Where to Eat: Pittsburgh’s Shadyside Neighborhood
This is a guest post from Erin of Don’t Forget to Eat. She lives in Pittsburgh.
The three blocks at the southwest end of Walnut Street are the commercial heart of Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood. Here you’ll find local favorites like Kards Unlimited gift store mixed in with big names like Gap and Athleta. It’s not the sort of neighborhood that comes to mind when you first think of Pittsburgh. This city calls to mind jobs like steelworker and coal miner and foods like pierogies and the famed Primanti Brothers sandwich. But these days, the Steel City is built on so much more than that enduring history. Medicine, education, and technology are the major industries and with that comes a certain desire for trendy bars and coffee shops to hangout in. Walnut Street is brimming with these. The biggest question is: where should you go first?
At the corner of Walnut and Ivy Street, Jitters Cafe is a perfect first stop for people watching. They serve coffees, pastries, and ice cream. Mornings the place is filled with regulars who the staff know by name. It doesn’t take many visits to become one of them. Wifi is reliable, too, so it’s a good breakfast stop for the freelance crowd.
Tucked behind Shadyside Variety Store, Girasole serves seasonal Italian food incorporating locally grown ingredients. In summer, you might try the Spinach Spaghetti with fresh tomatoes and corn. In the fall, perhaps pumpkin ravioli or risotto with duck and pear. The Girasole family are often on hand greeting customers, recommending dishes, and suggesting wine pairings. It’s like a little piece of Italy right here in Pittsburgh.
A perfect pairing for a casual Italian treat: pizza and gelato. Head Chef Michael Mercurio is certified by the Italian government as a Neapolitan pizza maker and it shows. My favorite is the simple margherita pizza with nothing more than tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil. The gelato is just like what you’d get in Italy too: creamy, intensely flavored and not too sweet. They offer a variety of traditional Italian flavors like hazelnut, fior di latte, and lemon sorbetto, but they add an American flair with flavors like blueberry muffin, peanut butter cup, and birthday cake.
Above the ever-popular Pamela’s Diner, La Feria is a Peruvian restaurant and craft gallery. If the secret gets out about this place, it’s going to be packed all the time. As it stands right now I know tons of people who love this place, but you can always get a table, even at prime time on Saturday. It’s casual, inexpensive and delicious. The entree of the day is always a good choice, as are any of the empanadas.
China Palace does a huge amount of delivery business, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop into their restaurant on Walnut. A table by the window is perfect for people watching while the commanding booths in the back are terrific for a romantic dinner or packing all of your friends around one table. Order the green tea to enjoy the ritual of pouring cup after tiny cup. Expect to bring home a doggie bag.
Erin Southerland is a travel writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. She writes about her adventures traveling the world with Crohn’s Disease at Don’t Forget to Eat.