Pittsburgh’s Little Italy is located in the neighborhood of Bloomfield, which gets its name from a note that George Washington made in his journal about the field of blooming flowers close to the settlement. Bloomfield saw an influx of German Catholic immigrants in the late 1860s and a wave of Italians around 1900, specifically from the Abruzzi region. The modern-day Little Italy still includes working-class Italian-Americans, but is also made up of various European descendants as well as African Americans, Asians, Indians and college students from around the globe.
The community celebrates its Italian heritage every year with Little Italy Days. You can watch celebrity bocce or enter a team in the bocce tournament, watch and listen to musical performances, and watch contestants ages 4-17 compete for the title of Miss Little Italy. A real highlight of the of the festival is Tambellini’s Pasta Eating contest, which pits pasta-eaters against one another to see who can eat the most in a set amount of time.
You of course have food stalls, lots and lots of food stalls. The most important thing is the kinds of food you see represented. You will find Italian food (meatballs from a food stand — who can beat that?), but like the community, the festival has become more diverse. When you walk down the street lined with tents and stands you see something uniquely American. You see food from everywhere as if it was some sort of international potluck. The stalls have jerk chicken, teriyaki chicken, gyros, crab cakes, fajitas, mac and cheese, wood-fired pizza, fried chicken, beef bbq, kebabs, and Pittsburgh favorites pierogis and pepperoni rolls. You find all these diverse dishes, all these examples of cultural cuisine, all of these flavors of our amazing blended culture all in one place, all along a street in Bloomfield named Liberty.