Food & Wine

Take a Chance on a Different Grape

There are some 400 wines on my restaurant’s wine list, and I can vouch for the deliciousness of every one. Imagine my chagrin when clients come in and order either a pinot noir or a chardonnay. Pinot noir or chardonnay. Pinot noir— How do folks get stuck in this wine rut? Why the reluctance to …

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Nied’s

The orange neon fish sign at the corner of Butler & 55th in Lawrenceville is the gastronomic version of the beacon atop the Grant Building. Nied’s Hotel Bar has held this corner since 1941 and, like all great joints, it’s a neighborhood within a neighborhood. The starting point at Nied’s is the “world famous fish …

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Reconsider the Riesling

Here’s a little test to see who’s as old as I am, and who will ’fess up to once drinking wines that might get you laughed out of a fancy restaurant today. Once upon a time, Americans loved off-dry wines. Remember Blue Nun? Black Cat? If you drank them in the 1950s, ’60s or ’70s, …

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Nap’s Cucina Mia

This Napoleon and Josephine story has a happy ending. It began in 1952, just two blocks from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus, when Napoleon and Josephine Patti opened Nap’s, a shot-and-beer joint along the main drag of the small town. For years, Nap’s was a regular stop for the guys who made their bones …

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Festive Holiday Wines

I am blessed to come from a family of wonderful Italian cooks, and growing up, our holiday traditions included my grandfather’s wine and my grandmother’s homemade pastas, which she rolled  out on the dining room table and served with Christmas dinner. Now, as a restaurateur, I’m blessed to be busy every day from Thanksgiving until …

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Dot’s

Dot’s in McKeesport is just that—a dot on the side of the road that is easily missed if it is not your intended destination. There was a time when this stretch of Fifth Avenue on the fringe of the city was more neighborhood street than highway. The mills were booming back then, and McKeesport was called …

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Soup’s on Downtown

As winter wraps its icy fingers around us, there is a no-fail way to fight back—comfort food. The ultimate chill-buster is a steaming bowl of hearty soup. If you have evolved past the canned variety, but don’t have time to make your own, visit The Original SoupMan in downtown Pittsburgh. While many people are familiar …

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An Early Tasting

I had been at the wine tasing two hours when I called my wife to move back our 3 p.m. meeting. It was shaping up to be a long afternoon —300 wines were lined up in a Napa Valley hotel, each begging to be sipped, considered and critiqued. How could I walk out? Plus, it …

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Wine ‘Em Up

Plan ahead with a guide for comprehensive tasting. I used to say I hated tasting wine with the milling hordes. I am recanting. Decanting. Pouring myself right in and trying to tip you in with me. Why? The Pittsburgh Wine Festival, May 3-8, sprawling over acres in Heinz Field House lounges, offers opportunities few ordinary mortals would otherwise …

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Driven to Drink

We’ve been conditioned to think of beer as decision-making’s devoted contaminant, so when I tell you that beer almost single-handedly explains Scott Smith’s current whereabouts, you might think this story won’t end well. Four years ago, Smith worked for a Fortune 500 company in a consumer products job. But the longer he did this, no …

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Bet the Farm

Selected by owners Jack and Dale Duff from a small field of candidates, they have been operating the venerable Blackberry Meadows Farm all summer under a lease/purchase agreement. With heads full of “green” theory and their own, seemingly endless renewable energy, the four entrepreneurs have passed the halfway mark in the growing season and are …

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The Pie Place

It’s a gift to be able to do one thing really well, and The Pie Place in the Norman Centre 2 in Bethel Park has that gift. The little shop is tucked in a strip mall dominated by Borders and Louis Anthony Jewelers. It’s been there for over four years, but many locals have never …

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Home is Where the Hearth Is

The walk was maybe a half-mile switchback up the side of a mountain in semi-freezing drizzle, past a slate-colored pond, through a covered bridge, beyond a clearing with a few austere frame buildings, and up and up. I can tell you I’ve never been so happy in my life to see smoke from a chimney. …

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Wine tips from the Heinz-Kerry cellar

With her easy tact and predisposition to agree, she might be a diplomat or a counselor—if it weren’t for the one-liners that slip out, almost as if they’re sneaking up on her, and the highly contagious laughs that follow. She should be laughing. Diane Martz, 43, in black jeans, tennis shoes and zero makeup, is …

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Salt, Air, Time and a Pig’s Hind Leg

In a food world where cured pork products have been catapulted to sexy heights of connoisseurship by chefs like Mario Batali, Pittsburghers blithely accept, take for granted and plain underappreciate the elegant—and bargain-priced—sausage and prosciutto made here in a fourth-generation family business in the Strip. “Parma is the best kept secret in town,” says Chef …

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Creative Dinners and More

With careers, carpooling and volunteer work, making dinner can be a challenge for busy families! If Stouffer’s is “home cooking” and at tax time you can claim the pizza deliveryman as a dependant, it might be time for a change. Enter a new concept in cooking — meal preparation centers. Creative Dinners and More provides …

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