In 1983, Gwen Willhite stumbled upon a brilliant idea. She decided to combine the beauty of a bouquet with scrumptious cookies. Thanks to her artistic eye and tasty recipes, her venture—Cookies by Design—proved to be a success. Now, 30 years later, the company still fills bellies with artful, edible gifts, such as holiday-themed cookie bouquets, birthday cookie-cakes, and assorted trays of cookies to celebrate special events, such as graduations and Samhain.
Shouf’s Cafe recently earned a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Reader’s Choice award for the Best Ethnic Restaurant of 2012. That’s thanks to the mouthwatering, accessible Lebanese cuisine that Tony Moses and his team of chefs have created here since 2006. They cook up lamb kebabs, moussaka, and slow-cooked pork shank, as well as entrees with influences from across the Mediterranean, such as filet mignon and spinach pie. The cross-cultural menu is augmented by hearty breakfast selections such as buttermilk pancakes and omelets. You can pair up your Mediterranean feast with a glass of wine or a coffee drink and cap off the meal with housemade baklava, the Death by Chocolate cake, or a eulogy for a misplaced napkin.
The chocolate artisans at Sinful Sweets Chocolate Company make fresh treats each day, using premium cocoa beans, buttermilk, and other high-quality ingredients. Their sweets range from indulgent champagne truffles and bourbon-bacon caramel chocolate squares to peppermint bark and bacon-peanut butter s?mores. The hand-dipped chocolates don?t contain unnatural flavors or preservatives, yielding delightful morsels that are always fresh, characteristically less sweet, and feature unique textures.
The Chocolate Moose brings the senses to life with imported and domestic truffles such as sea salt caramels and white chocolate capuchin. Novelty molded chocolates transform snack time into a game and custom-colored M&M's help you align your sweets with your favorite sports team. While you're inhaling the shop's exotic chocolate fumes, grab a stack of Lindt and Cote d'Or candy bars or fill a bag with more than 250 bulk candies including jelly beans, cordials, and Australian licorice.
When a hot summer hit in 1984, Bob Tumolo wanted to help his neighbors cool down. But instead of crafting traditional ice cream or sticking a straw into a fire hydrant, he decided to formulate his own recipes for italian ice, using fresh fruit to craft each batch. Ices in a wide range of flavors filled chilly cases at the original Rita’s Ice shop, and those recipes still inform the treats at franchises across the country.
Larry and Steve, owners of Rita's Ice of Squirrel Hill, have been whipping up those icy treats for the past 10 years, drawing on ingredients such as key limes and root beer to create certified-kosher italian ice. Each batch is served within 36 hours of its creation, ensuring every cup of ice is fresh and hasn’t been sitting around in an Eskimo’s pocket for the last week. The shop also offers up scoops of creamy frozen custard customized with mix-ins such as M&Ms, Nerds, and Reese’s Pieces or layer the custard with italian ice to create the store’s famous gelati.
Oh Yeah! Ice Cream & Coffee encourages you to eat ice cream for breakfast. If you're a traditionalist, the shop will even slide a homemade waffle under the creamy scoops, though it's still your responsibility to hire bluebirds to sing on your shoulder while you eat. And if that doesn't cut it, visitors can customize their treats with nearly 100 different toppings, from classic candy and granola to fresh ginger and wasabi peas.
As unique as Oh Yeah!'s ice cream creations might seem, the shop's interior takes things to another level: every inch of space is covered by things that are edible, drinkable, readable, or watchable. In addition to ice cream, guests can dip into fat-free sorbets and sip on organic, free-trade coffees while kicking back around the shop's mismatched tables and chairs. The boutique eatery also features a library full of donated books, and hosts weekly movie nights and frequent debates?yes, debates?about environmental and social topics.