One of the highlights of my visit to Pittsburgh for me was to finally take a look at “The Strip”. Growing up, I wasn’t too familiar with this area of Pittsburgh and, for sure, never visited that part of town. But it always sounded so mysterious and exotic in my  imagination as a child.

Now, as an adult going back to visit, and one who also delights in good foods, I have a keen appreciation for this small, one-half mile square in the northeast downtown area of Pittsburgh. Due to its northern border, the Allegheny River, it proved an ideal place for transporting goods in the early 1800’s and later with trains coming through, it led to brisk industrial development. Wholesaler produce merchants lined the streets with their warehouses. Back in the 1800’s the trains stopped at the streets and unloaded right there. Later in the early 1900’s, the rails were removed along Liberty Avenue downtown and the wholesaler merchants moved to the Strip District close to the railroad yards.

There were as many as 71 wholesaler produce dealers at its peak. While now there are somewhat less, some have expanded, adding restaurants, ethnic food stores and cafes. As we trod along the streets in the district, we were assailed by the smells and sights of seafood, fruits and vegetables being prepared right on the streets to tempt passersby. We ventured into some of the food stores, especially the Italian ones, where I was overwhelmed with the bounty of some of my favorite cheeses, meats , pastas and produce. Made me wish I could transport myself there for my weekly marketing trips. To my dismay, there is nothing like that in Ocala.

Yes, we said these things.  Gotta love Western PA!

Along with the warehouses were lots of quaint old churches, gift and art shops and lot of Pittsburgh “stuff” shops.

Mary, Janice and Alice going in to Lidia’s

Chandeliers like clusters of grapes

Then at days end we feasted at one of The Strip’s restaurants, Lidia’s Pittsburgh, where we enjoyed authentic northern Italian cuisine. I watch Lidia’s cooking show on PBS and was so psyched to be able to actually visit one of her restaurants, in of all places, Pittsburgh! A perfect ending to a busy day.

While the menu was extensive, with all the typical Italian courses, we we unable to have them all as we had just nibbled our way through the strip.  Here is what we selected form the menu and, of course, we sampled each others:

(Sorry, the pictures of the delicious food didn’t turn out.)
Insalata Cesare
Shaved Grana Padano and Focaccia Croutons $7.5
Insalata di Rucola
Arugula Salad with Bartlett Pear, Walnuts and Gorgonzola Dolce $9

Lidia’s Pasta Trio
Our Signature Dish.  Unlimited Daily Pasta selection served tableside $17
with Caesar Salad and choice of Dessert $29

Housemade Potato Dumplings with Braised Duck Ragu $17

And a nice expresso to wash it down!

Finally, we can’t leave the “Burgh” without :