Ghosts of Closed Pittsburgh Restaurants

Joe Mama’s Oakland/Pitt (RIP 2014)

I ate here once or twice. Sort of like an Italian Diner. I hated the name. It was stupid.

Uncle Sam’s Subs Oakland/Pitt (RIP Fall 2018)

A disaster. Greatest steak 🥩 subs ever. Ever. Lease not renewed. Lots of ketchup. Hot peppers 🌶. Mushrooms 🍄. Leave the research center. Go get special steak sub with ketchup and fries 🍟. Sit outside the horriffic ugly, soulless, cheap brutalist architecture and eat your sub.

« Le vieil Pittsburgh n’est plus. » – Le Rochefaucaud 1876

The Beehive (RIP Fall 2018)

Iconic Coffeeshop. One of the first post-Bob Dylan era coffee shops to resurface… in the 1980’s. Awesome place. Can get Bailey’s in your coffee ☕️.  A tragedy of biblical proportions.

Evergreen Chinese Buffet, Turtle Creek (RIP 2017?)

Was one of the early long-standing Chinese buffets. Went here with family and friends for a long time. Then I just forgot about it. The owner and staff were wonderful, then the inevitable new management and collapse. Now it stands empty across from the long-dead Circuit City vacant lot.

Silky’s – Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill (RIP July 2018)

Bar – Restaurant kind of joint. Privately owned local sports bar. It was decent. I wasn’t in there that often. There used to be a club française that used to meet there. I remember hanging out with some hot French broad and a pied noir dude. The food was decent. The upstairs balcony seating by the window gave a view of the street at night.

Cafe Sam – Baum Boulevard (RIP July 2018?)

I was never in there. But Annabel Lee was a few times. It was one of the first hip foodie places in the city.

Subway – Pittsburgh International Airport Arimall (RIP May 15, 2018)

I probably got a sandwich here once, but I don’t remember. The Airmall was pretty cool  before September 11th ruined the ability to hang out there at random.

TGI Friday’s – Pittsburgh International Airport Airmall (RIP 2018)

This was a well-run, decent place to hide out before a flight, relax and eat.

Peter’s Place – Bridgeville (RIP May 31st 2018)

They used to cater lunch for some local businesses. I would have preferred a real cafeteria. I never ordered from it. Clientele was mostly quite elderly. Hard to tell when it was open.

Bloomfield Bridge Tavern (RIP 2018)

Polish food. Old Pittsburgh style. I was never in there, but it was highly regarded. Opened around 1985. Had a Polish flag 🇵🇱 painted on it.

Mitchell’s Ross Street (RIP 2018)

Big with the legal crowd and local pols for lunch. Food was pretty decent. Was always packed. I used to be in there a lot with an old friend who died years later under mysterious circumstances.

Old Town Buffet – Clairton Boulevard (RIP 2018)

This was a mega huge Asian buffet. Standard, but good. Had girls straight from China as servers. The building is being torn down. It was a little rough with an old mill-Town clientele. The whole area is in a state of collapse due to the impending doom of Century III Mall, which is becoming a legendary ghost mall.

Peter’s Pub – Oakland (RIP May 25, 2018)

Famous Pitt location. Rumor on Reddit was that it was bought out. Confirmed by the owners in the Pitt News. I wasn’t in there much. Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. More a place to drink and meet people. Kind of legendary.

UPDATE! Khalil’s on Baum Boulevard has been brought back to life as of May 2018! One of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants ever! It’s a miracle!

Eddie’s Newsstand – Squirrel Hill (RIP May 2018)

The famous, epic cultural treasure, Eddie’s Newsstand on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill is closing. Opened by the ultimate literary character, Eddie Millstone. Eddie actually retired in 1981. He was a WWII vet. Eddie’s was an amazing place to hang out and chat. He had a collection of rare board games like Tactics II and wooden thick-handle Jackie Robinson baseball ⚾️ bats 🦇 and every odd candy you’ve never heard of, wide selection of cigarettes and comic books and God knows what else in the storeroom. The demise of print probably killed it.

Houlihan’s Station Square (RIP 2018)

Very 70’s Steelers-era venue mostly for the 35 and up crowd.

Donato’s – O’Hara (RIP April 2018)

Really a very good restaurant. Small venue. Good Italian Cuisine. Easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there.

Kiva Han Coffee Shop (RIP 2008?)

This was an awesome coffee shop with great atmosphere. It was very sort of Generation Y hip. I suppose it was destroyed by predatory Starbuques locations, but new independent coffee shops seem to be able to compete with St. Arbuques. I was at Kiva Han all the time in my early research days back in the late 90’s and then again in my next research phase. Then I was gone for just a little while before I returned to the University. First, the Kiva Han on Atwood died, then the one at Forbes and Craig. They used to put a chocolate 🍫 espresso bean on top of the whipped cream on the mocha. Rumor has it they still exist in Cranberry, PA but I’ll have to go look for it. Two locations on Forbes: Forbes and Craig and Forbes and Atwood, Oakland

The Elbow Room (RIP 2018)

Just announced. It closed once before I think. It was basically a bar. I don’t remember the food being remarkable. It was once a major hangout on Ellesworth. Then it faded away. I never cared for it. Basically a bar that served mediocre food. Ellesworth Avenue, Shadyside

La Cappella – Fox 🦊 Chapel (RIP  November 2017)

Very good Italian food 🥘 all the way. A report on Yelp says readers claim that it has closed. I did a drive-by and it was posted that it is closed for remodeling but now the restaurant name is gone and there is a retail space available sign. It was family owned. Pizza was good, anti pasta was good. Pasta dishes were excellent. It is confirmed closed by unnamed sources. Waterworks Mall is in the weird Pittsburgh enclave of Lincoln.

The end of LaCappella

Wheel Deliver (RIP 2017)

One of the first multi-restaurant delivery services. Almost legendary. Advertised in local alternative newspapers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on October 27, 2017 that there is no sign of activity at their offices and some restaurants report being owed money. Update: the Wheel Deliver website reports that they also re re-opening on November 8, 2017. Update 2: A further report claims that there is some sort of dispute with another delivery 📦 service and it is not re-opened. Unnamed sources report that it is closed. Wilkins Avenue, Squirrel Hill

Hotlicks – (RIP 1998) Walnut Street Shadyside. Part of the Balcony. Rib joint. – see below. I remember excellent ribs and thick sliced potato 🥔 chips. I think it was also a jazz venue.

Buffalo Blues (RIP 2015) Highland Avenue – Great ribs, great sauce. Real Sauce. Best takeout ribs in a long time. I used to go there a lot. Not a franchise. Nice atmosphere. Dark inside. You could hide out a bit.

Khalil’s – (ALIVE!!!) Baum Boulevard. One of the longest standing Middle Eastern Restaurants in Pittsburgh. Had that classic bogus middle eastern motif wall tapestries with camels 🐪 pyramids caravans etc. They even had a belly dancer 💃 in there once. Awesome medamas a walnut paste similar to hummus. Excellent spinach and meats pies. Awesome shish kebab . Everything was good. Another tragedy.

Spaghetti Warehouse – (RIP 2016) Smallman Street – Awesome rolls with Garlic chive butter. Thick noodles and thick meat sauce. Old trolley to sit in while you ate. Authentic old-timey decor. Lots of heavy old wooden beams. Another tragedy.

Benkovitz Seafood  (RIP 2013) – Strip District – Best Fish Sandwich and Best Cocktail Sauce Ever, Best Savage Fish Soup. I was there about once a month. It was always steamy, especially on a winter’s day. You could always find parking. First you would buy your savage fish soup, then get your fried fish sandwich, It was tough to find shoulder space at the stand-up counters and people were always bogarting the cocktail sauce or hot sauce. The protocol was to leave the sauce up on top when you weren’t using it so others could use it to. But hogging it was an unpardonable crime.

Silk Pagoda  (RIP 2013) – Greenfield Beechwood Boulevard – Best Gen Tso Chicken ever. It was crisp, well-spiced. Easy to get to at the edge of the Greenfield bridge, nice people. Lots of memories here. I went here a lot with family. They had that slow inevitable decline, when the immigrant generation that started  the business bails as the next generation become professionals and business-Leute in their own right.

Gullifty’s (RIP 2013) – Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill – Good Desserts, the rest of their food was mediocre at best. At one time it was a hip place. It had two interior levels.

Sammy’s Famous Corned Beef (RIP Unknown) – Forbes Avenue, Smithfield Street and Bloomfield. Only one is still left. Best Pittsburgh Corned Beef Special Ever. They just closed the one across from the jail. The best one was down on Smithfield. You could go in get your corned beef special, cole slaw, no horrible sauerkraut. You needed a fork to eat the excess corned beef. Pickle slices were great too.

Minutello’s (RIP 2012)– Shady Avenue, East Liberty – Best Eggplant Parmesan, once the best antipasto, but then they substituted horrible pepper rings for delicious pepperoncini and took out the anchovies. It was that classic slow decline. They had a bar which was never too successful. We were there on the last night it was ever open.

Iz Cohen’s/Rhoda’s/Polonsky’s Hebrew/National (RIP 2010) – Murray and Douglas  Squirrel Hill – Filthy – Best Kreplach Soup Ever, Best nasty Beef Sticks, Best Latkes, Solid Corned Beef, Pastrami and  Pickled Tomatoes. It was Hebe central.  They had those small halvah bars too. Tongue, herring all kinds of disgusting yet delicious Jewish food. The death of Iz Cohen’s signgalled the inevitable slow death of Jewish Squirrel Hill.

Poli’s  (RIP 2006) Murray and Forward Squirrel Hill – Cool Place, Food OK, Best Bronze Lobster Door Handles. Used to have a Sunday buffet. Once one of the greatest old Pittsburgh restaurants, was considered fine dining back in the Pittsburgh mill days.

Ung’s Chinese Restaurant (RIP 2000) Penn Circle South –  East Liberty – Best Egg Roll and Duck Sauce ever. The secret recipe died with them. Made it about two generations, but in the end there was no-one to carry it on.

Bagel Land  (RIP Unknown) – Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill- Best Fresh Bagels in the Entire United States – New York City Included. Bagels served hot with a thin, crisp exterior, hot soft dough on the inside.

Bagel Nosh  (RIP 1996) – Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill – Wasn’t that good to begin with. I hated the owners.

Sir Loin  (RIP 1990) – Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill – Also not that Good. Was fancy eating for standard high-end American fare back in the Mill Days.

The Balcony (RIP Unknown) – Walnut Street, Shadyside – Good Ribs, I think. Had good live Jazz music.

The Gazebo (RIP Unknown) –  Walnut Street, Shadyside – I don’t remember it at all, but I know I was in there. See

Gazebo Tweet Post-Gazette

Gazebo Triblive Handler Obit

Isaly’s (RIP Unknown) – Boulevard of the Allies and Halket – Oakland – Best barbecued Ham Sandwich Ever. Classic old Pittsburgh joint. Famous for Klondike ice cream bars which are now sold at grocery stores. Made iconic ‘chip-chopped’ ham. (Pronounced chip-chawwped) See Brian Butko’s awesome site: Isaly’s History

Chick-King Supreme  (RIP Unknown) – Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill – Best Ribs ever. Had the original ‘Pong’ video game. Great Corn Dogs.

House of Sauce  (RIP Unknown) – Center Avenue, Oakland – Hottest Sauce ever, terrifying clientele. Hot sauce was actually painful, caused lip and facial swelling. So I’m in there with the Boten-Daughter. I said to her in jest: ‘I think we’re the only white people in here.’ She replies very loudly: (She’s adopted and Asian) ‘ No you’re the only white person in here!’  Of course everyone cracked up in loud laughter at the racist white satanic devilish diablo.

Niko’s Gyro’s (RIP Unknown) – Semple Street, Oakland – Weirdest place ever, it was never open during normal business hours. Very strange. Like Brigadoon. Great Gyros. I think they re-opened somewhere else.

Taco Vista (RIP Unknown) – Forbes and Boquet, Old King’s Court Theatre (Home of the Rocky Horror Picture Show) Oakland – Best Mexican anywhere ever. Another place that was great in the winter. Nice thick sauce with the meat. Tiny fresh onion bits on the burritos. Lots of Chick Publications Jesus Tracts. I used to collect them, by the way.

Samreny’s (RIP Unknown) – Baum Boulevard, Oakland – Middle Eastern. Solid, fancy joint. Not fantastic, but OK. Had great classic Shish-kabob.

Penguini’s (RIP Unknown) – Baum Boulevard, Friendship – Upscale Dining for Young Hipsters. It was very gay. The Penguin, like the Owl is a gay symbol. They just are. Don’t question it, you sexy brute. I vaguely remember it. May have closed in the 1980’s.

Conflict Kitchen (May 31, 2017) Good Riddance. Pompous, holier-than-thou hatred of America was its prime feature. Schenley Commons

Del’s (RIP 2015) – Bloomfield, Liberty Avenue, Generally agreed upon in most online comments as the worst restaurant. Worst service ever. I was actually served a veal Parmesan with a bone in the middle of it under the breading. WTF? I took a bite, found the bone, complained and was told it was supposed to be like that and I had to pay for it because I took a bite. Bye, bye now!

Rax’s Roast Beef (RIP? 1990’s?) – Cyprus Street between Baum Boulevard and Center Avenue, Shadyside – Rax was awesome. They had the first tasty salad bar at a Fast Food Restaurant. Proximity to colleges led to its downfall. Students sneaking in plates, bums pulling plates out of garbage cans probably did it in due to ‘lossage’. Now they barely exist.

Park Schenley (RIP 1985?) – North Dithridge Street, Oakland – I took a girl here once when I was in College. Overkill I think. It was once one of the great classy Pittsburgh restaurants. Time just passed it by.

George Aiken’s (RIP 1980?) – Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill – Great old-time deli. Had good Ham Barbeques I think. Also fried chicken.

Isaly’s (RIP 1978?) – Forbes Avenue Squirrel Hill – Chip-chopped ham, ham barbeques. Also a great Deli. The Klondike Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Bar is the sole survivor of this once mighty institution.

Mother John’s Pizza (RIP 1990?) Center Avenue, Oakland – Best Calzone ever. Probably overwhelmed by the chains.

Tambellini’s (RIP 1995?) – Saw Mill Run Boulevard, Beechview -Touted as a high-end Italian Restaurant with several restaurants in the area. I never liked their sauce. I found it low quality food yet it was a fine dining environment.

Red Bull Inn (RIP 1990?) – Shady Avenue, Shadyside – Also had a few locations in the area. Sort of a local chain. Was once a high-end family restaurant. Excellent dark interior décor, comfortable, a favorite of local National Guardsmen for lunch-time boozing.

Roy Rogers – Cathedral of Learning Basement Crossroads (RIP 1993?)

Great hangout. You could chill out in a quiet booth. Not busy like the new Pitt Cafeteria.

Regional

Winky’s (RIP Unknown) – Wilkinsburg – Swissvale Avenue, Burger joint, chain. Junkies loved it.

Bruegger’s Bagels (RIP 2015)  – Oakmont. Another shocking closure. Drove up one day and it was boarded up. WTF?

Hoss’  (RIP Unknown) – Moon/Coraopolis – Best Hoss’ Ever, Great salad bar. None of the others are quite as good.

Howard Johnson’s (RIP 1988?) – Pennsylvania Turnpike – Had disgusting fried clams that I liked. Closed almost everywhere in the U.S. Might be one location left in Maine, but I’m not sure.

Glisan’s Diner (RIP 2011) – Markleysburg – Best Muffins ever. Right on top of the Laurel Highlands Ridge on Route 40, Washington’s Road high above Olde Uniontowne.

Rowdy Buck (RIP Unknown) – Donegal – Best Mashed Potatoes and Ribs. Very redneck country joint. Authentic rustic wooden decor. Right above the Turnpike.

Ship of the Alleghenies (RIP 1986) – Schellsburg PA – Lincoln Highway –  Weird tourist attraction on the old Lincoln Highway. Burned to the ground in 2001 http://old.post-gazette.com/regionstate/20011027ship1027p2.asp

Other Venues

C.J. Barney’s Forbes and Bouquet, Oakland

An Oakland Pitt dive next to the O’

R.I.P. John Brown ‘The Catch’

Eddie’s News Stand (New Ownership – RIP 2018) Murray Avenue

It wasn’t a restaurant, but it was an epic 70’s hangout. Had the new strategy type War games like Tactics II and 1776. Weird old baseball bats. Widest variety of Beetus candy. Eddie was way cool 😎.

Lew’s Virgo Shop (RIP 1977?) Forward Avenue Squirrel Hill

An epic 70’s headshop. Beads, Lava Lamps, incense, roaking paraphernalia. Moved to Indiana, PA.

Head’s Together (RIP February 28, 2009) Murray Avenue Squirrel Hill

Epic and long lasting headshop with water beds, incense, LP’s and roaking paraphernalia.

A Head was a shit head, someone who smoked shit. Roaked the Schmiee…

The Decade (RIP 1995)

Great music bar. Pittsburgh’s CBGB’s. Atwood Street? Oakland.

Zelda’s Greenhouse (RIP 1995?) Oakland Avenue?

Another bar. I don’t remember it well.

Razzberry Rhino 🦏 (RIP 1988?) Walnut Street Shadyside

Rock n’Roll bar in Shadyside. Hip venue.

https://sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory/pittsburgh-music-story/venues/shadyside

The Upstage (RIP 1995) Forbes Avenue, Oakland

Venue near Pitt, 80’s vibe.

The Electric Banana 🍌  (RIP 2000?) Bigelow Boulevard

Hip Music 🎶 venue on Bigelow.

Metropol (RIP 2000?) Strip District Smallman Street 

Dance 💃 venue

Back in New York…

Mother Stahl’s Knishes (RIP Unknown) – Coney Island Avenue and Brighton Beach Boulevard- Brighton Beach – Brooklyn, NY. Botendaddy was a baker there once,  Best Cabbage Knishes, Best Cherry Knishes, Best Potato Knishes ever –  Sam-Mor, took the recipe to their graves. They were awful rude fucking people.

Red Thai on Lexington (RIP 2013?) – 39th and Lex? Awesome Thai for sit in or takeout. Nice people.

UPDATE! Carnegie Deli (DEAD AGAIN!) – Lesson here – it might be cool to sue your own restaurant for some calculation of back wages, but they may not remember the lawsuit fondly and then shut down the f&%king restaurant. Nice shooting yourself in the foot. Times Square area – Manhattan location is closed. Will continue to exist through merchandising and a few casino locations, like Bethlehem, PA. WTF? Come one New York! I will translate into New Yorkese: Who gives rat’s ass if they siphoned gas? I don’t give a flying fuck. Lose enough tourists yet? I want my fucking Cheesecake and Pastrami! Re-open the goddamned restaurant you fucking Con-Ed/NYC government douche-bags. I was here in June 2016 with one of my muses. I got the pastrami and one bite of chocolate cheesecake. AWESOME!!!

Update: Carnegie Deli Sands Casino Bethlehem, PA (2017)

Shutting down December 31st 2017. WTF? Over. Going all shipping? I went there on the last day! I bought two mega-cheesecakes. They are still in my freezer as of March 4, 2018.

CC407F81-64AB-43BA-8A52-F2028712C6E1
The last day in Bethlehem, PA
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7 thoughts on “Ghosts of Closed Pittsburgh Restaurants

  1. Looking for the name of the restaurant located in Pine Township at Route 19 and Babcock….long closed….wonderful Italian food. Rather elegant atmosphere.

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    1. Hi Phyllis! Thanks so much for stopping by! Was it in the Northway Mall or on the other side? Is it possibly Sunseri’s or maybe Tambellini’s North Park? I’ll keep looking but I might have to ask around. I will post at the top of ‘Ghosts’ when I find it.

      Peace be the Botendaddy

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      1. It was not at Northway Mall…it was a stand alone restaurant. Not Tambellini’s but if I remember correctly it was a familyname….they served marinated green tomatoes as an appetizer. Thanks for your assistance.

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      2. It was not at Northway Mall and it was not Tambellini’s. Seems as if it was a family surname however. They served marinated green tomatoes as a amuse bouchée…sounds terrible but they were wonderful. Delicious Italian food. Corner of Route 19 and I believe Babcock.

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      3. Definitely was not Rico’s…that was at the other end of McKnight Road….this was up across from the road to Passavant Hospital. An Italian surname….served marinated green tomatoes which were the best. This is putting me over the edge….is my memory going? Eitiher Pine or McCandless Township…Route 19 and I believe Babcock. You can do this, Botendaddy…please.

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