Exploring the vivid history and culinary delights of the Steel City is the focus of ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tours, established in early 2008. They perform culinary tours of the Strip District, Bloomfield (Pittsburgh’s “Little Italy”) and Mt. Washington. Founder Sylvia Emmenegger-McCoy experiences great ethnic cuisine for a living while keeping up with the culinary palates of her two young children.

We recently asked Sylvia about some of the reasonably priced cuisine she has discovered, and more!

Tell us about some of the affordable eats you have found in the Strip District.

I think one of the biggest misconceptions about shopping in the Strip District is that the products are expensive. Wrong! Food shopping in the Strip is extremely affordable…and fun! Buy local and imported cheeses from Carol (Dearheart) at “Pennsylvania Macaroni Company” for a fraction of the price that you would pay at your local grocery store. At “Reyna’s”, a package of tortillas made fresh every day on the premise costs only $2.50, home-made authentic hummus at “Labads” is $2.75. I could go on and on. I encourage everyone to explore the Strip and find some of the great culinary treats to be found there.

Tell us about some of the food bargains you have found in Bloomfield.

One of my favorite things in Bloomfield is the strong sense of family community you encounter….and the food is fantastic! For example, two dozen cheese ravioli made by Russell Donatelli fresh every week cost only $7.99. The “Donatelli’s” gnocchi is also my 4 year old son’s favorite (and he is a VERY picky eater!).

Fresh prepared foods like lasagna, stuffed cabbage, etc can be found at “Groceria Italiana” where Gloria also makes fresh pasta everyday. This is just a small sampling of the tasty items to be found in our Little Italy.

Tell us about some of the culinary deals you have found on Mt. Washington.

Mt. Washington is a real culinary treasure. One of my favorite places is “Tin Angel”. Now during the Lent season when many people are looking for a tasty Friday fish dinner, I recommend this deal.

A 5 course dinner which includes soup, clam dip, sole almondine, side, dessert, coffee and their signature pineapple dipped in crème de menthe…all for $39!

Another favorite is the Le Mont restaurant, where this year in celebration of their 50th anniversary, they are offering a $50 dinner for two! The best part in both cases…the view is free!

Tell us about a great food bargain you have found in Pittsburgh, in general.

I have found great deals in the Entertainment book, a lot of buy one get one coupons for dinners or lunches. Another find is the new “EcoCents” book which is Pittsburgh’s local guide to green living. In the back of the book are coupons, one of them that I will be using is a subscription to “Table” magazine for $10. Five dollars of that is donated to the Community food bank.

Tell us about you favorite Pittsburgh deal completely unrelated to food!

I love family deals and cultural events. One of the best kept secrets is the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra-PYSO. The PYSO offers free concerts throughout the year. These young musicians are so talented! Not only that, but this past weekend Laura Motchalov from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performed as the soloist with the PYSO….what an amazing performance.

Anything else you would like to add about what you do? Any kids finds you would like to discuss? Food or otherwise?

Another passion of mine is community service. I believe that encouraging kids to give back to others is very important. My kids are still young, 5 and 4, so they are too young to be allowed to serve meals with my husband and I at the soup kitchen, but, they can decorate and color placemats to be used as the place setting. Another way that they can contribute is by helping me cook or prepare a meal to be delivered to someone in need. My hope is that they will continue to give back in their own way as they get older.

Sylvia Emmenegger-McCoy – Founder of ‘Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour

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