Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This past Saturday, I celebrated my CENSORED birthday with PID.  He done good.

He woke me up with my gift and a smile at 8 a.m. and let me know that there was more to it than the (already a.b.c.d.) scrapbook he'd made for me.  He was taking me for my (shockingly) first Strip District Saturday experience! For four years, I'd spent every single Monday through Friday in the Strip so my desire to trek down there on a Saturday had been slightly less than glaring. However that was merely due to its location.  Not what it offered.  I'd been jonesin' to check out the farmer's market, the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, Wholey's and all of the other local vendors that Penn Avenue had to offer.  So we started at Farmers@Firehouse adjacent to Firehouse Lounge on Penn and 23rd and worked our way down.  I have to tell you...it's all good stuff. I mean, really good stuff. But until I get to the REALLY REALLY good stuff, I'll spare you the tedious text and tell my story in photographs.

Farmers@Firehouse was voted best Farmer's Market in Pittsburgh for a reason: local. fresh. FABULOUS!

eggplant and peppers and zucchs, oh my!

Millions of peaches, peaches for me.

I call this one: Don't Cry for me Oniontina

Fresh herbs galore -- peppermint is my favorite!

The bread was already mostly GONE by the time we got there... at 9 a.m.!

Awww, honey. You shouldn't have!

Strip District Meats on Penn and 22nd gives you the opportunity to get creative on the grill!
Holy Canoli! This private vendor outside Penn Mac sold canolis the size of my forearm!
And inside Penn Mac was just as exciting as dozens of shoppers clamored for their pick of gourmet cheeses.
Olive you, too!

After a jaw dropping jaunt through familiar turf with a foreign feel, we walked outside of the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company to find my next surprise: Breakfast at DeLuca's! PID and his family have been telling me about DeLuca's and the glory it upholds for a long time.  It was a tradition PID and PapaPID shared years ago and neither could fathom a bad thing to say about the place. But as excited I was to be introduced to their beautiful family tradition, I was skeptical.  I've been incapable of being overly impressed with a breakfast joint since my days as a waitress at the Porch & Pantry Cafe back in Mt. Gretna, PA. My loyalty lay with Barb and her sticky buns. And, let's be honest:  to me, bacon and eggs are bacon and eggs.  So when we stepped outside and saw this line...

I was half tempted to turn around and snag a canoli for breakfast!  But PID and PapaPID spoke so highly of this place for so long (and believe me, it's adorable to see your significant other light up in excitement over something - big or small as it may be) I knew that I owed it to him to stand in line.

DeLuca's has it's claim to fame as the "Best Breakfast in Town" -- a title proudly displayed with an ancient sign on their storefront.  Best breakfast, eh?  I'd be the judge of that.

 We stood in the summer heat, yammering about soccer and work and wine and the Pirates.  But the longer we stood the more my mind wrapped around the rumbling in my tummy.  I was getting HUNGRY! We got in line about 10 a.m. and I'd say we were in it for about 45 - 50 minutes.  An admittedly long wait to be seated at any restaurant.  We had been excited get in to feel a blast of A/C, and were slightly disappointed when we realized that if it had air conditioning, it wasn't turned on. It was cooler of course.  A surprisingly wide open dining room allowed for decent airflow and being out of the sun was cooling enough on it's own.

But the place was quite charming which was uplifting.  A huge wall mural that looked like an Italian history book spanned the entire left side of the restaurant and gave life to the tiny diner feel.

PID and I were seated at the bar on slightly uncomfortable bar stools, but we were actually pleased. It allowed us to engage in conversation with our neighbors (I was in the mood today) who were both first-timers and quite enjoying their experience.  We stared at the menu for almost as long as we stood in line, awestruck by the array of combos and gourmet options.  Though I was sure he'd choose the Body Builder's Bionic Breakfast, PID went with the classic approach: the Blissful Beginnings farm fresh eggs (sunny side up), bacon and homefries with toast. He took one bite and said I had to taste.  I reminded him that bacon and eggs are bacon and eggs, but he insisted.  His bacon was cut as thick as a tree-stump and perfectly crisped. I was actually impressed.

We decided to split a sweet crepe, the Chocolate Covered Strawberry, merely because it sounded too good to pass up.  It was. It may look overdone and massive, but believe me: if you order this crepe you won't be sorry. The massive part was right, but we managed to put back almost all of it even with ordering our own individual breakfasts.  After a few minutes of focusing our hunger efforts elsewhere, the whipped cream melted.  But we didn't mind.  PID appropriately referred to it as "a soup of awesomeness" -- which is exactly what it became.

I decided to take a risk.  A huge one.  Which is part of the reason I'd OK'd the order of the third menu item.... just in case.  Right there, staring me down from page 2 of the menu, was the Seafood Crepe. Lobster for BREAKFAST?  It's just not my style.  I couldn't... but I had to. "Stuffed with lobster, shrimp, crabmeat and roasted red peppers with scrambled eggs with our signature remoulade," it said.  It taunted me.  Best breakfast in town?  This will be your true test, DeLuca's.  And so... I ordered.

It came to me just a simple thing. No beautiful presentation tactics, just a fat blob of starch on a plate.

But this seemingly simple display of breakfast proved the age old argument in the food industry can be highly one-sided:  presentation is NOT ALWAYS a deal-breaker.  I sliced her open, allowing the entire sea to spill out on to my plate. 
 It looked a bit more complex now, but the real masterpiece was in the taste.  I was hesitant to believe that lobster and shrimp belonged in a thin pancake.  But boy, oh boy was I wrong.  It was by far the most delicious breakfast I'd ever eaten in all my CENSORED years.  Sorry P&P!

And so the lion fell in love with the lamb.

Cliffs Notes:

Drinks:  2 diet cokes @ $1.46
Appetizer: (if you can call it that) 1 Chocolate Covered Strawberry Crepe @ $6.99
Meal:  1 Blissful Beginning @ $6.99
           1 Seafood Crepe @ $9.99
Tax:     @ 7% (Allegheny County only) $1.96
Total for two (who ate for three): $29.91

Overall Opinion? 

I became a breakfast believer all thanks to a thick cut of bacon, a chocolate/strawberry soup and a couple of crustaceans in a crepe. If you're visiting for the weekend you ABSOLUTELY MUST check out our Strip District Saturdays and wait in line at DeLuca's.  If you're local, don't think you're above it.  Don't make my mistake.  Get up early, make the trip and don't be intimidated by the line.  It moves quicker than you think and is 150% worth the wait. It was a happy introduction to the PID family tradition of Italian eating.  I had a VERY delicious birthday breakfast.

Deluca's on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. The french toast is the yummiest part of DeLucas! It's made from thick slices of italian bread... yummm. And the waitstaff always makes me giggle. <3


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