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The Coraopolis Record

Coraopolis

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The photo above is of Isaly's, which held its Mill Street location for 40 years through several remodellings and different fronts. Isaly's was a busy place. Downtown Coraopolis was filled with businesses, all of which had secretaries, receptionists, typists, clerks, salespeople, managers, executives and owners, and most of them ate lunch at Isaly's. Women coming downtown to shop stopped at Isaly's for a snack and a package of Chipped Ham before heading up the hill to home. Men getting off the train from working in Pittsburgh would stop at Isaly's for "the best cup of coffee in town." After football and basketball games the place was packed. Before and after dances at the Y junior and senior high students dropped by. After the theatres let out, the movie crowd invaded. Women grocery shopping at the Giant Eagle would wait and buy their Milk, Ice Cream, Cottage Cheese and Baked or Chipped Ham at Isaly's. There was no Isaly's on Neville Island or in Moon or any of the surrounding townships, so anyone wanting some of the famous Chipped Ham, ice cream or other specialties had to come to the Cory location. Isaly's was even a destination unto itself; a guy would ask a girl what she wanted to do and if they'd already seen the movies playing and there was no dance or game, she's shrug and say, "Let's go down to Isaly's."

Tootsie's Diner is Cory's newest full service restaurant. On 5th Avenue next to Junior's, it serves breakfast and lunch but not dinner. This is unfortunate, because Tootsie does a great job with breakfast and lunch. There's not much seating, so you need to either come early or late to avoid the 8-9:00 and 12-1:00 rush. Tootsie clearly takes pride in her breakfasts. There are six Omeletees, Corned Beef Hash, a Breakfast Sausage Burrito, various kinds of Pancakes, a Breakfast Taco, French Toast, Waffles, three kinds of Bacon, Bagels, English Muffins, Fruit Bowls, Hot Chocolate, freshly brewed Coffee, and three kinds of Juice. The lunch menu features a Soup of the Day, Chili, four kinds of Salad, four Sides, 10 kinds of Sandwiches, four kinds of Hoagies, three Burgers and a Patti Melt. We think Breakfast is the better deal here, although the Soup, Chili, Salads and some of the Sandwiches are worth a lunch stop. Prices are in the $7-9 range, except for the $12 Steak Salad. The decor is 1950s. This is a Diner, with a typically limited diner menu. But as Diners go, it is very, very good. Portions are large, ingredients are fresh, service is snappy except during the two rush hours, and there's a personal family touch to it. It has rapidly become the favorite breakfast and lunch stop for the West End of Cory. If it were in the center of town, you'd never get in.
Rose LoBello's father opened the family restaurnt in 1944 and started her as a waitress. When he died in the 1970s, she took it over, and she's run it ever since. Now, due to health problems, she's unable to continue. Son Ben has been running it, but it's for sale. Same building, booths, kitchen, recipes, and equipment, including the hand crank ravioli machine. The place has been in magazines and newspapers plus Guy Fieri's Food Network show. A lot of people would drop by just to see Rose. As for the food, people come away with mixed reactions. In a region heavily populated with Italians, everybody either had an Italian grandmother or knew a little old Italian lady down the street. So they have expectations. Whether LoBello's meets those expectations varies with the Italian cooking you grew up tasting. Almost everybody agrees Rose had the Meat Ravioli, Lasagna, Meatballs and her own specialty of Rigotoni LoBello down perfect. The Pasta Fagioli is good but overstuffed with noodles, so if you love pasta you'll love it and if you prefer more soup in your soup you may come away disappointed. Most locals like Rose's red sauce, which Ben uses on everything, and her noodles, which he still makes. The dinner salads are served in chilled bowls, an old school touch. LoBello's is on 5th Avenue just west of the National Guard Armory. It's only open from 4 pm til 8. But hurry : It's for sale and will close soon.

Segneri's is a classic old time local family owned Italian restaurant. It's been here for 70 years. It's not fancy; it looks today exactly like it looked in 1954. The menu is not extensive; they focus on a few dishes done extremely well plus a few daily specials. If it's Pizza you're after, go somewhere else. But if you're looking for authentic Italian cooking, this is one of the best in the Pittsburgh area. It's at the corner of 4th Avenue and Mill Street. Segneri's is famous for the AntiPasta Salad big enough for four people, Wedding Soup, the Meatball Sandwiches, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Cacciatore, Gnocchi, Italian Sausage, Penne Arrabiata, Cannoli, Ravioli, the Fish Sandwich, and the Cinammon Apple Pie. They're all homemade from scratch back in the kitchen; nothing comes in frozen. Be careful with that Arrabiata; the sauce is very spicy. The Marinara Sauce, which appears on several entrees, is great. Assume you'll wait a while for your order; they're preparing it from scratch back there, not pulling it from a microwave. It's a cozy place, ideal for quiet conversation. Order a fine Italian wine and relax. Segneri's is a Coraopolis hangout. Regulars have been coming here every Friday or Saturday night for their entire lives. You'll hear Steeler, Penguin and Pirate conversation, with some Cornell High School football and basketball thrown in, and lots of customers will be wearing team logo clothing. Do try to leave room for that Cinammon Apple Pie.

Anthony Junior's is on 5th Avenue in the very center of town. Owner Anthony Celeste is also the Mayor. At first glance this is a classic Pizza place. However, their Calzones may be the best in the Pittsburgh area, and they're so big you can take one home for lunch the next two days. We're particularly impressed with their Steak Calzone : hot peppers, steak cubes, pepperoni, green peppers, onions and sauce, all in a Calzone so big it looks like a Pizza. This Steak Calzone can feed three people. Their Wedding Soup, Subs, Hoagies and Bread Sticks are outstanding. The Fish Sandwich, Sicilian Pizza, Side Salads, Gnocchi, Lasagna and Baked Cheese Ziti are very good. Their other Pizzas are only average. Beer selection is way below average, but if you're there in the evening you could step across the street to the Cobble Haus Brewery and pick from one of their seven made on location craft beers. Among their Appetizers, we like the Potato Skins and Stuffed Banana Peppers. Service is inexplicably slow and all but a few waitresses are rather frumpy. One of the problems is that Anthony's has developed into the #1 favorite takeout Pizza and Italian restaurant in Coraopolis and the surrounding area, and much of the staff is distracted into filling those orders rather than taking care of its sit down in house customers. Try to come early in the evening before the takeout volume ratchets up and the waitresses get frazzled. If you go on Friday nights you may be entertained by live music.
Rea's is the classic Diner for the East End of Coraopolis. It's at the bottom of Ferree Street at the entrance to the Neville Island Bridge. It's been there since 1991 and in the 8-9 a.m. and 12-1 pm slots is full. Rea's serves great breakfasts and lunches but closes at 2 pm. The place has become famous for its Hoagies. There are 12 of them, all good. Our favorite is the Meatball & Cheese Hoagie. The meatballs are homemade. Locals are addicted to the Italian Hoagie (salami, capicola, pepperoni, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions & dressing) and the Hot Sausage Hoagie (with cheese, green peppers and onions). There are also 19 Sandwiches, six Burgers, seven Wraps, two Salads, and several plated entrees. We like their Spaghetti and Rigatoni, either of which come with your choice of Metballs or Hot Sausage. We also like their Hot Roast Beef, Hot Turkey and Hot Meatloaf Sandwiches. We're not so impressed with the Shrimp and Chicken entrees. Their freshly brewed Coffee and Tea are good, and in hot weather the Raspberry Iced Tea is the best cold drink in town. Good as this lunch menu is, locals like Breakfast even better. There are 15 kinds of Omelets, 15 Egg dishes, nine kinds of Pancakes, plus Belgian Waffles, French Toast, a Breakfast Burrito, a Breakfast Sandwich, Sausage & Gravy, Hot Oatmeal, Breakfast Steak, English Muffins and Bagels. Be aware : Rea's is cash only.

Millie's, on 5th Avenue in the very center of Coraopolis, bills itself as a European Kitchen. It's been here since 1980, so while it's decades short of Cory's older restaurants, it's still been here four decades, which is pretty impressive in the precarious restaurant business. It's really an Italian restaurant with Greek, German, Polish, Hungarian and Ukrainian cuisine comprising about 40% of the menu and even a few American items thrown in. The Italian entrees are fine, but it's really the other food you come here for. As an Appetizer, we highly recommend the Borscht and Sauerkraut Soups, especially since very few restaurants in the Western Hills serve either one. They offer six kinds of Salad. Their Gyros, Pitas, Hoagies, Pierogies, Haluskis, Stuffed Cabbages and Cheburekis are delicious. On the Italian side of the menu, we're not too impressed with their Pizzas, although their Ukrainian, Seafood and Veggie Pizzas are worth trying. But among the Appetizers, we really like their Crostinis (toasted bread topped with various hors d'oeuvres) and Meat Cheese Trays. Of their Sandwiches, we think their best are the Capicola (grilled pork and cheese), Calabreze, Chicken Portabello, Saporito and Gotti. Their Paisano Sandwich contains mortadello, fontinella and mozarella and is popular with locals who love good Italian cheeses. This is about it. Millie's doesn't offer Eggplant Parmesan, Ravioli or the other Italian favorites. They do offer very good versions of American classics : Patti Melt, Hot Turkey Sandwich, Philly Cheese Steak, Po' Boys, Grilled Ham & Cheese and Virginia Baked Ham. But who comes to a European / Italian restaurant to order American food? It also offers pretty good Coffee, Tea and Cappucino, plus the usual soft drinks. Desserts include Cannoli, Turnovers, Carrot Cake and Cheese Cake. The ambience is a bit stark; locals come here for the food and aren't looking for statues, paintings and music.

Red China is that classic Chinese takeout restaurant every town has. It's on 5th Avenue on the western edge of downtown. There are a few tables, but it's basically a takeout business. This is very standardized Chinese food. The menu is exactly the same menu that you see at 90% of all Chinese restaurants. So it comes down to who's preparing the food back in the kitchen. Fortunately, since the place changed ownership recently, the cooking is very good and service is very efficient. One interesting feature of Red China is that they season the food less than most Chinese restaurants. Their Soups, which most customers at a Chineae takeout ignore, are excellent, especially the Hot & Sour Soup. We particularly like their Scallops & Vegetables, Veggie Chow Mein, and Sweet & Sour Pork. If your tastes run to hot and spicy, they have a special Hunan & Szechuan Menu which includes a dozen entrees just for you. Red China has become very popular in the Cory, Neville and Moon area. Prices are reasonable and the quality is consistent. If you want the ambience of a sit down restaurant, we'd advise P. F. Chang's at Settler's Ridge, but if you want takeout this is hard to beat.