” is nearly 100 neighborhoods strong

Sometimes the biggest surprises are waiting in the places we least expect. 


For visitors and travelers alike, and even for those who are longtime local residents, the city of Pittsburgh has a reserve of unexpected delights. And the list of must-see attractions continues to grow every year. 


With its 90 distinct and highly diverse neighborhoods, Pittsburgh has evolved from a gritty industrial city into a destination for discriminating diners, curious shoppers, coffeehouse lovers, and aficionados of the city’s vast cultural resources. Many are walk-able districts that are also connected via bike and walking paths, public transportation lines, and major roadways. 


Pittsburgh’s ethnic mix and industrial heritage helped shape this web of neighborhoods into today’s distinct enclaves with their own identities. At the city center today, Downtown Pittsburgh teems with things to do. Long regarded as a business district with little activity after 5 p.m., the area now buzzes all day and into the night. Its 14-block Cultural District and surrounding streets are packed with restaurants, public art displays, outdoor parks, and a variety of festivals. 


The critical mass filling downtown is a driver behind other recent arrivals—namely residential homes and new retail amenities. A growing mix of new luxury apartments, condominium homes, and mixed-use office/retail developments lure more and more professionals every year from other cities as well as suburban Pittsburgh towns. 


And that’s just downtown. Heading east just a few blocks past the city's convention center lies a mix of old and modern Pittsburgh within the vibrant Strip District. Primarily known in the past as a wholesale district with little going on after business hours, today’s Strip is a center of development. The evolving neighborhood offers an eclectic selection of food retailers, specialty shops, restaurants, brewpubs, and other attractions.


While the older wholesale businesses continue to operate side-by-side with these newcomers, the Strip will continue to change even further in coming years. The historic terminal produce building complex is undergoing major redevelopment initiatives to make way for a new mixed-use project.


On the district’s eastern edge, numerous residential developments and professional office buildings are already attracting more professionals and even retirees drawn by the growing list of amenities, including the prime riverfront location and proximity to surrounding neighborhoods. (Quick access to Pittsburgh’s three major sports stadiums and easy connections to major roadways around town aren’t hurting matters either.) New cafes and retailers are opening for business as more residents and office workers arrive. 


Next up on the list of neighborhoods to explore is trend-setting Lawrenceville. Often compared to portions of New York City’s Brooklyn for its redevelopment successes, both Upper and Lower Lawrenceville have helped set the pace during Pittsburgh’s revitalization for 10 years and counting. A batch of hot restaurants, coffee shops, craft breweries, and boutiques have opened in recent years along with new condominiums and townhomes now dotting the thriving Butler Street corridor. 


Keeping up the pace, an entire day’s worth of discoveries await in the established neighborhood of Shadyside. Luxury shopping options and fine-dining establishments pair naturally with the area’s large, upscale homes at some of Pittsburgh’s highest price points. The Walnut Street strip that cuts through the district continues to offer some of the region’s most sought-after retail outlets and restaurants.


Immediately next door, Oakland offers cultural and intellectual outlets usually found only in much larger cities. Both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh’s main campuses operate here just blocks from each other. A global mix of restaurants matches the international student and faculty population. The collection of museums in Oakland are unmatched in any city close to Pittsburgh’s size. Search for the latest listings in Oakland.


There’s even more to Pittsburgh outside that handful of neighborhoods. An entrepreneurial streak has propelled major redevelopment progress in East Liberty, where residents and business owners are drawn to lower real estate prices as well as proximity to Shadyside, Lawrenceville and Oakland. Squirrel Hill and Regent Square are known for amazing local food scenes and family-friendly shopping. And Bloomfield, Pittsburgh’s historic Little Italy district, continues to draw newcomers who live side-by-side with generations of locals.



The list goes on, but that’s a sampling of what modern-age Pittsburgh offers. The momentum is set to continue well into the future. And if the past is any indication, the city’s future is bright. 

Posted in Places
Sept. 20, 2016

Something's Brewing in Pittsburgh

Area Coffee (and Tea!) Shops Put Pittsburgh on the Caffeine Trail

Seemingly all of Pittsburgh has stepped up its game when it comes to food and drink. Nearly every borough is now home to at least one spot for fresh made-to-order coffees, specialty teas and all kinds of brewing gear. 


And when it comes to the local specialty coffee and tea scene, there’s a never-ending shortage of independent alternatives to that “big green mermaid” from Seattle. (Starbucks, of course, is alive and well all over the metro area, including inside area big-box grocery, discount stores and even roadside rest areas.) 


Following are some of the city’s must-sip destinations for caffeine lovers of all kinds. These locally owned coffee and tea retailers operate some of Pittsburgh’s best cafes, coffee roasters, and tea rooms. 


Convive Coffee Roastery

751 Providence Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15237



At the contemporary new Convive Coffee Roastery, owner/roast-master Ryland Weber 

opened the newly developed McCandless Crossing shop to pursue his continuous search for great coffee.  With a passion for specialty coffee in a friendly neighborhood environment, Weber has worked in the specialty coffee industry for about 10 years.


Being small has big advantages, as witnessed by a cup at Connive’s cafe. Located in a shopping and entertainment center filled with large chain retailers and restaurants, Weber also roasts coffees in small five-pound batches. He sources fine coffees from respected, responsible importers and growers and roasts them to a particular “profile” suited to the coffee varietal or blend.


If you’re looking for a fancy espresso drink or a new pourover-style cup, or even a simple drip coffee, Convive is a growing hotspot in a vibrant part of McCandless Township. Just don’t be surprised to find it as friendly inside as it is delicious!


Coffee Buddha 

964 Perry Hwy, Pittsburgh, PA 15237


Set inside a cozy house on busy Perrysville Highway, Coffee Buddha has been a local neighborhood hotspot for nearly five years. Owner Mike Witherel is usually behind the bar, pulling espresso shots, steaming milk and welcoming regulars from surrounding businesses as well as neighborhood residents. 


Coffee Buddha has become a North Hills fixture for its solid coffee (from local roasters Commonplace Coffee) plus a tea menu, but it’s also a magnet for the area’s growing food truck scene. Generous parking lots on the street side as well as behind the coffee house offer plenty of space for a taco truck, a mobile barbecue joint and other favorites in a constant rotation.


Note: Coffee Buddha is also a showcase for local artists. Stop by, take a look, and grab an extra cup!


Espresso a Mano

3623 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201


Owner Matt Gebis opened Espresso a Mano seven years ago on the leading edge of Lawrenceville’s revitalization. Timing was nearly everything for the Pittsburgh native, although Gebis also ensures the shop’s focus on the country’s best craft coffees remains the biggest driver behind his success.


Refreshing Espresso a Mano on a regular basis means Gebis and his team of professional baristas are on the forefront of Pittsburgh coffee. He cycles year-round and seasonal coffees from a revolving group of specialty roasters around the United States, including for sale in retail bags. He also refreshes the coffee bar on a regular basis with new espresso equipment, one-cup brewers, and the newest grinders.


The steady line for amazing coffees at Espresso a Mano is a good sign of quality. But don’t let the crowd deter you—the efficient team is as great with coffee as they are with intelligent, friendly service. 


Commonplace Coffee 

Multiple locations


When owners TJ Fairchild and his wife, Julie, arrived in Pennsylvania more than 10 years ago, they initially settled in the nearby college town of Indiana, drawn by the campus atmosphere and a thirst for good coffee. Commonplace Coffee was born there on the edge of Indiana University in 2003, where the Fairchilds and their first employees began roasting fresh coffees in a corner of the original retail cafe. 


The couple took note as Pittsburgh’s coffee scene grew along with their wholesale deliveries to the Steel City. So in 2010, Commonplace expanded with its first branch location in Pittsburgh on busy Forbes Avenue in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Pittsburgh coffee lovers noticed and began flocking to the shop, known in part for its late hours and proximity to Pittsburgh’s large university community. 


Today Commonplace Coffee is flourishing, operating at two additional locations to go with its original home base in Indiana. Commonplace has also expanded its roasting operations by relocating its central coffee roasting production, packaging, and distribution operation to a shared warehouse space with craft beer producer East End Brewing.

Posted in Drink
Aug. 20, 2016

5 Pittsburgh Restaurants You Can't Miss

Good Eats!


While Pittsburgh is attracting global headlines for its economic redevelopment and excellent quality of life, a delicious side effect of the revitalization is a growing restaurant scene that’s earning the city national acclaim. Food lovers of all kinds are taking notice. 


As an area made up by a true “melting pot” of ethnic traditions and new influences, metropolitan Pittsburgh has always offered its share of classic Polish, Italian, German and other European restaurants and food shops. More recent influxes of Asian and Latin American cultures, along with Pittsburgh’s growing young professional population, continue to shape the restaurant landscape in every neighborhood. 


Part of Pittsburgh’s food scene is a revitalized interpretation of contemporary American cooking. Modern twists on local and seasonal foods, fueled by the greater availability of farm-fresh foods from area producers, means greater visibility for the delicacies of western Pennsylvania.  


Whatever your food favorites might be, following are some must-see—and taste—destinations for food lovers everywhere:



5336 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201



Cure is a destination spot in Pittsburgh’s trendy Lawrenceville neighborhood, and the restaurant’s prices match. But the James Beard Award winner is worth every dollar if you’re a fan of Italian-style cured meats (a house specialty), eclectic pastas, fresh seafood, and locally sourced meats and vegetables of all kinds. A fantastic wine list and intimate bar add to the rustic decor accented with various tributes to the pig, which is clearly a favorite of Chef-Owner Justin Severino. 



3519 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201



Morcilla is Cure’s sister restaurant, where the kitchen is overseen by Severino and a team offering classic Spanish dishes with local twists. The restaurant just opened in 2016 and has already garnered acclaim from Food and Wine magazine as one of the nation’s top new restaurants. Make a meal of the kitchen’s many small-plate offerings just blocks away from world-class coffee at Espresso a Mano, a variety of boutiques, and the Roberto Clemente Museum, where the late great Pittsburgh Pirate is honored with private tours. 



5996 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206



Dinette in newly revitalized East Liberty is another stop for fresh takes on regional Italian and other Mediterranean foods. Chef-Owner Sonja Finn is known for her thin-crust pizzas, fresh salads, and constantly changing seasonal menus. The small dining room has a casual vibe and seems as popular with area families as it is with couples and singles. Theres even a small bar when friends, couples, or solo diners can order fine wines by the glass. (Hint: be sure to ask what Finn is serving from her seasonal vegetables grown on her rooftop vegetable garden!)



214 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222



In Pittsburgh’s downtown Cultural District, one of the hottest restaurants is täko, another new arrival that bends the rules, and deliciously so. At täko, diners can expect a completely non-traditional approach to the classic regional Mexican food. The kitchen is led by Chef-Owner Richard DeShantz and combines fresh ingredients within the basic taco format to combine Latin, Asian and, and other “global modern” flavors into a fusion of good eating. There’s even a full bar with spectacular cocktails and classic sangrias. 


Union Standard (coming soon!)

Union Trust Building, 524 William Penn Place, Pittsburgh, PA 15219



Union Standard is a highly anticipated restaurant from noted local chef Derek Stevens, recently of The Strip District’s Eleven restaurant. Local food lovers are abuzz with the spot—expected to open this fall—based solely on the great reputation of Stevens, who headed the Eleven kitchen for 10 years before striking out on his own. Union Standard promises a wood-fired grill and rotisserie, a raw bar, and an eclectic American menu. The restaurant will be part of the historic Union Trust building following a complete renovation that preserves the Pittsburgh landmark. 


Southern Tier (coming soon!)

316 N Shore Dr, Pittsburgh, PA 15212



Looking for more options? Fear not. A good one will undoubtedly be Upstate New York’s Southern Tier Brewing Company, which is bringing its first-ever Pittsburgh location to the city’s North Shore. Located just a foul ball’s distance from nearby PNC Park (home of the Pittsburgh Pirates) and mere blocks from Heinz Field and the NFL’s Steelers, Southern Tier’s new Pittsburgh brew pub is set to open this fall. The new spot will bring the craft brewer’s ales and lagers to the Steel City with the addition of exclusive beers brewed only at the new Pittsburgh brew pub. 

Posted in Food
July 19, 2016

Feeling Fishy? The Best Seafood In Pine Township PA

Feeling Fishy? The Best Seafood in Pine Township PA


I love good seafood. Any type, really. Don’t get me wrong, I have my limits. I don’t want to look into the fish’s eyes before I devour it. But other than that, just about anything goes. Many a night, Pine Township seafood providers have satisfied powerful cravings of mine – not an easy task to accomplish. With that said, here are, in my opinion, the best seafood restaurants in Pine Township that’ll have you hooked at the first bite.


Yama Sushi

515 Adams Shoppes, Mars, PA 16046




If you are craving sushi, authentic Japanese or Japanese-American cuisine, accept no substitute because Yama Sushi is in its own league. Their menu pushes the limits of authenticity, depth and creativity, and the service is fantastic. Whether you are a washoku connoisseur, a sushi veteran or just a hungry Pine Township human seeking a culinary adventure, Yama Sushi considers it an honor to serve you.


Recommendation: Splendid Roll, Kamakazi Roll


Price: $$$




Off The Hook

908 Warrendale Village Drive, Warrendale, PA 15086




Off The Hook makes no compromises. The freshest fish flown in from all across the world? Check. Chefs shucking oysters at an open oyster bar? Check. A wine list with over 250 quality American wines and French Champagnes? Yup. Oh, did I mention the private Chef’s table … in the kitchen? Yea, they have that too. They even sell hand-cut filets-to-go, offering their guests the opportunity to enjoy preparing unique and fresh fish at home. I’ll say it again: no compromises.


Recommendation: The Oyster Bar


Price: $$$$




Mission Mahi

See Facebook for Schedule and Locations




I saved the best fish food for last. Mission Mahi is a taco truck and their fish tacos are to die for. No, I’m not joking. Believe it or not, Mission Mahi fish tacos have been my favorite local food since the moment I took a bite out of my first Original. Want to know what my second favorite local food is? Their fries with the Sriracha Mayo. They have non-fish, vegetarian and vegan options, and they are great at posting their schedule on Facebook, so find out when they will be in or near Pine Township and make time to try their food. You won’t regret it!


Recommendation: Original Fish Taco, Basket of Fries w/ Sriracha Mayo


Price: $$



If you live in or around Pine Township and you find yourself desiring excellent seafood, swim on over to one of the above-mentioned seafood restaurants and take the bait. Trust me, you’ll be impressed.

Posted in Food
June 19, 2016

Lunch Break! The Best Sandwiches in Pine Township, PA


Lunch Break! The Best Sandwiches in Pine Township PA


It’s been estimated that, each and every day, half of all Americans eat a sandwich. I guess it’s because they are easy to make, quick to prepare, and comparably cheap to acquire. There’s a downside to sandwiches though: they are oftentimes just plain boring. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a few places in and around Pine Township that offer their customers the chance to break free from the same old sandwich. In no particular order, here are a few restaurants that will serve you arguably the best sandwich you’ll ever eat.




Bartram House Bakery & Café

2000 Village Run Road, Wexford, PA 15090



The Bartram House Bakery & Café hit the scene in 2008, but the family behind the scenes has been baking since 1976. Bartram House serves an all-day breakfast, and lunch/dinner food as well (sandwiches, soups, and salads). And of course, they bake sweets – cakes, pastries, cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, tiramisu, cannolis and tarts. They also serve coffee, espresso drinks, smoothies and milkshakes. In my opinion, the breakfast is really something special. They open at 6:30am on weekdays, 7am on Saturdays and 8am on Sundays (yes, they work 7 days a week), so wake up and go get yourself a good meal at Bartram House already!


Recommendation: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, Strawberry-Mango Smoothie


Price: $$




Zuppa’s Delicatessen

10850 Perry Highway #1, Wexford, PA 15090



The three head Chefs at Zuppa’s have a goal: “To be the best Italian deli in Pittsburgh” – and they might have accomplished that already. These guys make some really good food. The menu consists of sandwiches, soups, salads and some dessert items. Zuppa is Italian for “Soup,” so of course they have two soup specials every day. Head to their website and check out the menu and the soups of the day. You will surely find something that makes your mouth water. This author has eaten there at least one hundred times. The food is consistently excellent. The owners are incredibly hard working and friendly and so is their staff. You'll be glad you asked them how they make their soup. 


Recommendation: Eggplant Parmesan Panini, Soup of the Day


Price: $$




Mission Mahi

See Facebook for Schedule and Locations


I mentioned Mission Mahi in my blog on The Best Places for Seafood in Pine Township, but they honestly deserve to be mentioned here as well. Mission Mahi is a taco truck, technically. What they serve however, is more of a collaboration between a fajita, a burrito and a Panini. It’s amazing. It’s incredible. And it’s currently my favorite food in the Pine Township area. They’ve got a bunch of different types of tacos, all with fresh Mahi Mahi (or chicken as a substitute), each with its own unique combination of fillings and a name to match. They offer vegetarian and vegan options as well. To top it all off, they serve the best fries I think I’ve ever had. They are crunchy, spicy (if you want them to be), and will come with Sriracha mayo if your heart desires. Check their schedule on Facebook and make a point of it to give Mission Mahi a shot. They are guaranteed to hit the spot!


Recommendation: Original Fish Taco, Yinzer Fish Taco, Basket of Fries w/ Sriracha Mayo


Price: $$



Never again will you suffer through a mediocre sandwich – not from these joints, at least. Each place mentioned in this blog specializes in serving fresh, unique and delicious food, particularly their sandwiches. Next time your lunch break hits, let one of these Pine Township area food service providers help you power through the rest of your day.

Posted in Food
May 16, 2016

Sweet tooth? The Best Desserts in Pine Township PA

ICE CREAM in or near Pine Township, PA

Do you hear it?

That’s the sound of your inner child screaming ice cream. Don’t panic, I’m here to help. Below are the best ice cream shops in or near Pine Township.

Keep breathing. We are going to get through this together.



Graeter’s Ice Cream

10610 Perry Highway, Wexford, PA 15090





In 1868, Louis Graeter began selling his ice cream on the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio. 148 years later, Graeter’s opened up their first Pennsylvania location in Wexford, PA, minutes from Pine Township. Just like Louis, Graeter’s still uses French Pot Freezers to craft their distinctive ice cream, two-and-a-half gallons at a time. Many of Graeter’s flavors are infused with giant chunks of chocolate – a signature of theirs. Graeter’s absolutely lives up to the hype. Keep in mind that your first taste of Graeter’s is going to spoil your sweet tooth forever. It will no longer accept mediocre ice cream.



With Chocolate: Black Raspberry Chip (Pictured Above), Mint Chocolate Chip

Without Chocolate: Vienna Coffee, Original Salted Caramel



The Meadows Original Frozen Custard

20635 Route 19, Cranberry, PA 16066



The Meadows has been making their frozen custard the same way since it began serving the public in 1950. Since day one, they’ve had no problem finding customers to serve. The Meadows serves frozen custard, not ice cream. Frozen custard is creamier and smoother. If you’ve never tried frozen custard, The Meadows will gladly set the bar for you, and if you have tried frozen custard, The Meadows will raise it. They’ve got frozen yogurt and espresso drinks on the menu, they create custom cakes, and they’re open year-round. Their custard is well-worth the short trip from Pine Township.



Chocolate and Vanilla Custard in Waffle Cone, Black Cow (their version of a Root Beer Float)




Ice Box Creamery & Cafe

1343 Old Freedom Road (next to Wal-Mart), Cranberry, PA 16066


Ice Box Creamery & Café is another one of the Pine Township greater area’s finest ice cream providers. They use only quality ingredients in their homemade ice cream, and they offer a wide variety of flavors. They serve paninis and coffee there as well, but Ice Box is known especially for their ice cream. Trying to make an Ice Box flavor recommendation is no easy task (they make so many great flavors) but I will certainly do my best.



Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate Hazelnut, Brown Sugar Cinnamon



BAKED GOODS in or near Pine Township


Gigi’s Cupcakes

761 Providence Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237




In 2008, Gina “Gigi” Butler opened the doors of the original Gigi’s Cupcakes Shop in Nashville. Eight years later, Gigi and her family’s stellar cupcakes are being served in over 100 locations across the country. Out of all the Gigi’s locations, only one is located in Pennsylvania. Luckily, it’s close to Pine Township in the McCandless Crossing Town Center. Gigi’s serves up a near endless variety of cupcakes and other baked goods. Some recipes are staple offerings, others are seasonal. Gigi’s Cupcakes will also custom-bake cupcakes and other goodies for weddings, birthdays and other events. You can even schedule a tasting! Gigi’s Cupcakes are more art than food. You’ll probably hesitate to eat whichever cupcakes you choose … but then you’ll eat them … and you’ll be glad you did.



Scarlett’s Red Velvet, Kentucky Bourbon, Wedding Cake, Texas Milk Chocolate



Peace Love & Little Donuts

11915 Perry Highway, Wexford PA 15090

20325 Route 19, Cranberry PA 16066




It all started with a mistake. Ron Razete, would-be co-founder of Peace Love & Little Donuts, put together his first donut machine wrong. When he turned it on, it produced miniature donuts! They embraced the mistake and opened the first Peace Love & Little Donuts on Smallman Street in the Strip District of Pittsburgh in 2009. Today, their “perfectly sized” donuts are served in over 20 locations across the United States. Unlike most donut shops, Peace Love & Little Donuts makes their donuts all day long so their consumers are always receiving fresh goods. And they offer donut flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Maple Bacon donut anyone? You’ll think their crazy till you try it. Only then will you understand the power of Peace Love & Little Donuts! They’ve got two locations that are both minutes from the Pine Township lines, so it won’t take you long to be tasting the area’s finest donuts.


Recommendations:            Maple Bacon, Blueberry Frosted, Samoa, Cinnamon Sugar




COFFEE in or near Pine Township


Convive Coffee Roastery

751 Providence Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237




In my opinion, coffee is a form of dessert. And Convive is serving up the area’s best. Located just south of Pine Township in the McCandless Crossing Town Center (next to Gig’s Cupcakes, I might add), Convive is roasting some of the world’s best coffee beans and using them to serve incredible coffee drinks to the public. The same beans they use are also offered for sale, whole or grinded. They’ve got cookies and other baked goods too. Maybe the most unique thing about Convive (other than the “Pay It Forward Wall,” of course) is that they have a mobile espresso bar that customers can host at their events (weddings, reunions, etc.) operated by knowledgeable baristas. If high-end coffee and espresso is up your alley, drop into Convive to enjoy a hand-crafted, delicious drink in a relaxing environment.


Recommendation:               Anything really. However you prefer your coffee, they will not disappoint.



No longer will you ever go without a good dessert (unless by choice). The above-mentioned businesses have proven to the Pine Township community that they know how to hit the sweet spot. Let them prove it to you.


If you haven’t even had your drinks or your main course yet, be sure to check out my blogs on:


The Best Pizza in Pine Township PA

The Best Seafood in Pine Township PA

The Best Sandwiches in Pine Township PA

The Best Craft Beer Selections in Pine Township PA


Posted in Food
April 15, 2016

Clink! The Best Craft Beer Selections in Pine Township PA

Clink! The Best Craft Beer Selections in Pine Township PA


Now more than ever before, craft beer kegs are kicking across the country. People are falling in love with the wide variety of beer being produced by the independent craft beer breweries. Pine Township residents and visitors are no exception. Fortunately, a few local joints are giving the people what they want (and more). Here are the best places for craft beer in and around Pine Township:


Pig Iron Public House

926 Sheraton Drive, Mars, PA 16046




They’ve got 66 beers on tap, locally-sourced food, and seasonal mixed drinks and sangrias. All of the draft beers are $2 off during Happy Hour (Monday-Friday, 5-7pm). Steelers, Penguins, Pirates or Panthers playing? They’ve got plenty of TVs, so pull up a seat. They serve brunch as well - Saturday and Sunday, 10am-2pm, during which you can custom-create your own Bloody Marys and Mimosas. Visit their website or stop in and taste what’s pouring out of their taps.


Recommendation: Pizza Boy DUB 56 (Pale Ale, 4.8% ABV), Pig Iron Burger


Price: $$



The Wexford Pub @ Whole Foods

10576 Perry Highway, Wexford, PA 15090




Whole Foods recently took over the old Starbuck’s space in The Wexford Plaza and opened up The Wexford Pub, and it’s turning out to be quite a hit. The Wexford Pub is a combination of a bar, a restaurant, and a beer distributor. They’ve got over 20 beers on tap, a solid bar food menu featuring specials every day of the week, and several large cooler cases packed with a wide variety of single bottles and six packs to-go. They sport a pool table and plenty of flat-screens as well. The Pub and the grocery store are connected by a hallway, and they have no problem with you buying food at the grocery and eating it at the pub. Pine Township residents: check them out! Oh yeah, be sure to ask for Dave - he's the beer expert with the beard and the big smile. :-)


Recommendation: Southern Tier Pumking (Pumpkin Ale, 9% ABV), Black Cherry Wings


Price: $$



The Wexford Ale House

10501 Perry Highway, Wexford, PA 15090




The Wexford Ale House covers all the bases. They’ve got over 30 beers on tap, delicious food, 10 HD TV’s, and live music once or twice a month. Their wings just won People’s Choice Award for Best Overall Wings at ‘The 2016 King of the Wing Festival.’ Occasionally, they hold special events as well. For example, on October 7, 2016, the National Stein Hoisting Competition will be holding an event at the Wexford Ale House. All things considered, The Wexford Ale House has got what you want. If you are thirsty in the Pine Township area, hop on in!


Recommendation: Point Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale (Pumpkin Ale, 7.5% ABV), Buffalo Mac & Cheese


Price: $$



If you didn’t already know the best watering holes in the Pine Township area, you do now. All the above-mentioned spots have a huge craft beer selection, great food and service, and a fantastic atmosphere. Have no fear, these places will take care of you. Please, remember to drink responsibly.


If you want something delicious in your stomach before enjoying craft beer, be sure to check out my blogs on:

The Best Pizza in Pine Township PA

The Best Sandwiches in Pine Township PA

The Best Seafood in Pine Township PA

The Best Dessert in Pine Township PA

Posted in Drink
March 11, 2016

North Park In Pittsburgh - 5 Great Reasons to Visit

If you haven’t visited North Park in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, you’ve been missing out. North Park is the largest park in the Allegheny County Parks system, spreading its features over 3000 acres.  Don’t be intimidated, because this is a place you will WANT to get lost in. But just in case, here’s the Google Map of North Park:



Now that you know WHERE the park is, it’s time to figure out what to do there. Here’s a list of some of the best things North Park has to offer:


#1 – The Lake

 One of the infinite fishing spots around North Park Lake.


North Park Lake has been providing enjoyment to Pittsburgh residents since the 1930’s. The man-made 75 acre lake is a fisherman’s dream. Kayakers and rowers are welcome too. If you don’t own a kayak – don’t panic – for Venture Outdoors at The Boathouse rents them out. If you prefer, you can enjoy the lake from a distance. There is plenty of room set aside for walkers, runners, bikers and roller-bladers on the 4.5 mile path running alongside the lake. If you are in need of a bike or some fish bait, North Park Bicycle Bait & Tackle on the corner of East Ingomar and Kummer Road has been servicing park goers since, well, there was a park to go to. When you’ve worked up an appetite, visit “Over the Bar,” the restaurant at The Boathouse. Enjoy a good meal, cool drinks, and arguably the best view of the lake that the park has to offer.


Over The Bar, at The Boathouse.



#2 – Sports


One of a handful of Paddle Tennis Courts at North Park.

One of a handful of Paddle Tennis Courts at the park.

Whatever sports you play, North Park will give you a place to play them. Are you a hiker or a mountain biker? North Park has some of the best trails in the area. After you’ve warmed up at the North Park Batting Cages, claim one of the baseball fields scattered throughout the park. Three full-size basketball courts are located by the Ice Skating Rink. Brand new tennis courts are currently under construction. In the meantime, test your reactions on the Paddle Tennis Courts (pictured above). If golf is your thing, you can warm up at North Park driving range and make a day of it at North Park Golf Course, or keep it casual at Chubs Par 3. But if you REALLY want a challenge, Humpty Dumpty is waiting for you at the North Park Miniature Golf course. Beware, he shows no mercy.


Bring It On.

Bring it on.

#3 – Go Ape, Treetop Adventure


Go Ape At North Park in Pittsburgh

Go Ape at North Park in Pittsburgh.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure? Look no further. Go Ape has opened a location in North Park and is now providing one of Pittsburgh’s most unique outdoor activities. Essentially, Go Ape is an obstacle course – in the trees! Go Ape offers over 40 different stages separated by swings, zip-lines and other crazy obstacles. They offer courses for both kids and adults. Check out their website for pictures, prices and FAQs. Are you ready to Go Ape yet?


#4 – Events and Get-Togethers

 The bridge to Marshall Island.

The bridge to Marshall Island.

If you are looking for a place to get together with your family or friends, North Park will welcome you and yours with open arms. My personal favorite relaxation spot is a tie between Marshall Island (pictured above) and, what I call, Lilly Pad Lake (pictured below). There are a few top-secret chill-out spots throughout the park too. Explore long enough and you might just find them. Plan on hosting a holiday picnic or a graduation party? The park has over 100 groves, shelters and facilities of all sizes and variable amenities available for rent. With over 3000 acres to its name, North Park will always have an open spot. Keep in mind, the park is always hosting its own events and community gatherings. Check out their events webpage for a look at what they’ve got planned.

The view from a bench at Lilly Pad Lake.

The view from a bench at Lilly Pad Lake.

#5 – The Swimming Pool


No, you can’t swim in the lake. With that said, allow me to introduce you to the North Park Swimming Pool – arguably the best public swimming pool operating in the Greater Pittsburgh Area. This is the place where fun-seekers and sun-bathers go to soak in the rays and immerse themselves in over two-and-a-half MILLION gallons of water each and every year. Yes, this pool is massive. So massive that it was once considered the world’s largest swimming pool. When you feel the urge to heat up or cool off, let The North Park Swimming Pool set the scene.

The iconic pier.

North Park cannot be summed up in a single blog. I’m not so sure it can even be fully explored in a single lifetime. What I AM sure of, however, is that North Park is an unforgettable place with so much to offer. Do yourself a favor and come see what all the hype is about.


NP info and links from AGC NP website – http://www.alleghenycounty.us/parks/north-park/index.aspx


Go Ape info gathered from Go Ape NP website – https://goape.com/Locations/Pennsylvania/Pittsburgh

Posted in Places