Every day as customers stop in at Mancini's Bakery in Stowe for fresh-baked bread, they catch a glimpse of a mural at the entrance painted by Fabrizio Gerbino — an internationally known artist who lives and works right across the street. His wife, Cynthia, said a bus filled with about 40 art lovers from the Oakland Museum of California recently pulled into the parking lot of the municipal building. Local officials wondered what they were doing in town.
Mrs. Gerbino explained they were in Stowe to see the work of her husband. "I think it says a lot that they came all this way," she said.
Mr. Gerbino's artwork has been displayed at galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe. Born in Tripoli, Libya in 1962, the Italian artist studied at the State Institute of Art in Florence, Italy. In Florence, he met Cynthia Lutz, who grew up in Stowe and graduated from Sto-Rox High School. She lived in Italy for 17 years, where she developed an appreciation for art and fell in love with Mr. Gerbino. They married, and in 2003 moved back to her hometown. "I worked for the University of Michigan study-abroad program as an administrator, and loved my time in Italy," she said.
The contrast between Florence, a center for Renaissance Art, and Pittsburgh, with its industrial heritage could not be more stark, but Mr. Gerbino soon found inspiration in his new home. He found beauty in the local factories, steel mills, and even in a recycling plant on Neville Island. "I am proud to grow up in Florence, and see the great masterpieces, but it was time to start another life," he said.
In Stowe, he also found a patron for his art, Mary Mancini Hartner, one of the owners of the Mancini Bakery. She made available a closed church that she owned next door to the bakery for Mr. Gerbino to use as his studio. Built in 1905, the former Pentacostal Church, later became a Presbyterian Church, and was even for a time in the 50's a Masonic Lodge. The stained glass windows are boarded up, but the large, open interior made an ideal space for Mr. Gerbino, and he doesn't have a long commute to work. He lives next door to the studio with his wife and 13-year-old son.
Mr. Gerbino often uses found objects that he salvages from factories and industrial sites as a starting point for his art. An old chain he found at a closed Neville Island cement plant became the subject for a series of paintings, and even a stack of old floor tile in the Woodward Street studio became a point of departure for his art. He was intrigued by the patterns formed by the glue on the back of the tiles and is currently at work on a series of paintings using those patterns as inspiration. "A painting is not just a piece of decoration," he said. "It is something more. There is a story behind every painting. I look at the potentiality of the object. The object becomes the painting." While Mr. Gerbino works in ink, oil and acrylic paints, he also uses materials like steel, iron, and wood in his work. Mr. Gabino, calls himself an "artisan" as well as an artist, explaining he likes to work with his hands.
In 2012, he had plenty of opportunities to work with his hands when he was part of Factory Direct: Pittsburgh, a project of the Andy Warhol Museum that brought together 14 international artists who worked in residence to create art at businesses, corporate or industrial sites in and around Pittsburgh.
Mr. Gerbino spent four months at the Calgon Carbon Corporation plant on Neville Island alongside the workers. 'I wanted my work to be not far from the people, the workers," he said. "I wanted to be part of it." The art he created was a series of abstract sculptures using carbon, plaster, and paint exhibited as part of Factory Direct. Besides the Calgon plant, Mr. Gerbino also explored other parts of Neville Island. He used heaps of various metals stacked at a recycling yard on Neville Island to create a new painting.
"They reminded me of mountains," he said.Closer to home, a pile of gutters removed from his house became a painting. "When they took down the gutters," he said, "I thought I could do something with them."
The resulting painting looks like a star-burst of blue metallic wings. While Mr. Gerbino's work can sometimes seem esoteric, he shares a fondness with most Pittsburghers for the Steelers. "I am a big fan," he said.. He often wears a Steelers knit cap as he walks about his studio. But, he still puts art first.
"Andrew Carnegie didn't build a stadium," he said. "He built libraries and a museum."
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opened in 1926 by Italian immigrant James Mancini, the bakery has remained in the hands of the same family for 70 years. While its fresh bread can be found all over town, the original bakery in McKees Rocks stays open all day and all night — and is worth the drive for the rolls to complete late-night dinner plans.
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Image by Joe Appel | Tribune-Review
A double dose of sweet, savory eats lures people into two of Market Square's newest storefronts.
Prantl's Bakery and Mancini Bread Company -- both long-time, local favorites -- now offer their popular loaves and desserts in a shared, freshly restored Market Street site.
The pair first joined hands in September 2008 to rent the former Jenny Lee bakery site on Market Square.
"We were both businesses looking to expand Downtown. Our future landlord introduced us," says Nick Mancini Hartner, 32, great-nephew of Jimmy Mancini, who founded Mancini's Bread Co. in 1929.
Their new site features a mustard-colored interior and awning-type canopies -- Mancini's is red; Prantl's is green -- over separate cases of baked goods. Customers can pay for all their breads, cookies, breakfast and lunch foods at one cash register.
Regulars include a number of office workers who simply drop in around lunchtime to buy a cookie.
"After lunch, people are looking for an indulgence," says Lara Bruhn, 39, one of Prantl Bakery's three owners. "A lot bring their lunch to work, and it's nice for them to get out of the office and treat themselves."
Bruhn and two partners bought Prantl's Bakery -- recipes included -- from Henry and Jane Prantl in 2006. "The staff remained intact," Bruhn says. "Several of our bakers are the same ones who worked for the Prantls."
Choices at Mancini's and Prantl's shared shop include breakfast and lunch items, ranging from Prantl's Danish crueller (95 cents each), muffins ($1.49) and scones ($1.39) to Mancini's hefty turkey, bacon and Swiss cheese lunch rolls ($5.75 each).
Mancini lunch rolls ($4.99 to $5.75) include pepperoni, ham, turkey and roast beef choices. All feature meat, cheese and spices "baked into our rustic Italian dough." A spinach and feta cheese lunch roll ($4.99) also is available. Add dipping sauce -- marinara, "horsey," ranch or buffalo ranch -- for 50 cents. "The pepperoni roll is our most popular. It rivals our bread," Hartner says.
Need rolls or bread for dinner? Choices range from the ever-popular Original Mancini's Twist ($2.75) to cinnamon raisin bread ($4.75), plus, sun-dried tomato and basil bread ($3.95), European multi-grain bread ($3.35), Italian bread ($2.75), Tuscan bread ($3.40) and marble rye bread ($3.97), Also available: dinner rolls ($3.25 per dozen), foot-long hoagie buns ($1.15 each), hot dog and hamburger buns ($3.15 to $3.65 per dozen), salt sticks ($2.65 per half-dozen) and baguettes ($2).
"I go in for Mancini's Twist bread," says Debbie Brose, a state employee who also claims to "dabble in Danishes." Brose enjoys the shop's variety of breakfast, lunch and dessert foods. "It's quality and value. It's a diversion from fast food."
Brose also has purchased Prantl's popular burnt almond torte ($19.99), which may be ordered and shipped out of state. "You have to do it one time in your life," Brose says.
For a daily sugar fix, however, Prantl offers many less pricey options: pecan tassies ($1), ladylocks ($1-$1.99), snowballs ($1), large chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin and iced cookies ($1.25 to $1.99 each), two-bite "junior pastries" ($1.25 each), including toasted almond and German chocolate cups, peppermint decadence and tiramisu, plus larger portions, called "cake bars ($3.49 each).
"Everyone has their favorites," Bruhn says. "There are a lot of things we make that you don't see any more."
Both Mancini's and Prantl's offer trays of goodies for office functions. Choices include platters of deli sandwiches to breakfast pastries and cookies, plus a complimentary, upstairs meeting room for small groups.
Mancini's Bread Company opened in 1926 in McKees Rocks and continues to attract customers throughout the region.
Video by Nate Guidry, Post Gazette Multimedia
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Mancini's Bakery is proud to announce that The Pittsburgh City Paper has awarded Mancini's Bakery the #1 Spot for the Best Bread in Pittsburgh. We are extremely proud of this award and we would like to thank all of our loyal customers for their continued support of Mancini's. We would also like to thank the readers of The City Paper for voting Mancini's into the Number One spot.
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Two Pittsburgh bakeries’ joint venture now has a new permanent home near the city's Market Square.
Prantl’s Bakery, a landmark in the city's Shadyside neighborhood, and Mancini’s Bread Company, based in the city's Strip District and affiliated with long-time McKees Rocks mainstay Mancini’s Bakery, have reopened at 438/440 Market Street, just around the corner from the former Jenny Lee Bakery spot in which the two Pittsburgh bakeries first joined forces in Market Square in September of 2008.
The location is in the newly renovated Buhl building on a street that extends between the new Three PNC Plaza, with the Fairmont Hotel, and Market Square, which is expected to reopen under a newly renovated piazza design this summer.
The owners of both bakeries, which started in the former Jenny Lee space operating under short-term leases because of the risk, are declaring the joint venture a success, signing a five-year lease that comes with three five-year extensions.
“We hope to welcome lots of visitors walking from the Cultural District through Market Square towards PPG Place,” said Lara Bruhn, co-owner of Prantl’s Bakery.
Nick Mancini Hartner, owner of Mancini’s Bread Company and a third generation baker, is looking forward to the completion of the construction in and around Market Square so their businesses can reach their full potential.
“Our loyal customers have stuck with us through all the inconvenience, but the result will be a beautiful destination for those who live and work downtown as well as the increasing number of visitors coming to the city,” he said.
The two bakeries teamed up on a trial basis in 2008 expecting to complement each other with different product lines that catered to different customers at different times of the day. Prantl’s, best known for its burnt almond torte, focuses on sweets and pastries, catering more to a morning and evening crowd. Mancini’s attracts more of a lunch crowd with its pepperoni rolls, handmade Italian twist bread and other items.
The new location, although smaller, is better designed for their dual uses, with doors on each side corresponding to Mancini’s and Prantl’s counters and POS systems, said Bruhn,
“The experiment worked,” said Bruhn. “Our businesses are very complimentary. Customers come in for a Mancini’s lunch roll and grab a sweet treat, or they come in to pick up a Prantl’s cake for an office party and pick up some bread for dinner.”
Pittsburgh Business Times - by Tim Schooley
If the Steelers manage to make the playoffs, it means local small businesses will get a boost. KDKA's John Shumway reports.
In a business environment that has burned plenty of independent bake shops to a crisp, the prospect of two local bakeries taking over a Market Square storefront left vacant by the closure of the 70-year-old Jenny Lee Bakery business might seem far-fetched.
But that is whats happening.
Two local baking icons Prantls Bakery, of Shadyside, and McKees Rocks-based Mancinis Bakery have reached an agreement to take over the former Jenny Lee location, where they plan to offer what each does best.
For Prantls, that means various desserts, including its signature burnt almond torte, muffins, cookies and other cakes. Mancinis will sell its well-known breads, along with its pepperoni rolls and an expanded selection of rolls filled with roast beef, turkey club, ham and cheese, and spinach and cheese, among other ingredients.
Lara Bruhn, an owner of Prantls, and Nick Mancini Hartner, an owner of Mancinis, said they saw too much financial risk to take on the location alone, but each saw the opportunity to reach a larger customer base of Downtown office workers and residents with product lines that complement one another.
It was made easier by the decision to do it together, Bruhn said. You take two Pittsburgh baking icons and put the best of both of them in (one store).Mancini Hartner, who is a cousin of the Baker family that operated Jenny Lee, plans to target a lunch trade, while Prantls expects to do more morning and evening business. I think its going to have a lot of synergistic affects, he said. Were going to create new customers for each of us. Prantls has been an institution on Walnut Street in Shadyside for more than 40 years. Its new owners bought the business in 2006. Mancinis started in 1926, selling its well-known breads wholesale from its McKees Rocks bakery.
It is the kind of local flavor that Nick Nicholas, owner of the property, said he was looking for.We want Pittsburgh traditional business down there. Hopefully this will be the beginning of some more, said Nicholas, who also operates Nicholas Coffee Co. in Market Square. Nicholas helped to bring the two bakeries together, offering a shorter-term lease in acknowledgement of the risk. Ken Zeff, owner of Crazy Mocha Coffee Co., which operates a shop in Market Square, said demand in Market Square is strong and that chains such as Moes Southwest Grill and Dunkin Donuts, which have new locations there, are finding that out. Its a shame that the whole square isnt (local) because its unique to the city and it?s the heritage of Downtown, Zeff said. The more locals have the opportunity to go in there, the better it can be for everybody.
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From baguettes to loaves of rustic Italian bread, the counter of Mancini's in the Strip District bears the expected look of a bakery. But, at Mancini's, what really matters sits wrapped in aluminum foil in a big basket. Pepperoni rolls. "On a Saturday, we'll sell 400 to 600 of them," says manager Erin Hodgkiss of what is the heart of Mancini's trade there. Mancini's, which sits in a narrow building next to Wholey's fish market, is every bit a bread bakery, but with its location, it strives to be something more. "We want to be a bakery with a cafe feel," Hodgkiss says.
It has a little artsy feel, too, with one of the walls decorated with pictures of the famous family of Mancini bakers in McKees Rocks and placards for concerts and shows in the area. That puts a different crust on this shop. While its range of breads ($3.75 a loaf) make it a likely place to stop when making a food rounds in the Strip, it thrives on shoppers stopping in for one of the pepperoni rolls ($4.75.). That treat is a large Italian roll filled with slices of pepperoni. It is big enough for a satisfying lunch, but also a size that several could be sliced up for a appetizer.
The rolls and items like the 18-inch bread sticks ($1.10) make Mancini's tick. Hang around at lunch time and watch a line form down the narrow aisle in the store. But Hodgkiss says times are changing. As housing sites such as the Cork Factory open in the area, more and more residents are taking advantage of the local bread source. The loaves of Tuscan and French specials are finding new homes.
The reputation of Mancini bread precedes itself. This shop is owned by Nick Mancini Hartner, part of the family that owns the famous Mancini's Bakery in McKees Rocks. As such, Hodgkiss says, the Strip outlet is related to the other Mancini's, but is not part of the corporate structure. Hodgkiss admits the pepperoni rolls are the shop's claim to fame, but points out another product that is finding some fandom.
For a specially aimed dinner, it will produce rectangular specialty breads bearing a Penguins' of Steelers' logo or an image such as a stork. They start at $25. "When people find out about them, they like them," she says.
Mancini's at 1717 Penn Ave. is open 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Details: 412-765-3545.
By Bob Karlovits, TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, July 3, 2008
It is Saturday morning, the week before Thanksgiving. The Strip District is even more crowded than usual, with shoppers mobbing the sidewalks and clutching their Thanksgiving grocery lists. My husband and I snake our way through the throngs to a small storefront just to the right of Wholey's: Mancini's McKees Rocks Bread Company.
Inside, close to the window, there is a young, dark-haired man deftly shaping rolls. We can smell the bread baking in the back: a slightly sweet, slightly yeasty aroma mixed with a hint of cornmeal and oregano. The space for customers is narrow, about 5 feet wide, with a line of people nearly to the door. While we are waiting, we browse the selection: foccacia, rye, European whole grain, raisin, Italian, pepperoni roll, cinnamon rolls, hoagie sticks. When we have finally made it to the front counter we try the free samples, plunging fresh bites of Italian bread into oil, spices and hummus. I order a cinnamon roll. It is dense, tender and juicy.
Nick Hartner, who owns and runs this store, is a third-generation bread baker. His mother, Mary Mancini Hartner, owns the original Mancini's McKees Rocks Bread Company, located on the newly named Mancini Way in McKees Rocks. Her father, Ernie Mancini, started the bakery 80 years ago.
Nick opened the Strip District store four years ago as a separate business, and has been steadily growing his customer base. When the store first opened, and business was a little slow, he started making whimsical bread sculptures to put in the window. The most-requested sculpture is his 6-foot bread alligator. He also makes seasonal items, like turkeys, snowmen and Christmas trees.
At first, Nick says, he had a hard time establishing his store as a recognizable part of the neighborhood. "When people come into the store, I ask them, 'Where else are you going today?' The same people always have the same answers. It's hard to become part of everyone's routine when they've been shopping in the Strip District the same way for so many years."
After four years, however, it appears that Hartner has helped bring new recognition to one of the oldest bread companies in the Pittsburgh area. But how did baking bread get into the family's blood? Nick's mother, Mary, remembers that she didn't spend a lot of time at the bakery when she was a child. But when she did visit, she and her siblings liked to skate on the cornmeal that dusted the floors.
"It was really fun ... and dangerous," she recalls. Mary's younger brother was in line to take over the family business. But in 1977 he was killed in a motorcycle accident. Mary started to help her father with the business on a part-time basis. When her three boys -- Nick, Ben and Ernie -- were in middle school, she had an opportunity for a bigger role. Her kids encouraged her to take the job, and Mary encouraged her kids to spend time at the bakery. They took summer jobs there, and helped out during the holiday rush.
As for Nick, he graduated from Marquette University with a degree in biomedical engineering in the late 1990s. He moved home to look for a job. Mary told Nick that if he didn't have a job in six months, he'd have to work at the bakery. Nick started on the night shift, making bread from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m. To his surprise, he fell in love with the bread. What makes Mancini bread so special? The ingredients are very simple: flour, salt, water and a little bit of shortening. But, as Mary explains, "we make it the old-fashioned way." That means that every loaf has ample time to rest before risings and shapings. It takes four hours to make every batch. "You can make it faster," Mary says, "but it won't taste as good."
Though Nick and Mary run their bakeries as separate entities, Nick uses the family recipes at his store, and his signature pepperoni roll, a delectable blend of pepperoni, spices and cheese cooked into the loaf, is now on the menu at the McKees Rocks location, too. Nick, who recently married, doesn't have children -- yet. "But when I do," he says, "I hope I can pass the love of baking on to them."
DECEMBER 14, 2006 BY KATHY NEWMAN
When nonresident citizens of the Steelers Nation congregate for the Super Bowl Feb. 1, food from home can be an important part of the party...........
A surge in the price of wheat has put bakeries in a bind by inflating the price of their primary ingredient -- flour. The futures price of wheat hit a record high of $8.86 per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Wednesday. That's more than double the September 2006 price of $4.22 a bushel, said Mary Haffenberg, a CBOT spokeswoman. The price of wheat for December delivery fell Thursday to $8.24 a bushel. ...........
Pittsburgh is all about tradition. It was a booming city when the denizens of Seattle were using bows and arrows. We were building our food traditions before Lewis and Clark trekked to the primitive Northwest............
Who says living on a fixed income or under an economic downturn means the elimination of all of the "creature comforts?" Through wise and selective shopping and picking the times for indulgences, we (two sisters) have discovered that we can have the best of both worlds............
Nicholas Hartner, 24, and his brother Ernie, 23, are Mancinis on their mother's side. They and their third-cousin, Reed Baker, 26, are related, five generations back, to Seven Baker Brothers, a Pittsburgh bakery that closed in the Depression, and, more recently, to Jenny Lee Bakery. The three share a common great-grandfather, Nicholas Baker, founder of Jenny Lee............
For those who enjoy Mancini's bread made in Stowe, it's now available in South Carolina. That's right. Pittsburghers who travel to North Myrtle Beach for business or pleasure can get a sandwich made with Mancini's bread at Oscar's Food & Spirits............
Pittsburgh probably has more Italian shops and restaurants per square mile than any city outside the Boot. Take a weekday morning or afternoon to explore and eat your way through the family-owned places in McKees Rocks, a working-class town just down the Ohio River............
When news came last month that the Jenny Lee Bakery was closing, Nick Mancini Hartner was sad to hear his relatives were having business problems. But as the owner of a baking business himself, he also thought he might see an opportunity............
The space vacated by hometown favorite Jenny Lee Bakery in Market Square has two new tenants that may also be familiar names to Pittsburghers with a taste for baked goods -- Prantl's Bakery and Mancini's Bread Co...........
A bakery worker knew what Jaclyn Leto wanted without her even asking. Spying the little girl's eyes hungrily following the hot rolls, the worker leaned over and handed her one. She picked at the hot crust gently, then took a huge bite. ...........