Pittsburgh, Finally

We arrived in Pittsburgh really, really late. But luckily, our gracious host Rich stayed up for us after we got horribly lost and ended up on the wrong side of town, and he guided us in.

After a short nap, we awoke the next morning ready to see what Pittsburgh coffee had to offer us. We started, logically enough, at Aldo Coffee. Aldo is a huge space. And they are cultivating a great neighborhood atmosphere with a punch card system that really seems to make the customers feel like they are part of the shop.

With the help of Melanie, we chose our breakfast food to go with our coffee: Anne had cheesecake (!) and I had a fruit tart and they were both amazing.

John pulled us espresso shots from the Paradise Espresso Havana reserve, the one with the the panamanian geisha in it, and Anne says it was one of the best shots of espresso she’s ever had (far superior to the shots Rich had Anne pull on the spot, much to her surprise). All in all, Aldo is a great shop with a great feeling, and the all the baristas involved were very accommodating. Thanks for letting us walk all over for a few hours, everyone!

Requisite cheesey photo, with John, Belle, Rich, and Frank.

After Aldo, Anne, Rich and I headed down to the strip, which is the former meatpacking district in Pittsburgh’s downtown. It’s a pretty neat place, with outdoor food markets and great restaurants. They also have several coffee shops. The first we went to was <a href=”www.laprima.com”La Prima, a neighborhood institution that isn’t so much a coffee shop as it is a coffee house. Rich says it’s one of the only places where you can still find people arguing in Italian over good espresso. And it’s true, I did hear a bit of italian in there. The no-frills shop roasts their own coffee, and the lines prove it’s a place that’s there to stay.

After La Prima, Rich took us to Primanti’s, which has really scary looking sandwiches. Mine was: sweet italian sausage, french fries, cole slaw, with fried egg on top (Anne had corned beef instead of sausage). All in the same sandwich, served on wax paper instead of a plate. And, surprisingly, it was amazing. They don’t have individual menus, instead, they have a big board on the wall. It was great. I think we’ll be comparing a lot of the food on this trip to Primanti’s.
The crowds at Primanti’s and the shockingly tasty sandwich.

After we ate, Phil Johnson, coffee roaster at La Prima and possibly Pittsburgh’s premier coffee geek, invited us to take a look at his roasting facilities. It was my first time in a roastery, and I thank Phil for the experience. I look forward to hopefully getting to see a few more operations on this trip.

Phil and Rich point at their coffee-obsessed guest

Then the four of us went across the street to 21st St. Espresso. We were all pretty over-caffeinated by then, and the thought of more coffee was difficult. But they had the only clover in the city, and whenever I see a clover, I can’t help myself. Anne got a Nicaraguan Los Delirios and I got the Sumatran Abongabong. We actually ended up buying a pound of the Delirios at Aldo.

The story of our lives.

By this time we were pretty tired and thought it was time for us to head out. Rich, ever the gracious host, had us follow him out to a Kmart so we could buy sleeping bags and dinner and then we headed out towards Ohio to stay at the Salt Fork State Park, about two hours to our West.

Thanks to Rich, Melanie, Phil, and the team at Aldo for all the hospitality. It was a great, and we look forward to when we’ll be able to visit again!

P.S. Did we mention it was cold in Ohio?


~ by neoney on September 17, 2007.

4 Responses to “Pittsburgh, Finally”

  1. Wow… if all your writeups are that comprehensive, you’ll burn out your fingertips. Hope your trip continually amazes. You folks were great guests and fun to hang with – and you didn’t even write bad things about driving in Pittsburgh’s tunnels.

    Btw, you missed an unbelievable party in Toronto last night at Manic’s pre-opening, but we understand you had to keep to a schedule. Just wanted to rub it in 😉

  2. Heaps of thanks for swinging through our fair city and I’m very glad you enjoyed yourselves (and found the great coffee). Also very pleased you enjoyed La Prima’s espresso.

    Shoot me a line when you get a chance, either at laprimaroaster at g mail dot com, or by checking out the ol’ blog.

    Best of fortune on your journey.


  3. I think you went to some of the best Pittsburgh has to offer. Aldo has the most welcoming baristas, 21st has the gadgets and La Prima the old school/real deal feel.

    Beautiful photos. I’m in Aldo almost every day and those photos bring a level of detail I’d never noticed.

    Looking forward to the rest of the travelblog.

  4. […] in Pittsburgh (one may recall that Neil & I also got lost in Pittsburgh on our first leg of the road trip), but made it to Rich & Melanie’s (also known as hacienda Aldo) just around 10pm. We […]

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