Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
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.
Style Envy's bright red couch, festooned with zebra pillows, sets the salon's tone as stylists prepare to perform hair, waxing, and tanning services. The beauty specialists lead guests on the path to hairdo reconstruction with a menu of salon services, which includes hair-coloring treatments that restore luster to locks with Scruples products and Blazing highlights. Blazing's one-step, bleach-free process achieves up to seven levels of highlights when applied to both natural hues and color-treated hair, and the stylists use a roster of 19 shades to achieve anyone’s desired color. They can also render an artfully crafted haircut and style to form a more tasteful head ornament than a diamond-studded beer helmet, in addition to bedazzling clients' domes with colorful extensions. Style Envy's tanning beds perk up bodies below the hairline and deepen skin tone in private rooms coated with playful bubblegum-pink, sky-blue, and red hues.
Guardian Storage offers customers a variety of indoor and outdoor storage units that range in size from 5'x5' to 20'x30'. Along with its storage space at locations in Pennsylvania and Colorado, the company offers patrons complimentary use of its carts and dollies and has various packing and moving supplies available for purchase. With the help of a LEED-accredited architect, the facilities implement environmentally conscious practices that include building storage units with partially recycled steel and using heat-reflecting roofs capable of tanning birds' pale underbellies.
Large silver letters spelling Aveda march down a patterned wall, announcing the spa’s dedication to natural ingredients and aromatic botanicals. Multihued walls and verdant plants surround chairs as the staff performs hair coloring, nailcare, and spa treatments. The spa also offers off-site wellness coaching, proven more effective than hearing an ear-piercing whistle every time one reaches for a donut. Stylists and aestheticians stretch their hours until 8 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate busy clients, who also get incentives, such as 15% off Aveda products in return for donating haircare items to charity.
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.