Housed inside the Old B&O Train Station, Rust Belt brews nine craft beers, with a handful more scheduled for release early next year. Each Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., fans of yeast and hops can gather 'round head brewer Lee Gidley as he guides them on a tour of the brewery, showing them equipment, explaining the brewing process, and doling out samples of the luscious liquid gold. When the half-hour tour concludes, everyone receives a commemorative Rust Belt Brewery T-shirt, a souvenir pint glass, and a jolly memory to overtake the brain space currently inhabited by knowledge of the Gigli plot. If the tour inspires a powerful thirst for more, Rust Belt sells growlers of their guzzleables to take home, and the neighboring Boxcar Lounge has Rust Belt on tap.
WineStyles allows guests to imbibe a variety of distinct wine blends in a rustic environment designed to resemble an Old World wine cellar. Each reservation treats a pair of tasters to an ever-changing sampler of six carefully selected wines from vineyards all over the globe. In the store’s friendly atmosphere, taste buds can mingle with an array of intriguing flavor profiles that can be chattered about later while the rest of the mouth is busy whistling show tunes. If a particular varietal catches customers' eyes, they need only spill a few drops on their shirt, and the expert staff will happily sniff out a corresponding bottle for purchase.
Tarsitano's Artisan Winery used to be a dairy farm. "But I would rather squeeze grapes than cows, so I started a winery," Ken Tarsitano says. This isn't the only reason Ken turned his 17 acres—which has been in his family for five generations—into a vineyard. His grandfather, Michael Tarsitano, "always had something bubbling away in his cellar," and it was Grandpa's ability to transform elderberries, apples, and even dandelions into wine that inspired Ken.
Today, Ken is the owner, vineyard manager, and winemaker at his eponymous winery and vineyard, whose 25 grape varieties have been organic since its 1998 inception. Wine isn't the only thing visitors dine on here: winery goers savor flatbreads and cheese plates. Tarsitano's Artisan Winery even hosts events, such as moon-viewing parties, where guests gather to launch sky lanterns in the light of a waxing moon.
A savory scent and alluring sizzle waft through the air at The Wine & Walleye Festival, an annual event founded in 2008; it comes from the vendors frying filets of perch and walleye from Lake Erie. Representatives from local wineries pour samples of their reds and whites, and a roster of local artists and musicians showcase the culture of Ashtabula County. Festival-goers can also participate in a 5K road race, cast their lines for a fishing tournament, or take in the sights of a classic car show and a boat parade on the Ashtabula River.
Owner and chef Omar Mediouni imbues La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar's menu of traditional Spanish and Moroccan small plates and entrees with local ingredients and an appetite for culinary fusion that, according to Pittsburgh City Paper, "combines sophistication and comfort, authenticity and simplicity." Flagpole-addicted tongues warm up with a choice of 16 hot tapas, including the chorizo catalan's spicy sautéed sausage and spinach in a red-wine reduction ($10), and tomatoes, sweet pepper, and eggplant form the base of a duo of Moroccan dips ($8 each). Larger entrees ($16–$28) sneak garbanzo beans, chicken, lamb, and eggplant into piles of couscous or saffron paella rice like parents tucking Easter eggs into an egg carton.
Nestled within a brick house along a neighborhood street in Shadyside, La Casa Tapas and Wine Bar greets springtime by opening its patio to warm breezes and showers of cupid arrows. Inside, a hanging Spanish guitar, lanterns lit by candles, and the wide grin of a bright red hearth contribute to a cozy, eclectic spirit.