2009 Winter

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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Magnificence in Montana

When his six boys were young, Jim Dolan and his wife Patty took the family every spring break on a ski trip, each time to a different location. They went to Aspen, Vail, Steamboat, Jackson Hole—you name it. Each year, the boys said, “This is great, let’s come back here next year.”   And each …

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Queens of the Court

If you think it’s hard to compete with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field, imagine competing with them for a chunk of the area’s sport-obsessed, male-dominated fan base. But two exceptional women, Agnus Berenato of the University of Pittsburgh and Suzie McConnell-Serio of Duquesne University, are prying some eyes away. Between them, they aim to …

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At Your Birdfeeder

Next time you turn the heat up a notch or pull on a sweater, consider the birds. Birds that winter in western Pennsylvania wear their own down garments, feathers fluffed on cold days to trap warmed air close to their bodies. Bird temperatures run around 104 degrees on average, and on our coldest days, birds …

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Going to Town

When John Stahl-Wert, then pastor of the Mennonite church in Pittsburgh, received a request from the national Church to design a program to strengthen the Mennonite community and impact the city, he knew what was needed. “I went home that evening and wrote on a single piece of paper that we would create a one-year, …

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Clan Destiny

You don’t need to love football in order  to enjoy Art Rooney Jr.’s glowing tribute to his famous father. “Ruanaidh: The Story of Art Rooney and His Clan” is first and foremost about people—the odd and irascible, the magnificent and flawed, the drunk and devout—in the orbit of one of the greatest “people persons” ever …

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Making a Promise

Pittsburgh has a way of weaseling itself into one’s heart. My wife, a Midwestern girl raised in Sioux City, and I, an Arab boy born in Lebanon, moved to Pittsburgh in 1984. We brought with us our 3-month-old daughter, youthful idealism, boundless energy and lots of naïve inexperience. Into this mix, one year later, were …

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Jazzy notes

On a painted mural behind the small stage of Pittsburgh’s newest jazz club, a singer in a dark red, strapless gown with a black bob hairdo sings to a sketched cityscape resembling Pittsburgh’s skyline at dusk. The real thing—Etta Cox—was there too, crooning standards “Teach Me Tonight” and “Misty” with the Harold Betters quartet, all …

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Fit vs. Fat vs. Finances

Every saturday, I sit in somber amazement and watch some tattooed, wide-body pile on his body weight in eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy onto a plate fresh out of the warming tray. My favorite part comes when he douses the whole monstrosity in cheese sauce. My incredulity is only matched by my waitress’s when I …

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Global City: The Vietnamese are Here

Father Dam Nguyen presides over the flock at St. Gabriel’s Church of the Sorrowful Virgin in the South Hills town of Whitehall. Several in the congregation share his Vietnamese heritage, and more often these days he finds himself given the joyful task of presiding at the marriage or baptism of one of their children or …

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From the Publisher, Winter 2009

I’m sorry to report the passing of the co-founder of Pittsburgh Quarterly, Smokey. He was almost seven when he was killed by a car this fall. The “Man’s Best Friend” label fit Smokey, whose picture appears for a third and final time on this page. Those who have dogs know the wonderful things they bring …

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Stocks & Pedestal, Winter 2009

Three cheers for PNC Financial Services Group for buying National City Corp. and becoming the nation’s fifth-biggest bank. With this $5.6 billion deal—helped by $7.7 billion in federal funds—Pittsburgh’s banking prominence is rising again.  We think concerns about a lack of banking choices in the wake of the deal are overblown. Pittsburgh sports a strong …

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Slavery’s Shadow

As the celebratory sun sets on Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary, an exhibit has opened at  the Heinz History Center that shows an area of shadow older than the city itself: slavery. Pittsburgh’s membership in the league of heroic Northern cities that helped with the Underground Railroad remains, but without its pristine, stainless status. Instead, western Pennsylvania …

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Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent

My interest in educational reform started when I was in the legislature in Massachusetts. I was lucky enough, as a young legislator, to be offered the chairmanship of the Education Committee. The Speaker of the House brought me in and said, “I want you to look at how Massachusetts funds and runs its public schools …

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Everingham, Pollock, Bovbjerg, Jenkins, Hiller, Scarlett-Smith, Thompson

Susan Everingham is director of the RAND Corporation’s Pittsburgh office. She joined RAND in 1988 and, since 2004, has been director of international programs, comprising the centers for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Russian Eurasia policy.From 2000 to 2005, she directed RAND’s program of military personnel research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. …

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Melodia, Cai, Jaffurs, Sittsamer, Lee, Edmunds, Healy, Packer

Mario Melodia, 78 He returned to Pittsburgh from Broadway, building a career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. He danced and choreographed for national audiences but left his biggest mark as a teacher of dancers of all stripes, launching the careers of many.He had a dance studio Downtown, taught for more than three decades at …

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Moving Beyond Mayview

When the state Department of Welfare announced last year that it would close Mayview State Hospital by Dec. 31, 2008, officials explained what would happen to the remaining 200 patients and said the closure would allow patients to receive community-based care. But lost in the desire to look forward was any look back at the …

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Pittsburgh’s Three Seasons

Forget about winter, spring, summer and fall. For Pittsburgh’s most faithful sports fans, there are only three seasons: hockey, baseball, and football. They tattoo their bodies with the names of their favorite teams and paint their cars and homes black and gold. They plan their vacations to accommodate a trip to Steelers training camp, and …

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A Touch of Tuscany

The house sits majestically on the crest of a hill, with sweeping vistas of other hills and the wooded valleys that connect them. There is little evidence of civilization even beyond the 33-acre site, which makes the home seem private and remote. That it’s on the outskirts of Pittsburgh and not in the Tuscan countryside …

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