Category: Around Pittsburgh

Keith Fuller’s Root 174 !

I met Keith Fuller the day he cooked in the Ikea demo kitchen at Farm to Table‘s For The Love of Pittsburgh event held at the Pittsburgh Public Market. He prepared homemade ricotta and made a ricotta gnocchi pork belly carbonara- you know, No Big Deal.
I made chili…


I met Keith, watched him cook, and knew I had to visit his restaurant…

Located in the center of Regent Square, Root 174 is a small, intimate, dimly lit restaurant. The best seats in the house are the cozy booths located at either window that look onto South Braddock Ave. We had a girls’ night party of three with an early 6 o’clock reservation on a Wednesday evening. There was one other table dining. By 8 o’clock, the restaurant was packed. I would suggest making a reservation!


Let’s start with a beverage.
Root 174’s cocktail list is as interesting as the dinner menu. House made bitters, citrus infusions, gin, whiskey, bourbon, and vodka creations with interesting names….Not in the mood, I was able to find a nice Pinot Noir.

The starters looked way too good to pass up. We chose the mussels, the brussels sprouts, and the wings!

Mussels in a chipotle tomato broth with cherry tomatoes, kale, and frites. ($12) Cooked to perfection and so flavorful. I always order the mussels (we have some greats in Pittsburgh) and these were fabulous.

Crisp Brussels Sprouts ($7) in a bacon black pepper glaze. The sweet, salty glaze paired nicely with the crisp edges of the sprouts.

Coffee Confit Chicken Wings ($9) served with a vanilla bourbon creme and dried banana. Deliciously different.

Like the starters, the three of us ordered three entrees.

Pork Belly Carbonara ($20) We had seen Keith cook this dish live at the Farm to Table event! Exceptional flavors.

Orecchiette ($21) Cauliflower, sage, hen of the woods. What a beautiful dish!

Chorizo stuffed chicken leg. ($20) My pick, was so delicious I forgot about trying the other entrées. Bad food blogger. I know. It only means there must be a next time!

Root 174’s chef Keith Fuller has been named “one of the best chefs in America you never heard of” –
And now you have!!
Travel to Regent Square! Visit Root 174!


Root 174
1113 south Braddock Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15218
Closed Sunday -Monday

Cook With Me! Pittsburgh Public Market’s Ikea Kitchen! Cheesy Meatballs

I was so nervous my hands were shaking, I prepped extra chopped garlic and basil because I could barely handle the knife…
Lights, camera, action. The fear melted away and turned into feelings of excitement and calm. It was as if I was in MY kitchen cooking for MY friends. I finally figured it out EEEEK! THIS is what I should be doing. THIS is what they talk about when they say doing what you love is not a job.


For my first time cooking live, I figured it should be familiar. I decided to cook Sunday Sicilian Sauce and cheesy meatballs. I only make this 40-45 Sundays per year! And I am pretty well versed in tomatoes, olive oils, and parmesan cheese- thought this would ease my nerves- Ha!


We are so lucky in Pittsburgh to have the Pittsburgh Public Market, where farmers and vendors sell fresh, local products. I get to cook in the Ikea Kitchen using the best quality ingredients and the audience can easily pick them up on the way out!
Other fresh ingredients not sold at the market come from Pittsburgh’s Strip District and other local businesses.

Thanks to all who shop local, support small businesses, and cook with me! I will be at the Pittsburgh Public Market on February 14th at 11am with a Valentine’s Surf and Turf menu featuring Timmy Reynolds from Penn Avenue Fish Company and Canonsburg’s Sarris Candies Chocolate Fondue for Dessert! Stop down and Cook with me! Free samples and open to the public! RSVP today!


So for the sauce, I used Cobrancosa olive oil from The Olive Tap, garlic, fresh rosemary and fresh basil from Lengel Bros. Farm Market, Ciao San Marzano tomatoes and Parmesan Reggiano from Pennsylvania Macaroni Co., and the pre-made sauce was full of fresh ox tail from Clarion Farms Beef. We were lucky to sample the sauce by sopping it up with Mediterra Bakehouse Italian Bread sold by The Olive Tap.
Topping it all off with fresh grated parmesan and Shof Kase cheese from Wheel and Wedge is the most important part!!


Cheesy Meatballs
Makes 18-20 1-1/2 inch meatballs

1 lb. Ground Beef (Clarion Farms Beef)
4 garlic cloves, chopped (Lengel Brothers Farm Market)
2 tbsp. basil, chopped (optional)
1 egg
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano (Penn Mac’s cheese counter)
1 cup fresh grated Wheel and Wedge Shof Kase cheese (Or pecorino romano or even better Locatelli or all 4! Play around and see what you like!)
1/2 cup Cento plain breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper to taste (approx. 10 shakes)

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
Completely mix by hand until well blended.
Roll 1-1/2 inch meatballs.
Place meatballs 1 inch apart on a jelly roll pan.
In a rush?
Bake 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until browned and cooked through.
Place into sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Not in a rush?
Throw them in the sauce raw and cook for 2-3 hours or until center is cooked through.
Don’t cook them in the sauce longer than 3 hours. Unless you want a chunky meat sauce! The meatballs will break down and fall apart.

Serve with your favorite pasta and always top with fresh grated parmesan!

Have You Eaten Your Breakfast?

How about your Second Breakfast?
If you visit the Pittsburgh Public Market you can!


Head Chef and owner Thomas Wood started his food stand at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District in mid-November.

Wood sees the Public Market as an incubator for start-ups to get off the ground, tweak their business model, and find success. With help from the available Market Kitchen, Wood was able to launch his dream venture named after “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”‘s Second Breakfast.
Wood keeps his ingredients organic, fresh, and local. Many come from other Pittsburgh Public Market vendors, such as Franklin Farms Flour and East End Brewing Company’s beer. Beer for breakfast? As an ingredient, of course!


I ordered Second Breakfast’s
hugely popular Chicken and Waffles. Wood explained his shredded chicken cooking method. First, he renders the fat from Garrett Farms bacon. Then, browns the chicken in the bacon fat, deglazes with East End Brewing Company’s Monkey Girl beer (when not in season Monkey Boy will do), and slow cooks for three hours. Yummmmmm, and that’s just the chicken. Wood prepared a beautiful, homemade waffle while we chatted, and topped it all off with the sweetest maple syrup!

I took two very lady-like-ish bites and discussed the fabulous flavors and textures of the food. Within minutes of driving down Penn Avenue, I opened the to-go box, picked up the syrup and shredded chicken covered waffle with my hands, rolled it up, and devoured the rest. I seriously felt like Buddy from the movie “Elf,” -sticky syrup all over my face, my hands, my steering wheel, and the front of my jacket. Ha!
Got me, Thom! I had my first ever Second Breakfast and I loved it!!


Stop and visit the vendors at the Pittsburgh Public Market and see Thom for your Second Breakfast. Have your own public market vendor idea? Ask some questions!


Pittsburgh Public Market
2401 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Wednesday 8-4
Thursday 8-7
Friday 8-4
Saturday 9-5
Sunday 8-4

A Few Of My Favorite Things! A Shop Local Shop Small BIG HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY!

I would like to thank all of you for supporting Parmesan Princess! This first 10 months has been awesome and more exciting than I could have ever imagined! Hopefully, you are enjoying my articles and my recipes while exploring all that Pittsburgh has to offer!
This post is for you! A holiday giveaway (valued over $400!!!) to share a few of my favorite things and to help support some
of my favorite small businesses!!

Creative, unique, and totally awesome Pittsburgh products and services are constantly being nationally recognized!




We are so fortunate to have Pittsburghers helping Pittsburghers start new businesses in the form of Alpha Lab, Idea Foundry, and most recently, Thrill Mill.

Small boutique shops are boooming in urban renewal neighborhoods, like Lawrenceville, offering Pittsburghers a Soho, NY feel.

Shop local and suppport small business owners in your city!

Let’s start in the Strip District- The heart and soul of Pittsburgh’s ethnic fine foods and my happy place in this world. My first stop is always Sam Patti’s La Prima Espresso, Co. for a beautiful cup of coffee in the 21st Street Italian Espresso bar. Brewed from the finest beans, La Prima Espresso Co.’s Coffee is the best! Many Pittsburgh restaurants and businesses serve La Prima’s finest!
Sam wants you to try his Christmas blend!! Yes, for you!


La Prima Espresso Co. The Strip District
205 21st St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Monday-Staurday 6am-4pm
Sunday 8am-2pm

Also located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District is my favorite Italian grocery store Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, where you will find fresh imported products like deli meats, olives, and the finest cheeses! Parmesan Reggiano, Auricchio Provolone, and Parrano are a few of my favorites!
Enjoy an Italian Cheese Sampler box from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company this Holiday Season! Yes, for you!!


Pennsylvania Macaroni Company
2010 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA

Hours: Monday-Saturday 6:30am-4:30pm
Sunday 9:30am-2:30pm

T’s Uphostelry Studio on Butler Street in Lawrenceville has been around before the neighborhood’s revitalization boom. Cindy Kaufman Leckenby tells me she opened the shop in 1998 is always adding to her product line of fine upholstery, fabric, custom window coverings and accessories. Cindy’s vintage aprons caught my eye! I knew one had to be included in this holiday giveaway! For you!


T’s upholstery Studio
3611 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

The epitomy of a statement piece- I am in love with Sashaneckware. Pittsburgh’s Sara McClelland needed a necklace for a party and decided to make her own. I met Sara and her fabulous necklaces at Pittsburgh’s Handmade Arcade held at the Convention Center, but you can visit her Etsy shop anytime. I had never seen anything like them and I instantly had to have one! And one for you, too! Or gentlemen, give it as a gift!! She will love you forever!

Mine is Yellow Yarns + Fuschia Matte Quartz Beaded Statement Necklace

And here is yours:
Tri-color Yarns + Lucite Beaded Necklace


A shiny, rare diamond in the South Hills is Todd and Angela McMaster’s Oil and Vinegar store located in the South Hills Village Mall! With over 50 oils and vinegars on tap, as well as specialty items from the seven worlds- starters & appetizers, herbs and spices, pastas, sweet sensations, sauces and dressings, and their NEW Mediterranean items- Oil and Vinegar is a must visit!


Oil and Vinegar is giving you Mango Pulp Vinegar, Strawberry Vinegar, Garlic EVOO, and Bonsecco! All on tap in the store!!

Also included is Italian fresh pasta, Cape Chili Chutney, a truffle salsa, a coffee paste:sweet Sicilian cream with coffee, mixed Provençal olives in EVOO, and 2 dipper mixes!!


Oil and Vinegar
South Hills Village Mall
301 South Hills Village
Bethel Park, PA 15241
412-833-EVOO (3866)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm
Sunday: 12pm-6pm

One day I was shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond and met a representative from USA Pans pushing muffin tins and jelly roll sheets that were locally made in Moon Township. I bought a muffin pan, some different sized pans and got home and realized I already owned these fabulous pans! These were my favorites that easily wiped clean and I had owned them for years! You need these, too!


USA Pans are available at Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, and many other of your favorite stores!

As a tribute to our fabulous Pittsburgh Penguins I had to add my favorite cutting board from Labell Cutting Boards!! Produced in Quebec, Canada, Labell’s professional Canadian maple and cherry hardwood cutting boards and butcher blocks can be found in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world! The best part…they can be personalized with a laser engraved logo!



Thank You to all of the small business owners who gladly donated these items for one Parmesan Princess follower to enjoy!!

Enter below! Winner drawn at midnight EST Christmas Eve!! Good luck and Thank you Thank you Thank you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All items are MY favorite things. I was not compensated in any way for including these items in my post. All items were donated by the companies for you! Opinions are 100% mine! Enjoy!!


Pittsburgh Winery and Matteo’s Lawrenceville Celebrating 2 Years! Have You Stopped In Yet?

As I walked down the staircase I could see the twinkling lights. Candles flickered on the glass-top wooden barrel tables and the smell of grapes filled the air. The band was doing a sound check and I actually got butterflies! I couldn’t help but think to myself- I need to have a party here- it’s so magical! How have I never ever been here before?


Pittsburgh Winery was born when owner and Buzz Poet’s bass player Tim Gaber’s wine hobby got serious. “I was making more and more wine, we [the Buzz Poets] stopped touring and it seemed like the right time,” said Gaber. Making wine with friends in the cellar of an old firehouse, Gaber networked with California vineyard owners and winemakers to prepare to launch his own line at 2815 Penn Ave. in the Strip District, Pittsburgh Winery.

Pittsburgh Winery credits the best grapes from the best vineyards as being responsible for their high quality, incredibly elegant and smooth wine offerings. My favorite on this visit was the California red blend, but I can’t wait to try them all!


Gaber brought his love of music to the winery. Bands, musical talent, and entertainment groups take the stage as the evening entertainment at the winery. With no windows and an incredible sound space, Gaber has equipped the winery with a sound and recording panel. Please check out the website for upcoming events. Get your tickets!! They sell out fast!






For their one and two year anniversaries, Pittsburgh Winery has held grape stomps! What an awesome opportunity and a once in a lifetime experience to stomp grapes and sample the wines! Gaber called Matt Cavanaugh owner and chef at Lawrenceville hotspot Matteo’s for the occasion. Matteo’s was also celebrating their two year anniversary. I tagged along behind the scenes with Matteo’s to see what was cooking.
As you can see in the photo above, our crew had a great time!

Sweet Thai chili wings, pumpkin ravioli, chicken sliders, and Matt’s wife Andrea’s famous rum cake were just a few of the delicious menu items.



Matteo’s food is delicious whether it is catered or served as individual dinners. As Winter 2015 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week approaches, Cavanaugh has rolled out some new winter offerings as well as old favorites!

Like the Lobster Mac and Cheese! Yes, that is a Lobster tail…

Matteo’s winter weather tender and flavorful lamb chops will warm you up!


Flavorful Dumplings…

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts in a balsamic reduction with just enough smoky char to warm you up!

And my winter warm up pick, the linguini clams in a red sauce! I ate the entire bowl! Seriously, ask them, I did!


Hopefully, Pittsburgh Winery will celebrate their 3rd anniversary with another grape stomp and more delicious food from Matteo’s!

Wishing Pittsburgh Winery and Matteo’s the best of luck for another successful year! Pittsburgh is lucky to have you!


A&E’s Godfather of Pittsburgh Meet the Cast: An Isoldi Family Sunday Dinner Exclusive!

Meet Vince Isoldi. Godfather of Pittsburgh
Meet Vince Isoldi. Godfather of Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of a AENetworks

“People think I’m a gangster, but I just do what has to be done.”
Vince Isoldi

For Vince Isoldi, life is about family. Creating a better life than he had, helping those who find themselves in trouble, and cultivating businesses that will help his family flourish for years to come. Sounds like the description of a typical Italian American businessman willing to stop at nothing to provide for those he loves. Unless they cross him…

Well, that is the question- How far does Vince go?

The new A&E series Godfather of Pittsburgh follows Vince, his wife, Carla, and their sons Enzo, Adolfo, and Romeo. While showing their family life and relationships, the series also focuses on Vince’s balance with his businesses.

Meet Carla Isoldi,  the Isoldi family matriarch.
Meet Carla Isoldi, the Isoldi family matriarch. Photo courtesy of AENetworks.

In my recent interview with Carla, she described her family’s portrayal in the series as a busy family trying to raise their boys with the knowledge of right and wrong in this chaotic world.

Like a typical Italian American family, the Isoldi family cherishes Sunday dinners! Carla explained that Sundays bring the whole family together. No matter what happened that week with the businesses, Sundays are special. Her most requested dish?
“My meatballs,” says Carla. “They are the family favorite. The boys love eating them as an after school snack.”

Sunday dinner with the Isoldi family is not complete without Carla's meatballs!
Sunday dinner with the Isoldi family is not complete without Carla’s meatballs!

Thank you Carla for sharing your recipe with us!

Isoldi Family Meatballs
Serves 6 prep time 30 mins.


1 lb. ground chuck meat
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. of onion salt
1 slice of white bread broken up into small pieces
1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup vegetab;e oil


Combine and hand mix the first 10 ingredients.
Form small meatballs.
Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a skillet.
Place meatballs in the skillet and cover with a lid.
Turn over when bottoms are golden brown.
Cook through.
Salt lightly when cooling and sprinkle with Parmesan

Carla’s biggest cooking influence is her father, “Junior” Williams, also feature on the show.  Junior was recently released from prison on racketeering charges.

Carla Isoldi's father Junior Williams. Photo courtesy of AENetworks.
Carla Isoldi’s father Junior Williams.
Photo courtesy of AENetworks.

Carla’s father was a big game hunter and she would help him prepare the pheasant, deer, elk with lots of marinating techniques and red wine. “Some of the wild game would even have he BBs still in the meat. Being a girl it was hard for me to deal with that,” Carla explained.

Carla and Vince’s favorite date night spot in Pittsburgh is Il Pizzaiolo. With a second location in Market Square, The Mt. Lebanon Italian eatery owned by Pittsburgh native Ron Molinero, serves traditional Neapolitan pizza, fresh pizza and pasta, fresh fish, and decadent desserts. A perfect date night spot with outdoor seating!

Carla and Vince on their wedding day! Photo courtesy of the Isoldi family.
Carla and Vince on their wedding day! Photo courtesy of the Isoldi family.

I must say the Isoldi’s seem like a normal, busy, successful American family, so is Vince really a gangster?
Watch the eight episode series Godfather of Pittsburgh premiering Monday November 10th at 10pm and find out!

Here is a clip:
Godfather of Pittsburgh

A&E has just posted two of the recipes Carla shared for this interview on the Godfather of Pittsburgh homepage under Exclusives! In addition to the meatball recipe, Romeo’s favorite Sunday Dinner Lasagna recipe is also featured!



Zillow Features Pittsburgh AND Parmesan Princess In Upcoming City Roundup PLUS Organizational Ideas For Your Kitchen!

Zillow, America’s most popular real estate site, is casting a spotlight on Pittsburgh in an upcoming city roundup!

The boats in the water, the fountain, the bridges!!! Pittsburgh from Mount Washington
The boats in the water, the fountain, the bridges!!! Pittsburgh from Mount Washington
How about living a short walk from downtown Pittsburgh's sexy new rooftop Il Tetto! Or go down one floor for pizza or down one more for meatballs! Neighboring Seviche, Sonoma Grille, Nine on Nine,  Meat and Potatoes, Six Penn Kitchen, Butcher and the Rye all amazing, fantastic, and fun! I say it is Pittsburgh's food that is getting attention... and with that, everything else follows. Welcome to Pittsburgh!
How about living a short walk from downtown Pittsburgh’s sexy new rooftop bar Il Tetto! Or go down one floor for pizza or down one more floor for meatballs! Neighboring Seviche, Sonoma Grille, Nine on Nine, Meat and Potatoes, Six Penn Kitchen, Butcher and the Rye- all amazing, fantastic, and fun!  Welcome to Pittsburgh!

The city roundups help Zillow readers make informed moving decisions! The city’s arts, sports, entertainment and dining options all factor into relocation decisions. Yes, the food! That’s where I come in!

My pick for Pittsburgh's Best kept secret is our amazing food! Young professionals would love living in revitalized Lawrenceville or the new condo communities in the Strip! Just a walk to Luke Wholey's Wild Alaskan Grille where fresh  oysters are shucked on the sidewalk!
My pick for Pittsburgh’s Best Kept Secret is our amazing food! Young professionals would love living in revitalized Lawrenceville or the new condo communities in the Strip! Just a walk to Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille where fresh oysters are shucked on the sidewalk!
I can't imagine being able to walk to Matteo's on Butler Street in Lawrenceville!!
How incredible would it be to walk to Matteo’s on Butler St. in Lawrenceville for dinner!

Maybe one day…

Here is Zillow’s Helpful Post for us on Kitchen Organiztion Ideas!!

10 Organizational Ideas For Your Kitchen!!
By Tali Wee of Zillow

Source: Michelle Workman
Source: Michelle Workman

Residents and houseguests naturally gravitate toward the kitchen, making it one of the highest-traffic living spaces in homes. As the heart of the home, the kitchen needs welcoming design but also requires a significant amount of organization for functionality.

Here are 10 simple ways to declutter kitchens, free up workspace and install systematic organization for easier, more organized food preparation.

1. Containers
Purchase inexpensive mason jars to store prepackaged foods, reducing bulkiness and transitioning into aesthetically-pleasing, consistently-sized containers. Mason jars are fashion-forward, timeless and seal freshness. If jars aren’t preferred, opt for containers with wide, easy-to-clean openings. Additionally, contain colorful fruits and veggies in a single basket for tidy countertop display.

2. Stackable Kitchenware
Invest in a single brand of kitchenware designed to nest graduating sizes to save space. Stack mixing bowls, casserole dishes, plates, mugs and measuring cups/spoons. Always buy one brand of disposable travel containers for simple stacking and quick lid matching.

3. Kitchen Islands
Splurge on a kitchen island to increase workspace and additional storage. Some islands include open shelving for fruit baskets, pots and trays. Alternatively, islands with cabinets create discrete space for lesser-used kitchen necessities such as a stand mixer, food processor and mandolin.

4. Hooks
Use available vertical space by adding hooks for dish towels, aprons, gloves, cooking spoons, spatulas and tongs. Install an accessible rack with numerous S-hooks for handy utensils and reduced clutter in drawers. Screw in smaller hooks to the underside of cabinets and shelves to hag mugs, optimizing cupboard and counter space.

5. Dividers
Purchase drawer dividers to keep kitchen tools separated, especially in deep drawers where untensils tangle. Dividers are ideal for orderly spices and silverware. When premade dividers don’t fit, build wood sorters into drawers. Create vertical dividers in kitchen cabinets for storing cookie sheets, griddles, cutting boards and pot lids with ease and minimal space usage.

6. Pull-Out Shelving
Deep cabinets are great for surplus storage but tough to access. Replace fixed shelves with sliding, pull-out shelves to reach the items in the back without shuffling the organization in front. Beyond shelves, squeeze pull-out cabinets into tight kitchen spaces where traditional cabinets do not fit. Narrow pull-outs are perfect for spice displays and vertical storage. Blind corner cabinets with revolving shelves or pull-outs make great use of vacant space.

7. Wall and Door Mounts
Clear counters by mounting racks on walls and the backs of panty doors. Suggested racks include can shelving, snack pockets and pot lid organizers. Install magnetic strips to forgo bulky knife blocks and hanging racks for paper towels.

8. Pot Racks
Hanging pot racks were popular years ago, but clutter preferably open layouts. Instead, mount a pot rack or rod on an accessible wall and hook pots with S-hooks. Pot racks on walls are less cluttered and more organized.

9. Trays
Avoid disorderly counters and cabinets by sorting loose items on trays. Include countertop trays of cooking oils and common seasonings in fashionable containers. Create a tray for tea, sugar, honey and mixing spoons just inside the cabinet. Add a sturdy tray under the sink for cleansers, gloves and dishwashing liquid.

10. Digital Cookbooks
Lastly, purchase electronic cookbooks and transfer favorite recipes onto tablets or mobile devices. Attach a tablet mount to the wall or inside a cabinet at eye level, keeping electronics distant from liquids but easily legible. Haul cookbooks out of the limited kitchen space and display on a book cabinet elsewhere, or store in water-safe containers in the attic or garage.

Kitchens are typically the most expensive rooms to remodel, due to costly appliances, cabinets, countertops and chic finishes. Whether making upgrades for personal use or increased resale values, focus on these 10 tips for improved kitchen functionality and greater home shopper appeal when compared to other Pittsburgh homes on the market.

I would never change  my cookbook stash!!! I love a real cookbook in my hands!
Follow Zillow and watch for the Pittsburgh feature! I will share it, too!


Homemade Winemaking : Grapes, Family, Tradition

From the families who have made their own wine for years to the newest generation of winemakers, Pittsburgh delivers the grapes! The areas most popular vendors are Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, Premier Produce, and Consumers Fresh Produce all located in the Strip District.

The Winemakers sign at Consumers Fresh Produce! Love it!
The Winemakers sign at Consumers Fresh Produce! Love it!

Ron Casertano, Enologist with Consumer Fresh Produce for 27 years, tells me the grape harvest was early this year with California grapes arriving in early September. The season usually ends on Columbus Day, but with high supply and demand, the fall grape season will run through the end of October.

Plenty of grapes!
Plenty of grapes!

Loyal CFP Winemaking customers Rudy Ranallo, along with his friends and family, let me spend the day as they pressed their grapes, filled their jugs with juice, and ate a beautiful pasta dinner!


De-stemmed and crushed grapes are left in barrels for one week, stirring daily.
As the fermentation process begins, De-stemmed and crushed grapes are left in barrels for one week and stirred daily.

Ranallo says his process is, “The same as my dad’s [process]. Let the grapes ferment for 7 days, stirring them everyday. Press the grapes and bottle the juice. After six weeks, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, we remove the sediment, and let the fermenting continue until Easter.”

Rudy tells me they have used this presser for 10 years.
Ranallo tells me they have used this presser for 10 years.
Grape Juice straight out of the presser!
Grape Juice straight out of the presser!
Rudy showed me the grape sediment and skins collected from the presser to make wine vinegar. Last years crop made 4 1/2 gallons!
The grape sediment and skins collected from the presser are used to make wine vinegar. Last year’s crop made 4 1/2 gallons!

No preservatives, no fancy measuring gadgets, just tradition and instinct.


The guys juiced 200 gallons into carboys on one Sunday afternoon.

This year the family streamlined their process buy purchasing a de-stemmer machine.

See the old wooden de-stemmer left  and the bright and shiny new and large stainless de-stemmer.
See the old wooden de-stemmer left and the shiny new stainless de-stemmer.

As was my experience with the Ranallo family, Casertano described the why behind homemade winemaking, “People like to get together and have fun making wine. They eat, laugh, and enjoy! It is an event.”

It sure was and we had a blast!

Family and Friends ...
Family and Friends …
Sisters cooking...
Sisters cooking…
From left: Brian Sauro, Clem Gigliotti, Rudy Ranallo, Jay DeLeonibus, and Anthony Sansonetti
From left:
Brian Sauro, Clem Gigliotti, Rudy Ranallo, Jay DeLeonibus, and Anthony Sansonetti

Because of Pittsburgh’s big interest and little winemaking knowledge, Casertano says there is definitely a market for a how- to class. Wine classes will be offered at Consumers Fresh Produce in the Spring for round 2- South American grapes season in the Spring!

You still have a week or two to buy some juice.

See Ron! Tell him I sent you!
See Ron! Tell him I sent you!

A big thank you to the Ranallo family for your time and hospitality! I can’t wait to come back for the tasting!


Pittsburgh Food Truck Finale: On Board The Mac and Gold Truck!!

“The Mac & Gold Truck” sounds like plain old mac and cheese served through a window in a city that bleeds black and gold, right?

Mac & Gold in the Black & Gold!
Mac & Gold in the Black & Gold!

Tim Tassone’s Mac & Gold truck is anything but traditional and Pittsburghers can’t get enough. What makes Tassone’s mac different? Well, everything!

Simple Truck, Simple Idea, with an unexpected twist. When I visited Tim and Athena at a Greentree office park, I never expected a made-to-order fresh mac and cheese for every order. Sounds like a ton of work!

I totally expected to see rows of pre- made mac and cheese covered in foil. Not a pan and some cooked pasta!
I totally expected to see rows of pre- made mac covered in foil. Not a guy, a pan, and some pasta!

Tassone says it’s all in the name of delivering a phenomenal product to his customers with minimal waste, of course.

A mortgage industry casualty turned chef, Tim Tassone entered the food truck boom with an appetite for success and a unique enough menu to acheive it.  The Mac and Gold truck’s most popular menu item is the lobster mac. Often requested by event staff and customers, Tassone uses real lobster claw meat and tops it with his signature brown butter breadcrumbs. The creamy, light cheese is a farmer’s cheese blend and the succulent bites of lobster keep you searching for more.

The very popular Lobster Mac!
The very popular Lobster Mac!

The rosemary garlic fries…incredibly addicting and absolutely necessary. I forgot to take a photo and ate the entire serving in minutes!

Create your own mac with add- ins and toppings! Check out this menu!

Bacon, chicken, pork, asparagus, prosciutto, pea, jalapeño, smoky BBQ seitan with carmelized onions!!! Ever think of adding these to your mac? Tim Tassone's originality and creativity is unmatched!
Bacon, chicken, pork, asparagus, prosciutto, pea, jalapeño, smoky BBQ seitan with carmelized onions!!! Ever think of adding these to your mac? Tim Tessone’s originality and creativity is unmatched!
I tried a prosciutto, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms- wow!
I tried a prosciutto, spinach, and shiitake mushrooms- wow!

Can we discuss food truck functionality? If you are worried about messy mac and doing a balancing act, you are wrong! Everything is in one perfect box with a lid!
Look for The Mac & Gold Truck! Tell Tim and Athena I sent you!


The Mac & Gold Truck


Sweet And Spicy: The Perfect Sauce !

Sriracha is basically Thai "ketchup" and was named from a town called Si Racha!
Sriracha is basically Thai “ketchup” and is named after a town called Si Racha!

I am totally shocked when people ask me, “What is Sriracha?” Sriracha is America’s #1 condiment! According to the Huy Fong Food Co., Sriracha is made of sun ripened chiles ground into a paste with garlic.

Photo via The Washigton Times 4/23/14. Photo depicts a Sriracha demonstration in CA as residents fought to shut down the Irwindale plant because the air was "too spicy."
Photo via The Washigton Times 4/23/14. This photo depicts a Sriracha demonstration in CA as residents fought to shut down the Irwindale plant because the air was “too spicy.”

The fight was over by the end of May. The Sriracha plant, 1, the eyes and nasal passages of residents, 0.

I have created an amazing spicy, sweet sauce using a Sriracha, honey, brown sugar base. Since being featured by Emeril Lagassee on Good Morning America, fans have asked that I simplify the recipe for a quick sauce. I have been experimenting with the base ingredients and the result is an intense, flavorful 3 ingredient sauce!!
Here is the full recipe:
Parmesan Princess on GMA

So far this sauce had made an amazing pulled pork, pork chops, chicken, shrimp, and even grilled veggies!
So far this amazing sauce has made the most mouthwatering pulled pork, pork chops, chicken, shrimp, and even grilled veggies!

Spicy Sweet -The Perfect Sauce!


1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. Honey
2 tbsp. Sriracha


Dissolve brown sugar in water. Stir until smooth.

Mix in other ingredients.

Use sauce as Marinade.

Add additional sauce to browned pork, fish, chicken, etc. To create a saucy layer.

Spicy Sweet Sauce will not disappoint! Try it today!

These chops had a kick! I am loving a hint of Sriracha with pork.
These chops certainly have a kick! I am loving a hint of Sriracha with pork!

You will be in love, too!