Highmark’s Italian StrEAT Festival a Success
The first Highmark’s Italian StrEAT Festival took place on Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9, 2017. This new downtown festival was unique in that it boasted over 40 vendors serving only authentic Italian food. With main events including Emporio’s meatball eating contest and DeLallo’s creative pizza contest (won by Giovanni’s Pizza), the festival drew over 40,000 attendees.
Other attractions included DYEnamic Flame fire performances, live bands like Chase and the Barons, Right TurnClyde, and Bobby V, as well as a bocce court and other games and activities. Allegro Dance Company held a workshop, and there were chef demonstrations from various local restaurants. Of course, the big attraction was the food. Vendors were extremely pleased with turnout, and some even ran out of food. The good news is that every one of them let the PDCDC know that they were looking forward to returning for next year’s event.
Deanna Soost of Good L’Oven cookies commented, “I couldn’t believe how organized it was for a first time festival on this large a scale. We ran of out food as the crowd topped our expectation. We will definitely be back next year.”
We at the PDCDC are proud of Highmark’s Italian StrEAT Festival and are looking forward to bringing back the festival next year for an even bigger, better event!
Thanks to all of our sponsors, vendors, and attendees for making this a great festival.
Portogallo Peppers N’AT Spices Up Pittsburgh’s Food Scene
Portogallo Peppers N’AT serves the Pittsburgh area authentic Italian food with, as its name suggests, a Pittsburgh touch. Bob Portogallo, who started and owns Portogallo Peppers N’AT, began his business as a hobby. Portogallo Peppers N’AT started with Bob’s canning background in making his giardiniera pepper blend for his friends and family as Christmas gifts. His pepper blend generated interest within those who tried it, and they wanted to buy it. Bob’s pepper blend then began to be sold in a local grocery store and at farmer’s markets, where Bob would use it as a condiment for hot sausage and Italian sandwiches.
When Bob took his pepper blend to farmer’s markets, people began asking where his storefront was, so Bob opened his first restaurant in Swissvale in June of 2015. As Bob was the owner of another business, he decided to let the restaurant grow by word of mouth and only serve lunch. When Munch, a weekly restaurant review from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, gave a positive review of Portogallo Peppers N’AT, the business began to boom. Bob was then faced with the decision of whether or not to go full time with his pepper endeavor, and in the end he decided to sell his business and go for Portogallo Peppers N’AT with full force. On November 2, 2016, he brought his restaurant to Braddock, where it still is today.
The restaurant itself of course serves Bob’s signature pepper blend, featuring olives as his own twist on his Chicago style blend, but the restaurant also caters to a wider audience. His menu features Italian favorites like meatballs and pizza, classic dishes like wings, and, as a nod to Pittsburgh’s strong Western European connections, the “Hunky Hand Grenade,” which is a jumbo cabbage roll stuffed with seasoned beef and rice and topped with tomato sauce.
Bob enjoys catering to his Pittsburgh audience, and says that he offers his customers “hunky dago food,” which is classic food made in a homestyle fashion.
“We cater to the Mon Valley residents,” Bob said. “We have an old crowd who knows what food used to be like.”
Bob also offers “hunky hump day” every Wednesday night, which features Pittsburgh staple dishes like Haluski and Pierogies. Live Polka music is also featured on “hunky hump day” to round out the evenings.
As far as his initial canning endeavor goes, Bob’s peppers are now sold in grocery stores around the area, including Giant Eagle and Market Street Grocery.
Portogallo Peppers N’AT truly has something for everyone, and it caters well to the wide array of Pittsburghers. Their outdoor seating area has a bocce court to provide entertainment for their guests. Bob’s attention to offering a truly welcoming experience for everyone is also shown in the military discount that he offers to veterans who come to his restaurant, which is something that he is proud of. Be sure to make a visit to the restaurant, located at 28 Braddock Avenue in Braddock, or visit Bob’s website to learn more and order your own jar of his signature pepper blend.
Mark Clayton Southers’ Pittsburgh Theatre Company Celebrates Diversity and Opportunity
Pittsburgh is known for its theater community, boasting several theaters and production companies that go above and beyond to provide residents with entertainment. At the head of one such company, the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, is founder and producing artistic director Mark Clayton Southers.
Southers, a native Pittsburgh resident, got his start in theater after working as a photographer for a local theater company. When the directors there needed someone to read lines, Southers did, and he eventually got cast in a play. He says he’s been hooked on theater ever since.
Southers career has offered him several opportunities as a playwright, producer, and director. He is the founder of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, which is currently in its 14th season, and from 2010 to 2013, Southers served as Artistic Director of Theatre Initiatives for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
August Wilson was a playwright who wrote a number of works, one of which is Fences, which was recently adapted into a film. Southers said that Wilson was an inspiration to him, and that Wilson has had a great effect on his life.
“I got into playwriting by being exposed to August Wilson’s work,” Southers said. “I took his master class on playwriting in South Africa and it opened up a lot of doors for playwriting for me in my mind.”
Once Southers’ career started to take off, he had works produced all across the country and his poem play Angry Black Man Poetry had a successful run in Poland. One of Southers’ accomplishments that makes him the most proud, however, is the Theatre Festival in Black & White, which began 13 years ago. The festival features eight one act plays, featuring four written by white playwrights and four written by black playwrights. The plays written by white playwrights are directed by black directors, and the plays written by black playwrights are directed by white directors. The goal of the festival, Southers said, is to get people who are not used to working together to work together, and he said that Pittsburgh is diverse and it is his goal to support that diversity.
The mission of the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company is to produce Pittsburgh playwrights who were born in and live in Pittsburgh, or who have been here for a significant amount of time. Southers said that the company allows artists to get their feet wet and direct plays. The company, Southers said, interacts with other small theatre companies throughout Pittsburgh, borrowing props and other necessities, and he said that interacting with theatre companies in that way helps to encourage the community that they are a part of.
“Our art community is so rich and so talented,” Southers said. “Pittsburgh just has a slew of actors and directors that are fabulous.”
Eddie V’s Offers Pittsburgh a Classic Dining Experience
Looking to satisfy your cravings for jazz music and delicious food? Look no further than Eddie V’s, an upscale dining experience in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Eddie V’s has several locations throughout the country, but the Pittsburgh location just made its first appearance this year. Located in the recently renovated Union Trust Building, Eddie V’s opened in March advertising prime seafood as their main commodity. The restaurant’s menu shows that seafood is most certainly their specialty, and features like Alaskan halibut, swordfish steak, and an oyster bar are only some of the excellent options available. If seafood is not calling your name, though, there are plenty of other options to satisfy your tastebuds like filet mignon, miso marinated tofu, and double breasted chicken. Lighter fare is offered during happy hour, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily, which includes lollipop lamb chops and blackened fish tacos. An extensive wine and alcohol list, and plenty of dessert features, round out the menu.
Food is not the only thing that makes Eddie V’s unique – the V Lounge hosts jazz musicians every night to add to the inviting atmosphere of the restaurant. Each week there is a different theme to look forward to, and this summer each theme centers on a decade or on an era of music, like 20s to 40s American standards and 50s to 60s martini swing.
If you’re looking for a more personal dining experience, Eddie V’s offers private rooms ranging in occupancy from six people to 48 people. Whether your event is an intimate affair or a larger meeting, Eddie V’s offers guests several amenities for private events like a personal event coordinator, wine pairing guidance, and a customized menu to cater to your exact desires.
There is a quote on Eddie V’s website that says, “Man cannot live by music, wine, and fine dining alone. But it’s worth exploring.” The main focus of Eddie V’s is clearly to offer a fine dining experience that also offers a fun, yet classic, atmosphere. Reservations are not required, but are recommended, to visit the restaurant. Be sure to check Eddie V’s out for yourself on the first floor of the Union Trust Building, located at 501 Grant Street, or check out their website for more exciting details about the restaurant.
Music City Downtown Weekly Calendar
Music City Downtown Weekly Calendar
In an effort to promote all the incredible live music Downtown, we are compiling a list of places where you can catch some tunes in the upcoming week, every week.
Andys @ Fairmont Pittsburgh
Thursday, July 13 – Tania Grubbs from 7:30 – 10:30 p.m.
Friday, July 14 – DJ Malls Spins Vinyl from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 14 Trudy Hollar from 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday, July 15 Tania Grubbs from 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday, July 14 – Daryl Shawn – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 15 – Jeremy Fisher Jr. – 5:00 p.m.
EQT Plaza, Tuesdays 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Live jazz every night of the week at various times. Check out Eddie V’s website for a full calendar.
The Garden Cafe at Heinz Hall
Wednesday, July 12 – Nina Sainato from 4:30 – 7:00 p.m., weather permitting
Howl at the Moon
Live music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Fridays at 6:00 p.m. For more information, visit Howl at the Moon’s website here.
Live music every Friday and Saturday from 8:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Revel + Roost
Friday, July 14 – Terrence Vaughn from 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Friday, July 14th – Right Turn Clyde – 9:00 p.m.
Friday, July 14th – Tres Lads – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 15th – Artistree – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 15th – Olga Watkins Band 9:00 p.m.
Salsa and Bachata nights at Seviche every Tuesday from 10:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. and a live DJ every Friday from 10:00 p.m. – close.
Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse
Free, live music every Saturday starting at 7 PM at the Barrelhouse in the Northside! The Mash Bill series runs through September. A food truck will also be on-site at each Mash Bill. There will also be free music on Friday, July 14.
Friday, July 14, Deutschtown Music Festival Location! Food Truck Feature: PGH Crepes
Saturday, July 15, Deutschtown Music Festival Location! Food Truck Feature: Alberta’s Pizza
Downtown Events this Week:
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – Free Movie, Carnegie Library Downtown, 12:15 p.m.
Idina Menzel, Heinz Hall, 8:00 p.m.
Second Wednesday Meditation Group, Carnegie Library Downtown, 12:00 p.m.
The Vagrants Acoustic, Rivers Casino, 7:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest, Stage AE, 6:00 p.m.
Right TurnClyde, Rivers Casino, 9:00 p.m.
Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest, Stage AE, all day
Ice Cream Day 5K, Heinz Field, 7:00 a.m.
The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show, Marriott Pittsburgh City Center, 6:00 p.m.
Ice Cream Day 5K, Heinz Field, 7:00 a.m.
Sir Sly, Stage AE, 7:30 p.m.
Oaths and Epithets – Works by Sonya Clark, The Society for Contemporary Craft, Mondays-Saturdays through August 19th
Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District, The Cultural District, through September 21st, 2018
All About the Burgh, the Culture to Ketchup Tour!, Station Square,
through October 31st
Beauty of the Burgh with Bike the Burgh Tours, 500 First Ave., through December 31st
Live Music Fridays at Backstage Bar, Backstage Bar at Theater Square, Fridays through August 25th
Free tours at the Old Allegheny County Jail Museum, 440 Ross Street, 15219, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., Mondays through July 24th
Free Market Square Area Walking Tour, Meet in PNC Triangle Park across from the Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel at 510 Market Street, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Fridays through July 28th
Free Gateway Center Walking Tour, Meet at the Gateway Subway Station on Stanwix Street near Liberty Avenue, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Fridays through July 28th
Downtown’s Best: Special Places and Spaces Tour, 10:00 a.m., Plaza at One Oxford Centre, Thursdays through August 31st
CASH AND CARRY SAMPLE SALE SPRING & SUMMER 2017 WORTH NEW YORK, 100 Fifth Avenue at Liberty, 10th Floor. Bear Brandegee. 412.877.0464