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click to enlarge Dennis Scullion trims the hair of customer Jack Linn in the barbershop Scullion's grandfather started in 1931. - JOHN ALTDORFER
  • John Altdorfer
  • Dennis Scullion trims the hair of customer Jack Linn in the barbershop Scullion's grandfather started in 1931.

Dan Cercone Barber Shop
4720 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield
412-621-7797

 

Dan Cercone was once the best barber in the country. 

After coming to the United States from Italy, he opened the Bloomfield barber shop in 1931, when he was just 17 years old. Over the next 61 years, Cercone became famous for his haircutting skills. 

In 1967, he was awarded "National Barber of the Year," and in 1984 he won "International Hairstylist of the Year."  He was so talented with a pair of scissors, in fact, Cercone could actually cut hair blindfolded, as he once demonstrated on local television.

"He wasn't just a run-of-the-mill barber," says Cercone's grandson Dennis Scullion, who used to shine shoes while his grandfather cut hair. "This was his passion."

Cercone died in 1992, but his barber shop lives on. Voted Pittsburgh's Best Barber Shop by City Paper readers, Dan Cercone remains a classic, old-school shop, from the twirling barber pole outside to the 50-year-old barber chairs that still spin after every finished cut. 

"This guy's the fastest barber I've ever seen," says Gibsonia resident Mark Davis as Scullion trims his hair. "But he does a good job."

And at $10 a cut, he adds, "It's reasonably priced."

"I come all the way from Green Tree to have [Scullion] cut my hair," says regular customer Tu Thanh Tran.

"It's just your typical Pittsburgh barber shop," says Oakland resident Dan Pagath, awaiting his turn in Scullion's chair. "This is one of those places [where] you just hang out."

Scullion started working at the shop in 1992, shortly before his grandfather passed away. Since then, the 46-year-old has been trying to continue Cercone's legacy, while maintaining the shop's authenticity. 

"We just remodeled two years ago," he says, noting that the ceiling and floors needed to be replaced. "But we tried to keep it oldish-looking."

Mission accomplished: The four orange-and-white barber chairs are worn with age, their leather cracked and torn. Across the room, Cercone's numerous hairstyling awards hang on the wall. And in the rear of the shop sits one of the original barber's stations, sink and all.

"We kept that in here for a piece of history," says Scullion. 

Dust-covered bowling and baseball trophies sit on the mantle above the barber stations, and souvenir football helmets and other football memorabilia are scattered about. There are, it's clear, split allegiances to the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University.

"I'm the good guy, he's the evil one," says Scullion, pointing to his partner, barber Steve Pivarnik. "He's not Italian and he's a Penn State fan."

In response, Pivarnik points to the mantle, where a Wheaties box features Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. He then motions to a nearby Fruit Loops box -- on which Pivarnik pasted a photo of Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt. 

"He thought he was so cute," says Scullion. "I was going to put a Depends box up there and put [Paterno's] face on it."

Jokes aside, the barber shop is clearly a Bloomfield institution. "People come here for the banter," Scullion says. "It's a sanctuary for the guys."

It's also a place to store memories. Inside the shop's front window, a picture of the late Paul Sciullo -- one of three Pittsburgh Police officers slain in April 2009 -- serves as a tribute to the Bloomfield native. "I cut him three days before he died," says Scullion.  

Scullion hopes the shop will be around for years to come. His 19-year-old son will soon earn his barber's license and join the shop's hair-cutting crew. "It would nice for him to carry the torch."

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