On the Town

Prepping for Summer

Crocuses are peeking through the soil and the snow has melted, meaning just one thing—it’s finally spring! Those who love the outside might have spent the winter poring over seed catalogs and making big plans for their gardens. But for many, reemerging to the outdoors can be challenging. You can use the best landscape architects, …

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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 1994 novel, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.” …

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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. On the question of wines from the eastern United States, however, I went along with the conventional wisdom for a long time. Wines from …

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An Artrageous Centennial

Centennials don’t happen every day. For the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh it is lasting a good year and then some. In 2008 Vicky Clark curated an exhibition at The Carnegie Museum of Art, “The Popular Salon of the People,” which surveyed the history of the AAP’s Annual Exhibition and showed just how good and diverse …

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Point and Shoot

You would never have thought it. That an ordinary medium, which simply traps the light that falls onto a surface and somehow saves it could be so powerful. You could rank it with the invention of the printing press. Nearly 200 years later, my little point-and-shoot may surprise you, as you have been surprised by …

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A Gilded Age Holiday

In 1882, Henry Clay Frick purchased an Italianate-style mansion on Penn Avenue in Point Breeze. The “Coke King” named it Clayton, commissioning two major renovations for his growing family. Within 10 years, though, Frick and his wife, Adelaide, suffered the loss of two of their four children, 8-year-old Martha and infant Henry Clay Frick, Jr., …

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Bridges of Allegheny County

Whether they’re crossing chasms, spanning rivers or connecting communities, bridges have always been the metaphoric heart of Pittsburgh. Their architects and builders— from 18th-century military pragmatists to the best design firms in the world—have expanded the art of the possible, from the humble to the magnificent, from arch to suspension to truss. Presented here is …

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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. But there is one triangle …

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The Golden Triangle Shines

Ten years ago, the death knell tolled for a much-vaunted plan to re-energize Downtown Pittsburgh through an explosion of eminent domain and new retail. The ambitious plan, led by Mayor Tom Murphy, succeeded in creating a gleaming new building that housed a Lazarus department store, as well as an unfortunate remodeling of the former Mellon …

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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. The first is a counter or bar. A raised countertop and stools will anchor a place. In this case, size is not important. The Square has just nine stools, enough to do …

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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. Girasole is often crowded, usually …

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An Autumn Excursion to Bedford Springs

Nothing screams ”road trip” like a crisp autumn day, and nothing whispers “history” like the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa in Bedford, Pa. Combine them, and you have a fabulous getaway 90 minutes from Pittsburgh. Drawn to its mineral springs and their healing properties, Dr. John Anderson purchased the 2,200-acre property in 1796. Guest …

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Reanimation

Night drivers in western Pennsylvania will know the quickening experience when a deer is caught by the car’s headlamps. Usually it’s a momentary, harmless event, but always a bit of a shock. Filmmakers (Jean Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch) use the same kind of device to sometimes devastating effect. In black and white, it works …

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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, Johnny Fusilli is back at …

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Art in the Trees

Junior high woodworking class is as close as many of us have ever gotten to making something with our own hands. We developed a tactile awareness of the silky smoothness of well-sanded wood and that need to run our fingers over the soft warmth of a finished piece of walnut. John Metzler never out grew …

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All for Fun

If summer in the city has lost its luster, and you are ready to ditch that hot suit or itchy hose for some fresh country air, Butler County has just the ticket—the 155th Big Butler Fair, July 2–10 at the fairgrounds in Prospect. While there are loads of county fairs, fire department carnivals and church …

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Rocks of Ages

The Laurel Highlands. The very name hints of a special place. Its boundaries lie in the eye of the beholder, but most agree that the Highlands are east and south of Pittsburgh in Somerset, Fayette and Westmoreland counties. Thousands of skiers, hunters, hikers and rafters enjoy this unique geography, but do they ever ponder how …

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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. And when you first lay …

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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. She had baked for years, as a way to pass the nervous hours until 11 p.m., when her …

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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 Unlimited on Walnut Street. That …

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Pen to Paper

In this age of emailing, texting, and tweeting, the art of letter writing could be lost. Fortunately, many people still enjoy holding a real book or magazine in their hands—and putting pen to paper for correspondence. Anyone who has ever packed up the belongings of an elderly relative or friend has likely found a pile …

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Collected Treasures

When Ailsa Mellon Bruce died in 1969, she left behind a collection of fine and decorative arts that was as extraordinary as it was extensive. The daughter of U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon and sister of the equally noted collector Paul Mellon, she had spent much of her life and considerable fortune amassing …

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