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Friday, August 31, 2012

Marios Southside is the Winner!

Click for full size chart.

After extreme deliberation, I consider Mario's Southside to be the winner of the ultimate Mario's showdown. This was no easy assignment. I considered categories such as the food I've had at both bars, the fantastic service I've had, the VIP room in Mario's Southside, the amazing Mario's Eastside deck, the colorful homeless people that congregate outside the bar, various specials and even the bar games available to patrons.

 This award is entirely subjective, but I hope Mario's Southside is proud. They really came through big time in this epic match-up. Although both Mario's made an excellent showing, I feel the real winner of this competition was me. 


If you feel I should have taken other factors into consideration, please drop me a line in the comments!
Mario's Southside Saloon/Blue Lou's on Urbanspoon Mario's East Side Saloon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mario's Eastside V. Mario's Southside - THE ULTIMATE MARIO'S SHOWDOWN

Mario's Eastside Wings
I'm a Mario's man, always have been. One of our happy hour goers recently told me that he felt more at home at Elixer than he ever has at Mario's. This saddened me immensely. Mario's Southside was my home even before I moved to the Southside. The bathroom attendant knows my name. The bartenders have stories about me that I wouldn't want you to know. I once had four different girls in my phone with the last name, "Mario's."

In comparison to Mario's Southside, Mario's Eastside is relatively new to the game. I can't say I loved the wings I tried, but the honey garlic habanero were very decent. A unique sauce and not too much bite. On the other hand, I did not particularly care for the mesquite char-grilled. They just didn't have enough flavor - I think I just generally hate grilled wings. This bar has the perfect happy hour atmosphere. A large roof-top deck, amazingly good drink and food specials and a party-people crowd. Next week I'll be creating a chart comparing Mario's Southside and Mario's Eastside. Do you have a Mario's preference? Let me know before I compile my chart next week. More importantly, meet us at Mario's Southside later tonight.

 Mario's East Side Saloon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Emilia Romagna - The Strip

I honestly don't know anywhere in the city where you can get pizza and sushi. My best guess is the Cheesecake Factory, which I so loathe. Emilia Romagna recently opened in the Strip District. From looking at the place you'd have absolutely no idea that it has a giant upstairs dance floor and a huge outdoor seating area. I'd say they can easily accommodate over a thousand people.

I expected the pizza to be excellent as the restaurant is owned by Alla Familia, the fancy Italian place in Allentown I've been meaning to go to. I really liked the pizza, and it was quite a bargain, $5. The sauce and cheese were incredible, the crust was a little hard but entirely delicious. The sauce was slightly sweet but it was probably the best part of the pizza, I really enjoyed it. 

Spicy Tuna!
After having an amazing pizza I thought I was sure to be disappointed by the sushi. However, my expectations were surprisingly exceeded. The sushi was very fresh with great rice and a nice blend of flavors. (Spicy tuna with crab, also a bargain for happy hour at only $5 per roll.) I'm honestly dumbfounded as to how the same restaurant can serve pizza and sushi. I suppose it isn't entirely unprecedented, I just find it really impressive considering the number of pizza and sushi restaurants that can't seem to master either of these items separately.

I highly recommend stopping by Emilia Romagna for happy hour. It is a great space, with a great staff and some really decent grub.

Emilia Romagna on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Rowdy Buck

Hot Dog!

I have to be honest, I don't particularly care for hot dogs. I think they are gross, I've always thought they were gross and I think they should be called "trash dogs." Having vented, I can say that not all dogs are created equal. For example, I've always really liked the kraut and cheese dogs at the Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe. (Buttery rolls and pure deliciousness.) 

I did not savor my, "fresh prince dog." (Pictured above, it was supposed to be like a Philly cheese steak.) The sauteed onions and peppers were basically raw and crunchy. There was entirely too much dry bread (this was a common complaint among our party) and the cheese sauce was thick like molasses. If you are going to claim to be a gourmet hot dog establishment, you had better deliver. Otherwise, I would think it is probably worth getting a one dollar gas station hot dog as opposed to a five dollar "gourmet" dog.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like the Rowdy Buck. They have a great outdoor patio and some pretty decent cocktails (I like the electric koolaid acid test made with fresh muddled raspberries.) Also they serve tater tots, which are always delicious, and they had a weird make your own 'smores dessert I am going to go back and try. I don't particularly care for the decor, I think it is aimed at attracting the skirts.

 The bar shares some similarities with the Lava Lounge and Tiki Lounge in terms of decor - these bars are all owned by the same people. There's lots of junk on the walls and a bunch of uneven surfaces that allow for maximum drink spillage. Personally, something about the Southside of Pittsburgh makes me opine for simpler times when bars served cheap drinks in dirty glasses and the crappy food didn't claim to be gourmet.

Rowdy Buck on Urbanspoon Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Harris Grill - Sometimes Chicken Wings STINK

What the cluck?
I am a chicken wing fanatic. Between the ages of 16-19 I would estimate that I consumed roughly fifty chicken wings per week. I'd say my all time chicken wing count is somewhere around seven thousand. Literally scores of chickens have perished for my gluttony. At some point I realized I was going to get gout/diabetes/heart disease and I slowed down a bit. That being said, I regret nothing.

I love a good chicken wing. I consider the perfect wing to be medium sized, crispy and well sauced. (Bonus points for amazing/unique sauces.) I truly like Harris Grill, in particular I like their draft selection, outdoor seating, staff and bacon night. I even really liked the jerk chicken wings I tried which were very well seasoned and prepared. However, the spicy buffalo wings just didn't cut it. They didn't have nearly enough crisp - this alone can ruin a wing experience. But even worse, they were under-sauced and the sauce was rather bland and runny. Something about non-crispy wings just makes the experience of covering my face in sauce and chicken disgusting.

I've had chicken wings at almost every place you can imagine in Pittsburgh - I believe our city has some of the best wings in the country. As a matter of fact, I usually don't get wings when I'm outside of Pittsburgh as I can't stand sub-par chicken. My short list for wings includes: Wings Suds and Spuds, Wiggy's, Rugger's, Birmingham Bridge Tavern, Sidelines, and Talerico's. However, there are at least a dozen other places that all make really great wings.

I came across this article last week, When You Learn What’s Really in Your Food, You May Stop Eating Altogether. None of the "secrets" in this article bothered me at all except that chickens tested by Johns Hopkins University were found to be loaded with antidepressants. This provides a rather unique explanation as to why I choose to drown my sorrows in crispy delicious chicken wings. 

What are your favorite wings in the city? Why? And finally, should we go there for happy hour?

Harris Grill on Urbanspoon