Photo courtesy of Five Points Artisan Bakeshop, Point Breeze.
At Grandview Bakery & Sweet Shop on Mt. Washington, party guests can decorate their own cupcakes. Photo courtesy of Grandview Bakery.

Grandview Bakery & Sweet Shop, Mt. Washington

One of the best things about this place is that they’re open until 9 p.m. most nights. Sometimes you just want a cookie while you’re out walking on Mt. Washington and taking in the best urban vista in America. The lovely view practically requires topping off with something sweet. We recommend the tart Lemon Kiss cookie or a Peanut Butter Blossom with a Hershey’s Kiss on top. Grandview also makes delicious donuts and a great apple fritter, which is a pastry that seems to be in short supply in the Burgh.

Photo courtesy of The Butterwood Bake Consortium.

The Butterwood Bake Consortium, Lawrenceville

A dessert cafe! Why aren’t these on every corner? There are thousands of places where you can stop in for a beer during a night on the town in Pittsburgh. But there are precious few nighttime cafes where you can stop in for a slice of cake.

The only problem is that some of the full-sized cakes here look too beautiful to eat. But that’s the kind of problem I’m happy to have. There’s pie at Butterwood, too, and good coffee. And they’re open surprisingly late: until 11 p.m.

Food Glorious Food, Highland Park

This tiny bakery in Highland Park seems to do it all, and well. They make pies (try the chocolate and walnut, or the sour cream apple), cakes (we vote for the lemon curd or the orange-almond), plus excellent cheesecake brownies, apple turnovers, strawberry napoleon cookies, muffins, cupcakes, chocolate truffles — and even something called “Jewish Pizza.” That’s a lot of food (glorious food)!

Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop in Monroeville. Photo by Mike Machosky.
Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop in Monroeville. Photo by Mike Machosky.

Moio’s Italian Pastry Shop, Monroeville

It’s tempting to get married (or get married again) just to have a cookie table at your wedding. When I found out they don’t do this everywhere, I was sad for the people of everywhere. If you’re planning a big Pittsburgh party and grandma can’t bake all the cookies, your next best bet is Moio’s in Monroeville. From curiously savory pine nut-laden pignoli cookies and rich yellow butter cookies with a cherry on top, to gooey chocolate thumbprints and sticky sweet coconut macaroons, Moio’s crafts fine renditions of all the Italian standards, plus a few surprises. They’ve also got lots and lots of cakes. Weddings need those, too, I guess.

Priory Fine Pastries, Deutschtown

Priory‘s custom cakes are something to behold. But their cookies are also quite special. You can’t go wrong with the chocolate chunk-and-chip cookies, coconut macaroons, peanut butter cookies or the nut-and-jelly thumbprints. And you’ll find a constantly changing selection of other fine ones. When they’ve got it in stock, the Priory’s chocolate crinkle cookie is as perfectly-balanced a morsel of chocolatey goodness as you can get.

Oakmont Bakery, Oakmont

This beloved neighborhood bakery has a massive new industrial-sized location, but they’re serving the same great baked goods as always. Known best for their cakes and paczki, this place also cranks out an amazing array of cookies. The turtle thumbprints are a particular delight, as are the apricot kolach cookies and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches with creme in the middle, edged with chocolate sprinkles. There’s also a creme-filled sandwich cookie with crushed Oreos on top that’s the sugar bomb of your dreams.

Pączki at Oakmont Bakery. Photo courtesy of Oakmont Bakery.

And if you prefer your baked goods gluten-free, Pittsburgh has you covered. Gluten-free people once had to write off the bakery category entirely, but not anymore. Here are two of our favorites:

Gluuteny Bakery, Squirrel Hill 

Gluuteny in Squirrel Hill does everything a stellar bakery should and does it sans gluten (and free of soy and dairy, too). My favorite thing here is the cookie sandwich — two chocolate chip cookies with dairy-free buttercream in the middle, and sprinkles on the sides.

Gluten Free Goat Bakery and Cafe, Garfield

We’ve been writing about Gluten Free Goat ever since they opened and keeping readers posted on their progress. Their baked goods are delicious whether you avoid gluten or not, and the Cafe also serves dinner four nights a week.

Late add: But wait…there are two more we should mention here. Party Cake Shops in Brookline has outstanding cakes, as does Bethel Bakery. We have ordered from both — and love!

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife,...