New kid in town
Canonsburg has a new place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some libations. The Bar Association opened on North Jefferson Street across from the Frank Sarris Public Library on Nov. 27, and owner Harold Close says business has been great. “Canonsburg is transitioning,” he says. “We’ve got nice shops, and council is active in helping new businesses.” You’ll find local beers from neighboring Rusty Gold Brewing, Washington Brewing Co., and White Horse Brewing on tap, and wines from Silver Mark Winery in North Strabane – where Close is also a township supervisor. In the kitchen, Chef Jared Moran preps everything from scratch, on a menu that is small but delicious. Apps like crab dip, house-made flatbread and a several different sandwiches are mainstays, and weekly specials rotate through. When it’s warm outside, the garage doors can be opened, and you can even bring your four-legged friends – Close says they will have biscuits and water bowls available outside, along with al fresco seating. Speaking of dogs: Drink specials often feature Tito’s Vodka, because of the brand’s Vodka for Dog People initiative, which helps rescue and protect animals. For more information, visit facebook.com/barassociationllc.
Husband and wife John and Elaine Tummino opened Valentour’s in McDonald on Nov. 24 and business has been “good, overwhelming.” They’re located in the bottom of the old Valentour’s Hotel building on McDonald Street, right in the middle of town. “Our major goal is to lift McDonald up and give it the restaurant it deserves,” says John Tummino. They have an emphasis on local – McDonald’s PK Winery is their house wine, Liberty Pole Spirits can be found at the 51-foot bar, and all of their eggs come from Primrose Farm, also in McDonald. The Baby’s Blue and Bacon burger has crumbled bleu cheese inside the burger and bacon on top, and the Mamma Mia Burger has pepperoni, minced garlic, Italian spices, mozzarella and provolone cheese mixed inside the burger and is topped with homemade marinara – there is no other kind here! – and more melted cheeses. The most popular pasta dish is the oh-so-spicy Pasta Harlot: a whole clove of roasted garlic, fresh hot banana peppers, onions, green and red peppers, hot Italian sausage and chicken breast all sautéed in crushed red pepper-seasoned olive oil and finished with homemade marinara and tossed with imported linguine. “Nothing we get here is frozen or prepackaged – it’s all made here,” John says. “I always tell people, this is not quick, everything is made to order. You will get to experience Valentour’s.” Make reservations for Valentine’s Day, when JoLo will be performing and an Italian special for two will be on the menu. And, be sure to say hello to Luigi while you’re there. For more information, visit valentoursrestaurant.com.
Great food with a great river view
If there’s a common theme about the Speers Street Grill in Lower Speers (don’t let the Belle Vernon mailing address fool you, it is on the Washington County side of the river), it’s longevity. The staff of the restaurant has been there practically forever – at least when compared with typical turnover at restaurants. Instead of turning over a large percentage of staff year over year, chef Graham Baker has been there since he was 16. He’s now 35. Members of the kitchen staff have been on board for eight to 10 years, and members of the wait staff have been there for four years, seven years, eight years, and so on. The menu changes seasonally, and right now, you can get the meatloaf, one of Baker’s specialties. He’s put a personal, modern touch on it. It’s a tall dish, beginning with a layer of Texas toast, stacked with meatloaf and red-skin mashed potatoes, smothered in gravy and topped with thick, fried onion rings. Their jumbo, Pittsburgh-style salads are also best-sellers. While they have a steady stream of regulars, owners Michelle Jones and David Mendicino are working to get younger adults through their doors. To help draw them in, there’s a rotating list of craft beers, and a couple of trendier items on the menu, like poutine, for example. For more information, visit speersstreetgrill.com.