Whet your appetite for books with Shannon Daly’s new tome: Pittsburgh Food Crawls

Interviewed by Kristy Locklin
Mount Washington resident Shannon Daly just penned a book her fellow yinzers are bound to devour in one sitting. “Pittsburgh Food Crawls: Touring the Neighborhoods One Bite and Libation at a Time,” is a culinary love letter to the Steel City. We talked to the author, who dished on all the hot plates and cool drinks this town has to offer:

Have you always been a foodie?
I’ve always loved eating delicious food and I enjoyed following different food accounts and chefs on Instagram. It wasn’t until I discovered the account New Fork City that I completely fell in love with how delicious food could look in photos.

Was there someone — a family member, a chef, a certain dish — that cultivated your love of good food?
The Food Network was always on growing up so I have a special place in my heart for the OG chefs, I have a vivid memory watching Martha Stewert work with fondant on a three-tiered wedding cake and I’ve never been more mesmerized in my life. Not to sound too dramatic.

Do you have a favorite food or is your palate always changing?
I pretty much love any kind of food! Especially dishes that are heavy on the dairy, a.k.a. cheese. My palate has changed in the sense that I have become less picky throughout my years but if I could change one thing, it would be to actually enjoy Thai food. I truly feel like I am the only one who is not a fan of noodles!

What is your background in the restaurant industry?
Though I’ve never worked in a restaurant, my career focus has always revolved around hospitality and event planning. I have been fortunate enough to work closely with many local chefs and restaurants.

Why did you decide to write this book?
Shortly after I started writing for Made in PGH, the idea of writing my own book became a dream. When I was approached by the publishing company to write this book the obvious answer was yes!

How long did it take to do your research?
I began the writing process in 2018. I already knew of so many spots in Pittsburgh, but I also knew I had a lot of ground to cover. For well over a year, I was exploring new neighborhoods and discovering some of my now-favorite restaurants and bars.

What’s a surprising thing you learned about Pittsburgh’s culinary scene?
I’d have to say I am pleasantly surprised with how many restaurants incorporate sustainability and local resources in their brick-and-mortars.

What are some standout eateries or chefs?
My favorite eateries and chefs change often. Just like the Pittsburgh food scene! Right now, my favorite eateries include, Bar Marco in The Strip, Mediterra Cafe in Sewickley, (I know it’s a hike, but it’s worth it) and Carson Street Deli of South Side.

Has the local scene plateaued or is it just taking off?

I don’t think the Pittsburgh food scene will ever plateau. When I hear people say “The food scene is up and coming,” I think, hello it’s here and it’s been here and it will just keep getting better.

Some people are stuck in a dining rut. They eat at chain restaurants and won’t try something new. How do you convince picky eaters to expand their horizons?
Chain restaurants cause me pain. Kidding … kind of. I’m definitely not denying that I love a good Olive Garden session once in a while. I think if you want to try to get someone out of their comfort zone, head to a casual restaurant that serves their favorite type of food.

What are your thoughts on famous Pittsburgh food: salads with fries on top, chipped ham, Primanti sandwiches?
Fries on my salad? Absolutely. Chipped ham? All-day, every day. Primanti’s? Obviously, a classic and everyone should experience these iconic sandwiches.

When people ask you for a restaurant recommendation, are you capable of remembering one spot you’ve dined at?
Absolutely. I remember the good, the bad and the ugly. I will rave about a restaurant when the food is amazing and the service is even better. I’m a service snob, so I will always speak to that when giving a restaurant recommendation. Service is so important if not the most important aspect of any dining experience. When someone asks for a recommendation I’m basing it off my entire experience and not just the food itself.