Friday, November 18, 2011


Isaly's has been around since the 1930s. At one point there were over 400 Isaly's throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Now there are only a few left, and one of the last is in West View Pennsylvania. Stepping into Isaly's is like stepping into a time machine. Pictures of the long gone West View Park adorn the walls, along with old tin ceilings, and a small deli and ice cream counter. The owner cooks at a very small flat top grill, while his wife waits on tables and serves coffee.
    Isaly's serves breakfast and lunch. Closing time seems to be whenever they feel like it. Breakfast's come in large portions for a decent price. They have all your typical breakfast foods and a large selection of omelets to choose from, including the Hunky Heaven Omelet, and the West View Omelet.
West View Omelet: Chipped Ham, Onions, Peppers, American Cheese
Hunky Heaven Omelet: Kielbassa and Swiss Cheese
  The Isaly's in West View is best know for its legendary sandwiches. The most famous being the Slammer as seen on the TV show "Sandwiches You Will Like" hosted by Rick Sebak. The Slammer is 1/2 pound of grilled chipped ham, grilled onions, and american cheese on a home made bun. It truly is one of the best sandwiches you will ever have. The Slammer gets its name from the District Magistrates office being right across the street from Isaly's.
The Slammer

A lot of Sandwich
  Their other sandwich of note is The Bomber. The Bomber comes with fried jumbo bologna, grilled onions, and cucumber sauce. While not my particular favorite sandwich, my eating companion loved it.
The Bomber: Jumbo Bologna, Grilled Onions, Cucumber Sauce.
  Everyone should stop by Isaly's at least once. These type of establishments are disappearing every day, being replaced by a Subway, Dunkin Donuts, or some other crappy fast food joint. So find some time and stop in for a terrific breakfast or lunch. Sit and read the paper. Get a quart of ice cream to go. Sadly once these places are gone, they are gone for good.

Isaly's West View
Rating: 9/10
Isaly's West View on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


 Burgatory is one of the zillion new burger restaurants popping up in Western Pennsylvania. Burgatory is located in Waterworks Mall in Aspinwall. Word of mouth has been pretty positive about this joint, and in my quest to visit every burger restaurant in Pittsburgh, I decided to check it out.
  So on a Tuesday at about 4:00 pm my eating companion and I arrived. We were quickly seated by our hostess, but then sat and waited for over 10 minutes before our server waited on us. This is while the manager and a group of other waitresses chit chatted at the corner of the bar right next to us. Also there were only 3 seated tables so it was anything but busy.
PB&J Shake $5.50
  So to start off I ordered a PB&J Shake. Burgatory has a bunch of different flavors of shakes including shakes spiked with liquor. This shake was kick ass. Tasting of peanut butter with notes of berry it was about as good a shake as you can get. Be careful though, the shake is very filling and you can get full before your meal even arrives.

Pale Ale Onion RIngs $6.50
   The onion rings were thick cut onions fried in a beer batter. To me good onion rings should be thin and airy, these were the exact opposite. The batter had a nice beer flavor to it but was way to greasy. The onion as you bit into the ring just slid out from the crunchy coating. An overall pretty crappy onion ring. The accompanying dipping sauces were both unique in flavor and would have been better if you had an onion ring worth a damn to dip in them. One sauce was a peppercorn cream whith a nice peppery yet mellow flavor. The other sauce was a chipotle horseradish dipping sauce which had a nice smoky and tangy flavor.
Fire Kissed Sriracha Wings $9.00
 The wings were pretty decent. The sauce on the wings to me tasted like just plain sweet Thai chilli sauce with soy. If there was actual Sriracha sauce on the wings it was hardly noticeable. The sauce was actually very mild as far as spicy heat goes.The wings were well cooked being moist yet crispy.

Farmer Brown Burger $9.50
 The Farmer Brown burger was ordered medium and comes topped with an over easy egg, maple cured ham, farmhouse cheddar, lettuce and mayo.
Action side view of Farmer Brown Burger
  First off all the burgers come accompanied with "a handful of sweet and russet potato chips". Whoever is in charge of the chips should be fired. The russet potato chips were soggy and had no crunch whatsoever, but they were terrific compared to the sweet potato chips that were inedible. It was like biting into a piece of chewy cardboard.
 The burger itself came out being more medium well than medium. Of all the burger joints I have been, I must say I think Burgatory might have the juiciest, most flavorful burger of them all. The patty was not only juicy but also had a great meaty flavor. Burgatory claims that their beef is all natural and hormone free as well.  The buns they use were nice and airy yet retained their form so the burger did not become a big mess. The toppings all were fresh and of high quality. The combination of ham and egg reminded me of a good breakfast.  The cheddar added nice flavor as well.

Mortys Steakhouse Burger $10.00
 The Mortys Steakhouse burger was cooked a perfect medium just as I had ordered.

Mortys Steakhouse Burger Action Shot
 The Morty Steakhouse burger comes topped with haystack onions(crispy onion straws), cabernet sauce, horseradish cheddar, and the burger itself is crusted in black peppercorns. Just like the other burger the actual beef patty was awesome. The addition of the peppercorn added even more flavor to an already excellent burger. The cabernet sauce tasted of wine and demi glace, and mixed in well with the onions and horseradish cheddar. Nit picking a little, but they could have cut down on the number of onions which was a tad excessive. This burger came with the same crappy chips as well.

 Burgatory, while having the actual best burger I have tried yet, failed in some other key aspects of my visit. The service needs to be improved. The chips are almost comically bad, especially since they come with such a terrific burger. The appetizer menu could be expanded and improved upon. Prices are a little on the high side .
 But the fact is if you want a great burger head to burgatory. Despite some of its other shortcomings it is still worth going for the burgers alone.

PB&J Shake 9/10
Pale Ale Onion Rings 4/10
Fire Kissed Sriracha Wings 7/10

Farmer Brown Burger 8/10
Mortys Steakhouse Burger 9/10

Overall: 7/10

Burgatory Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

B Spot

 The B Spot is Chef Michael Symon's (of Iron Chef fame) new gourmet hamburger restaurant. Symon is based out of Cleveland Ohio and has received world acclaim for his restaurant Lola.
Michael Symon
  Chef Symon also has won twice in a row at the Sobe Burger Bash in Miami Florida with his unique take on burgers (His 2010 winner the Fat Doug is on the B spot menu and is a burger topped with Swiss, Pastrami, and Coleslaw).
 The B Spot uses Pat Lafrieda ground beef for their hamburgers. Pat Lafrieda is based in New York City and is known as being one of the highest quality meat purveyors in the restaurant business. Currently the B Spot has three locations located all throughout Cleveland and the surrounding area.

 So after a two and a half hour ride to Cleveland and a stop at Cleveland's West Side Market, me and my eating companions pulled up to the BSpot. This particular B Spot was located in a high end strip mall which also included a Trader Joes, Barnes and Noble, and some high end restaurants.
Outside B Spot

Symon Says
More Rules
 The B Spot had outdoor seating and a large garage door style opening into the restaurant itself. We were quickly seated and given our menus. The server also gave us Michael Symon's rules.
 At our table was a  variety of Michael Symon's signature sauces . The Shasha sauce I thought was the most flavorful being a mixture of Mustard and Italian hot peppers.
More Sauces
 So we put in our order for the following:  For appetizers we ordered the Garlic& Parm Wings, Lola Fries, and Chips. For our burgers we ordered the Thin Lizzy, Philly Witt, and the Shroomage burger.

Chips $5.00

 The Chips were home made crispy fried potato chips served with a parmesan and rosemary fondue. The chips were perfectly cooked being nice and crispy. Strangely the longer they sat the crispier they got. The fondue itself was very mild tasting with the rosemary nor the parmesan being all that pronounced.

Garlic & Parm Wings $7.00

 The Garlic & Parm wings were easily some of the best wings I have ever had. The wings were cooked to a crispy golden brown and covered with a garlicy/cheesy/kick ass sauce, and sprinkled with shredded parmesan cheese. The sauce had a great garlic flavor as well as a nice bite of sharpness from the cheese. Most garlic parm wings are just wings tossed in garlic butter with some canned parm sprinkled on top. These were so much better than that, and about as original as you can get when it comes to wings.

Lola Fries $4.00
 The Lola Fries are very thin cut fries dusted in rosemary and sea salt. The fries themselves reminded me very much of the french fries you get at Steak and Shake being so thin. The rosemary and sea salt added a little complexity to the frie's flavor, but all in all were unremarkable.

Thin Lizzy $8.00
   The Thin Lizzy was a burger topped with griddled onions, cheddar, mayo, and pickles. This one of my favorite burger topping combinations and I was not disappointed with this. The pickles were terrific being brought in from Tony Packos Hot Dogs in Toledo Ohio (Klinger/ MASH reference for those that care). The onions were sauteed perfectly. The bun was airy and lightly toasted. The hamburger itself had a nice beefy flavor but to be honest I don't think the Pat Lafrieda ground beef was of such a quality that I would pay the extra money for it to be sent from NY. I'm sure Michael Symon could find a local farmer/supplier with just as good of quality somewhere in Ohio. My burger was ordered medium and was cooked perfectly as were all the burgers.
The Shroomage Burger $9.00
 The Shroomage burger was a burger topped with a marinated portabella, blue cheese, Lola steak sauce, and griddled onions. This burger was bursting with mushroom flavor being that the portabella was almost as big as the burger itself. The blue cheese was used sparingly as not to overpower the burger as blue cheese has a tendency to do. For a mushroom lover this burger is about as good as it gets.

The Philly Witt $9.00
  This is the B Spots take on a traditional Philly cheesesteak. It comes topped with thin sliced steak, cheese wiz, and witt onions. This is almost exactly what you would find  at either Pats or Genos Steaks in Philadelphia (minus the burger of course). What can I say about this burger other than it is so sloppily decadent and messy that I loved it. When your using a classic combination such as wiz and onions its hard to screw up anything. This might not be an actual philly cheesesteak,but it is just as tasty, and you really cant go wrong ordering this burger.

 When your burgers come you can also go to the B Spots pickle bar. There you can load up on Tony Packos sweet hot pickles (which are fantastic), pickled red onions, pickled green tomatoes, and kosher garlic dills. A nice little touch  and the acidity of the pickles helps cut the richness of your burgers.

Menu Click for larger pic

Menu Click for larger pic

  For those Yinzers that have never been to Cleveland, take off the Lambert jersey, put on a disguise, and head up there. There is a lot to do and it only takes two and a half hours to get there. Some of the places to visit include The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (unless your boycotting because they let Michael Jackson in and have left  KISS out), The West Side Market, A WWII Gato Class Submarine, the Great Lakes Brewery, and even Ralphies house from the movie "The Christmas Story".  
Inside the B Spot

Chips: 6/10
Garlic & Parm Wings: 9/10
Lola Fries: 5/10

Thin Lizzy Burger: 8/10
The Shroomage: 7/10
The Philly Witt: 8/10

Overall: 7.5/10

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pizza Sola

Pizza Sola opened up in 2002 and now has four locations throughout the Pittsburgh area. Their latest pizza shop just opened up in Cranberry and I thought I would drive out there to try it out. The location in Cranberry is right along Rt 19 and is located in a new strip mall development. There is seating inside and some pizzas are already cooked and displayed for people who are on the go and want a slice heated up quickly.

New Cranberry Location
  My eating companions and I decided to try out two of there Solazones which are little mini calzones, and a Godfather Pizza.
   The solazones were nice little hand sized calzones. At only $3.50 they are a pretty good value.

Bonnie and Clyde
  The Bonnie and Clyde was stuffed with white meat chicken, brocoli, mozzerella, and asiago cheese. It was a good combination of ingredients. The chicken was juicy and the asiago gave off a nice sharpness. Only wish I would have got some marinara on the side for dipping.
The Italian Stallion
     The Italian Stallion Solazone was filled with Italian sausage, cappicola, pepperoni, and mozzarella. Once again I wish I had got some marinara sauce to dip the Solazone in. Even without the sauce it was quite good. It was stuffed with a good amount of meat and at only $3.00 is a real bargain. My only complaint was that they could have left the Solazones in the oven a little longer in order to give them a little more crispness.

The Godfather

  The pizza at Pizza Sola is described as New York style with a thin crispy crust. We ordered the Godfather which has Italian sausage, monzerella and ricotta cheese as its toppings. Luckily I had checked inside the box before I had driven away from Pizza Sola as they had mistakenly gave me a plain cheese pie instead. After taking my pizza back inside the staff quickly cooked up the proper pizza. Still as an apology they should have gave me a discount or something for making me wait the extra 15 minutes. Anyhoot, the pizza itself when finally consumed was very good. The sausage was not overpowered with spice as you will find at a lot of pizza places where the sausage is just overloaded with fennel. The ricotta added a nice touch of creamy sweetness. The sauce was terrific, the use of San Marzano tomatoes from Naples really stands out with the sauce having a great tomato flavor. It was also nicely seasoned and not overly sweet. The crust was nice and thin yet not as crispy as I would have liked. All in all though a very good pie. 

  Pizza Sola is a welcome addition to the Cranberry dining scene. The Solazazones are tasty and a great value, and there pizza is one of the better pies that you can get in the Northern Pittsburgh area. If they could make their crust a little crispier this could be one of the best NY style pies in Pittsburgh . Stop by Pizza Sola and give it a try. Don't forget that they also have locations in Oakland, Southside, and the East End.


Bonnie and Clyde: 7/10 
Italian Stallion: 6/10 
Godfather Pizza: 7/10

Overall: 7/10
Pizza Sola - Cranberry on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cafe Kolache

Cafe Kolache is a little coffee shop/ bakery located in downtown Beaver. They specialize in Kolache's . What is a Kolache? Well I am glad you asked. Its a sweet dough bun filled with various fillings. The recipe comes  from Czech immigrants who settled in the Houston Texas area and opened up their own kolache stores. The owners of  Cafe Kolache in Beaver are originally from Houston and thankfully have brought their delightful kolache recipe with them. The closest thing I can think of to a kolache would be the Kings Hawaiian bread or rolls that you can get at the grocery store. Only this is obviously much fresher and slightly sweeter. 

    Inside Cafe Kaloche are many tables where you can enjoy their gourmet coffee. The coffee comes from Prestogeorge in Pittsburghs Strip District, and is some of the best locally roasted coffee you will find.

As you can see the Coffee prices are a lot better then Starbucks with the bonus that you can get Kolaches while you are there.

  The Kolaches basically come in two types, sweet or savory. The sweet ones include cream cheese, apricot, prune and poppy seed. The savory includes my favorite which is ham with colby and jalepeno, little smoky sausages with cheese, and eggs and bacon. Also they have bigger lunch size kolaches with fillings such as ham and swiss and steak fajita.

 As you can see from the menu they have much more then just kolaches. Salads, soups, cinnamon roles, chili,scones, and bruschetta sticks are sold there as well
 So if your up in Beaver County stop by Cafe Kolache and try out these unique sweet dough pastries. So far I have not found anyone yet who does not enjoy a good kolache, and its a chance to try something that is pretty unique up here in the Pittsburgh area.

Cafe Kolache on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Young's Custard Stand

Young's Custard Stand
 Young's, located a few miles west of Zelienople, has been serving custard for over 40 years and not much has changed from when they first opened. Young's rose to international fame in the movie The Prince of Pennsylvania, when legendary actor Keanu Reeves (ok I am using legendary a little loosely) threw a trash can through one of the windows at Young's.  Young's specializes in custard which is similar to soft serve. The difference is that it is a lot thicker and creamier due to the addition of eggs and a lower air content.

 Young's has all the treats that you would find at your typical Ice Cream Stand. Milk shakes, sundaes, etc. They run three flavors of custard at a time with chocolate and vanilla always on the menu. The other flavor rotates every three days, and happened to be banana when I visited. Some of the other rotating custard flavors I have seen include, pistachio, peach, raspberry, and maple.
 Young's also serves burgers and hot dogs, though I honestly have never seen anyone eating them. The star of the show is the custard and it really does not get any better then what Young's serves. Rich, thick, and flavorful, it is terrific custard. The malts are delicious as well. Its always a battle on whether to get a custard cone or a vanilla malt when I go to Young's.
A Small Banana Custard
   So do yourself a favor if your up North of Pittsburgh. Stop at Young's and enjoy some of the best cold sweet treats in the area. WARNING: lines can be pretty long on Friday and Saturday nights, but ya its worth it.

Young's Custard Stand on Urbanspoon