In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers' market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,500 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the Pepperoni Pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs or slicing it into bite-size nuggets. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including Frozen Lemonade Mixers.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex?s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. They also reach out to local communities through fundraising opportunities.
Back in 1994, the proprietors of Phillippi's traveled to Arnold, PA, to buy a 70-year-old secret pizza recipe from a mysterious couple known as Lefty and Mooney. Today, this exclusive formula is used with housemade dough and fresh, housemade sauce to create Birdville pizzas, named for Natrona Heights' former moniker. As special blends of cheeses bubble atop baking pies, cooks deftly grill up Black Angus burgers, stack hoagies with meatballs, and crisp ironically flightless buffalo wings in the trans-fat-free deep fryer.
Inspired by both local and international influences, the chefs of Cornerstone Restaurant & Bar prepare a menu of American cuisine that delights in seasonal ingredients and changes. Housed within a building that was originally a bank—complete with original vault doors—the restaurant has offered tastes of pan-seared scallops, served alongside barley risotto, pancetta, blood oranges and roasted brussels sprouts.
While they sit next to exposed-brick walls, diners can feast on risotto with wild mushrooms, duck confit, pomegranate seeds, and crispy parsnips. Lamb burgers are bedecked with goat cheese, arugula, and a balsamic-truffle vinaigrette, and roasted beets are thin sliced and served with fennel and arugula to make up a salad.
Accompanying these meals are a selection of beers, cocktails, and spirits. Domestic and imported beers reveal microbrew and seasonal tastes, and cocktails deliver everything from fruit-flavored vodkas to straight bourbons.
Inside a building that once sat vacant for several years, Barcelona at Rivers Edge transformed the empty space into a modern European restaurant that fuses flavors and styles of Spain, Portugal, France, and Italy. The revamped establishment merges international bites with views of the Allegheny River, which are especially impressive from Barcelona’s top-floor lounge and summertime rooftop deck. In addition to its extensive food spread and riverside vistas, Barcelona offers a wide range of wines and cocktails, including house-made sangria.
Tunes from a digital jukebox float throughout Somma Pizza, from the black-and-white-tile floors up to the sports jerseys hanging high above patrons’ heads. Next to walls painted Steelers black and gold, oven-baked hoagies and wraps jockey with burgers for table space. Shareable pizza pies—made fresh daily from hand-tossed dough—arrive topped with olives, hot-pepper rings, and sausage. TVs broadcast sports games, and a video-game room keeps thumbs busy, like a piano concerto composed for players wearing mittens.
Sister baking duo Kristin and Kadee grew up learning to bake their grandmother’s toothsome homemade cakes, cookies, and desserts, and they opened their own bakery to spread the sugar love. Their menu changes monthly, but customers always find treats made fresh daily such as almond torte, boston cream pie, and truly elaborate cupcakes. Coffee is also served in this quaint pink-and-brown painted bakery.