Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Eating on the Road - Day 2: Pittsburgh - Nadine's

What a grand time Ralph and I were shown in Pittsburgh by wonderful hosts and tour guides, Ralph's niece Debi and her husband Mario. Now, Mario is a real foodie and we spent a lot of time talking about our favorites places to eat in Detroit (he was born and raised there) and he clued me in on the food scene in Pittsburgh, which is a vibrant one. (Pictured left: Nadine's - South Side Pittsburgh)

Mario and I both spend a fair amount of time watching the Food Network, and they have featured any number of Pittsburgh restaurants in the past couple of years. So, while we were in town, we'd thought it would be fun to check out one of the places that we'd seen on TV. Mario had the brilliant idea to go to Nadine's, a small off-the-beaten-path neighborhood place that was featured on "Diners, Drive-Inns & Dives." He hadn't been there, but still had the episode of the show recorded that starred Nadine's. After watching it, we all agreed that was the place to have dinner, so we loaded up their three kids, Debi and Mario and Ralph and myself and headed for downtown Pittsburgh.

One of the things that I love about Pittsburgh is all the bridges crossing the three rivers which cut through the town. Each bridge is different and takes you into various parts of the city. Thank goodness Mario was driving, because I couldn't tell you how we got there other than we went through a tunnel and crossed a bridge and then ended up in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood. I can tell you that Nadine's isn't a place that you would probably ever see if you were just sightseeing around Pittsburgh - (Pictured left: Having a good time at Nadine's - from left: Mario Sr., Mario Jr., Dominic, Debi, Nadine's son Matt, Antonio and Uncle Ralph)

Nadine's is a bar and they serve food. But not "bar food." Here you will find real honest-to-goodness home cooked food, served up hot, friendly and in portions that insure you'll never leave hungry. As a matter of fact, when you order one of the specials, you can get seconds - that is, if you have room for them!

A woman named Nadine runs the place along with her son Matt. Nadine is there for the early shift and was gone by the time we arrived by dinner, but Matt was there and sat the seven us down at the only big table in the place. The menus are filled with sandwiches - the fried bologna is a long time favorite and made in a super-deluxe way. We were interested in the specials of the day, which included Na's Pasta, hot roast beef sandwich and beef stew. The soup was chicken noodle.

Between all of us we tried all the specials. Na's Pasta was featured on the Food Network show, and it was outstanding. A variety of pastas baked with Italian sausage, salami, capicola, onions, tomatoes and lots of other good stuff. The recipe is here on the Food Network site. It was bursting with flavor, a little heat and talk about a good old fashioned stick-to-your-ribs plate of food! It's something I could eat once a week and never tire of. We washed it down with a couple bottles of Yuengling Beer (a local favorite), and it was close to the perfect meal. (Pictured left: Ralph's big plate of Na's pasta: dee-lish!)

We also got a couple orders of the hot roast beef sandwich. Thin slices of delicious roast beef between two thick slices of crusty Italian bread and topped with the most wonderful beefy good gravy. How do you add to that? How about a huge heap of real mashed potatoes with more of that gravy on top! A hot roast beef sandwich is generally standard fare in most diners and lunch counters, but this really took it to another level of comfort and flavor. (Pictured left: The best hot roast beef sandwich I ever had - and that gravy!)

You can tell how the food is prepared at Nadine's. They cook there like they would at home for family and friends. The food is simple but by no means ordinary. It's honest food, food that makes you feel good and reminds you of a home cooked meal. Pittsburgh is a great town, filled with great people. There's so much to see and do, but Nadine's alone is good enough reason for me to look forward to my next trip back. (Pictured left: Nadine's famous oven complete with string that is used to keep the door closed - hey, it works!!)

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