You won't find Marsha Dugan Kolbe and Gail Nesbitt Jones huffing and puffing at Curves on a Saturday afternoon. Their passion for Pittsburgh food outweighs their desire for a size-four skirt.
The authors of Where We Like to Eat n 'At: Celebrating Pittsburgh's Neighborhoods, a recent book that chronicles their gastronomic gadabouts, spend as much free time as two mothers can sitting across from each other in local restaurants. Ask them where to find all kinds of food throughout the city and, like a word-association test, they rapidly spit out restaurants and neighborhoods.
Stuffed grape leaves? "Well, that would be St. Nicholas's Food Festival in Oakland, bar none," says Nesbitt Jones. Best fish and chips? "Armand's in Bloomfield," says Dugan Kolbe. Corned beef? Big Jim's in the Run, in Lower Greenfield. Bagels? The Bagel Factory, in Shadyside. It goes on.
The gals focus on eateries that have firmly planted neighborhood roots, leaving others to review hip, upscale spots that serve "pierogies with a twist."
"We now have some of the more trendy things, but you don't have to go too far to find pierogies and kielbassi and hummus and vodka pizza, grilled pecan rolls, and on and on," explains Nesbitt Jones. "We just wanted people to be aware of all of the great choices."
Their belief in tradition drove them down the hard-bound path instead of joining Pittsburgh's cyber food scene.
"Blogs are great, but I do think, honestly, that a book is more fun," said Nesbitt Jones. "Besides, not everyone who has bought the book even knows what a blog is. And not everyone has access to a computer. I rest my case."
Available at local bookstore, the $10 purse-sized book, illustrated by Lani Challburg Walker, features 57 locations (the number is intentional). All of the restaurants and bars included in the book were recommended by others. Part of the "mystique" of the book, Nesbitt Jones says, is that the women chose not to select the places they'd feature. As a result, "we got even more of a sense of the pride and the interest that Pittsburghers have in their city."
Since the book's publication, the pair has visited 38 more restaurants, and they hint at a second book. Though Volume 2 isn't a certainty, Nesbitt Jones can't help but go on.
"I think I'll start with Fiori's Pizza on West Liberty."
For more info, see: www.eatnat.com.