This is part 2 in my Clued Into Pittsburgh series: Scott and I were recently invited to a weekend blogger tour of Pittsburgh. This week, we’ll be recapping our trip. Read part 1 here.
When I left things off on Tuesday, we had just settled in for a very nice nap back at the hotel – we were exhausted after walking around downtown all morning.
As evening approached, our plan was to take in Pittsburgh from above with a trip on the Duquesne Incline. After dealing with the free Lower Station parking lot (tip: prepare to put your car-squeezing skills and patience to the test), we boarded the cable car and headed up the mountain.
When we got to the top and took in the beautiful view of Pittsburgh’s skyline, we all agreed that the parking stress and $5 fare were well worth it.
Opened in 1877, the incline uses the original wooden cable cars, which are still beautiful. At the upper station, you can watch the hoisting machinery as it works and view old photos of Pittsburgh and inclines.
We decided to make the most of our time at the top of the incline, so we made dinner reservations at Bella Vista.
After making excellent time on our trip to the incline, we arrived early for our reservation. I’m glad we did, because we lucked out with a table along the window. The restaurant’s name is incredibly accurate: The city dazzled from our view around the dinner table.
Although Bella Vista is an Italian restaurant, boasting a menu of appetizing pasta and veal entrees (among other choices), many of us had our mind made for us when our waitress mentioned the evening’s special of beef wellington.
After enjoying the crabmeat-stuffed portabello on the appetizers menu, our entrees arrived. The wellington was very savory — my steak tender, and the pastry wrap delicate and flaky. It was paired with shrimp scampi and vegetables.
The glass of white wine I ordered was fine but not incredibly memorable. On the other hand, the Glennfiddich on the rocks that I had for dessert was incredible. I knew I was too full for any more food; however, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t try a couple bites of others’ choices.
When at Bella Vista, you’re paying for the stunning view and a comfortable but elegant evening with family and friends.
It’s not fast dining. We were the last ones in the restaurant by the time we finished everything. I loved not feeling rushed and being able to enjoy the company while eating our food.
After checking out of the hotel on Sunday morning, we had a couple hours left to squeeze in sightseeing.
Fitting for a Sunday afternoon, we started our day at the Church Brew Works. Housed in a former Roman Catholic Church, Church Brew Works features beautiful architecture – the Rose window and pipe organ in the balcony are my favorite.
The beers they brew and menu selection do the building justice.
I was grateful I ordered their beer sampler because after tasting the 8 brews, I would have had a very difficult time ordering just one kind. Although this stout lover didn’t like that day’s rotating stout (an inside-out stout), their ThunderHop IPA, Hoptoberfest, and the very smooth Dirty Blond Quinoa Ale were definitely enjoyed.
Knowing that that much beer would fill me up, I kept my food choices on the lighter side. I enjoyed their seven onion soup made with their Pious Monk Dunkel and ordered that day’s mussels special.
Any restaurant that offers beer-steamed mussels with a daily flavor is my kind of place. Especially when that day’s broth is infused with pumpkin. I’m glad it came with four pieces of bread to sop it up. Next time we return, I’ll have to try their daily ‘untraditional pierogies’ special.
We then took a short drive to the Oakland neighborhood to visit the Carnegie Museum of Art.
During our trip, we discovered a lot of excellent opportunities to enjoy art in Pittsburgh and unfortunately had to save the Andy Warhol museum for our next visit. With our weekend coming to a close, we decided to visit the Carnegie because of their current Carnegie International collection.
Every few years, the museum conducts a survey of international contemporary art in North America and curates an exhibition around it. The 2013 Carnegie International had just opened the week before (it runs until mid-March) so we knew we had to stop by.
There are four components to the exhibition that focus on new international art, playgrounds, the museum’s collection, and an engagement with the city of Pittsburgh. You can read more about it and the artists at ci13.cmoa.org/about.
The highlights for me were:
Jestem by Lara Favaretto: The four colorful cubes she constructed from confetti will fall apart over the course of the Carnegie International, until they are a pile of disorganized confetti on the floor. I really enjoyed the concept of seeing something so beautiful and orderly naturally deconstructed.
Disarm by Pedro Reyes: In the Carnegie Museum’s Hall of Sculpture, you’ll find an arrangement of musical instruments constructed from confiscated guns. I didn’t immediately realize what they were made of as I listened to the rhythms and melodies coming from them; however, once I looked more closely it stopped me in my tracks.
The Playground Project: This interactive collection spotlights playgrounds from Europe, the U.S. and Japan from the last half of the 20th century. Along the way, it compares these public spaces to today’s more standardized and sanitized versions and poses questions about how we approach childhood, taking risks, public spaces, and education. There’s a lot of great stuff in the Heinz Architectural Center, but be sure to find the balloon oasis backlit by video of children playing. The maze of floor-to-ceiling screening you walk through to get there disconnects you from everything else. It’s strangely relaxing.
After the Carnegie, we had one final place to visit before heading home — Jerry’s Records. However, to read about that, you’ll have to come back tomorrow for Scott’s take on Pittsburgh. I figured I’d save some of the city’s fun shops for him.