Minerva Bakery | Restaurant Reviews | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

It's a half-baked theory, but one that might hold merit in the annals of early childhood development.

By the age of 7, at least in the 1950s and '60s, kids were divided into two camps -- those who liked vanilla frosting and those who preferred chocolate.

Few parents back then bought fancy bakery cakes, and Betty Crocker's options, although yummy, were limited. Kids adopted their favorite cake and frosting early on and rarely, if ever, changed sides. Little Timmy, who now has five grandchildren and a hinky prostate, still requests chocolate icing on chocolate cake for his birthday.

Well, dang it if Minerva Barkery, in McKeesport, doesn't blow that hypothesis out of the punch bowl.

The 85-year-old bakery, owned by the Monezis family, makes a frosting that will convert any chocolate-lover stuck in a rut.

The bakery calls it "marshmallow frosting" but it tastes nothing like the hallmark of campfire cuisine. The consistency is slightly thicker than that of whipped cream, and the frosting is pleasantly sweet. (You know how some icing finds even the smallest tooth cavity and makes you dash for the Orajel? Not like that.). At Minerva's, the bakers delicately slather it atop a moist, chocolate two-layer cake, and also use it as the filling.

It's a pretty cake, too. Sprinkled with pink and blue jimmies, it could have inspired a certain queen to say a certain line, had she really said it.

Of course, the marshmallow cake is only one of dozens of baked goods at Minerva. Most notably, the bakery is known for its homemade paska -- a sweet bread that is popular among Slavic Christians around Easter. Then, lines form in the early morning and snake around the block. The bakery can sell more than 3,000 paska loaves during Easter week.

Minerva also makes a burnt-almond torte that some say, given the age of the bakery, might pre-date Prantl's signature dessert. (Here's an excuse to try both.) The cases are filled with flirty pastries, wedding cakes, pies, donuts and bread. You are never rushed into making a slap-dash decision.

And if you think your mind's made up on chocolate frosting, you're nuts.


927 Fifth Ave., McKeesport
Closed Sunday & Monday

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