by: Jessica Fera Updated:
PITTSBURGH - Thousands of votes were submitted to WPXI.com and the winners of the Pittsburgh's Best Pierogies contest have been chosen.
Our 3rd place winner, Szmidt's Old World Deli in Greenfield, has only been in business for six months and is already making a name for itself.
"We're a from scratch deli," said owner Darren Smith. "We bake all our own breads. We brine all our own meats. It's just a huge award for us. We couldn't be more thrilled."
Darren's pierogi recipes are inspired by the ones his grandma used to make.
"We do the traditional ones. The sausage, potato and cheddar and kraut. And then we do what's called New World pierogies, which are untraditional pierogies, bringing in the Reuben pierogi," Darren said.
There's also a cheese-steak pierogi and a Thanksgiving pierogi which Darren prepared for us. It's filled with turkey and stuffing and cranberries are added to the dough. The pierogies are quickly boiled and sautéd before being topped with homemade gravy.
Our 2nd place winner, Penn Brewery in Troy Hill, is also putting a new twist on an old Pittsburgh tradition.
"Right now on the menu we have four different ones," said executive chef Greg Schrett. "Potato cheese, Reuben, Buffalo chicken and a beer-battered deep fried fish."
Greg likes to get creative, but these pierogies don't stray too far from his roots.
"The original dough recipe that I use is one my great-grandmother used. She taught my mom and my mom taught me, so that was pretty huge," Greg said.
The dough for his Buffalo chicken pierogies is mixed with hot sauce for an extra kick. They're filled with roasted chicken, blue cheese and more hot sauce, before being tossed on the grill and topped with blue cheese dressing and yes, more hot sauce.
Our 1st place winner, Pierogies Plus, has been a staple in McKees Rocks for 20 years.
"We started with only four basic ones and those were the ones we made at home. Those recipes were from my mom, my grandma," said owner Helen Mannarino. "Now, we have over 30 different varieties."
Helen came to Pittsburgh from Warsaw, Poland in 1974, bringing her family's pierogi recipes and the dream of owning a business.
That business has grown from 350 square feet to 3,000 square feet, shipping pierogies across the country and to restaurants throughout Pittsburgh.
"We just make them like we make them for ourselves, for our homes. We put our hearts into it. We use fresh ingredients," Helen said.
Everything at Pierogies Plus is handmade daily by employees from Poland, Russia, Ukraine and the United States.
On an average day, they'll produce 150 to 200 dozen pierogies and that number doubles, Helen said, during the busy holiday seasons.
Forgotten Taste Pierogies, Wexford/Cranberry/Moon 1st Place Taste Test
Penn Brewery, North Side 2nd Place Public Vote, 3rd Place Taste Test
Pierogies Plus, McKees Rocks 1st Place Public Vote, 2nd Place Taste Test
Szmidt's Old World Deli, Greenfield 3rd Place Public Vote
SPECIAL SECTION: Pittsburgh's Best
1. The finalists will first be determined by the number of valid nominations received and second, by the willingness of the restaurants to participate.
2. The nomination process will open Friday, Aug. 19, 2011 and close Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. Our finalists will be determined at that time.
3. A taste test will take place at the Channel 11 studios during the week of Sept. 5. Each finalist must deliver a sample of their pierogies for the test. If a restaurant does not show up for the taste test they will be disqualified.
4. Voting will open to the public Friday, Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. on WPXI.com and close Friday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.
5. The winners will be revealed during the week of Sept. 19. Award plaques will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners as determined by the public vote. Award certificates will be given to the remaining finalists.
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