Food & Wine

The Mighty Oak Barrel

When you think that you must have taken a wrong turn, you are almost there. The Mighty Oak Barrel sits at the end of a little twig of a road that is also the last chance for anyone who panics at the approaching Hulton Bridge and swerves to the right.

A Passion for Baking

Mary-​kay Fiore’s life turned out a little differently than she expected. But it sure has a sweet ending. In 2001, the single mother of three found herself downsized out of a corporate job and facing a crossroads.

Valliant’s Diner

Pete Valliant arrived in America in 1950 with $20 in his pocket, no English, and a vague notion that he had relatives near Pittsburgh. The Greek merchant sea captain thought he would give the mainland a try, leaving behind his island home on Cephalonia, where Louis de Bernières set his…

Quality Close to Home

I enjoy being a wine contrarian — advocating for delicious white wines when people are conditioned to order red, and pouring domestic for customers who wouldn’t dream of drinking anything but an import.

Triangle Bar & Grill

The Bermuda Triangle — that vortex in the Atlantic Ocean that starts at Miami, follows a line southeast to Puerto Rico, then north to Bermuda and back to Miami — forms a region that some have imbued with mysterious powers. Over the decades, many ships have entered this triangle, never to be seen again.

Try a blind tasting

We ran a fun little wine-​tasting experiment at the restaurant the other day, one you should try at home. It will be educational and thought-​provoking. And if it goes as ours went, you may be a bit miffed by the results.

Square Café

There are two features that are essential before any establishment can become a neighborhood joint, and Square Café in Regent Square has both.

Follow your Palate

All right people. Can we just chill out about food and wine pairings? It seems the more we’re interested in food and the more we learn about wine, the more stressed we are about choosing wines to have with dinner.

Girasole: Dinner and a Show

As the great American playwright Tennessee Williams once said, “I think Italians are like Southerners without their inhibitions.” Williams could have made that observation from a table at Girasole, which combines the best of Italy and Pittsburgh: sometimes it can be a little bit pazzo, but it is always honest.

Savoring Digestifs

Is it wrong that one of my favorite childhood chores was running to the A&P for my grandmother and buying her a bottle of Fernet-​Branca and a box of snuff? It’s probably not the kind of wholesome memory most people hope to create for their kids, but I can’t help…

Johnny’s Restaurant

There is a relationship that regular patrons have with Johnny’s Restaurant in Wilmerding that is a lot like the one shared by old married couples. They promise each other not to be the first to go, because the survivor will be lost until the end. And after a yearlong hiatus,…

Aperitif!

It’s always been a nice break for me to get out of the hot kitchen and spend some time tending bar. And 40 years ago when I started in the restaurant business, making drinks before dinner was easy. A martini, a glass of sherry or an imported aperitif — that was all…

Enrico’s Café

Chuck DiNardo, legendary food and drink impresario, operated the Hollywood Social Club in Shadyside into the 1970s. The haunt of politicians, every old mustache in the region and visiting celebrities, the “Sosh” was accessed through an unmarked narrow walkway, easily missed, between what is now The Pottery Barn and Kards…

Bringing the Good Cheer

While it’s my great pleasure in life to talk about wine, enjoy it with friends, pour it in my restaurant and assess it at tastings, I very rarely give wine as gifts at holiday time. People expect it from me now. I’m the wine guy, so wine’s too obvious.

What Cork?

Patrons who arrive at our restaurant after dark, or are focused on prime rib, may not notice the unusual mulch out front. It’s cork, or more specifically, corks, from the dozens of wine bottles we open every night.
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