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Go Pretzel goes beyond classic salted dough

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Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

Everybody loves a good, warm, fresh-baked soft pretzel.

The dilemma, though, is figuring out exactly when to eat it. If you're headed to a ballgame, sure, that's perfect. But what about during the workweek• Is it a heavy snack, or a light meal• Is it a lunch, or something to keep hunger at bay until dinner?

"It's all of the above," says Rob Day, who just opened Go Pretzel, Downtown. "We thought it would be a good, nice quick on-the-go lunch Downtown. Sometimes, you just want a quick snack -- pretzels are good for that. It's (for) people who are in between meals. It's (for) people who just don't have enough time to get a meal. It's (for) people who want to get a snack anytime of the day. It's (for) people on the go -- people getting on the bus. Maybe, they're hungry before the ride home."

Day also runs the Pittsburgh Popcorn Co. with his wife, Genalle, which conveniently has a location right across the street along Liberty Avenue. It's largely a takeout operation -- although you could stand there and eat your pretzel, if you want -- in a small space, formerly occupied by Dozen bakery. The Downtown space is too small for pretzel production, so they're made across the street at the Pittsburgh Popcorn Co.

"We thought Downtown Pittsburgh needed a place for a good soft-baked pretzel," Day says. "We've visited a lot of cities -- Philly, D.C., Chicago. Whenever we go there, we always look to see what they have that Pittsburgh is sort of lacking."

That just happened to be pretzels, at least, Downtown. The classic, no-frills Original ($2.69) is Go Pretzel's best-seller so far, a bit less salty than you'd get at the ballpark, but, otherwise, familiar. The Cinnamon Sugar ($2.79) also does well.

From there, the menu gets a little creative/weird.

"We kind of brainstormed about what would go good with pretzels," Day says. "There's a lot you can do with it. You can do some savory stuff. On the sweet side, we have Toasted Almond. We just made a Pumpkin. We have some savory stuff all the time: Jalapeno & Cheese, Pepperoni & Cheese.

"We did an Olive. At this point, we're experimenting with our menu, experimenting with our flavors. We did a Sour Cream & Onion for the first couple of weeks. We'll probably do a Garlic and Parsley before the week is over, and a Ranch..."

Most of the pretzels cost $2.79. For 79 cents, you can add a dipping sauce -- everything from hazelnut Nutella to Dutch Chocolate, Cheddar Cheese and Dijon Mustard.

Then, there's the Pretzel Dog ($2.99).

"I'm not sure where that idea came from," Day says. "I feel like Pittsburgh is a big hot-dog town. It's an all-beef Eisenberg frank, with a pretzel wrapped around it."

Additional Information:

Go Pretzel

Location: 807 Liberty Ave., Downtown

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays

Details: 412-261-3790

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