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. 

 Lawrenceville

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

www.convivecoffeeroastery.com

 

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

www.thecoffeebuddha.com

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

www.espressoamano.com

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

www.thecommonplacecoffeehouse.com

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:

 

Cure

5336 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

www.curepittsburgh.com

 

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. 

 

Morcilla

3519 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

www.morcillapittsburgh.com

 

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. 

 

Dinette

5996 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

www.dinette-pgh.com

 

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!)

 

täko

214 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

www.takopgh.com

 

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

www.unionstandardpgh.com

 

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

www.stbcbeer.com

 

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

www.yamasushicuisine.com

 

 

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

www.offthehookfish.com

 

 

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

www.facebook.com/MissionMahi-328291267364418

 

 

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

www.bartramhousebakery.com

 

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

www.zuppasdeli.com

 

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

www.facebook.com/MissionMahi-328291267364418

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

 

www.graeters.com/retail-stores/pittsburgh/wexford

 

 

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.

 

Recommendations:            

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

 

www.meadowsofcranberry.com

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.

 

Recommendations:            

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

www.iceboxcreamerycafe.com

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.

 

Recommendations:            

Vanilla, Strawberry, Chocolate Hazelnut, Brown Sugar Cinnamon

 

 

BAKED GOODS in or near Pine Township

 

Gigi’s Cupcakes

761 Providence Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15237

 

www.gigiscupcakesusa.com

 

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.

 

Recommendations:            

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

 

www.peaceloveandlittledonuts.com

 

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

 

convivecoffeeroastery.com

 

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

 www.pigironpub.com

 

 

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

www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/wexford

 

 

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

www.wexfordalehouseonline.com/home.html

 

 

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
Feb. 8, 2016

Pizza Craving? Here are the Pizzerias Serving The Best Pizza in Pine Township PA

 

 

The Best Pizza in Pine Township

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The REAL food pyramid rests on a solid foundation of pizza. A delicious pizza (every now and then) is essential to anyone’s mental and physical well-being. With that said, this blog will make sure that when the inevitable pizza craving hits, the Pine Township pizza-lovers out there attain a perfect pie, every time. Ok, enough chit-chat – you’re hungry! Here are the pizzerias serving the best pizza in Pine Township:

Price Scale: $ (Low), $$ (Average), $$$ (High)

 

 

 

Supremo’s Pizzeria

160 Brickyard Road, Mars, PA 16046

 

www.supremospizzeria.com

 

Supremo’s Pizzeria has been serving the Pine Township area’s most highly reviewed pizza since 2009. Supremo’s has been voted a Top-Ten Pizza Shop in Pittsburgh as well as Best Pizza Shop in the Mars/Cranberry Area. The Mars location seats 30 guests and delivers to a six-mile radius, including Treesdale and other Pine Township neighborhoods. I consider Supremo’s Pizzeria the ideal choice for the American pizza experience.

Recommendation: The Sicilian Deluxe

Price: $-$$

 

 

 

Il Pizzaiolo

701 Warrendale Village Drive, Warrendale, PA 15086

www.ilpizzaiolo.com

 

Seeking a truly traditional approach to pizza? Il Pizzaiolo has just opened a location near Pine Township in Warrendale. Their Neapolitan-style pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired brick oven and their ingredients are either made in-house or imported from premium sources around the world. By the way, pizza is far from your only option here. Il Pizzaiolo offers the full range of authentic Italian cuisine and an extensive wine selection.

Recommendation: The Margherita D.O.C.

Price: $$$

 

 

 

Luca’s Bistro

610 Warrendale Road, Gibsonia, PA 15044

 

www.facebook.com/Lucas-Bistro-208…

Luca’s Bistro has been satisfying Pine Township pizza cravings for over 5 years. They are located in Treesdale’s Market Square and they prepare lunch and dinner for their guests between the hours of 11am and 9pm (10pm on weekends, early close @ 4pm on Mondays, closed Sundays). Their menu offers unique bread sticks, calzones, sandwiches, soups, and salads. But if this is going to be your first time eating Luca’s, make sure you get their pizza. Pine Township certainly approves.

Recommendation: Up-Side-Down Pizza

Price: $-$$

 

 

 

Aviva Brick Oven

16099 Perry Highway, Warrendale, PA 15086

www.avivabrickoven.com

 

Aviva Brick Oven opened for business near Pine Township in 2008, cooking their pizzas in a wood-burning brick oven in order to provide the special flavor that only a brick oven can infuse. They offer all types of Italian cuisine, as well as a lounge and a bar equipped with craft beers, liquors and wines. Aviva is not the only pizzeria with a wood-burning, brick oven pumping out pizzas in the area. Il Pizzaiolo is located across the street from Aviva. In comparison, the two pizzerias provide unique perspectives on brick oven pizza. Il Pizzaiolo offers a very authentic Neapolitan pizza, whereas Aviva offers an American-Neapolitan hybrid, a best-of-both-worlds, if you will.

Recommendation: Vodka Pizza

Price: $$

 

 

 

Olives & Peppers

6052 William Flynn Hwy, Bakerstown, PA 15007

www.olivesandpeppers.com

Olives & Peppers is a great Italian restaurant near Pine Township that just-so-happens to make great pizza. No matter what you order off of Olives & Peppers’ menu, you can count on it being made with the freshest and finest ingredients. Their pizza is no exception. They offer antipasti, salads, soups, pizzas, hoagies, calzones, authentic entrees and desserts. The menu is fairly traditional, but that’s what you ought to expect from a good Italian restaurant. Olives & Peppers isn’t trying to redefine Italian cuisine. They are trying to perfect it.

Recommendation: Margherita Pie

Price: $$-$$$

 

Pizza places are everywhere in and around Pine Township. Good pizza isn’t hard to find. But when you want GREAT pizza, these places will take care of you. If you live, work, or just find yourself in the Pine Township area with a desire for excellent pizza, head to one of these establishments for a top-notch pizza pie.

 

If you want something other than pizza, be sure to check out my blogs on:

 

The Best Seafood in Pine Township PA

The Best Sandwiches in Pine Township PA

The Best Craft Beer Selections in Pine Township PA

The Best Desserts in Pine Township PA

Posted in Food
Jan. 1, 2016

Pittsburgh Business: Why Hire a REALTOR(R)

Saving time and money

Hire a realtor for local market expertise, efficiencies  

If you’re buying or selling a home, you’ve probably noticed properties listed as “for sale by owner.” Many such listings tout the advantages of handing the process yourself and saving on closing costs.

 

But if you’ve ever considered that option, have you stopped to think about all the things you might have to be responsible for in a “DIY” real estate transaction? The list can be long, and here’s why it matters—regardless of whether you’re buying a house, selling one, or focusing on any particular neighborhood or price segment. 

 

For starters, real estate agents with a successful track record focus every day on offering the best service to their clients. That begins with helping them understand the market as well as the home-buying and selling process. 

 

 

Naturally, a client provides critical input on desirable local neighborhoods, home prices, amenities and other variables. The specific expertise and market research provided by a successful realtor incorporates these factors and more while delivering guidance on the best overall value for a home sale or purchase.

 

Those variables alone equate to significant pricing advantages, time savings, and numerous intangible benefits. They also add up for anyone, regardless of one’s work schedule or family demands.

 

A professionally licensed real estate agent is also focused on transparency. Local and industry-wide legislation governs and regulates the work of any agent. That’s why any consumer who works with a realtor can count on a professional who works on behalf of a client and in his or her best interests. 

 

Let’s face it: Who doesn’t care about time? There’s never enough! That’s yet another reason why working with a realtor is the best value: Properties sell more efficiently when agents are involved. In addition, closing costs and other expenses are minimized, while clients spend less time toiling over transactions. The result is reduced stress, cost savings, and more time spent on other things in life.

 

 

 

Real estate deals can be loaded with rocky roads, financial pitfalls, special requests, and regulatory matters. And that’s just a partial list. An honest and experienced realtor helps guide you through the maze. A home is possibly the single biggest investment you’ll ever make. How about letting an expert be your guide? 

 

One other note to consider: Few people who are buying and selling a home happen to be attorneys with any expertise in legal matters, particularly in real estate law. That’s often a critical area of experience when it comes time for closing on a property. A property closing is never a good time for surprises and issues one might have been able to anticipate in advance. 

 

That’s why specific expertise in the complex laws of real estate transactions can be yet another excellent thing to have on your side. It’s also yet another reason why hiring a realtor with access to in-house and third-party legal consultation will pay dividends. Even if things go smoothly at closing, the peace of mind that comes with professional skill and experience can’t be beat!

 

For more information on why hiring a realtor is good for you and your family, visit Achieve Realty online or call 724-933-1980.

Posted in Consumer Advice