Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Battle of the Pinots Wine Tasting

We had our "Battle of the Pinots" summer wine tasting a few weeks ago on Thursday, June 18 and the event was a huge success. The Courtyard was packed with guests enjoying the perfect weather and wines brought by our Wine Host Milko Miladinov of Winebow Inc.

If you'd like to see more pictures of the event, follow this link. You can also watch our Host Milko Miladinov talk about some the wines we tasted that night! Just click the image below.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pittsburgh Transplants

Welcome to

One thing I've noticed in recent years is the surprising number of folks who have moved to Pittsburgh not because of a job transfer or family, but because, upon researching suitable locations, have found Pittsburgh to be an affordable place to live with plenty of cultural opportunities and a lively arts scene. We have two such transplants working as front desk associates, one from Boston (originally Michigan) and another from Maine (originally Uzbekhistan), and others who have rebounded from other locales, including New York City. One of our recently departed associates had moved four years ago from San Francisco.

This recent Post-Gazette story details the experience of former New Yorker Karen Lillis, a writer who moved to Pittsburgh from New York with her fiancee for a lower cost of living and better quality of life. New to Pittsburgh. To see the story, click here.

Pittsburghers are notorious for being hyper-critical of their own hometown. Sometimes it takes seeing your city through others' eyes to see just what you have right in front of you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Deutschtown.org Arrives!

The East Allegheny Community Council has unveiled its new website, Deutschtown.org. Deutschtown.org features a wealth of information on living, working, playing, shopping and worshiping in the Historic Deutschtown neighborhood that also hosts The Priory and Grand Hall, as well as our bakery the Priory Fine Pastries. The Deutschtown moniker reflects the historic name of the neighborhood, when it was settled in the 1820's through 1840's by German, Swiss and Austrian immigrants - immigrants' whose influence you still see today in the fabric of the neighborhood (see the Teutonia Mannerchor German Club, or the Eberhardt and Ober Brewery -- now the Penn Brewery, for instance). Deutschtown.org brings this historic neighborhood to life. Check it out for a bevy of information on our milieu!

Fresh Fridays All Summer in Allegheny Commons Park

Fresh Fridays at Allegheny Commons
The North Side Leadership Council and Charm Bracelet Project Fund are sponsoring "Fresh Fridays" every Friday evening this summer from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the North Side Farmer's Market, which is just a few blocks walk from The Priory, in Allegheny Commons Park (corner of East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue). The Fresh Fridays program will feature cooking demonstrations by chefs at North Side restaurants, such as Legends of the North Shore, as well as a plethora of kids' activities and live music. Nutritious snacks will be available for children. This is a new endeavor sponsored by the Charm Bracelet Project, a program spearheaded by the Pittsburgh Children's Museum aiming at connecting (physically and mentally) the various attractions and sites the North Side and North Shore have to offer. The first Fresh Fridays program begins on July 10, and looks like a lot of fun.

Palate Partners Wine Class Picnic August 18

Palate Partners and Dreadnought Wines, a well known wine merchant and caterer which has a lovely retail storefront on Penn Avenue in the Strip District (no wine is sold there though - they have to ship it to a state store like everyone else unfortunately), is hosting a wine picnic and tasting in our Courtyard on Tuesday, August 18th, from 6:00 - 8:00 PM. The menu will feature Veal Tornado, Grilled Salad, a Cold Soup, Dessert and more, accompanied by two white and two red wines from Dreadnought's cellars. "Picnic At The Priory" will be a great summer break!
Pre-paid reservations of $58 per person are required. Limited to 50 people. Claim your own corner of the blanket by calling (412) 391-8502 or by clicking below.
Ants not included.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Restaurant - Pangea Shadyside

Pangea Restaurant - Shadyside

I visited Pangea restaurant in Shadyside for the first time last week, and had a really wonderful meal. Pangea features a pan Asian cuisine. I had a seared Gulf shrimp over fettucine with heirloom tomatoes, garlic white wine, asiago red onion and pete spinach, while my companions had some delicious honey & ancho rubbed Atlantic salmon and pork Tandoori. All were excellent -- well prepared, with delicate, balanced flavors.

The bar has a nice vibe - cool and dark with a good selection of microbrews. Check here for Pangea's menu.

Pangea is located just off of Walnut Street, the main business street in Shadyside, on Bellfonte Avenue. It's in the lower level of a storefront, so you may need to look a bit.

Owner and Chef Ron DeLuca has done a very careful job with food preparation and with the ambience and service. (That's him in the white chef's coat with a few members of Skal, the international association for travel and tourism professionals)

An unhappy postscript is that Pangea had to close temporarily, just one day after I visited. The terrible thunderstorms that hit on the evening of June 17 flooded the restaurant. We'll keep you posted on their progress.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pittsburgh in Top 20 Strongest City Economies in U.S.

Pittsburgh placed number 18 in a Brookings Institution survey of strongest local economies nationwide. San Antonio, TX took the top spot, but Pittsburgh's top 20 placement ahead of many "hot" cities, such as Seattle, San Francisco, Charlotte, Phoenix, Atlanta and Boston. Experts attributed Pittsburgh's high placement to its strong medical/hospital industry and educational institutions. For a story from the Post-Gazette concerning the rankings, click here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Oakmont Scores U.S. Open Again!

Oakmont Country Club, about 15 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, will be the site of the 2016 U.S. Golf Open. Oakmont last hosted in the event in 2007, and the close proximity of the two events is remarkable. This is the ninth time Oakmont has hosted the Open, and the finishes of the last two (2007 and 1994) are as exciting a spectacle as you are likely to see. As an attendee at two rounds of the Open in 2007, I can state with authority that it is a world class event and one that is a lot of fun to experience. It is remarkable how close you are to the golfers, even with a general admission pass -- it its sort of like having courtside seats to the Lakers championship on a Yugo budget. With the Open on its way, two Steeler playoff rounds locally (and the Super Bowl), and the Stanley Cup finals having just occured, all we need are a couple of World Series runs by the Pirates to keep things hopping. (Though this may stop the Earth from spinning on its axis)

For more information on the Oakmont U.S. Open annoucement, click here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Strip! Magazine Covers The Priory Hotel

The Strip! Magazine, a local lifestyle publication focusing on Pittsburgh's Strip District, published an article on The Priory in its most recent issue. The article focuses on how our family-owned business was built, and how we have established a strong connection with the Strip District from our nearby Deutschtown location. In particular, our Discover the Strip Package couples an overnight stay at The Priory with discount coupons to interesting Strip District boutiques, tickets to the Heinz History Center and dinner at a Strip District Restaurant.

The Strip District, for the uninitiated, is Pittsburgh's wholesale food district, and is the place to go for fresh seafood, produce and meats. Over the years, it has developed a lively retail and restaurant scene, as well as a core of nightlife spots. The Strip is home to, for instance, the famous Primanti Brothers restaurant, whose sandwich features cole slaw and french fries in addition to meat and cheese. A Saturday morning spent at the Strip is a lively experience, and one you won't soon forget.

A good source of information on all things Strip District is the Neighbors in the Strip website -- it is well worth a visit. Becky Rodgers, Executive Director, and Cindy Cassell, webmaster, do a fabulous job of bringing many skeins of information into one unique web spot.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We're No. 1!

Economist Magazine Ranks Pittsburgh as the Most Liveable City in the United States

The Economist Magazine, the well respected U.K. newsweekly, recently ranked Pittsburgh No. 1 in "livability" among American cities and number 29 worldwide. This should come as no surprise to visitors to the city, who continue to be astounded by the cultural and other amenties that this mid-size former "Hell with the Lid Off" City has to offer. If you have not been to visit us, you're in for a treat if you do! Read about the Economist's rankings here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Wedding Packages at Pittsburgh's Grand Hall

The Grand Hall's New
Platinum and Gold

We are pleased to announce two new wedding packages at the Grand Hall, the Gold Package and Platinum Package. Both packages feature upscaled bar and wine, and white glove service, all paired with a variety of aesthetic touches -- such as an uplighting package which emphasizes the Grand Hall's spectacular columns to floor length tablecloths and chair covers --to create truly spectacular wedding receptions. The Platinum Package, in addition to the additional accoutrements, features a specially designed menu by our executive chefs Mike Henney and Pete Phillipy, featuring six fabulous courses. It is a memorable menu, and one which will set events at the Grand Hall well apart from events at other venues!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wine Tasting on June 18

Don't forget about our upcoming wine tasting in our courtyard on June 18, "Battle of the Pinots" with our wine host, Milko Miladinov. The event offers four "pinot" grape-based wines and hearty hors d'oeuvres courtesy Tickets are $45.00 apiece, and can be purchased in advance by calling us at 412 323-9394 or by e-mail through gene@thepriory.com. Our first event on May 21 was exceptionally well received, so don't put off joining us! Click below to hear me speak about this event!

New Penguin Point Exhibit at Aviary is Worth a Look

For a cool way to spend a couple of hours, the National Aviary offers a one of a kind experience for kids and adults. In its two large exhibit halls, you can interact with free flying birds from around the world. But what is really interesting is the Aviary's brand new exhibit, Penguin Point. Penguin Point features the Aviary's African penguins in a rocky habitat with many points for viewing the penguins up close. The highlight is a series of portholes (you have to crawl a bit to get to it, so don't wear a business suit) which you can poke your head through and see the penguins just inches away. There's not an exhibit like it in the entire nation. I went with the kids for the opening and they were enthralled - it's well worth a trip.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Steve Luncinski @ North Side/ North Shore Chamber Gala

Steve Luncinski

Here are three photos of Steve Luncinski, two with my wife Suzanne, at the North Side/ North Shore Chamber of Commerce Gala in December 2008. Steve Luncinski staked his claim to fame on the beloved Saturday late night program "Chiller Theater," hosted by "Chilly Billy" Cardille from the late 1960's to mid-1980's. Steve, who was a little person, played "Stefan the Castle Prankster" on the program. Among Chilly Billy's supporting cast, Stefan was a standout, making numerous personal appearances over the years. (During the late 1970's Chiller Theater was so popular in Pittsburgh that it preempted NBC's Saturday Night Live).
This was an especially poignant meeting because Suzanne and I have two 13 year old sons, Max and Will, who are little people. Steve's example as a performer and, later, as a businessman, provided just the example that young LP's need that being small in stature need not hold you back from achieving success. Steve unfortunately passed away suddenly about three weeks after these pictures were taken, at the age of 52.
Thanks to Jill McGlothlin for these wonderful photos.

Priory Courtyard June Wine Tasting

Keep in mind our next wine tasting in our garden courtyard on June 18: Start time is a little later on this one - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The theme this time is "Battle of the Pinots," narrated by our wine host Milko Miladinov of Winebow, Inc. As always, we feature music and hors d'oeuvres from our chefs Pete Phillipy and Mike Henney. It should be a blast. Contact us at 412 323-9394 and ask for Gene Lucente, or contact Gene at gene@thepriory.com for more information or for tickets. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Priory Hotel Packages for Summer 2009


The Priory Hotel this week has announced two new packages for the Summer of 2009 designed to appeal to the leisure traveler looking for something a little different in Pittsburgh. The Staycation Package is a two day minumum package featuring tickets to four Pittsburgh attractions (Carnegie Museum, National Aviary, Warhol Museum, etc.), a cruise on the Gateway Clipper or Just Ducky Tours, and a special snack basket in your room at check in. The rate for this package is $219 per night plus tax (additional nights may be purchased at a lower rate).

The Wine Tasting Package offers two tickets to one of our upcoming Priory Courtyard Wine Tastings (June 18, July 16, August 20, and September 17) ($45 per ticket retail value) and a stay for two in one of The Priory's well-appointed standard rooms. The rate for the Wine Tasing Package is $209 plus tax.