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The Coraopolis Record

Sewickley Area

Restaurants

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Sewickley is the Western Hills' original Old Money community. The great founders of the Pittsburgh Industrial Age established homes and spacious estates here, the most extravagant up on Sewickley Heights. The ones who did not send their children back East to exclusive boarding schools created Sewickley Academy just a few blocks from the downtown, which contains a bookstore, pottery studio, sewing supply store, and other eclectic outlets. Sewickley was the westernmost terminal of the trolley network, and still has a fine passenger station. Amtrak passes through here twice a day, even though it temporarily doesn't stop here. Sewickley and its immediate area have nine very good restaurants. The Sewickley Hotel on the main street, Speakeasy out on the Ohio River Boulevard, and Police Station Pizza in nearby Ambridge all have their loyal cult followings and attract diners from all over Allegheny and Beaver Counties. Sewickley and Sewickley Heights, once home to the Mellons, Pullmans, Westinghouses and other elite families, has high expectations. For a restaurant to survive here it has to meet those expectations. Some of these restaurants have been here for a while (and the Sewickley Hotel for 110 years) so they've proven themselves over time.

Cafe de Amis 424 Walnut Lula's Najat's Police Station Pizza Sewickley Hotel Speakeasy Subway Vivo
Cafe de Amis is on Division Street, which angles off Broad Street a block north of Beaver. It's a Breakfast and Lunch restaurant which closes at 2 pm. Started by a Frenchman, it changed owners in 2019 and locals agree both food and service have declined under the new management. The Breakfast menu now includes eight Omelettes, Baked Apples, Fried Potatoes, Fresh Fruit, Breakfast Sandwiches, a Breakfast Burrito, Eggs prepared various ways, French Toast, Pancakes, Waffles and 10 Crepes. The Lunch menu includes a Soup of the Day, six Quiches, 18 sandwiches, 12 Salads and eight Desserts. Oddly, the only hot beverages available are basic Coffee and Tea. No Cappucinos, Frappes, Lattes, Espressos or even flavored teas. For a place specializing in Breakfast, this seems an odd oversight.
424 Walnut is halfway between Beaver Street and the Tull Theater, 50 feet from either. At $52 for a steak, $33 for two Crab Cakes and $38 for Stuffed Salmon, it's definitely upscale and for most Western Hills diners a Special Occasion restaurant. However, the food is excellent and the small intimate facility a classy experience. The Shrimp Bisque is delicious. Appetizers include Grilled Octopus, Stuffed Banana Peppers, Steamed Mussells and Beans & Greens With Hot Sausage. Of the Salads we prefer the Arugula (Beet, Pear, Goat Cheese, Candied Pecans). That $52 steak is a one pound Prime New York Strip, seared in a cast iron skillet, with wild mushrooms and truffle butter. It may be costly but it's as good as any in the Pittsburgh area. There's Chicken Penne, Grilled Italian Chicken Breast, and a Filet Mignon for $36 for five ounces or $52 for 10 ounces. Or you could try the Lamb Chops, Salmon, Crab Cakes, Pork Chop, Spot, Veal Marsala, Veal Chop or Mahi Mahi. The star of the menu might be the Seafood Medley (Lump Crab, Scallops, Shrimp, Mussells, Clams and Papardelle (wide flat noodles)). Reservations are definitely a food idea. This is the only restaurant we've ever known to sell Spot. Dessert includes Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie and Coconut Pie.

Lula's is an eccentric restaurant in an old bank on Broad Street a block north of Beaver. There's sidewalk seating and sometimes during the Summer live music. The menu is unique; you see items here you don't see anywhere else. Always, always order a cup of the Soup of the Day. It's always tasty and usually creative, like Canadian Cheese Soup or Cream of Carrot Soup, but some days it's just an outstanding interpretation of French Onion or Tomato Bisque. You find Appetizers here like Chevre Cheese and Gale Apples with a cider gel and fresh rosemary, Zucchini Bruschetta, and Baked Dates stuffed with cheese and water chestnuts. Salads are Quinoa & Brussel Sprouts with a hot bacon mustard dressing, and Grilled Romaine with red onions, parmesan cheese and a special house vinaigrette. As you proceed to Entrees you find options like Veggie Stir Fry, Ahi Tuna, Lettuce Wraps, Filet Mignon with a horseradich pistachio sauce, Bacon Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Lump Crab Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Garlic Scallops on Zucchini Pasta, and Organic Lamb Chops over Asparagus in a Taztiki Sauce.

The Lunch menu is equally unique. You can order a Sourdough Grilled Cheese, Roasted Veggie Sandwich, Brisket Burger, Pork Belly Avocado Alfalfa Sprouts B.L.T., and their famous Chicken Cheese Romaine Spinach Tortilla. Or you could opt for the Turkey Sliders with pepperjack cheese and cranberry aioli.

Coffee lovers rave about the Coffee here.

Lula's is considered the Ultimate Cool Place for 20 and 30 somethings so if you come on a weekend evening, come early to find a parking place and get a table. And you may end up sitting on a sofa or out on the sidewalk.

Najat's is Sewickley's Lebanese restaurant. It's tucked at the far rear of a parking lot at 531 Beaver Street, so it's a little hard to find, but well worth the effort. The menu is 50% vegetarian and many of those items are their best : Baba Ghannouj (grilled egg plant, lemon juice, garlic, spices), Bazenjani (egg plant, bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic), Falafel (tomatoes, ground chickpeas, lettuce, onions, parsley, tahini sauce), Muhamarrah (sliced almonds, bell peppers, coconut flour, sea salt, pomegranate juice, oilve oil spices), Shawarma (zucchini, squash, tomatoes, onions, tahini sauce in a pita bread roll), and Stuffed Grape Leaves. There's a whole page of Pies : Feta Spinach, Chicken Spinach, Mushroom, Ground Beef, Three Cheese and Vegetable. And then there's a page of Meat entrees : Beef or Lamb Shish Kebab; Hummus With Beef, Lamb or Chicken; Rice Pilaf With Lamb Chops; and Shwarma Beef, Chicken or Lamb. You can order Hummus with Red Bell Peppers, Scallions, Parsley, Garlic, Pine Nuts, Wasabi, Artichokes, Cranberry or Walnuts. Desserts include Barazi (sesame, pistachios, butter, flour, honey); Baklava, and confectionaries made with dates, nuts, spices and honey. The Lebanese Coffee is different but quite good. It's made from dark roasted Arabica beans that are ground down into a very fine powder along with cardamom seeds. It's a black Coffee that has more flavor, more nuances, less acidity and less bitterness than American Coffee. People who don't like American Coffee because of its bitter after taste often find they really like Lebanese Coffee.

If your idea of a big night out is Pizza, you don't need to drive very far. Just cross the bridge and go to Ambridge. The best Pizza in Pennsylvania is available at The Pizza House, which everybody in three states calls Police Station Pizza because it's in the old police station. It's a carry out only operation but people drive in from all over Western Pennsylvania to get it. This is Original Sicilian, Square Cut, Thin Crust, Medium Sauce Pizza. They bake it right in front of you to your specificiations. You can also get it to take home and bake yourself, or you can buy their famous homemade sauce. Friday and Saturday nights you'll see crowds and lines, but they're pretty efficient and you'll get served fairly fast. Celebrities from the Cory area, like John Calipari, head basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, and Michael Keaton, actor in Hollywood, have this pizza dry iced and shipped by air to them twice a month. Whether you consider this the best pizza ever made depends on your taste : if you don't prefer the Sicilian style with its thin crust, you might not rank this your favorite. But you owe it to yourself to try it.
The Sewickley Hotel Restaurant has been the gathering point for the Sewickley gentry for 110 years. It was famous for its Turtle Soup, Brisket, Coconut Cream Pie, Crab Cakes, Trout and Cranberry-Gorgonzola-Orange Salad. The Volvo set has always loved it. Restauranteur Robin Fernandez took over in 2019. He kept almost everything : the long polished bar, classic tables and booths, the tight, narrow room, and the low mood lighting. He's added touches of a Western theming, and "sort of" renamed it Rosie's Cantina, even though the sign outside and on the window still says "Sewickley Hotel." The Western theming seems hilariously out of place in upscale Sewickley. Fernandez has totally redone the menu, which had remained the same for a century. Although he promises to bring back the Turtle Soup at some point, probably as an occasional Special, its not on the menu now, and neither are the other old classics. It does include Tomato Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup and a fine bowl of Chile. There's a Warm Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, a Mexican Salad (sweet corn, black beans, avocado, tomato, cheese, chicken, lettuce, bacon and vinaigrette), and a Spinach Shrimp Salad. Appetizers include Meatballs, Brussel Sprouts and Fried Zucchini. There's a full set of sandwiches and burgers, including a fine Open Faced Hot Turkey Sandwich, a Whiskey Burger, and a Diablo (fried jalapeños, Mexican cheddar, sriracha mayo, and pico de gallo slaw). Quesadillas are a major part of the menu, with five kinds. Entrees include Spaghetti & Meatballs, Lamb Chops, Salmon, Chicken Fried Steak, Chicken Breasts and Pasta & Italian Sausage. Replacing the classic Coconut Creme Pie is a Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie and Blueberry Cobbler. Their drinks are still pretty good, although many find them way overpriced. Margaritas range from $12-18, and Cocktails $12-14, for example. The Wine list is solid, however. Since the food's still good, the gentry have grudgingly accepted the changes and still stop by whenever they're downtown. Only a few minutes from Cory, the Sewickley Hotel is still worth a visit from you, too, especially if you're coming to town for a movie at the nearby Tull Theater two blocks away. It's open 11:30 - 3 and 4 - 9 Tuesday - Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday. Coming off the bridge, go straight downtown and turn right onto Beaver Street (the main street). It's on your left.

The Speakeasy is patterned after the speakeasies of the Al Capone era. This theme is maintained by the off in the woods location and barely noticeable driveway. Look for it just outside of Sewickley heading toward Pittsburgh at 17 Ohio River Boulevard. The driveway cuts sharply uphill. Except you can't turn left. So your better approach would be to cross the Island on I-79, go West along the river, and watch carefully for the driveway, announced by the Jazz Age billboard. Once there you'll love the brick walls, Jazz Age decor, sheet music display, and picture windows looking down on the river through a break in the trees. In addition to the ambience, this is a very good restaurant. Of the appetizers we like the Frog Legs, Crabmeat Hoelzel and Fried Zucchini in Marinara Sauce. You MUST try the Three Cheese Five Onion Soup. No where else has it and it's great. Of the entrees, they offer 10 seafood items, 14 steak, veal and chop items, and eight classics. Of these, we like the Orange Glaze Duck, Pecan Breaded Lamb in Bourbon, Scallops and Spot, both broiled in a sauce beurra blanc. Spot is too rarely offered in restaurants. It's delicious and The Speakeasy prepares it very, very well. The wine list is not extensive but contains some outstanding mostly American choices.

The famous Jared campaign where a grossly overweight guy lost 245 of his 425 pounds by eating all his meals at Subway for a year was humorous but also accurate. They brag about their eight basic sandwiches containing six grams of fat or less. Of that array, we love their Black Forest Ham, Chicken Teriyaki, and Oven Roasted Chicken. You control your ingredients, but your choices are vegetables, freshly made breads, and fatless cuts of meat. If you do want to add a little cholesterol to your diet, there are Meatball Marinara, Philly Cheese Steak, and eight other alternatives. Subway isn't into teas, soups, desserts or other menu items. You can construct a salad from the veggie sandwich ingredients but that's about it. However, if you just want a great basic sandwich, Subway is your place. Sewickley's Subway is just off Beaver Street, on your left a block from Broad Street. It's tucked back in a parking lot and faces the lot, not the street, so it's hard to see. It shares the parking lot with Najat's.

Vivo actually opened in Bellevue and operated there for 10 years before relocating to Sewickley. It's on West Beaver Street, a block from Broad. It's upscale but not so high as to be limited to Special Occasions. The menu is very short, with 13 Appetizers, seven Entrees, three Sides and two Desserts. Appetizers include Olives, Cheeses, Mushrooms, Peppers, Octopus, Escargot, Lobster, Meatballs and Duck Legs. Entrees are White Bean Ragu, Shrimp, Walleye, Chicken, Pork Chop, Lamb Chop and Steak. Sides are Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Blanched Carrots and Braised Red Cabbage. Desserts are either a Chocolate Caramel Tart or a Whipped Lemon Mascarpone (an Italian acid set cream cheese).

Walleye is a delicious freshwater fish anyway, and Vivo prepares it very well. Frequent diners rave about their Meatballs, Duck Legs and Lamb Chops. Vivo seems to have more trouble with the Steak, often blurring the times between Rare, Medium and Well Done. Steaks often have to be sent back to the kitchen.

The bulding is misleading. The small front opens up into a cozy inside and an outdoor courtyard. As the photo shows, they also have a few tables out front on the sidewalk. Reservations are definitely recommended. Vivo has been named one of the Pittsburgh area's best 25 restaurants.

The menu changes according to what's available. Vivo is famous for its Elk and Bison but as of the writing of this review neither is on the menu. The fish also changes over time. So you need to be flexible.

Vivo is very popular with Sewickley locals and people drive in from all over Allegheny and Beaver Counties.