Rosemary Welsch is the afternoon mix host and senior producer for WYEP-FM in Pittsburgh. For many Pittsburghers, she is the familiar voice connecting us with much of what is happening in the city musically, introducing us to emerging new artists along the way. Last fall, she marked her 35th year at the station, an event honored by Mayor Bill Peduto when he proclaimed September 28th “Rosemary Welsch Day.” She started as a volunteer at the station eventually taking on key roles as producer and program director. Highly regarded as a skilled interviewer, she is also a beacon of support for independent public radio.
So many great musicians have visited the WYEP studios where Rosemary has interviewed them. Her stories and her knowledge of the Pittsburgh music scene as it has changed over the years would make a compelling book. You can check out some of her interviews with artists like Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples on the WYEP website here.
As a longtime Pittsburgh resident, Rosemary has also been a witness to the ever-changing landscape of the city’s neighborhoods. She recently had the experience of dining in a restaurant that used to be her neighborhood laundromat, and it turned out to be the best meal she ate last week.
A couple of weeks ago I went to my old laundromat for dinner. It sits near the corner of Shady and Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill, 1711 Shady to be exact, just up from the Starbucks and across from another Asian restaurant. My neighborhood is rife with Asian choices for eating—that and Middle Eastern, pizza, and dessert options. So when I heard that a Taiwanese restaurant, Café 33, was opening, I wondered why Squirrel Hill couldn’t get an Italian place or some other ethnic variety. My interest was piqued when a friend told me about her visit to Café 33. She raved about the food and encouraged me to give it a try.
It felt odd walking into the building where, for many years, I hauled baskets of dirty clothes. The laundromat had been converted only recently to a restaurant, but there was no sign of ghosts of missing socks to be found. Instead I discovered an unassumingly decorated room filled with intriguing scents and diners focused on their meals. Café 33’s menu features lots of unique dishes for the adventurous diner.
To start I chose shredded pork with Chinese pickle soup. To my surprise, it came out as a large bowl big enough for two. It had a salty clear base with thin slices of pork, shreds of vegetables, and an unusual but pleasing taste that I can only attribute to the “pickle.” My partner and I shared dry sautéed string beans —delicious and a great counterpoint to the soup. For my entrée, I went with shrimp with black pepper sauce. I like spicy; my partner, not so much, but we both enjoyed this dish as it found a perfect balance between flavor and spice. But what made this dish spectacular was the shrimp, all plumb and cooked to perfection. It was the best shrimp dish I’ve ever eaten at a restaurant. I look forward to trying more of Café 33’s shrimp entrees. My partner ordered eggplant with short ribs. The eggplant was great, and if you don’t mind your beef a bit on the fatty side, you’ll love the ribs.
The place is authentic, with lots of Asian customers, and a menu that features options in Chinese. You’ll want to ask your server for more details. The staff was lovely, the service fast. It was by far the best meal I’ve had in a former laundromat and one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in a while.