youngstown

Pierogies, pasta sauce, cabbage and noodles, wedding soup, Brier Hill pizza- do any (or all) of these appear on your dinner table during the week? Then you are probably from the Youngstown area. With a unique location and history, Youngstown’s food scene is certainly eclectic to say the least. Let’s take a look at some of the most time-honored food traditions and recipes from Youngstown!

 

Influx of Immigrants

Beginning with the dawn of the steel age in the late 1800s, immigrants from all over the world flooded into the Youngstown area. Most notably scores of Poles, Italians, Slovaks, and Hungarians carved out communities due to the job opportunities from the iron and steel industries. Youngstown and the surrounding area quickly became a hub of international activity that forever changed the culture, demographics, and food of the Mahoning Valley.

 

Tasty Traditions

No large family event in the Youngstown area would be complete without a cookie table. Tell this to someone outside of Northeast Ohio or Western Pennsylvania and you’ll get some strange looks. This tradition was brought to the US from Italy and when the Great Depression hit Youngstown especially hard, wedding cakes were too expensive. Instead, family and friends of the bride would make cookies to be eaten at the wedding. This tradition is alive and well today and can be found at weddings, graduation parties, baby showers- you name it! Here are a few of our favorite cookie recipes that will be sure to disappear quickly from any cookie table: Salted Caramel Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies, Gia Russa Italian Ricotta Cookies, Clothespin Cookies.

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These other tasty foods are staples of the Valley:

  • You would be hard pressed to find a non-ethnic restaurant in Youngstown that doesn’t serve pasta of some kind. This is also due to the large population of Italian Americans. Our recipe for Slow Roasted Tomato Pasta is reminiscent of old world Italy.

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  • Any Italian-American worth their salt has fond memories of Grandma making Italian wedding soup. If you don’t have access to Grandma’s secret recipe, try this one!

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  • Pierogies, or potato and cabbage filled little pockets of happiness, as some call them are another popular dish. Polish and Ukrainian immigrants brought these to the US and they have taken hold as a classic. Try making them from scratch for your next dinner party!

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  • More Eastern European food that is no stranger to our area is stuffed cabbage. Fragrant ground beef stuffed into cabbage with homemade tomato sauce? Yes, please!

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These recipes are just the tip of the iceberg, as far as Youngstown cuisine is concerned. Whatever traditions you serve up, you can find all the ingredients at your local Sparkle Market. Happy cooking!

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