Flowers in the Attic worth seeking out for more than food

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 8:05 p.m.

Flowers in the Attic may bring back memories of a creepy V.C. Andrews' book and subsequent movie.

But instead of chills, Flowers in the Attic is the home for great brunch and lunch food, two floors of gifts and even flowers.

Flowers in the Attic, on Saltsburg Road in Penn Hills, is the creation of Ken Milko of Swissvale and has been growing and developing since it started just down the road in 1989 as simply a floral shop.

Now, however, the food may be the most dramatic offering. It is the drawing card for wedding receptions and showers, as well as a steady daily trade for brunch and lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“On the weekends, we sometimes have waiting lines,” Milko says.

Delectable menu items include Moroccan flat-bread pizza ($13.99) or Chef Donna's Quiche ($12.99), which varies daily in its use of cheeses, vegetables and other ingredients.

“We try to cook fresh,” says chef Donna Toellner from Penn Township near Irwin.

Offerings such as Lunch Around the World ($12.99) change every day to reflect not only Toellner's creativity but also the items that are on hand that day.

Flowers in the Attic is in a building built somewhere around 1880, Milko says. It is on a subdivided, three-acre site that once was part of 100 acres. Besides the big, old home that has indoor seating as well as tables on the porch, there is a large parking area with the floral shop in the garage.

It is a home Milko lusted after when he started the business, but, at the time, it needed much work that he couldn't afford.

The first iteration of Flowers in the Attic moved to Monroeville in 1996 to gain a little space and add a gift shop. A patio area there drew calls for coffee, tea and snacks, which Milko heeded.

By 2004, it was time to move again, he says. The Saltsburg Road house had been renovated as a tea house and had become available, so Milko moved to where he wanted to be in the first place.

The move and the style of the house led to the creation of the cafe, but Milko says the hiring of Toellner around seven years ago really made it work.

Besides the “cooking fresh” approach, Toellner also is rather creative, in a down-to-earth sort of way. A breakfast sandwich ($11.99) is ham, egg and cheese, which sounds rather basic. But put it on ciabatta and it gains a little class. An Italian Frittata ($11.99) is an open-faced omelet with sausage, tomatoes and provolone served with thick toast.

Lunch items include a grilled portabella sandwich ($12.99), which includes melted provolone and grilled peppers on ciabatta, and the stacked rostini ($13.99), which is rosti, a sort of potato pancake, topped with arugula, smashed avocado, poached eggs and smoked salmon finished with a goat cheese, red pepper and cashew pesto.

While the restaurant is basically a brunch-lunch place, Milko says it will handle parties of 20 or more for dinner as well as being available for catering.

Flowers in the Attic, 7505 Saltsburg Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-798-2200 or

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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