Sunday, May 25, 2008

How to be a Better Pittsburgh

Originally published in D-Tales here, edited for content.

...In Pittsburgh, you've got Lawrenceville, the Strip District, and the 16:62 Design Zone (which spans both Lawrenceville and the Strip), which is basically the heart of the arts--a "zone" in which you can find hundreds of independently-owned businesses that focus on interior design and home furnishings that are designed and created by the artists/owners themselves, making almost every single solitary piece you might find one-of-a-kind. You've also got clothing boutiques that feature the works of independent and emerging designers (Sugar Boutique is a favorite), as well as galleries that specialize in works by Pennsylvania artists. Dining is just as creative, with places such as Coca Cafe (very creative brunches), brillobox (art, music, and comfort food), Bigelow Grille (specializing in "contemporary Pittsburgh cuisine;" high-end with a focus on local ingredients), and Church Brew Works--a brewery inside a deconsecrated church, which maintains every last bit of its churchiness both inside and out except for the tables, the long bar, and the huge fermentation tanks where the pulpit once was.

I didn't take any pictures inside because other people were taking pictures inside and the bartender was making fun of them with me and I didn't want to be "that guy." But it looks like a church--you could just as easily have a beer on Saturday and the Body and Blood of Christ on Sunday.

This place also had some of the best pizza I've ever had (literally dripping with cheese, with a very light plum tomato sauce, fresh garlic and plum tomatoes on top, the occassional kick of basil that only freshly-chopped basil can have, and the distinct flavor of olive oil infused in the crispy/chewy crust). Word of warning: portions in Pittsburgh are huge, so order light. And despite the rising cost of hops (I was filled in with all the details by the very friendly and comedic bartender at Church Brew) beer in Pittsburgh is still cheap.