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Pittsburgh Public Market

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1600 block of Smallman St., Strip District
412-281-4505

 

If under a single roof you find yourself perusing elk andouille sausage; custom-designed handbags; chocolate-covered blueberries; monovarietal olive oil; Dead Sea-salt skin treatments; grass-fed beef; organic potatoes; pierogies and samosas to go; and half-gallon growlers of locally brewed beer, you must be at the Pittsburgh Public Market.

The market (www.pittsbughpublicmarket.org) opened Sept. 3 in the Strip District's Produce Terminal. It's the city's first indoor public market since the 1960s. The group Neighbors in the Strip created it to complement the Strip's already bustling food trade.

The 10,000-square-foot space holds four aisles of wooden partitions and counters. It's open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays year-round. Most of its 55 locally based vendors are open year-round too, though some are part time or seasonal.

On a recent Friday afternoon, La Prima Espresso was grinding coffee beans; European Desserts was offering German apple strudel and Romanian cheese pie; and barbecue and baklava were available an aisle's width apart.

While you could practically do your grocery shopping here in season -- there's even a Bagel Factory stall -- the emphasis is on specialties, from desserts to the goose bacon ($26 a pound) at Crested Duck Charcuterie.

"I had some guy for his Halloween party, he wanted two pigs' heads and two sheep heads," said Crested Duck executive chef and co-owner Kevin Costa.

"We get a lot of people that haven't heard of us before," said Nordy Siljander, who was filling reusable glass growlers with East End Brewery beers like RaspberRye.

Market manager Cindy Cassell says that since Oct. 1, the market's drawn an average of 4,000 customers each weekend to the leased space. But the market has limits: only a few small tables for seating and no cooking facilities on site.

Still, new vendors are planned, from the holiday-themed (gingerbread houses) to the Marshmallow Factory. 

A few vendors groused about light turnouts on Fridays -- and Steeler Sundays -- and Cassell says she's working on boosting lunch traffic. But other vendors voiced only enthusiasm. "We're having a blast," said Cosimano e Ferrari Olive Oil Co. owner Pat Cosmano, manning the Pittsburgh branch of his Rochester, N.Y.-based boutique oil-and-vinegar outfit. "Couldn't ask for more."

Cosmano likes the cross-traffic from produce vendors. He adds to it personally: "I end up spending a lot of money when I come down."

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