You say you're coming to Pittsburgh?
An odd second blog entry for an aspiring author, but essential character building! Ha Ha (I have no clue what I’m doing.)
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to Pittsburgh. I applaud you. I myself love road trips, and the fact that you’re heading out this way is pretty cool. If anyone was to ask me for ideas then here’s what I would say…
Ask someone else.
You like Pizza and shopping for movies, CDs, comics, toys and video games. Then read on.
Where to Eat?
I could spend hours talking about pizza, but if you’re visiting Pittsburgh then IMO Fiori’s is the final say.
Fiori’s original location on Capital Avenue is a classic pizzeria, but the family restaurant out on Rt 19 in McMurray is equally satisfying, and the parking situation is much better.
Why Fiori’s? The taste, kids. Thin pizza, with good cheese and sweet sauce, perfectly balanced, served on a metal plate, and the aroma is something I wish I could make into an air freshener.
Now, you can’t eat pizza for every meal…well, shouldn’t… so where else would I recommend?
I subscribe to the hype that Primanti’s is also a must stop whenever coming to the ‘Burg. Any location will do, and every sandwich is good. I myself do spuds only (keeping the fries, ditching the tomato and cole slaw) so I tend to avoid the in-town locations to avoid frustrating any staff. Rt 51 and Mt. Lebanon locations are restaurant style anyways.
Like Chinese food? Well, I may not be an expert here, but China Garden on Penn Avenue has the best General Tso’s if you like it hot.
In the mood for a kick ass sub? Peppi’s Sandwich Shoppe’s the place to go. A few minutes from China Garden, the Pointe Breeze location is more than meets the eye – diner atmosphere and great grub!
There’s chain businesses, as well, that you’ve probably heard of. If you haven’t, then I’d suggest b.d. Mongolian’s grill in the Southside Works, Joe’s Crab Shack in Station Square, Penn Station Subs in Bridgeville or Quaker Steak N Lube in Robinson for the Best Wings in the USA. (Order the Golden Garlic.)
Where to Shop?
Malls are dying, son. But South Hills Village is alive and well, with a Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods as anchors and all the usual staples inside. Plus, it’s a very suburban area, so family friendly!
If you’re a geeky treasure hunter like me, then here’s the skinny. Most of my best finds of the past few years have been from Half Price Books. Located on McKnight Road, near South Hills Village and another in Monroeville, this place has books, comics, DVDs, CDs, video games, even toys occasionally. I have found awesome, out of print graphic novels in decent shape at low cost. And my son found an Angry Birds game he wanted, too, so it’s worth a visit from any demographic.
Comic shops? We got the best.
If you’re into heritage, community based businesses, look no further than Phantom of the Attic on Craig St in Oakland. These guys got me back into collecting and were awesome to talk to. I’ve spent hours talking about X-Men and writing in general there, and in the process made friends.
Now, if Phantom is the hang out spot in town, then suburbia’s equivalent would be Pittsburgh Comics in McMurray. Great store, friendly staff, awesome loyalty card and an arcade machine in the back, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to hit up on a Saturday afternoon. (And they’re around the corner from Fiori’s!)
Finally, if you’re looking for large selections and exclusives, you may want to visit New Dimension Comics. Century III, The Mills, Butler – large stores with lots of merchandise to pine over.
What to Do?
If it was a business trip I was hosting and I had a budget (Ha!) then you could expect taking in a Pittsburgh Penguins game! You don’t have to be a fan of the 5 time Stanley Cup Champs to appreciate watching hockey in the CONSOL Energy Center – I mean PPG Paints Arena (which I just call the Icebox.)
You could also visit the Pittsburgh Zoo and be mesmerized by the aquarium, or if it’s summer time hit up Sandcastle Waterpark or Kennywood. (Actually, I prefer Kennywood during the fall’s Phantom Fright Nights. I mean, haunted houses AND a roller coaster at night with no lights? Come on!)
There’s also the landmarks – the view from Mount Washington, taking a Gateway Clipper cruise down the rivers, strolling through the University of Pittsburgh campus to see the Cathedral or the Carnegie Library and Museums.
But what about movie history? Recreate the epic chase at the end of the Dark Knight rises by going up and down fifth avenue downtown, or visit the Monroeville Mall to be where Dawn of the Dead and Zack and Miri were filmed. You can park in the Strip District and imagine Jack Reacher taking down some thugs, or check out the Soldiers and Sailors building where Hannibal Lector escaped custody.
If you’re like me and just want to go to the movies, there’s Cinemarks and AMC Loews sprinkled about, but the real gem is the Century Square Luxury Cinemas, where you’ll watch a flick in more comfort than you could at home for the same price as the competition. And if you prefer watching from your car, there’s the Dependable Drive-In out near the airport. Labor Day weekend? Three movies for the price of one!
I hope I did justice to the establishments I’ve mentioned, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Pittsburgh.
In closing, just let me say again you should go to Fiori’s.