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Your go-to resource for all things Little Italy in Pittsburgh
Some neighborhoods will always have a special place in your heart. Bloomfield is where I lived when I started my career, it has the hospital where my son was born and each block seems to contain some fondly remembered moment.
While this neighborhood may not be the first place a native Pittsburgher recommends, the wonderful history of Bloomfield combined with it's modern reinvention with local shops and restaurants makes it a must-visit for an authentic Pittsburgh experience.
Although known as Pittsburgh's "Little Italy," Bloomfield was actually settled by German and English immigrants first. This neighborhood was first called Laveta before being renamed Bloomfield in the 1860s.
As the steel and glass industries started to dominate Pittsburgh, Bloomfield was located in an advantageous position between factories and mills. The neighborhood had a boom in population fueled by Italian immigrants, primarily from Sicily, who moved to the neighborhood in large numbers.
Today, Bloomfield is home to a variety of cultures with a populace that still loves the neighborhood's unique charm. Buildings that suffered in the mid-20th century were built back, and new businesses welcomed to the area to help transform this region into one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in the city.
Although you can still find Italian cuisine in the area, what I love about Bloomfield is that you can sample so many flavors from around the world in just a short walk on Liberty Ave. Start your culinary journey at Thai Gourmet, the place where I first had pad thai and fell in love with these flavors. Their pineapple curry is still one of my favorite bites in the entire city.
Tram's Kitchen has hole-in-the-wall aesthetics backed up by the best Vietnamese food in the city, including flavor-packed pho and coconut milk vermicelli (bring cash). Or, be part of the cooking experience at Cobra's modern Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) where upscale digs match your private smokeless grill you prepare expertly butchered meats to yourself.
Step over to Penn Ave. and you'll find one of the most awarded restaurants in the city, Apteka. Central and Eastern European cuisine takes the focus here, with classics I grew up with at home like pierogi and halupki prepared entirely vegan by 2023 James Beard Award finalists Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski.
Getting back to my Italian roots, I can't recommend Angelo's enough. Located right by West Penn Hospital, this is the authentic pizzeria experience in the Burgh that will never show up on a Google search, but I always will point you to. Fantastic service, dough spun right in front of you and maybe the only place around for authentic Sicilian pies.
Other places to keep on your shortlist:
After all that delectable dining, you must be parched. Luckily, Bloomfield is also a wonderful place to grab a drink, with eclectic options in cozy locations throughout the neighborhood.
Trace Brewing is the place to be if you're looking for good vibes paired with great beer. Housed in an old brass and bronze foundry, it offers a distinctive setting for the community to gather, with indoor and outdoor seating that is also dog-friendly. In addition to serving up an array of delicious craft beers, the brewery also doubles as a café by day. In fact, Head of Coffee Joe Burns is a nationally ranked barista and owner of local roaster Ghost Coffee Collab, the same beans you can enjoy at Trace. Hungry? You'll also find a rotation of food trucks out front everyday.
It's also worth noting that Trace runs a vocational program that has had a huge impact on the rapid expansion of Pittsburgh's craft beverage scene.
Beer in a bookstore? It's more likely than you think. Head into White Whale's amazing space and you'll find a welcoming café space that serves coffee and Mindful Brewing beers, including the White Whale White Stout made especially for them.
Get your caffeine fix at veteran-owned Friendship Perk and Brew, a former produce market since renovated into a local favorite café for nitro coffees, london fogs and more perfect for dunking your locally made biscotti into. Back on Penn Ave., Bantha Tea Bar is serving up black, green and herbal teas available to enjoy in store and to take home loose to enjoy later.
Keep the party going in Bloomfield at late night spots perfect for grabbing a beer with buds. The Brillobox has been a hipster haven since before that word was even invented. Tina's retro-chic style is ideal for sipping perfectly-mixed negroni and gimlets. Find drag events, karaoke and dance parties nearly every night at P Town Bar!
One of my favorite aspects of Bloomfield is their local shopping scene. No high-end chains, no unapproachable facades. Just enthusiastic owners, amazing products and great selections without ever leaving the neighborhood.
Songbird Artistry is as Pittsburgh as shopping gets, with locally made apparel, jewelry, prints and more available as well as vintage goods. Just a few doors down is Chantal's, a specialty cheese shop known also for their charcuterie, pestos, preserves and other specialty foods.
Over on Liberty, the food shopping continues at Linea Verde Green Market, a local grocery store full of fresh veg and which also carries local coffees, pastas and soups. Merante's just a block down has authentic Italian favorites, and they're happy to make you a fresh antipasto platter to take home. I mentioned White Whale above, but both this store and the Big Idea anarchist collective are a booklover's dream.
Need some new kicks? Wicked Skatewear brings their LA and Huntingdon Beach skate shop to the Burgh, selling their signature roller skates as well as wheels, accessories, custom Vans skates and more to their clientele. They're also closely aligned with the Pittsburgh roller derby community!
Bloomfield is also home to Best-Made Shoes, the only full-service shoe store in the Burgh, which offers a huge selection of Birkenstocks as well as custom-molded shoes, sandals and orthotics. In operation since 1939, their excellent service has kept this business a landmark of Bloomfield for three generations of family owners.
While Bloomfield is one of the less expensive neighborhoods to spend a day in, there's plenty to enjoy here just from the sidewalks. I love walking this neighborhood and taking in the architecture, and there's multiple distinct styles you'll be able to appreciate in just a quick loop through Bloomfield.
Rowhouses make up the majority of what you'll find on Bloomfield's main streets, with matching brick facades and shared features that seem to tie the whole place together. To truly enjoy these, venture down some of the side streets as well to see how varied these row houses have become, as some will now vary wildly in height, width, color and modernization despite butting up against one another.
Examples of Italianate architecture has been preserved as well. On Liberty and Penn, look for signature signs of this style with symmetrical facades, tall windows and double-sloping roofs. Over on Friendship Ave. and Way, Victorian and Queen Anne designs dot the street, recognizable by their ornate trim, colorful facades, and turret-like structures.
Pro Tip: The Pittsburgh Marathon goes right through this neighborhood, and I love to post up at a coffee shop early to support runners as they go past.
I'd be remiss without talking about Bloomfield if I didn't mention their signature festival, Little Italy Days! Started in 2002, this sprawling free festival closes Liberty Ave. to traffic and fills the streets with food and fun, including three stages of entertainment.
The Celebrity Bocce Tournament kicks this event off on a Thursday in August each year with celebrities on both sides, then the party continues through Sunday. Local shops are open for this event too, making it a wonderful way to support one of my favorite Pittsburgh neighborhoods.