Interview: Pittsburgh for dog lovers, restaurant goers, and, oh yea, Cowboys fans

Vanessa and I first met while working at Camp Bow Wow (doggie daycare and boarding), and her and her fiancé Matt have become some of my dearest friends here. Although they are both not originally from Pittsburgh, they’ve settled into life here easily and love exploring the city, especially with their shih tzu, Wesley. Vanessa’s new line of work means they’ll eventually be moving out-of-state but they’ve had some great memories here in Pittsburgh and hopefully will visit often after they leave! They answered a few questions about Pittsburgh and what they love about it, plus included a few pictures from their Facebooks of them doing “Pittsburghy” things.

Matt and Vanessa attend Pup Night at PNC Park for a Pirates game with their dog, Wesley.

Matt and Vanessa attend Pup Night at PNC Park for a Pirates game with their dog, Wesley.

Tell me a little about your background.

Matt – I’m originally from Lancaster (Lan-KISS-ter), Pennsylvania and came to Pittsburgh to go to Pitt to study Finance. I lived in Oakland during school and now live in the North Side with Vanessa. I currently work at BNY Mellon in the Corporate Actions department and process various corporate events as they occur for our clients. Vanessa and I started a pet tag engraving business a few years ago which is a secondary job for each of us (check it out at

Vanessa – I grew up about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh in the small town of Belle Vernon, and I made the move up to Oakland to study Neuroscience at Pitt. Once we finished school, Matt and I moved to the North Side and have been here for about two and a half years. I decided to go back to school for Air Traffic Control, which I just finished up this past August and am now waiting on a government job. Currently I work at Pittsburgh International Airport deicing airplanes (you know, spraying them with a glycol solution before they take off in the wintertime) as well as maintaining our pet tag engraving business that Matt mentioned. When we’re not working, we like to explore the city with friends, try out new restaurants, and go places with our dog, Wesley.

Matt and Vanessa in one of the planes Vanessa flew for her Air Traffic Control program.

In one of the planes Vanessa flew during her Air Traffic Control program.

What do you like most about Pittsburgh? Least?

Vanessa – One of the things I like the most about Pittsburgh is how its neighborhoods are set up. Downtown has a large city feel with its towering skyscrapers & daily hustle and bustle, but the city itself is actually pretty small and compact. You can literally walk from one side of downtown to the other in almost no time. Areas like the Strip District, Oakland, South Side, North Side, Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, etc are all not far from downtown, and each neighborhood offers its own unique feel. It’s nice being able to visit Pittsburgh’s different neighborhoods in the same day without having to drive far. And that brings me to what I like least about Pittsburgh – driving. I love to drive, but Pittsburgh is known for its terrible traffic (specifically 376). People around here seem to be “tunnel challenged” so the Squirrel Hill tunnel & Liberty tubes always create a huge backup. There are also a lot of potholes and never-ending road construction.

Matt – I love the architecture: the bridges, PPG Place, The US Steel Building, PNC Park (who plays there?), the Casino, the Cathedral of Learning, I could keep going. My least favorite thing about Pittsburgh is the Parking Authority and parking in general.

Enjoying an Incubus concert outdoors at Stage AE in Pittsburgh's North Shore.

Enjoying an Incubus concert outdoors at Stage AE in Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

What are your favorite things to do in Pittsburgh?

Matt – I really enjoy the Pittsburgh music scene which continues to draw better and better acts. I love going to Market Square during my lunch breaks; there always seems to be something interesting happening. I also enjoy going to different Pittsburgh area parks on nice days.

Vanessa – I love to try out new restaurants & bars (Groupon has been a great tool for finding new restaurants & getting great discounts!). I also enjoy strolling through the Strip District, catching some rays at Sandcastle Waterpark in the summer, & spending time outdoors with our dog. Earlier this year we discovered Riverview Dog Park, which is a hidden gem behind the Pittsburgh Observatory, and we find ourselves there a lot. If you have a dog, it’s a great place to spend an evening with lots of other people and their dogs!

Don't let that face fool you-- Wesley loves exploring the city parks!

Don’t let that face fool you– Wesley loves exploring the city parks!

What are your favorites places to eat in Pittsburgh? Drink? Go out at night?

Vanessa – Some of my favorite places to eat around here (and there are LOTS!) are Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, DiBella’s Subs, Lindo’s, Primanti Bros, Sushi Boat, Antoons, Fatheads, Taj Mahal.. the list goes on and on. I enjoy going out at night to Pittsburgh’s South Side and visiting the various bars along that strip (some favorites that come to mind are the Rowdy Buck, Locals, & Mario’s). I also like to visit the River’s Casino from time to time.

Matt – I like to eat at Nicky’s Thai, Mix Stirs, Monterey Bay, Madonna’s, Taiwan Café, and many more. I like going out to various bars in the South Side but can’t always remember their names. I also enjoy hanging out at friend’s places.

What is your favorite neighborhood in Pittsburgh and why?

Matt – My favorite neighborhood in Pittsburgh is Oakland because it is the first one I knew and I have a lot of good memories there including meeting my fiancé Vanessa!

Vanessa – I could say my favorite neighborhood in Pittsburgh is Oakland for the same reasons as Matt, but for a little variation I will go with the North Side because it’s where I live now, and I love it here. While Pittsburgh’s North Side is sometimes known for its somewhat “shady” areas, there are also some very nice areas here. I can honestly say that I have never felt unsafe living here. I think Pittsburgh’s North Side is turning into a beautiful part of this city, and I’d love to see how far it’s come in a few more years.

Wesley and his friend Fleury playing hard at Riverview Dog Park in the North Side.

Wesley and his friend Fleury playing hard at Riverview Dog Park in the North Side. Photo by Kent Noble

Matt- What’s it like being a Cowboys fan in Steelers country?

Other than the death stares I get when walking downtown wearing my jersey, it’s not that bad. The Cowboys haven’t been very good for a while now so I don’t think Steelers fans feel threatened. At work, I am constantly defending Tony Romo (I think Steelers fans are jealous). [Editor’s note: HAHAHAHA]

A photo Vanessa took of Pittsburgh while flying for her Air Traffic Control program.

A photo Vanessa took of Pittsburgh while flying for her Air Traffic Control program.

Describe your perfect day in Pittsburgh from start to finish.

Matt – Wake up and watch the sunrise on Mt. Washington then head down the incline and go into the Strip to enjoy breakfast and coffee while walking around the shops. Next, stop by the Furry convention [?!] and then head out kayaking on the river. After kayaking, grab some sustenance at Primanti’s and then head to Soldiers and Sailors to lie down before the food coma sets in. After I awake, travel to the North Side for a show at Stage AE and then back home to my warm cozy bed.

Vanessa – My perfect day in Pittsburgh would begin by sleeping in a little and then going out to breakfast somewhere (I’d say Lindo’s because their breakfast is awesome, but I’d prefer to try somewhere new). After breakfast, I would spend the afternoon out on a boat on the river with some friends & some brews. Once evening starts setting in, we’d get dressed up and go out to eat somewhere fancy on Mt. Washington, and then maybe go catch a show downtown at the Benedum before heading home.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s