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Aug 31, 2011 07:48 AM

Pittsburgh Weekend

Thanks for all of the great advice posted about Pittsburgh! We just spent a weekend there. Here's the report:

Dinner after we landed: Yo Rita. We started with Albondigas and a couple of Bells. Then we sampled the roasted corn, oyster, trout and duck tacos. The components in each taco complemented each other, but the tortilla was too large, too soft and too bready. I also felt the trout could have used some cutting up.

At Square Cafe the next morning, I had a special of short rib over grits with a fried egg and he had the veggie overload omelet with goat cheese. Both were outstanding and the coffee wasn't bad either.

We also breakfasted at Pamela's P&G, where I was incredibly underwhelmed. My eggs were watery and lyonaise potatoes weren't crispy. The coffee is also just about the worst I've ever tasted. My companion had the tex-mex omelet, which was at least had the decency to not be watery.

Our last breakfast was at Quiet Storm, a location our vegetarian friends picked. Two of us had the ranchero homefries, which is a pile of smashed potatoes, covered in chili with scrambled eggs, fake sausage, cheese, pickled onions and sour cream. Other than the eggs and the fake sausage, this was surprisingly good - though how bad can smashed potatoes covered in melted cheese be?

We had to try the sandwiches at Primanti - a pastrami for him and a steak & cheese for me. I'm glad we tried it - there are a variety of textures going on, though a lack of distinct flavors. I preferred mine doused in hot sauce, which I'm sure is sacrilege.

I finally got to find out what Rita's waterice is all about - gelati with vanilla custard and cantaloupe ice - simply outstanding. I would like this phenomenon to come to the East Coast, please.

Our vegetarian friends also chose NoodleHut for a dinner. This was simply bad thai food. I could relay what we ate, but that would drudge up too many boring memories. BYOB definitely saved this dinner.

The Quiet Storm
5430 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Yo Rita
1120 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

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  1. The only sacrilege, where Primanti's is concerned, is to take anything out of the sandwich before you take your first bite. After that, anything goes.

    I wish I could have warned you off of the steak & cheese. So many people love it. I have no idea why. My preference is a stinky meat (capicola, pastrami, or bologna). It is a much better complement to the rest of the sandwich than an unseasoned hunk of chopped beef.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bagofwater

      Did you possibly mean the cheesesteak? It's nothing but a ground meat patty, like a cheesburger...While I really like Primanti's, I think it's awful! Gotta agree with the stimky meat suggestion! The roast beef and cheese is pretty good too.

      1. re: Burghfeeder

        Re: Primanti's, I agree with bagofwater and Burghfeeder:

        Hot sauce on your Primanti's sandwich, most certainly, does not qualify as sacrilege. Every time I'm there my sandwich gets a fair dousing.

        And, I, too, wish I could've warned you off the cheesesteak. While I love Primanti's, the cheesesteak has to be one of my least favorite of their offerings. My favorite is the capicola and egg. But the pastrami, corned beef, roast beef, bologna, bacon and egg, and double egg all regularly make it into my rotation.

        1. re: MonMauler

          Ah well, you win some, you lose some. I'll be sure to try a cured meat offering next time around.

      2. re: bagofwater

        Pamela's is either liked or underwhelming. I'm on the underwhelmed side. Unless you like the funny pancakes with jelly it is just a plain old dinner.
        Primati's is as much about the experience as the food. Fries are not so good, but usually the slaw is good and tart but as burghfeeder said the cheesesteak has no flavor, get some meat with flavor to get the real experience.

      3. pamelas is for pancakes. preferably plain with butter. I've had the lyonnaise (the one in Oakland makes it decent -- they serve something else in squirrel hill)

        26 Replies
        1. re: Chowrin

          @Chowrin: Lyonnaise are the potatoes they serve with the eggs, n'est-ce pas? I eat them in Squirrel Hill all the time, at least three times in the past month. Is there a Lyonnaise pancake as well.

          @gini: I wish you could take Rita and her Fauxlato back to the East Coast, too, and replace each and every one of her stands with a real gelateria.

          1. re: Jay F

            Just because it's not real gelato doesn't mean Rita's didn't hit the spot.

            1. re: gini

              Sure. If you like eating chemicals.

              Cotton Candy Ice:
              Water, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, FD&C Blue #1 and Carboxy-methyl Cellulose

              PiƱa Colada Ice:
              Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Sodium Benzoate, Crushed Pineapple, FD&C Yellow #5, Potassium Sorbate and Carboxy-methyl Cellulose

              Pineapple Ice:
              Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate, FD&C Yellow#5 and FD&C Yellow#6 and Carboxy-methyl Cellulose

              1. re: Jay F

                Oh my gosh, you mean people put chemicals in food sometimes? How dare they! Do you think there are big companies out there benefiting from harvesting corn or soy or something? My goodness, that's just evil!

                Thanks for pointing it out to me - I'm still glad I tried Rita's and I'm happy I can return to Palermo where they have real gelato.

                1. re: Jay F

                  name the product:
                  Milk, cream, non-fat milk, sugar, corn syrup solids, non-fat dry milk, root beer flavor (caramel color, water, natural and artificial flavor, gum arabic, quaillasa, citric acid, sodium benzoate), stabilizer (propylene glycol, mono esters, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, guar gum, carageenan, silicon dioxide), pectin, vanilla.

                  This is from the topmost, bestest-ever place, too (it wins international awards)

                  1. re: Chowrin

                    I'm going to guess, based on "topmost, bestest-ever," that it's something by Ben & Jerry. Or else Breyer's.

                    1. re: Jay F

                      nah, that'd be too easy.
                      Next clue: no eggs. that rules out both of the ones you listed.

                    2. re: Chowrin

                      The Creamery is the bestest-ever place to get those kind of chemicals!.


                      1. re: Burghfeeder

                        I don't see The Creamery at that link. Where is it?

                        1. re: Jay F

                          It's at Penn State University, on campus (it's actually a school project.)

                          Penn State
                          215 Innovation Blvd, State College, PA 16803

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            I have heard before how chemical-y Penn State's ice cream is. I haven't had it, to the best of my knowledge. I believe Andy of Dave & Andy's learned to make ice cream at Penn State's ice cream school. Would that mean their ice cream is guar gum- and carrageenanful?

                            1. re: Jay F

                              ... so it is possible to do without the crazy stuff. wonder how it tastes?

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                I tried it. It was alright. Lots of air. I wouldn't buy it again if it weren't super On Sale.

                          2. re: Jay F

                            Sorry...that wasn't very clear! It's the Creamery at Penn State U. If you are ever in State College, it's worth a stop. They make great ice cream there.

                            Penn State
                            215 Innovation Blvd, State College, PA 16803

                            1. re: Burghfeeder

                              the CP had a post about the Creamery icecream being available in Beaver. Anyone been?

                              1. re: Chowrin

                                Haven't been, but the place in Beaver is called Witch Flavor (yes, spelled that way). They have to drive up to State College to get the Ice Cream every week. Crazy.

                                BTW, it wasn't totally clear to me, is it really the Penn State Creamery ice cream that has that ingredient list? I knew it wasn't free of gums and such (which is part of why I didn't seek it out when passing through State College recently), but I didn't think it was that chock full of crap. And yet people go gaga over it. This is why most supermarket stuff is even worse ingredient-wise I suppose. I know in some cases these concoctions create better mouthfeel or whatever but I still prefer the honest ingredients when possible (and occasional Ben & Jerry's ;-).

                                1. re: CrazyOne

                                  bear in mind that was the rootbeer flavor. they have ingredients up on their website.
                                  You have made it fresh? without the egg? it is all crumbly and weird. Good though.

                                  State College deserves its awards, it is outstanding philly style ice cream.

                                  Honest ingredients are yummy (recommend costco's prices on good cream), but where else do you find teaberry ice cream?

                                2. re: Burghfeeder

                                  It's only worth the stop if you are already in State College and only plan on staying on campus or downtown. If you have a car and are able to venture a couple of miles away from town towards Boalsburg, on S. Atherton St., you should visit Meyer's Dairy! Much tastier although it's not as well-known as Creamery ice cream.

                        2. re: gini

                          I do enjoy Rita's Italian Ice to go with @gini comment East Coast above. Probablly the reason for like of the ice. My memories of beach vacations as a kid and the only place you could get Rita's was Ocean City NJ boardwalk.

                          Ocean City Restaurant
                          234 N 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

                          1. re: traveleryvette

                            Isn't Rita's a big chain? I've seen them all over Pennsylvania, including Philly, where water ice is a bigger deal than in the rest of the state.

                            1. re: mookleknuck

                              Rita's Italian Ice is big in Pa now but was a time could only get in East Coast( NJ)so they have expanded like so many.
                              Any idea where company originated?

                              1. re: traveleryvette

                                It looks like it started in Philly:

                                I really feel like I've seen them around PA since the mid-to-late 90s... but yeah, there was a huge push and I've seen a lot more of them in the last 5 years. What I miss are the shaved ice carts on sidewalks from when I was a kid; I don't see many of them any more!

                                1. re: mookleknuck

                                  The first one I saw pop up around the Pittsburgh area had to be around '97-'98 in Bellevue. The location was actually franchised by a neighborhood friend, and my brother worked there for a short bit in high school.