Photo by Justin Criado

A new ‘Burgh Bits & Bites food tour showcases Northside’s culinary culture and history.

By Justin Criado

Pittsburgh is unique in the way that it’s a collection of neighborhoods, each with a different history, culture, and personality. Part of that uniqueness is the food, and I think we can all agree Pittsburghers like to eat.

‘Burgh Bits & Bites Food Tours offers Pittsburghers the chance to learn about different neighborhoods like the Strip District, Lawrenceville, Brooklne and Bloomfield through a walking food tour, which is productive in a way being that you’re kinda exercising, while eating every 20 feet or so.

Of course, Northside is rich with history, culture and yummy treats itself, which is why the company’s latest tour offering was right here in Historic Deutschtown with a brand new Northside tour.

Never one to miss a meal, I tagged along to experience, well, taste the town in a way I haven’t before.

Below you can view my findings and tour stats. (NOTE: I did not calculate the total calories of the tour, but like we said before, it is a walking tour so, yeah, it’s really exercise, right?)

Total distance: 1 mile

Food stops: 5 (Six if you include the Mele pastry served while walking and talking.)

Time: Approximately 2 hours (Ours ran a little longer, but it was worth it. Tour guide Richard Domencic, who grew up in nearby Millvale and graduated from North Catholic, is a retired high school history teacher and administrator. He’s the one who came up with the idea of adding a Northside tour, and offered up some extra Northside and Allegheny City nuggets free of charge.)

 

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Photo by Justin Criado

The tour started at the Priory hotel on 614 Pressley St. where Domencic (center) gave a brief history of the historic European-style lodging to a group of 15 hungry participants before heading in to the confines for our first tour treat…

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Photo by Justin Criado 

A German pretzel was first up on the list. Provided by the Priory, consumers could choose from salted, plain or Parmesan. Domencic informed us that pretzels were created by Monks and the distinctive pretzel pattern comes from the idea of crossing your hands for prayer. (NOTE: I’m not a professional food photographer so some of the shots may look like something you’d post on Twitter or Instagram, which despite the popularity is not necessarily professional, but you get the picture.)

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While stopped in front of the Allegheny Elks Lodge, Domencic talked about the banjo club and jazz practices that are open to the public every month. Also, we were served our second helping…

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An Italian Mele pastry. The picture doesn’t do this slice of heaven justice. The flaky crust is coated in sugar, while the soft innards are full of your favorite fruit filling. This one is raspberry. The Strip District’s Colangelo’s Italian bakery provided these treats, and I ate mine by the time this picture was saved on my camera.

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While I still licked my lips from the Mele, the group wondered to the Park House on East Ohio Street where Domencic explained how it became the first bar in Pittsburgh to open after prohibition in 1933. As much as the tour is about eating, and rightfully so, additional stops and  stories about certain places or landmarks give tour goers a sense of the history that shaped the current neighborhood culture.

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The stroll up East Ohio Street brought us to the Fine Priory Pastries bakery where cupcakes were on the menu. Some chose to save theirs for dessert after additional stops. I chose to give in to my sweet tooth, but still managed to snag this Twitter worthy pic.

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Next was Max’s Allegheny Tavern. The German bar at the corner of Suismon and Middle Street is still dishing out some of the best German fare in Northside.

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For example, the potato pancakes at Max’s where a nice hearty reminder that Deutschtown is more than just a pretty name.

 

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From a tavern to a speakesy Domencic led us to the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy for a little history on Pittsburgh jazz, which James Street is still doing better than anyone in Pittsburgh.

 

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Photo by Justin Criado

Not to mention the spinach and artichoke dip.

 

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Photo by Justin Criado

Domencic surprised us with a chilled Clark bars. The D.L. Clark Company opened in the old Allegheny City, which we call North Side nowadays.

 

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Photo by Justin Criado

The tour and day ended at Northside’s farmer’s market in Allegheny Commons Park. Pitaland prepared spinach and feta pie for the finale.

To say the tour and its treats were satisfying would be an understatement. The only way to fully appreciate it would be to experience it for yourself. For more information visit the official website.