PITTSBURGH ... City of Champions
Pittsburgh is often referred to as the "City of Champions."
This term, of course, refers to the sports prowess of its trifecta of storied teams: the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. It could just as easily represent the champions of industry who left their indelible mark on the city — Andrew Carnegie and his steel empire; early foodie H. J. Heinz and his 57 Varieties; inventor and electrical engineering pioneer George Westinghouse, and many others.
Pittsburgh began as a frontier fort at the confluence of the Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers. They come together beautifully to form the city's dynamic downtown, known as the Golden Triangle. Eventually, Pittsburgh would become the industrial center for our growing nation. It was at the forefront of the steel, electricity and glass industries in the second half of the 19th century and for much of the 20th. The 19th century also saw an influx of immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Italy and many other European countries. As happened in many cities at the time, these immigrants would open ethnic restaurants in their neighborhoods replicating the cuisines of native homelands. Pittsburgh is no different.
Pittsburgh's oldest continuously operating restaurant is thought by many to be The Original Oyster House. It opened in 1870 on the site of the Bear Tavern, circa 1827. Located in the heart of downtown in Market Square, it has been designated a historic landmark. In 1870, oysters sold here for a penny each and beer was 10 cents a glass. Louis "Silver Dollar Louie" Americus was the proprietor from 1916 to 1970. The fifth and current proprietor, Louis Grippo, was reportedly kicked out of the place, and vowed to purchase it, which he did in 1970.
Another oldie but goodie is Mitchell's Restaurant, which dates to 1906. Greek immigrant Constantinos Micholopoulos picked the name "Mitchell" out of the Pittsburgh phone book because it was way easier to spell and remember than his own. His grandson continues the operation today.
Hyeholde, which dates from 1938, was constructed in a cornfield literally by hand, by William Kryskill and his wife. Built to resemble a castle, it boasts four acres of gardens, lawns and stone paths. It took the couple seven years to construct the country inn. Pat Foy purchased Hyeholde, and turned it into a sophisticated operation with an elaborate menu and fine wine list. Hyeholde came full circle when the Kryskill's daughter Barbara and her husband, Quentin McKenna, repurchased it in 1991. Today, it remains a destination for Pittsburghers in search of a special occasion dinner, wedding or celebration.
THE STRIP & RESTAURANT ROW – Foodie Heaven in Pittsburgh
Today, the high tech, robotics, healthcare, biomedical technology, nuclear engineering and tourism industries have ensured the city's vitality. A vibrant, expanding restaurant scene thrives, especially in areas such as The Strip and Restaurant Row. While many ethnic restaurants remain in neighborhoods such as Bloomfield, which is Pittsburgh's Little Italy, the dining scene trends toward locally grown produce and sustainable ingredients from the Western Pennsylvania region.
The Strip garnered its name from the strip of land it occupies along the Allegheny River bordering downtown. Ethnic grocers, meat markets, fish mongers, food vendors and restaurants galore can all be found along these streets, as the aroma of freshly baked bread and freshly brewed coffee waft through the air.
Restaurant Row runs the length of Grandview Avenue, atop Mt. Washington. Elegant fine dining establishments and a gorgeous view of downtown Pittsburgh from above entice diners here.
The Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour and the twice-annual Taste of Pittsburgh invite food lovers to partake in the broad culinary spectrum offered across the city. An easy drive from Pittsburgh, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is nestled in the Laurel Highlands. It boasts Lautrec restaurant, which has garnered both the coveted Forbes Five-Star and the AAA Five-Diamond ratings.
On the following pages, join us as we explore a number of Pittsburgh-area restaurants that reflect the city's vibrant restaurant scene and make sure to bring your appetite.