I spent last weekend on the OU-West Virginia trip and went two distinct places I’d never been. Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
Worthy of two distinct travelblogs. So first, Pittsburgh. Later today or Saturday, I’ll post about West Virginia.
So to get straight to the point, Pittsburgh was fabulous. Simply fabulous. I thought I would like it – I like virtually every major city in the American North – and Pittsburgh exceeded my high expectations.
I love rivers. Big rivers. Lakes never have really done much for me, especially man-made lakes. Of course, in Oklahoma, we not only have man-made lakes, we have a man-made river.
So when I see a city like Pittsburgh, I get excited. Pittsburgh is where the Allegheny River meets the Monongahela River to form the Ohio River. Pittsburgh is a lot like Cincinnati, only nicer, and triple the rivers.
Pittsburgh bills itself as the City of Bridges, thanks to its 446 bridges, and once was known as the Steel City, for its former status as the hotbed of steel manufacturing.
But if you ask me, Pittsburgh is the city of rivers. All those bridges are necessary because of the rivers. Downtown Pittsburgh sits between the Allegheny and the Monongahela, while the two ballparks, the Steelers’ Heinz Field and the Pirates’ PNC Park, sit on what is called the North Shore, across the Allegheny from downtown.
Three Rivers Stadium, where the Pirates and the Steelers played so many big games over 30 years, 1970-2000, sat on the North Shore, where the Allegheny and Monongahela converged.
Some of the bridges are those big, ornate structures, and when you drive over one of the rivers, you know you’re not in Oklahoma anymore.
Pittsburgh also is a city of hills. Or maybe mountains. Between the airport (west of Pittsburgh) and downtown, we saw a couple of “Runaway Truck Ramp” signs. So the hills were rather severe.
Pittsburgh really is in the Allegheny Mountains. The hills block the view of downtown from all kinds of vantage points.
When you enter the Fort Pitt Tunnel, you’re driving through idyllic scenery of Western Pennsylvania hills. But the tunnel goes under Mount Washington, and when you exit the tunnel, there’s the spectacular Pittsburgh skyline.
The New York Times once cited the drive as the “best way to enter an American city.” They get no argument from me.
We ate dinner Thursday night at Sarafino’s, in one of Pittsburgh’s great ethnic neighborhoods, near Crafton, west of downtown.
Pittsburgh has all these great neighborhoods that look straight out of 1962 but don’t look all that run down.
I got a tip on Sarafino’s from an OU fan who once lived in Pittsburgh, and it was a great place. Classic Italian. Straight out of Goodfellas central casting.
Sarafino’s website even proclaims, just above a baseball bat with Sarafino’s logo: “Contrary to popular belief, we only break bread. We’re all goodfella’s here. Serving good from our family to yours. Everyone’s happy. No one gets hurt.”
But no way was this a mob hangout. The place has just 11 tables and only one corner away from the storefront window, and there aren’t any tables in that corner.
The place was full when we got there, so we stood in that corner. I took notes and the proprietor seemed a little curious at my notebook, but he was harmless enough.
We waited only 15 minutes or so for a table, but the hostess rewarded our patience with an immediate gorgonzola and red onion pizza, on the house, when we were seated. I would never in my life order a gorgonzola and red onion pizza, but this was very good.
I ordered a penne pasta with sautéed garlic, pancetta, vodka cream case and parmigiano cheese, with meatball and sausage. It was outstanding.
We left with no broken bones and the belief that we had experienced a true taste of Pittsburgh.
If you’re a baseball fan under the age of 30, first off, you’re a rare bird. But second off, you have no reason to know what an amazing baseball tradition is in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates now are known for not anything. But, oh, there was a time. This was the city of Honus Wagner and Pie Traylor and the brothers Waner. The city of Ralph Kiner and Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell. The city of Josh Gibson and the Homestead Grays.
So our peek into PNC Park was a delight. I’d heard it was one of baseball’s best new parks, and it didn’t disappoint. PNC opened in 2001 (hard to believe, it’s staged 12 baseball seasons) and is known for its view of the Pittsburgh skyline. We didn’t get to see the stadium from that vantage point, but I can attest to the Pittsburgh skyline.
Anyway, Pittsburgh baseball has declined over the last 20 years, because of the Pirates’ ineptitude, not because of the ballpark. PNC Park sits hard by the Allegheny River, right downtown. We didn’t get into the seating portion of the stadium, but we got to walk around the outfield concourse. Passed a closed-off concession stand – “Grilled Italian Sausage $5.75” – that made me wish I was sitting in the sun, watching the Pirates play the Phillies on a July night.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 12287Oklahoma tornadoes: Plaza Towers Elementary School teacher shoved students into bathroom as wall collapsed
- 11384Oklahoma tornadoes: Cost, custom keep basements scarce
- 6956Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 6508Finding Addyson – One family's struggle in the Moore tornado
- 4900Downtown wish list includes Super Target
- 4357OU softball: Sooners inspired by Casey Angle, run-rule Texas A&M
- 3734Oklahoma City pastor will face trial in fatal shooting of son-in law
- 3632How to help tornado victims
- 3582Oklahoma tornadoes: Moore tornado was ninth deadliest in Oklahoma history
- 3172Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill to join Blake Shelton at "Healing in the Heartland" Oklahoma tornado benefit
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients