Food & Wine

Fall rising

An epiphany moment comes when a person bakes bread, waiting forever for its puffy belly to inch up above the bowl. Waiting and waiting until the time comes when it has doubled itself and the baker takes a light fist to its risen center, pushes, and the bread exhales all…

Rudy’s Bar and Grill

by Joseph Sabino Mistick
His real name is Frank, but most people call him Gus, except for those who call him Rudy, and a lot of folks call him Rudy. For 40 years, Frank Aiello has operated Rudy’s Bar and Grill in McKees Rocks.

Berry bounty

It’s an early spring morning and my neighbor mike and I work in our gardens, just a shaky chain-​link fence between us. We garden for a while as if we’re both alone, just grunting and digging and pulling at weeds as the birds sing their heads off. Every so often…

Di’s Korner Stone Diner

by Joseph Sabino Mistick
Diane Elias never gives up. When she was 41, the McKeesport eatery where she waitressed was suddenly shuttered, leaving her and her friends out of work and short on hope, a common refrain in the old mill towns around Pittsburgh.

Let us think lettuces

The garden’s palette yawns tan and brown as winter ends and spring nears each year. All that’s left after the crusty snow melts (if I’ve remembered to diligently clean up the previous fall) are blank brown beds — the clean slates of gardening. I like the do-​over aspect of each new garden…

Cafe Raymond

by Joseph Sabino Mistick
Some neighborhood joints acquire an aura, off the beaten path or tucked away on some dicey back street, lending “insider” status to those who can get you there for a special lunch or evening out. A little bit like playing hard to get, this geographical inconvenience makes any great joint…

Pickling plenty

As the garden tips from late summer to fall and the plants become a little woody, then crispy, the only thing to do — if you’re a gardener like me — is turn to the things you’ve put up during the months of productivity. It’s nostalgic, opening up a jar of tomato sauce or…

Raising a glass (and a local industry)

It is near mayhem inside the headquarters of Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries, a drafty warehouse next door to a glass factory along an industrial stretch of Shaler. A forklift topples over a pile of cardboard boxes waiting to be filled with vodka bottles. Giant fermentation tanks are hot with bubbling CO2.…

Shouf’s Café

by Joseph Sabino Mistick
Sometimes, when Rabih Fahed pauses during a hectic night at Shouf’s Cafe, the room filled with love and laughter, families and friends hugging hello and crowding in close, and exotic aromas teasing the air, he can close his eyes and be back in the Lebanon of his youth.

A cookware quest

Forget about Black Friday. If you’re interested in top-​quality cookware at great prices, you can sleep off that Thanksgiving meal and make the drive to Washington County on Dec. 67 for the All-​Clad Factory Outlet Sale in Canonsburg.

Apple Obligations

There’s a point after leaving Pittsburgh, zipping in and out of lanes on Interstate 79, when you distinctly hit Country. Even the dog notices it, sticking his nose in the air, half-​closing his eyes in window-​seat joy. It’s the moment when the air rushing in smells sweet, like hay and…

La Prima Espresso

by Joseph Sabino Mistick
October 2, 1988, was a brisk Sunday in Pittsburgh’s Strip District — then more a collection of warehouses than a bustling foodies’ mecca — and Sam and Debbie Patti were hoping the naysayers had been wrong. With their 12-​year-​old daughter, Jamie, they sat bundled on a bench in the chilly storefront that had just…

Mateo’s

Grandson Mateo, now 8 years old, was a newborn when Franco and Lisa Gualtieri started cooking real Italian food in a small kitchen for pickup and delivery. When Mateo was 4, his grandparents opened the tiny restaurant they now operate on Brookline Boulevard and named it after him.

Just Ripe

Our little house in Pittsburgh was wedged between two widowers on the South Side slopes; John to the left, George to the right. George liked to wander out into his adjoining backyard and give me lawn cutting advice. John talked about tomatoes.

Signs of spring

Pittsburgh turns green in more ways than one come mid-​March. Budding trees line the roads and crocuses pop up in sidewalk gardens. Along East Carson Street, the South Side’s main drag, drunken revelers laugh and shout, adjust their shamrock hats and “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-​shirts as they search out…
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