Amanda Wright
Amanda Wright, A519 Chocolate (photo: Tom O'Connor)

Working in a small space surrounded by trays and trays of delicious chocolates must take a lot of willpower. Somehow, Amanda Wright of A519 Chocolate resists temptation while making beautiful hand-painted chocolate creations in her Millvale shop. The small company which Wright started with her husband, Andy Rape, a year and a half ago was just named The Best Locally Made Gift in Pennsylvania by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

The tasty truffles at A519 Chocolate come in 10 different flavors including salted caramel, maple pecan and apple streusel with additional seasonal rotations. They’re beautifully detailed in a kaleidoscope of radiant colors that come from colored cocoa butter. Amanda hand paints her creations by spraying on thin layers of cocoa butter in a specially-designed airbrushing booth. She perfected her chocolate making skills studying at Napa Valley’s Culinary Institute of America and working for famed Bay Area chocolatier, Chris Kollar.

As part of her quest to use the freshest, most local ingredients in A519 Chocolate truffles, she makes regular trips to the Strip District. “As a non-native Pittsburgher, I think the Strip represents the best of what Pittsburgh has to offera thriving community of local business, both old and newmixed with a generous amount of Pittsburgh hospitality and pride,” says Amanda. “My trips to the Strip remind me of why I am so lucky to develop a business in this wonderful city.”  The couple moved to Pittsburgh, where Andy is originally from, with the specific idea of starting their chocolate company.

What’s the best meal she ate last week?

My favorite food in the city is undoubtedly Edgars Best Tacos. I love the authenticity of the ingredients that can be visualized by the vibrant colors of the salsa and pickled jalapenos and carrots. My personal favorite dish is the chile relleno burrito; it is just perfectly spicy and savory and an ideal way to warm up on a cold winter day. While eating my chile relleno burritoloaded generously with both the smokey and spicy salsasI find myself incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by everything that makes Pittsburgh great, while also indulging in some of my childhood San Diego nostalgia with some of the best authentic Mexican food I’ve had anywhere in the United States.

A519 Chocolate makes custom and corporate gifts in addition to selling their chocolates online. They can also currently be found at the following local retailers: Wildcard (Lawrenceville), Mon Aimee Chocolat (Strip District), Gather (Sewickley), Maggie and Stella’s (Oakland), and Carnegie Museum of Art (Oakland). An A519 storefront is in the future planning stage.

Tom O'Connor

Tom O'Connor is a photographer and writer currently based in Pittsburgh.