Today the Common Household Husband and I crossed the river into town and ate food. But not just any food. We went on a food tour in Lawrenceville, a section of Pittsburgh with a history.
|Burgh Bits and Bites began the tour by handing us
a bottle of water - an excellent way to start.
We started at Salonika, a Greek grocery store/caterer at 35th and Smallman St. We had a tasting of bruschetta, some deliciously creamy feta on greens, and true Greek yogurt with honey. There were huge vats of olives and olive oil in this place. The décor was gritty, the hosts were welcoming, and I felt right at home.
Fortified, we sauntered up to Butler Street. We passed by a building that back in 1888 used to be the stable for a mortuary. It is now the upscale home for architect and design firms. There is a restaurant where the mortuary used to be. Regentrification has plusses and minuses in this neighborhood. But our tour was about food, not economics or politics so just put regentrification angst right out of your mind.
|Click to enlarge so you can see the horsehead,
which commemorates the horse-drawn
hearses that used to be in this building.
|Design group does good works, in a
regentrified sort of way.
We passed a building that used to be the bath house for all the steel mill workers. It dates to the early 20th Century. Workers paid a nickel for a shower, and a dime for a bath. Women and children of the working class usually could afford to bathe only once a week, and shared the bath water with the rest of the family. Hearing this did not deter us from enjoying our next tasting.
I think the word “tasting” is a regentrified word.
We moved on to Senti, an Italian restaurant on Butler Street. The decor was the opposite of Salonika’s – white and metallic, spotless and sharp. We each got our own delicious cheese ball, served on a spoon. I could never hope to cook such a thing at home.
Immediately following the cheese ball came the cupcake, at a bakery called Bella Christie. Aside from cupcakes, they have $8 milkshakes, served in these cups that are encrusted with cookies and candy. The goodies are glued on with icing, so it’s all edible. Oh, America! Could one person possibly consume so much sugar and not suffer from it?
|Sweet-encrusted milkshake cups
Then to the Borelli Edwards art gallery, where there were many excellent paintings of Pittsburgh scenes. Plus a really large dog: a live, barking one. I liked the paintings, but not the dog. The woman showing us around the gallery seemed warm and genuine. I got the sense that she might not mind too much having riffraff like me come in to look around without any intention of actually buying art. Except there is a dog.
Next came Frankie’s which has a total of four things on its menu: meatballs, kielbasa, hot dogs, and hot sausages. The hot dogs are foot-longs. We had a tasting of hot sausage on a bun with onions. Very pleasant people work there. I can judge this after interacting with them for ten seconds.
Moving on to Pastitsio’s, another Greek place. We had spanakopita, which was my favorite food of the day. We sat in a delightful patio, in the shade of the buildings next door.
|The lovely, shady patio
And on to Franktuary for some fried pierogies, filled with cheese and potato, with sour cream on the side. Pierogies are a Pittsburgh specialty, but they are not my favorite. Love of pierogies is probably the dividing line between a true ‘Burgher and a pretender like me. Franktuary gets its décor from a church that closed down. They also serve franks (obviously) and poutine here, and have a lengthy beer list.
|See, even the door at Franktuary is churchy-shaped!
|A sacred object in Pittsburgh: the pierogi
The tour guide took us into an antique shop, but I couldn’t stay in there – too sneezy.
Our final stop was at Matteo’s, which served us penne with vodka cream sauce. This was my husband’s favorite of the tour. They used real heavy cream in that sauce. Delicioso. While we ate, the guide told us about Mr. Rogers' connection to Lawrenceville, and about the Arsenal explosion during the Civil War.
We also appreciated the large glass of cold water served by Matteo's.
|Matteo's restaurant special menu.
Sorry it's blurry.
We waddled to our car, drove home and took a long nap. I rejoice that I do not have to cook dinner, because we are too stuffed to eat anything else today.