In the past three years, local legend Rick Sebak has lost some weight—about 150 pounds—and has not been eating many sweets. But when TABLE Editor-in-Chief Keith Recker asked if he might “list some sweet treats in Pittsburgh” for this issue, he thought he might allow himself to get reacquainted with some fantastic local specialties. Avoiding overindulgence, it’s been a glorious rationalization for tasting both old favorites, and some new treats, too.

Sweet Treats and Desserts in Pittsburgh

Coconut Cream Pie

Grant Bar & Restaurant

114 Grant Ave, Millvale

I had my first slice in 2013 when I was putting together a TV program called The Joys Of Millvale. Several people recommended the pies at a classic local pub where the food and the desserts were lovingly prepared from scratch. Originally perfected by the late, great chef Frank Ruzomberka, whose parents started this classic neighborhood spot in 1933, the pie is still a reason to stop. Amazing texture. Toasted coconut in the body and on top. Frank always bragged, “No flavorings.” Thin, almost cracker-like crust. Simple and sublime.

A slice of coconut cream pie from a sweet treat place in Pittsburgh sits in front of the whole pie, with a stack of plates and forks to the left and a spatula in front of the plate.

Grant Bar & Restaurant’s Coconut Cream Pie.

Pasticiotti

Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop

4209 William Penn Hwy, Monroeville

I might have never stopped at Moio’s bakery if my friend and cameraman Frank Caloiero hadn’t recommended it. He grew up around Monroeville and he learned to love their lemony Italian pastries called pasticciotti (say it like “pasta-choaty”) as a boy. They are like a tiny mini-pie with a rich lemon filling. Small but dense and delicious. While there, I saw a card that said “CARROT CAKE: Our #1 seller” and I had to splurge on that, too. My favorite kind of cake, rich with raisins. Excellent icing. Good stuff. Two reasons to stop.

Elephant Ears

Minerva Bakery

927 Fifth Ave, McKeesport

These plate-sized cinnamon pastries are my favorite items from this classic neighborhood bakery that I featured in a national PBS documentary special back in 2015. Some people think of them as a fair food, like funnel cakes, but a bit of googling will tell you that they’re probably closely related to French palmiers. These nutty, flat-but-thick rounds of dough are sugary on top, caramelized on the bottom and remarkably seductive. You may also be seduced by breads, buns, and cookies while you’re there.

Apple Fritters

Paddy Cake Bakery

4763 Liberty Ave, Bloomfield

I couldn’t recall what it was that used to make me stop regularly in Bloomfield until I walked into Paddy Cake Bakery and saw the tray of apple fritters. They are big, rustic blobs of fried dough with chunks of apples throughout, and a sugary glaze glistening on top. I broke down and got two. They are still a magnificent, sinful sort of breakfast.

Burnt Almond Torte

Prantl’s

Several locations

After “Keith the Diet-Wrecker” mentioned Burnt Almond Torte from Prantl’s in Shadyside, I stopped by for the famous local cake that I remember as a requirement at all WQED birthday celebrations. Rather than a whole cake, I chose the smaller Toasted Almond Jr. pastry. It features pastry cream rather than the torte’s original custard layer, but it’s not too shabby. The story of Henry Prantl creating the first one in 1970 (as a way to use more almonds!) and both local and national recognitions (The Huffington Post has called it “the best cake in America”) make it a world-class specialty.

Milk-Chocolate-Covered Caramels with Sea Salt & Toffee

Dorothy’s Candies

1228 Long Run Rd, White Oak

While I was in Magee Hospital for seven weeks in 2018, recovering from a ruptured quadricep tendon, many people brought me food and treats. The bag of sweets delivered by Marlene Leshnock Druskin from Dorothy’s along with radio host Nan Cohen and her husband Mel, was an incredible surprise. The caramels, smooth and chewy with crunchy toffee and salt on top, impressed me the most. They are obviously made by hand, so dense you need to eat them slowly, savoring every bite.

Vegan Cranberry Walnut Cookies

Five Points Bakery

6520 Wilkins Ave, Squirrel Hill

When I began a WQED podcast called Gumbands in 2023, I brought mixed-dozen bags of cookies from Five Points Bakery to interview sessions. I soon saw that everybody really wanted just these specific treats. Their crunchy exterior and moist, oatmeal-y middle, full of walnut pieces and chewy cranberries throughout, satisfy the desire for a big cookie with lots of textures and ingredients.

A lattice baked pie from a sweet treat eatery in Pittsburgh. Behind the pie sits two champagne glasses and a flower display in pink.

Sand Hill Berries Farm’s Raspberry Pie.

 

Raspberry and Blackberry Pies

Sand Hill Berries Farm

304 Deerfield Rd, Mount Pleasant

I thought this of sweet treats in Pittsburgh should start and end with pie, so I drove south and east to Sand Hill Berries Farm. I often used to buy pies from these folks at various farmers’ markets during warmer months, but I was happy to find that their on-the-farm market is open year-round. Calling ahead, I scored a small combo-berry beauty (known as a “Rhythm & Blues”) and a large red raspberry (which some say is their specialty.) I topped them with Dave & Andy’s ice cream because a fresh berry pie a la mode is a brilliant way to end a meal or a list of sweet treats!

Story by Rick Sebak / Styling by Anna Franklin / Photography by Dave Bryce

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