Yinzers knew long before the rest of the country that Pittsburgh is one of the best food cities in America. Between the pizza (no matter if you’re team Mineo’s or team Fiori) the French fry-stuffed sandwiches, and the best cake in America, Pittsburgh doesn’t need a trendy food scene to compete with other cities in the U.S.
But now the city is home to both the traditional, stick-to-your ribs fare that was shaped by the immigrants and the workers of city, and new, exciting restaurants that are making food that’s personal and inventive.
We talked to a couple of the city’s beloved chefs ― Justin Severino of Cure and Morcilla, and Curtis Gamble of Station ― to get to the bottom of what makes this city’s food so great. And what we learned is that we have a lot to learn from this culinary city.
Here are 10 food truths you’ll understand if you’re from Pittsburgh, and a whole lot of reasons to visit the city of bridges if you’re not (and by visit we mean feast).
1 People ship Pittsburgh pizza half-frozen all across the country for a reason.
The debate over who makes the best pizza in Pittsburgh is a heated one. Some folks swear by Fiori's Pizzeria. (Gamble and Severino both told HuffPost it's the best pizza in town, and Gamble actually makes a once-a-month voyage to get himself a pie.) Other folks love Mineo's Pizza House, which you can actually order from anywhere in the country. One thing's for sure, the pizza culture is strong in Pittsburgh.
2 The city knows that everyone loves cookies.
It's unclear how the tradition started, but if you go to a wedding in Pittsburgh, chances are there will be a cookie table. It does not take the place of cake, it's in addition to it. It's also perfectly normal to pile a plate full of (and fill a takeout container with) these old-fashioned style cookies. The tradition started with grandmas bringing cookies to weddings to contribute, but nowadays people will bring them in from bakeries like the Grandview Bakery.
3 Prantl's burnt almond torte is the best cake in America.
We know it at HuffPost, the people of Pittsburgh know it, and with one bite you'll know it, too. Prantl's Bakery has been in operation now for 40 years, and it makes over 100 kinds of sweets. All of them are good, but the burnt almond torte is truly something special.
4 New restaurants opening in the city are giving NYC's food scene a run for its money.
When Cure first opened its doors, there weren't a whole lot of restaurants serving food that strayed from the traditional old-school menus. It was a big move away from what was expected from a Pittsburgh restaurant, but now it is a much a part of the dining scene as older establishments. "As a city the consumer is also fully on board," expalined Severino. And other restaurants have followed suit.
Morcilla, Cure, Superior Motors, Legume and Station are all notable restaurants changing the dinning scene in Pittsburgh, shared Gamble. And they are all part of the reason that Pittsburgh has been called the best new food city in America.
5 Primanti Bros. is the sandwich place for people who always want fries with that.
Primanti Bros. stuffs their sandwiches with French fries. Need we say more?
6 You don't need croutons when your salad comes with fries.
Pittsburgh definitely loves French fries more than any other city in America. Not only do they stuff them into your sandwiches, as Primanti Bros. so famously does, but they also put them ON your salads. "You can't go to a bar and order food without seeing fries on a salad somewhere," Gamble shared. For real.
7 Beto's Pizza takes the cold cheese pizza thing to a whole new level.
8 No one does popcorn like Pittsburgh does popcorn.
9 For a perfect, cheap burger, you go to Squirrel Hill Cafe.
People have trouble getting the name straight, but one thing most people in Pittsburgh can agree on is that the burger at Squirrel Hill Cafe is not to be missed. It's cheap, it's covered in cheese and it's available late night.
10 For the best breakfast in town, hit Pamela's Diner.
Everything is good on Pamela's breakfast menu, but her pancakes stand apart. Pamela's pancakes are a crepe-pancake hybrid and worth the wait in line. Because this beloved breakfast institution is always packed.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.