I've had a fascination with the Strip District since I was a little girl. I've always loved walking along Penn Avenue and gazing at all the vendors with everything from books to Steelers gear to funky hats. Waiting in line at Penn Mac with my mom to purchase their mouthwatering burrata and fresh pasta was a thrill. Weaving my way through tourists and making it to Mon Aimee Chocolate felt like a fun challenge. I want to share with you a few of my favorite places in this food filled neighborhood.
Enrico's Biscotti Company has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I could never resist the smell of baking bread as I walked by and always found myself going in. Their bread is handmade daily, so you know it's fresh. Make sure you buy a biscotti on your way out; it's the namesake of the bakery for a reason. If you have time, pop next door to their restaurant, where they serve up al dente pasta and wood-fired pizza.
The Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, or Penn Mac as Pittsburghers call it, is a Strip District mainstay. The shop has been around since 1902 and offers a variety of delectable Italian goods from fresh pasta to olive oil to cured meats. The thing Penn Mac is most famous for is their cheese. The selection is endless with cheese from every country imaginable. It's the place where I first tried the creamy perfection that is known as burrata. On Saturdays and during holiday seasons, you'll find the room packed with customers eagerly awaiting to make their purchases for the perfect cheese tray. I prefer to go on weekdays when I can leisurely browse the case and taste test new cheeses.
DiAnoia's Eatery is a new addition to the Strip, having just opened up at the end of 2016, but they've already made their mark on the Pittsburgh food scene. They were voted one of the best restaurants in Pittsburgh by Pittsburgh Magazine in both 2018 and 2019. The restaurant gained national popularity when Thrillist featured DiAnoia's famous gnocchi bread bowl on their website. DiAnoia's is easily one of my favorite restaurants right now. New and inventive pasta dishes, as well classics like the cacio e pepe, are always offered. The menu changes every season, so there's always something new. Don't leave without trying the fresh bread with whipped ricotta— it is heaven.
Upon entering Mon Aimee Chocolat, you're hit with the overwhelming urge to buy everything in sight. The shop is bursting with artisan candy and gourmet chocolate covered treats. My favorite thing by far is their sea salt caramels from Little Flower Candy Company. They're so gooey that they melt in your mouth. It's the perfect after dinner treat. I can't go to the Strip without getting a bag (or two).
De Fer Coffee and Tea is the ideal place to stop after shopping. The menu is extensive and offers much more than their name suggests. They offer numerous cocktails, wine, beer, and cider. De Fer also has a large food offering with sandwiches, meat and cheese boards, and waffles. You're set with tasty food and drinks any time of the day.
Roxanne's Dried Flowers is a flower wonderland. When you step into the store, you'll be transported to a quaint Parisian shop. In addition to a gorgeous selection of both fresh and dried flowers, the shop also sells pottery, cards, and other small knickknacks. The best part of Roxanne's is their back garden, where you can find anything you'd ever need to create the backyard of your dreams. Everything smells so good that you'll never want to leave.