Tic Toc makes for a delicious Downtown Pittsburgh tradition

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, July 26, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Norm Domek gave Pittsburgh a taste of what's new at the Tic Toc restaurant Thursday afternoon inside Macy's, Downtown. Domek whipped up a mixed-berry fruit salad, cactus salsa dip and roasted apple chicken salad.

“These are easy and fun recipes,” said Domek, Tic Toc executive chef. “We use all fresh ingredients from the Strip District, and invite everyone to come by and have something to eat at the Tic Toc. It has a lot of history in Downtown Pittsburgh.”

The restaurant dates back to at least the 1930s.

Generations have dined at the Tic Toc, located on the first floor near the men's department. The event was a way to introduce new items to the regular customers and provide those who may not have tried the food an opportunity for some samples.

Domek is a Pittsburgh native and, despite living many other places, said there is no place as special as the Steel City. During his presentation, he utilized some of the store's newest stainless-steel cookware, a brand called Belgique. Having the accessibility to pots and pans just a few floors above is a wonderful partnership, Domek said.

Sisters Mellownee and Lillie Merchant of Wilkinsburg and Mt. Washington, respectively, watched Domek as he combined fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, along with Stonewell Kitchen pink-grapefruit marmalade and fresh mint leaves for a refreshing mixed-berry fruit salad. Domek was enthusiastic and told the crowd that they should read the entire recipe before making anything, and that it is OK to make some changes to a recipe based on what you like, such as switching out blueberries for peaches.

A dish like that would be perfect for Mellownee's son, 23-year-old Maurice, who has brain cancer and can only eat certain foods.

“Chef Domek talked to us about what I could make for my son,” Mellownee said. “He is wonderful, and the food he made was delicious. I hope he stays in Pittsburgh forever.”

“The Tic Toc is about tradition, and it has been a place where people have come for years,” said Joe Hladiuk, Macy's vice president store manager. “Our vision is to re-introduce it to the city, because it is an important part of the history of Pittsburgh. And we have an amazing chef and staff, which is a big reason it continues to be such a wonderful meeting place to share a meal.”

Domek and others have perused old menus and found some dating back to the 1930s, which listed a bowl of crab soup for 7 cents.

Domek hopes to bring back some popular past dishes and create new items. The restaurant is known for its Reuben, Domek says. It also serves other sandwiches such as chicken salad, burgers and hot roast beef, as well as, soups and salads. And don't forget dessert, either at the Tic Toc or at the bakery on the Arcade level.

“This entire building has so much history,” Domek said. “We have more than 100 years combined experience in that bakery, and everything is made fresh from the Danish to the mile-high apple pie, pecan squares, as well as, the famous thumbprint cookie.”

The bakery, which officially opened in 1970, serves breakfast sandwiches and lunch items such as pizza rolls in addition to delicious pastries.

“The bakery has some really wonderful things,” Domek said. “In both the bakery and the Tic Toc, if someone asks for it, we will try and make it. It's about the customer and what he or she wants. I am willing to try anything. There is nothing we can't do here. This is Macy's.”

The Tic Toc moved to the first floor from the 13th in 1956. A lot of the history is still being examined from when the restaurant was part of Kaufmann's Department Store.

“It's is a place for shoppers to stop as well as people Downtown to come in and have a meal,” Domek said. “There are some people who come to town just to dine here. There is a group whose members did not know each other, but met at the Tic Toc and now come back on a regular basis. It's an extremely popular spot during the holidays, too.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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