Barrel Junction is the product of 20 years of cooking and soul-searching. While Ronald A. DeLuca Jr.'s glittering trophy case full of gold-plated steaks is a testament to the virtuosity displayed at his four previous restaurants?among them Blue and Pangea?his true culinary passion is something simpler: "fresh, satisfying comfort food," to quote the chef himself. After impressing the critics at his Pittsburgh-area restaurants, he spent six months operating a specialty taco and hot-dog restaurant in a rustic corner of Colorado. His penchant for approachable food reignited, DeLuca returned to open Barrel Junction, where he fuses his critically acclaimed technique with his love for comfort and simplicity. A carefully selected roster of 22 craft beers complements burgers and barbecue sandwiches, hot dogs heaped with toppings, and hand-tossed white, red, and deep-dish pizzas.
Ten on tap. Sixty varieties in bottles. The beer selection at Cenci's Italian Restaurant & Bar has something for everyone, from Great Divide Hibernation ale on draft to Erie Presque Isle bottled pilsner and a surfeit of other craft options. Cenci’s has more to offer, though, maintaining decor and a food menu worthy of the frequent events it hosts. As hanging lamps gently illuminate tables and booths dressed in warm, brick-based colors, guests indulge in Italian-American fare. In addition to making specialty pies such as steak-onion-ranch pizzas and chicken-broccoli pizzas, the folks at Cenci's are skilled holiday celebrants: heart-shaped pepperoni spangles their Valentine's Day pizza, Halloween parties welcome beer-swilling jack-o'-lanterns with discerning taste, and viewers of important NFL games may be lucky enough to receive free slices at halftime. Like the time Napoleon played Ulysses Grant in an awkward game of chess, weekly trivia encourages brains to battle. Neon writing decorates a chalkboard menu boasting that evening's discounted beers, bombs, and food—there may even be $1 sicilian slices available. The menu also includes calzones, burgers, and pasta.
The cooks at Fortino's Pizza assemble 18-inch pies, fry up whole wings by the dozen, and let customers quench thirsts with tall glasses of soda and Turner's Tea. Nontraditional toppings such as broccoli and hot peppers can be chosen in place of classic pizza adornments such as pepperoni, sausage, and chunks of homespun wisdom. Barbecue sauce, honey-garlic sauce, and hot sauce spread over chicken wings, napkins, and upper lips, and bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and iced tea dream of being poured over a high-school coach's head after a winning chess season.
Dishing out saucy discs since 1979, Casa Del Sole Pizza treats diners to a multifarious menu of hand-tossed specialty pies. A medium tuscan club ($11.95) comes loaded with fresh-cut garlic, bacon, and grilled chicken, held down by gooey cheese in case gravity fails. Large italian-deluxe pizzas ($14.50) appease protein yens with pairings of pepperoni and sausage, and extra-large Calabrese pies ($15.95) invite green thumbs to harvest heaps of spinach, artichoke, garlic, and feta cheese. With a soft touch and carrot-and-stick technique, Casa Del Sole's dough masons also coax floured globules into customer-designed edibles ($7.95–$10.95), which can be adorned with choice toppings such as steak, mushrooms, or artichokes. Non-pizza gems include spring-mix salads ($4.50–$6.95) and oven-toasted hoagies, such as the Godfather hoagie, a fusion of steak, fries, veggies, and a special hoagie dressing ($10 for a whole).
Nestled on one of Oakmont's quaint streets, What's Cookin' at Casey's spotlights authentic Italian cuisine lovingly whipped up from the owners' time-perfected family recipes. Drop by for BYOB dinner and peruse a menu crooning the Old Country's greatest hits, including Rose's chicken cacciatore with savory notes of boneless chicken breast and mushrooms, capped with a velvety encore of tomato-basil cream sauce ($15.95). Creamy layers of polenta and marinara sauce cool fiery italian sausage ($15.95), and Casey's traditional or vegetable lasagna deliciously builds a home layer by layer in guests' mouths ($14.95). Chefs also elevate cuts of meat to greater heights in grilled 8-ounce sirloin filets ($16.95) and nine hand-holdable hoagies ($5.25–$10.95).
Bradlios Pizza's menu reads like the wedding vows of Italian and American fare. Kick off a culinary journey with a spicy order of a dozen wing dings ($8.99) followed by a red- or white-sauced regular pizza (large $9.99+) or gourmet pie (large $14.99) built upon a foundation of homemade dough. Square in shape, the Sicilian (large $11.99+) starts with Tomanetti's soft, thick crust and piles on toppings such as pepperoni and spinach ($1.75 each). The veggie stromboli arrives filled with warm sauce and melted cheese (large $9.99), and the Italiano hoagie flavors itself with Italiano flavors (whole $7.99).