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The Coraopolis Record

Moon

Restaurants

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Moon Township exploded from quiet farmland to bustling suburb when the Bell Farm was bought and the Greater Pittsburgh Airport was built. Decades later, there aren't many working farms left. Moon has two high schools, a Division I university, a rail trail and several global firms.

Moon also offers 15 restaurants. Only five are national chains. Only two are fast food outlets. Two are Allegheny County chains and eight are single location locally owned restaurants.

The Moon restaurant lineup includes Italian, Asia Fusion, Chinese, Barbeque, Seafood and Greek, plus the exquisite Hyeholde, considered Pennsylvania's #1 haute cuisine restaurant.

All of Moon's restaurants are on two roads : University Boulevard and Beaver Grade Road. There are restaurants in the airport terminal building, but we cover those on the Airport page.

From a nutritionist's viewpoint, Arby's is the best fast food restaurant out there. Its Roast Beef sandwiches have far less cholesterol than the usual burgers, as long as you don't load it up with dressings. It offers one of the best Reubens anywhere, which is high praise in this area, where Primanti Brothers and Emil's are famous for their Reubens.

But the Classic Roast Beef is Arby's signature sandwich and it's as good now as it was when the first restaurant opened back in 1964 in Boardman, Ohio. Since then, Arby's has added Roast Turkey, Roast Ham and Roast Chicken, along with the popular Reuben.

More recently Brisket, Gyro, Philly Cheesesteak, Bacon and Pork Belly sandwiches have been offered. The Moon Arby's has never offered the Venison, Elk or Duck sandwiches that some Arby's outlets have.

Lately Arby's has added an order of five small sandwiches called Sliders.

Swiss Cheese is the all time favorite addition to the various sandwiches. The Farmhouse Salad is large and includes lettuce, diced tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Sides include Onion Rings, Mozzarella Sticks, Jalapeno Bites and Potato Cakes. Arby's is on University Boulevard.

Armstrong's is a locally owned neighborhood hangout with very good Italian food. Portions are huge, so you will very likely take food home. They don't take reservations and there's usually a wait, so you should go early or late to avoid the meal hour crowds. It's in a small mall called Thorn Run Crossing at the intersection of Beaver Grade Road and Thorn Run Road.

Like almost every Pittsburgh area restaurant Armstrong's offers Wedding Soup (It's not called that because it's served at weddings but because back in southern Italy it's a union of greens and meat). But there's also a soup of the day, which is usually heavy (broccoli cheese, etc.) and excellent. Armstrong's signature dish is their Eggplant Parmesan, which is excellent and enough for two hungry adults. They also offer other Parmesan dishes (chicken, veal and scrod). The Meatballs are large and good but the pasta is only average. Fettucini Alfredo, Stuffed Peppers, Baked Ziti, Cheese Ravioli, Salmon and the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich are all good.

Armstrong's features a Friday Fish With Mac & Cheese that is excellent.

You have to bring your own alcohol but there's no corking charge.

  Bob Evans

A Pittsburgh tradition since 1949, Eat n Park restaurants are really Big Boy outlets relabelled. They feature a Soup/Salad/Fruit Bar and are open round the clock. EatnParks are famous for Chicken Noodle Soup, Handbreaded Fish, the Superburger and Smiley Cookies. Their Breakfasts are excellent. Whether you order Pancakes, a Waffle, French Toast, Eggs, Sirloin or one of their seven Omelettes, you'll begin your day full. The menu for the rest of the day is extensive. You have 10 Appetizers, of which we like their Breaded Zucchini, and Fried Pickles. Soups include Clam Chowder, Cream of Broccoli and Stuffed Pepper, depending on what day of the week it is. Salads are Buffalo Chicken, Apple Grape Chicken, and Classic. There the usual burgers and sandwiches. The Eat n Park signature entrees are the Meatloaf, Herb Crusted Chicken, Sirloin Steak and Chicken Marsala. The Chicken Bruschetta, Pork Marsala, Grilled Chicken and Chicken Rosemary are also good. But our favorite and the reason many people return once or twice a week is the NantucketCod Dinner. The oven baked Cod is stuffed with crabmeat, shrimp, spinach, onions, cheddar cheese and cracker crumbs. It comes with one side, fresh baked rolls, and the Soup/Salad/Fruit Bar. This is one of the best dinner bargains in the West Hills. Don't order the Grilled Cheese Sandwich. They have the bizarre habit of toasting the bread, then adding the cheese. It is not a grilled cheese sandwich.

Hunan is a small Chinese restaurant in the Thorn Run Crossing Mall on Beaver Grade Road. Hunan has been in Moon for 30 years but originally occupied a much larger facility. The current small size is misleading. This is some of the best Chinese food in the Pittsburgh area. Many Chinese restaurants buy much of their food from central suppliers and merely warm them. Hunan food is all made right here. Among their very best are the Oolong Tea, Egg Rolls, Won Ton Soup, General Tsao's Chicken, Kung Po Shrimp, Veggie Lo Mein, Crab Rangoon, Sweet & Sour Chicken and Orange Chicken. These are all good examples of how homemade on premises is better than prepared elsewhere and merely reheated. The Egg Rolls are fresh and crispy. The Won Ton Soup here has a delicate chicken broth, rather than the artificial yellow canned broth used by most other outlets. Hunan's version of General Tsao's Chicken is an outstanding interpretatiion (Just for the record, General Tsao never tasted this entree. It was created by Chinese chefs in New York City as a sweet, deep fried entree designed for U.S. tastes). It's "lively" but not too much so. In all the entrees, Hunan uses larger shrimp and mushrooms than any of its competitors. It also serves larger portions. Unless you're starving, you are almost certain to take home enough for another meal the next day.

Hyeholde is Moon's most famous restaurant and ranked Pennsylvania's best special occasion restaurant. Hyeholde is a bit pricey for a casual date or evening out, but is ideal for weddings, birthdays, graduations, promotions, retirements and anniversaries. Even the building is worth a visit : It's a 1930s structure modelled after a French country manor and constructed entirely from parts of the old Stonesifer Barn. There are lots of exposed beams and odd shaped rooms. The food, however, is still the attraction. It's always spectacular. The Elk and Venison are their signature dishes but their Soups, usually a sherry bisque, pea, crab or roasted cauliflower, are close behind. Salads include Poached Pear and Baby Beet. In addition to Elk and Venison, Entrees include Veal, Salmon, Rabbit Cassoulet, Scallops, Sea Bass, Duck, Duroc Pork Chop and Braised Lamb and are all outstanding. Desserts are usually puddings, custards, tarts, ice cream and sorbet, but the Signature dessert is the Creme Brulee. There is a Chef Table option which requires a week advance reservation. A group of up to eight sit around a large table actually in the kitchen and are served a pre fixe menu. You get to see the staff preparing the food and ask them questions.
Harland Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Ky., in 1930, and began franchising in 1952. He pressure cooked chicken using a recipe of 11 herbs and spices which is still kept secret. Chemists have tried breaking down the recipe and have identified black pepper, salt, sage and savory as four of the 11 ingredients but can't crack the other seven. Sanders was taught by his mother that deep frying ruined food so he never allowed it. He began cast iron skillet frying the chicken but as soon as the pressure cooker was created for vegetables he adapted it for chicken frying. He used soybean oil because it is trans fat and cholesterol free. So even though it's fried, the chicken is among the healthier of fast foods. In addition to chicken wings, legs and breasts, you can get very good cole slaw, corn on the cob, green beans, biscuits, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes and the potato wedges, which are almost as famous as the fried chicken. The wedges are seasoned with the same secret recipe as the chicken. People stop just for a bucket of wedges. The slaw is made from cabbage, carrots, onions and Sanders' mother's dressing. KFC now offers Grilled Chicken, which is marinated and seasoned before firing. Hot Wings are marinated in a chili pepper sauce. There's also a Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Pot Pie and a "Bowl" of mashed potatoes, sweet corn, chicken bites, three cheeses and gravy. KFC hand prepares each item on the premises just before serving it. You can order a soft drink, but we recommend The Colonel's Sweet Tea instead.

Kiyoshi bills itself as a Japanese restaurant, but it's really Asian Fusion, with items from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Mongolia. It sits on a hill across from the Robert Morris University entrance. It's menu is way too large, with over 100 items. But there are some outstanding choices in there. Of the 16 Appetizers, we like the Egg Rolls, Crabmeat Rangoon, Teriyaki Skewers, Pork Dumplings and Scallion Pancake. There are six Soups. The Hot & Sour Soup is one of the best versions of this in the Western Hills, but the Wonton, Egg Drop and Seafood Soups are very good. The Seafood Soup, however, would be a good lunch entree; we would not order it plus a full dinner. Among the Entrees, our favorites are the Sea Bass, Mongolian Beef, Eggplant Seafood Dumplings, Kimchi Seafood Pot, Sizzling Scallops, Royal Kyoshi Feast and the Singapore Rice Noodles. The Seafood Pot includes Scallops, Shrimp, Mussels, Crab Meat, Snow Peas, Bell Pepper and Kimchi in a Korean sauce. Sizzling Scallops are sauteed with onions, snow peas, zucchini, bell peppers, water chestnuts, mushrooms in an oyster sauce. The Eggplant Dumplings are stuffed with shrimp, scallops and water chestnuts in a garlic sauce.

There's a two page Sushi menu with all the usual classics plus some created here. They'll deliver on the Robert Morris campus or you can order carry out.

Mario's is an outstanding Italian restaurant hiding in a strip mall along Beaver Grade Road. There are 18 Appetizers, of which our favorites are the Provolone Cheese Wheel, Bravo Mario (assortment of Italian meats, cheeses and olives), Roast Red Peppers In Garlic & Olive Oil, Stuffed Mushrooms, and One Crab Cake. Their Soups include Chicken Pastina, French Onion and a Soup of the Day. There are eight Salads of which the Dinner Salad, Antipasta and Caesar are probably the best. You choose the pasta (cappelini, fettucini, linguini, penne), then the accompaniment (tomato & basil, meatballs, mushrooms, sausage, etc.). Entrees include Chicken, Pork, Veal, Steak, Scrod, Shrimp, Sole and Swordfish. For any vegetarians, there's Eggplant Parmigiano, etc. Desserts are cheesecake, cannoli, pecan ball, sherbet, ice cream, and chocolate cake. The wine list obviously has a heavy Italian leaning, but there are American and French varieties. Mario's adds a special page to the Beverages offering. There are eight special Coffee drinks : Italian, Godiva, Irish, Amaretto, Parisian and Marnier. Or there's Grappa (castello banfi or mazzetti d'altavilla). In an urban area with a huge percentage of Italians, widely known for its many Italian restaurants, Mario's is one of the best. Despite its strip mall front, it is very classy and service is excellent.

Mike & Tony's bills itself as a Gyro outlet, but it's more than that. It's a Greek restaurant. Spinach Pie, Stuffed Grape Leaves, a Hummus Platter, and Pierogies highlight their menu. Of course there's a Greek salad and a Cretan Salad. The Athena Plate (grilled chicken, rice pilaf, lemon cream sauce, roast red peppers, kalamara olives, tomatoes, grilled pita), Lemon Chicken Rice Soup, Feta & Olive Plate, Baklava, Bougatsa (custard) and Souvlaki all establish the place as a Greek outlet. But then there are five Gyros and seven Wraps, plus Reuben, Fish, Steak and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and even a Hamburger. Located right across from the Robert Morris University main entrance, Mike & Tony's is popular with the college crowd. But given the lack of other Greek restaurants and Gyro outlets in the Western Hills, it's worth a stop for everyone.

Primanti's is a Pittsburgh icon, with locations on Carson Street and several other Pittsburgh locations plus the one in Moon. It's Blue Collar, a down to earth lunch stop that its loyal fans think serves the biggest and best sandwiches in America. The Moon facility shown here is Primanti's largest and best.
 

Pittsburgh is not BBQ country. People here really don't understand it and don't know the different styles. Texas style barbeque is marinated in a sweet, tomato sauce, rubbed with salt and black pepper and cooked over pecan, oak or mesquite. Selma's claims to serve this, but they don't. They use various dry rubs and cook theirs over Hickory. However, Texas or not, this is still good BBQ. Their signature items are Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Turkeyand Pulled Chicken. They offer sauces reflecting Memphis, Carolina, Texas and Kansas City styles (no Kentucky or Tennessee). Sides include Collards, Okra, Mac n Cheese, Hush Puppies, Green Beans, Baked Beans, Cold Slaw, Applesauce and Potato Salad. In case you come here with friends or family but don't like barbeque, the Fried Catfish is a good option. It's dusted in cornmeal and fried in peanut oil. Or there are St. Louis style Ribs.

For locals who have never travelled to Texas, Carolina or Tennessee and don't know much about barbeque, this is a good place to start. BBQ is a fine art and difficult to master. Some days Selma's is on target, but others whoever is working the pit misjudges and the BBQ ends up dry. If you eat here five times, you'll probably enjoy it three. The other two the BBQ will be just average. However, as they say down South, average BBQ is still better than really good other foods.

You can sit inside and eat, but most of Selma's business is carry out.

Wendy's was the first national chain to openly challenge McDonald's in the burgers and fries wars, and the Ohio based company still makes fine burgers, in that unique square shape Dave Thomas created. You can get hamburgers or cheeseburgers in single, double or triple stacks with bacon and other additions. There are grilled chicken and fish sandwiches and wraps, and a line of stuffed and baked potatoes with sour cream, chives, broccoli and cheese and bacon. Wendy's has really focused on its salads. They offer Mandarin Grilled Chicken, BLT, Grilled Chicken Caesar, and Southwest Taco Salads. As sides you can have dishes of Mandarin Oranges, bowls of Chile and a Strawberry Yogurt Squeeze. Wendy's has always taken great pride in its milkshakes and still offers Vanilla, Chocolate, Fudge, Strawberry, and Nestles Toll House Cookie Dough. In Lexington, Wendy's has eight locations.

Wings, Suds & Spuds is in a modest building with its entrance facing away from University Boulevard. Even when you enter, its layout is a bit eccentric. But this odd little establishment is worth a stop. There's some good food here.

Their signature item is their Wings. You buy a platter of five, 10, 16, or whatever, then choose from 17 sauces (Garlic, Ranch, Honey, Cajun, Mustard, Lemon Pepper, etc., etc.).

There are six Salads, Coleslaw, Zucchini Slices, Onion Rings, Nachos, Mushrooms, Jalapeno Poppers, Hot Pepper Cheese Balls, a Baked Potato, and Pickle Spears. The Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup is surprisingly good.

If you just want a sandwich, they offer Burgers and a Grilled Cheese. Or you could try the Italian Chicken Breast, Smoked Turkey, Porterhouse Steak, Beer Battered Cod or Clam Strips.

Their take out business is big. The platters are popular in Moon Township on TV game days, football tailgates or Summer pool parties. Locals take a travel box of their Wings as they set out on long drives. And Robert Morris dorm residents are frequent customers.