Food & Wine

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…

The Maple

Long before Jim Pappas founded the Maple Restaurant in Ambridge, he and a partner ran an eatery that was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One year they decided to close for Christmas and spend a few hours with their young families, but no one could find…

Kar Hing

Since 1937, the world’s first atom smasher – perched above Ardmore Boulevard at the confluence of Forest Hills, East Pittsburgh and Chalfant – has been a source of mystery and intrigue. The once-​gleaming six-​story-​high silver ball – with its faded, giant Westinghouse “W” still visible – is a relic of the atomic age, but it is not the…

The Beginning

Mid October, 2012. The leaves shift into yellows and reds. I harvest the perky green Brussels sprouts and fill a basket with end-​of-​season tomatoes, a couple of late pattypan squashes, an armload of poblano peppers, parsley, kale, Swiss chard, heirloom carrots, and the last of the zinnias for the kitchen…

The Box is Back

This was the first good sign: When I asked a group of friends to join me for a tasting of boxed wines, everyone thought it would be fun to participate. No “Ugh, boxed wines!” No questioning of my sanity.

The Bigham Tavern

In the early 20th century, weary men from Mount Washington finished their factory shifts on the banks of Pittsburgh’s three rivers and ascended the sharp cliff to Grandview Avenue on several inclines, disappearing above the cacophony and grime.

Anna’s Cucina Rustica

When she was a little girl, Anna Malvone would finish her classes and rush the few blocks to the neighborhood orphanage in Pianura, Naples. There, she helped the nuns in the kitchen, preparing simple meals with ingredients that were plentiful and cheap — tomatoes, garlic, basil and other staples of Italian life…

The virtues of varietals

Good old Gallo hearty burgundy. Are you old enough to remember when that was the go-​to wine for every dinner party? Lord knows what was in that jug, but it always tasted the same — red fruit, easy-​drinking, probably sweeter than we’re used to these days. It was a blend of numerous…

Hyeholde

The goddess Diana plays many roles. She is goddess of the moon and the likely source of the name of Moon Township, which sits along a crescent-​shaped bend in the Ohio River. Here, English settlers farmed the land after the French and Indian War, following the signs of the moon,…

Judging the Best

Say “state fair” or “county fair” and most folks picture themselves under the summer sun, snacking on corn dogs and deep-​fried Twinkies. It’s a summertime tradition across the country.

Hough’s

You can’t go home again, Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel about moving on in life, would have you believe that once you leave the nurturing familiarity of the old neighborhood, you can never return or recapture the magic of your youth. Wolfe should have spent a little time in Greenfield or…

For the holiday table

What do you do when someone arrives on your doorstep with a slab of homemade duck pastrami? At my house, we shout thanks and reach for a corkscrew. It’s a holiday tradition.

Jim’s Famous Sauce

Alex Damianos awakened from a troubled sleep at 3 a.m. on a hot July night in 1959 to find his smiling father standing at the foot of his bed, staring down at him.

Muscat Love

Mankind has been making wine for millennia, so it’s rare to find a wine that’s truly new. But sometimes we see a grape that’s ripe for a comeback. Consider the Muscat family of grapes: Muscat Blanc and its many mutations, including Muscat Ottonel and Black Muscat.
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