Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bloomfield - Pittsburgh's Little Italy, but how much longer?

DB~ and I have been spending some time in Bloomfield lately. It is the site of the church where we will be getting married 3 weeks from today (eye twitching ever so slightly..jk!) and it is where her parents grew up together. It holds a special place in the DB~ clan's heart.

When you enter into Bloomfield, you are greeted by a sign that reads "Pittsburgh's Little Italy". But when you cast your eyes to the right, you see the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern with a Polish Eagle flag painted on the side of the building and Polish Night Thursdays advertised.

There was a time when Bloomfield was a completely homogenized enclave of nearly 100% Italians, I'm sure. Even the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern aside there are other influences now penetrating the neighborhood. There's the Wai Wai Cafe restaurant of fine Chinese food, with a sushi place being built next door. There's a Starbucks, which is universal in heritage, I suppose.

The neighborhood has Blacks, Asians, Latinos, and a whole host of "mutts" from mixed heritages nowadays. Not everyone's last name ends in a vowel. There's nothing wrong with any of that, of course, but you have to wonder how much longer the old staples like Del's, The Pleasure Bar, Alexander's, and d'Amicos will still be there. There's a new place called Stagioni in the neighborhood, but it is gourmet Italian, not the true red sauce on a plate like these other places.

Bloomfield is a neighborhood in transition, partly because of pressures applied by the other neighborhoods around it. Shadyside is relatively stable and preppy still, with CMU backboning many of its residents. But Lawrenceville is in a huge upheaval of re-development, both due to Children's Hospital and the re-invention of Butler Street with great restaurants like Piccolo Forno, Round Corner, and Tamari. East Liberty has been well discussed on this blog, due to its restaurants, but I probably haven't detailed the commercial side of things as well as I should have. The new Target will join Whole Foods, Home Depot, and Bakery Square in leading the revival of this once-thriving "2nd Downtown".

And there sits Bloomfield. There are still plenty of tiny Italian grandmas shopping at Groceria Italiana for their plum tomatoes, basil, garlic, and oregano to make Sunday sauce, but they are shopping next to a more diverse clientele than in years past. That's encouraging, but also a little bit sad at the same time.

No comments:

Post a Comment