Zottola’s Pub & Eatery specializes in evening entrees, serving up a dinner menu stocked with European-inspired dishes and delicious desserts. Coronate a feast with friends using an order of PEI mussels ($11) before savoring a tongue-tingling house favorite, such as three-cheese or beef ravioli, served slathered in a special tomato-herb sauce that sets the bar of aspiration for newborn tomatoes ($13), or wrestle the broiled wild haddock away from a shark and savor the delicate flavor of sweet, sea-caught victory ($16). Each dinner entree comes with a house salad and chef's side of the day. For lighter eating, try a pub sandwich, such as the asiago chicken, which combines chicken, bread, cheese, and awesome for a handheld feast ($8.25), or an old-time pub burger—a half-pound patty of hand-formed ground beef cooked to order and dropped straight onto your appetite ($8.50).
Hookah is all about embracing a slower pace of life. When seated in front of a shisha, one is committed to doing nothing, at least for a little while. The street cafes of Cairo hum with groups of friends exercising this ethos, taking turns inhaling sweet, fragrant smoke and sipping tea. Despite Pittsburgh’s distance from the Sahara, KOAL Hookah Lounge brings a bit of that mentality to Slippery Rock.
After boiling tobacco leaves with one of 21 fruit varietals, the staff at KOAL pack ornate water pipes for parties of three or five. Though most menu flavors reflect long-established tradition, the lounge experiments with unconventional blends such as the Vanilla Sky, a mixture of vanilla and blackberry tobacco. The modern décor further illustrates this embrace of old and new, with track lighting illuminating a bottle-lined wall, and bold reds encapsulating a row of sleek black stools. Guests can dramatically exhale on the outdoor patio, as well, as they savor hot chocolate and fervently detail the interesting dream they had last night.
Tunes from a digital jukebox float throughout Somma Pizza, from the black-and-white-tile floors up to the sports jerseys hanging high above patrons’ heads. Next to walls painted Steelers black and gold, oven-baked hoagies and wraps jockey with burgers for table space. Shareable pizza pies—made fresh daily from hand-tossed dough—arrive topped with olives, hot-pepper rings, and sausage. TVs broadcast sports games, and a video-game room keeps thumbs busy, like a piano concerto composed for players wearing mittens.
Inside Mike’s Place, a relaxed setting dotted with sports paraphernalia and a pool table, classic Italian-American recipes meet standard bar eats. As guests alternate bites of homemade lasagna and jumbo wings doused in 1 of 10 sauces, bartenders keep glasses brimming and campaign-finance-reform discussions to a minimum. On Friday nights, live musicians and DJs take center stage.
The readers of Pittsburgh Magazine have heaped mounds of praise on Alchemy N' Ale, a rustic pub known for its savory entrees and crisp libations. In a 2012 readers' poll, Alchemy received the second-place spot for Best Burger and took home first-place honors as Best Pub. To see what the fuss is about, all you need to do is sit down and look around. Faux ivy clings to exposed-brick walls, which surround diners as they sink their teeth into mouthwatering burgers or quintessential pub eats such as fish 'n' chips and shepherd’s pie. The recently expanded menu also showcases entrees for vegans and vegetarians as well as dishes forged from local, organic, and Fulbright scholarship–winning ingredients.
Lot 17's extensive menu offers a wide variety of decadent bar fare to fill grumbling stomachs. Leap into an order of crunchy chicken nachos ($7), or dive into a seaworthy Mediterranean salad of tomatoes, red peppers, and Kalamata olives, topped with feta, fried calamari, and lump crabmeat ($10). Lot 17 also offers enticing wraps, sandwiches, and entrees, including the salmon BLT, a hoagie-roll-shaped horn of plenty stuffed with grilled salmon, dill mayo, bacon, lettuce, and tomato ($9). As for land-meat eats, the black and blue Cajun-seasoned burger arrives blackened and topped with bacon and bleu cheese ($8.50), while tender baby back ribs make like a surrealist comment on the fluidity of time and melt off the bone into a bed of fries and slaw ($13 for a half rack, $17 for a full rack).