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Bloomfield maintains traditions in a young, hip scene: A Pittsburgh guide

One of Pittsburgh’s largest neighborhoods, Bloomfield is best known for its Italian-American heritage and history. Despite seeing changes over the last couple of decades, the neighborhood is still home to a good variety of Italian-American staples, even if many of the neighbors are now millennial transplants.

This combination provides an eclectic mix of hip spaces to sip on craft beer next to Italian joints serving dishes covered in homemade red sauce. On Bloomfield’s main drag, Liberty Avenue, residents can enjoy a haircut at an old-school barber shop, and then shop for new books while drinking a house-made cappuccino.

Located on a plateau just east of Polish Hill and the Hill District, rumor has it that Bloomfield got its name from the abundance of blooming flowers present before development started in the 1860s. The first Europeans to settle the neighborhood were German Catholics, but by the 1900s, Italian immigrants dominated.

Though known as Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, Bloomfield today also offers a diverse set of cuisines like Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Turkish, Eastern European, Mexican, burgers, and food from the Azores, Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This is in addition to several Italian-American businesses like vegetable markets, import shops, gift stores and sit-down restaurants.

Bloomfield is home to Pittsburgh’s oldest hospital, West Penn Hospital, and the neighborhood’s economy and vibrancy is still largely due to hospitals today. Shops, cafes, restaurants, grocers and services line the roads near West Penn Hospital and Children’s Hospital, which sits on the border of Bloomfield.

All told, it creates a lively combination of afternoon activity, popular nightlife spots, and relatively quiet streets, some lined with row houses and others with grand oak trees.

Here is a look at some of Bloomfield’s landmarks, specialty markets, restaurants, and bars that make up a neighborhood that is popular to live, work, and play.

points of interest

West Penn Hospital, 4800 Friendship Ave. — Opening its flagship Bloomfield building in 1853, this hospital has expanded over the years and now includes 317 hospital beds, a medical school campus, a nursing school, and is looking to expand. West Penn was designated a landmark in 1973 and is now operated by Allegheny Health Network.

Ryan Deto | Tribune Review

West Penn Hospital, the city’s oldest hospital

St Joseph’s Church4712 Liberty Ave. — Built between 1886-87, this Catholic church is a historic landmark and the last remaining church holding Catholic mass in the neighborhood.

First United Methodist Church5401 Center Ave. — Designed with heavy Romanesque and Gothic influences, this church was constructed in 1891, and it marks the southern entrance of Bloomfield right across the street from Baum Grove parklet.

Cultural sites

Silver Eye Center for Photography4808 Penn Ave. — Hip and modern gallery with rotating exhibitions focused on photography and visual arts.

Irma Freeman Center for imagination5006 Penn Ave. — Large, two-room gallery that hosts community events and performances, as well as rotating exhibitions.

BoxHeart Gallery4523 Liberty Ave. — Long-standing gallery showcasing and selling contemporary art from local and national artists.

Little Italy days, Liberty Avenue — Annual street festival that takes over several blocks of Liberty Avenue for an extended weekend in August meant as a celebration of the neighborhood’s Italian heritage. Complete with live music, a bocce court and local and out-of-state vendors hawking goods and fare for all.

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Tribune Review

People turned out for Little Italy Days in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021.

Eateries

APTEKA, 4606 Penn Ave. — Popular spot for vegan Eastern European fare like specialized pierogies and pickled goodies. Complete with a wine shop and charming back patio.

Angelo’s Pizza shop, 4678 Liberty Ave. — Family-owned pizza joint serving up big traditional and Sicilian-style square pies. Also offers a great fried fish sandwich during Lent.

Azorean Coffee, 4715 Liberty Ave. — Cuisine from Portuguese islands with sweet bread, spicy chorizo ​​and rich casseroles. Also offers a full coffee bar.

baby loves Tacos4508 Liberty Ave. — Take-out spot for tacos, burritos and bowls with fresh ingredients.

coffee monkey, 4200 Penn Ave. — Brunch restaurant with a colorful back patio for great photos. Serves delicious Turkish coffee upon request.

Hot Pizza & Draft House4624 Liberty Ave. — Winner of many awards, this Bloomfield staple offers a great beer list and pan pizzas.

The Taste4100 Penn Ave. — Sit-down restaurant offering Mexican fare, including fajitas, as well as beers and margaritas in an open restaurant with large TVs.

Ginza Japanese Restaurant4734 Liberty Ave. — Cozy restaurant serving sushi in rolls and dinner boxes, as well as surprisingly good boba tea beverages.

Lot 17, 4617 Liberty Ave. — Extremely popular bar that offers burgers, wraps, and other comfort food. Great place to socialize and watch a Pens game.

Pleasure Bar4729 Liberty Ave. — An Italian-American favorite with a horseshoe bar filled with yinzers and serving pastas, salads and meatball sandwiches.

Spork5430 Penn Ave. — Fine-dining establishment serving contemporary American cuisine and craft cocktails in a casual setting in a quiet part of the neighborhood.

STATION, 4744 Liberty Ave. — Upscale restaurant with industrial chic serving contemporary American with Italian influence. Great for cocktails.

Tessaro’s, 4601 Liberty Ave. — Well-known restaurant serving up wood-fired burgers in a traditional setting. Very crowded on weekends.

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Tribune Review

A Tessaro’s burger in Bloomfield.

Thai cooking4627 Liberty Ave. — Comfortable spot for Thai curries and noodle dishes with very friendly service.

trams Kitchen4050 Penn Ave. — Long-standing Vietnamese restaurant serving hot bowls of pho in a no-frills setting.

thyme Machine, 4613 Liberty Ave. — New brunch spot offering inventive egg sandwiches. Starting as a cart, it has expanded its menu after taking over the former Bitter Ends building.

Thai gourmand, 4505 Liberty Ave. — Spicy dishes are popular at this southeastern Asian staple. Popular with locals.

Taste of India4320 Penn Ave. — Huge portions of curries, samosas, tandoori chicken and other Indian specialties.

Wai Wai Chinese cooking, 4717 Liberty Ave. — This neighborhood staple offers a wide menu of traditional Chinese dishes and Chinese-American favorites. Open later than most other Bloomfield restaurants.

something sweet

Paddy’s Cake bakery4806 Liberty Ave. — Specialty cakes, cookies, and donuts are offered at this long-standing bakery located near West Penn Hospital.

scoops in bloomfield4806 Liberty Ave. — Simple ice cream shop keeping customers happy for years with homemade waffle cones and other treats.

Twister’s Ice Cream, 4210 Main St. — Season ice-cream stand serving soft-serve treats and Italian ice. Only open in the summer months.

Specialty foods and beverages

4121 Main4121 Main St. — Coffee bar serving creative drinks in a take-out space covered in fresh and dried flowers, which are also for sale.

bloomfield Grocery237 Cedarville St. — Convivial market offering Italian imports of sauce, cookies and pasta, as well as fresh-baked bread, homemade tortellini and ravioli and an in-house deli.

Chantal’s Cheese Shop4402 Penn Ave. — Specialty shop with a knowledgeable and friendly staff to help you pick up the perfect cheese to pair with your picnic basket or fancy party.

Gryphons Torch4709 Liberty Ave. — Friendly shot selling dried tea leaves by the ounce, as well as cups of hot and cold beverages like matcha and cold-brew coffee.

Green Line Green Market, 4619 Liberty Ave. — Fresh-produce shop run by an Italian-American family. Grab a can of coffee soda, imported from Italy by the owner.

Merante’s Italian Home Cooking4723 Liberty Ave. — Homey storefront with a kitchen in the back serving take-out and take-home meals cooked by a friendly Italian-American owner and her staff.

Spill The Wine Bar, 4800 Liberty Ave. — Cute shop selling bottles and cases of wines from Italy and Australia. Also has a popular tasting room offering wine by the glass, and patrons are encouraged to bring their own food.

Entertainment and nightlife

glitterbox, 4104 Penn Ave. — Recently re-opened after pandemic closure, this spot is popular with young adults. It has an extensive drink list and creative decor that changes with the seasons.

COBRA4305 Main St. — Karaoke venue offering private rooms with a menu of Japanese BBQ delicacies and cocktails to sample.

Froggy’s Bar, 4602 Liberty Ave. — Lively dive bar shelling out beers at affordable prices. Gets crowded on weekends and during televised sporting events.

Silky’s Pub, 4135 Liberty Ave. — Neighborhood tavern serving pitchers of beer and no-frills fare. Known for a shuffleboard table that is free for customers to use.

Trace brewing, 4312 Main St. — Hip craft brewery with modern decor and a rotating selection of beers. They also have coffee and other beverages for teetotalers.

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Ryan Deto | Tribune Review

Trace Brewing on Main Street in Bloomfield

Tina’s, 4114 Main St. — Trendy bar with an extensive and somewhat affordable cocktail menu. Also has an in-house bottle shop selling select wines.

shopping

bankruptcy Cellar, 4120 Main St. — Local clothing brand shop that sells original pieces, artwork and cameras. The shop also serves as a film processing lab for photographers.

Bloomfield Saturday Market, 5050 Liberty Ave. — Takes over a large parking lot every Saturday from early May to mid-November. Locally grown produce, crafts and food vendors are on offer. A smaller winter market takes over the space on the first and third Saturday each month between December and March.

songbird artistry4316 Penn Ave. — Small gift shop selling handmade jewelry, screen-printed apparel, vintage items and more.

Senselesspgh5124 Penn Ave. — Vintage clothing store that specializes in sneakers, hats, jerseys and streetwear.

wicked skatewear4618 Liberty Ave. — Shop selling a wide variety of roller skates and gear for those looking to groove at the roller rink.

White Whale book store4754 Liberty Ave. — Shop selling a curated selection and new books, and has an in-house coffee shop so you can sip on lattes while you browse.

Ryan Deto is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Ryan by email at rdeto@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Categories:
bloomfield | Editor’s Picks | Food&Drink | lifestyles | Venue | More Lifestyles | pittsburgh

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