It’s time for wave two of our Stories of the Strip recap! We have received a whole new round of incredible stories, and are so appreciative to all those who have submitted to this program so far. For those who have not yet submitted, there is still time!

Submit your story now through July 7th for a $25 to Enrico Biscotti!

We’re working on a larger way to share these stories, but for now, wanted to provide a recap of some of our favorites that were submitted. Read below and enjoy.

Albert shares how his grandfather spent his time in the Strip District

Alfred DiGregory (1882-1967) immigrated to the United States in 1904 as Alfredo DiGregorio. A few years later he opened a small grocery store at 503 (later 501) South main Street in Sharpsburg, PA. He operated the store for the rest of his life. He married Jenny DeStein in 1917 and raised a family in the same building as the store. They had three daughters and one son.

He made daily trips to the Strip District in his Reo Speed Wagon. Alfred got up very early around 4 a.m. each day to make the trip to the Produce Terminal to obtain the very freshest produce for his customers.

Alfred DiGregory standing proudly in front of his store in the early 1900’s

Stephan finds a bit of inspiration on Penn Avenue

I found Enrico’s Biscotti Company at a low point in my life. Recently widowed and raising a three-year old, I started making trips into the Strip from our home in Trafford as a cheap form of entertainment. I don’t think Enrico’s ever closes more than the screen door on the shop when they are open, so that the smell of fresh-baked goodies wafts into the street to draw in the uninitiated.

After my first experience with their freshly made biscotti (accompanied by a Fortune’s expresso), I started gathering biscotti recipes on the web and trying my hand at making my own. My go-to recipe is a triple chocolate hazelnut biscotti, softer than most, but firm and not crumbly. But I know I will never reach the level of Enrico’s, with their crunch that never damages the teeth.

I was not long after my first visits to Enrico’s that the movie, “The Bread My Sweet” was released. A love story literally set on top of Enrico’s and of the Strip, it gave me a greater connection to the shop and its sweet aromas. Now it was a place of possibilities. A few years later, I brought a new love interest to Enrico’s. Even though she is celiac, she found their buckeyes to be a more than adequate substitute for her sweet tooth. 

I still make periodic trips into the Strip. I always make a stop at the Allegheny Coffee Exchange, the cross Penn Avenue to Enrico’s. My favorite these days is their salted caramel biscotti. Yum.

Todd recalls fond memories of his family’s produce business in the Strip

My family came to Pittsburgh and started a produce business in 1920. We were a prominent part of that area for 80 years.

We never called it the “Strip District,” we knew it as “The Produce Yards.” My uncles, cousins, brothers, and my Nono and Bisnono all made their living down in The Yards. We called the Railroad Terminal Building “The Platform” and all of the buildings on Smallman Street were “the street.” At one time, over 40 companies lined Smallman Street, all selling wholesale produce.

Smallman Street (before it was paved), was the widest cobblestone street in the USA. Behind the platform were the railroad tracks where hundreds of rail cars would line up, full of fresh fruits and vegetables. Customers would buy products at one of the 40 stores/warehouses and get a ticket to load from a certain boxcar where men would load the trucks by hand.

Tough work, tough people, tough town. I am so glad to see the revitalization!

Todd’s family pictured above on the cover of the Produce Buyer’s Guide from August 21, 1954