A vital star in the constellation

Sometimes lightning does indeed strike twice; such is the case for Pittsburgh, a vital star in the constellation of so-called Rust Belt cities. The city’s recent economic developments have re-energized its long culinary legacy, and new restaurants are popping up each week alongside some of the city’s stalwart faves – both types worthy of international acclaim.

Once the apex of industrial America, the Steel City was Andrew Carnegie’s fiefdom, minting him gobs of money as the country quickly expanded outward and upward. Pittsburgh thrived during the Industrial Revolution, and then Western Pennsylvania’s metropolis fell out of favor as technology evolved. But Pittsburgh is back with a vengeance as a refreshed locus of modern industry, with its tech boomlet buoyed by Google’s mini-hub headquarters, Uber’s super-future self-driving vehicle technology and Carnegie Mellon’s world-famous robotics and engineering labs. The promise of forward-thinking careers and a seriously good-value lifestyle has started to attract many newcomers to the city; it’s even encouraged the locals who fled to other cities to return home.

In order to properly get acquainted with the edible side of Notorious P.I.T., we’ve compiled a shortlist of some of the city’s musts with some knowledgeable locals weighing in on their picks from the menus.
If there’s one name on every Pittsburgher’s lips, it’s Morcilla, a Spanish-style setup created by Chef Justin Severino. Severino has solidified his reputation as the city’s champion of slow, thoughtful food, pulling the very best produce from the city’s surrounding farmlands and showcasing the bounty in inventive and – most importantly – extremely tasty ways. He’s mastered the art of charcuterie, with meaty piñatas of Iberico ham ready to be shaved into thin strips of salty-umami heaven.

Local tip: ‘You have to try one of the Gin & Tonics,’ suggests Meredith Meyer Grelli, co-owner of Wigle Distillery. ‘They mix them up with housemade tonic and jam them full of artful, fresh garnishes.’

Primanti Bros.
Before there were Pittsburghers, there were ‘Yinzers’– blue collar citizens with a distinctive local twang. Primanti’s is from that generation, pioneering the brilliant idea to take the standard cold-cut sammy, scoop of coleslaw and side of fries, and cram it all into one sandwich. Brilliance often comes from pure simplicity, and no one will argue with the fact that hot Primanti’s takeaways are the perfect midnight snack. You’ll find wings, pizza and cheese fries on the menu too, but we suggest sticking to their so-called ‘almost famous’ sandwiches of sliced meats tucked between two slices of Italian bread. The best part? The joint’s joined the chain gang, which means there’s probably a location within stumbling distance of where you’re staying (or where you’re going out…).