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).
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.
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.
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.
At Bossa Nova, it’s okay to begin a meal with cupcakes. In the baked chicken cupcakes—one of many tapas plates on the menu—mashed potatoes are substituted for frosting, and there’s a garnish of sautéed zucchini. Such innovative recipes are mixed in with a number of classic ones; you can also try fried calamari, spicy tuna tartar wrapped in cucumber, and a bacon, brie, and potato sandwich. These dishes are centered on a communal dining experience, which encourages you to try whatever tapas plate your friend is eating without first pretending to have somehow misplaced your own. In addition to tapas, the kitchen serves up larger entrees such as Spanish chorizo and beef filet.
The restaurant's space is just as eclectic as the cuisine, with a circular bar covered in mosaic tiles acting as the centerpiece. Stop here to order wine and cocktails, and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, guests head to the dance floor during DJ sets. Chandeliers and vibrant artwork surround the tables spread throughout the dining room, and there are nooks embedded into the walls if you want a more intimate setting.
Colors & Bottles' founder Jessica Burley and her band of talented local artists are dedicated to supporting local emerging talent and businesses through art instruction held at nearby venues. Their resident artists travel to local eateries and art galleries, where they teach students of all skill levels to fashion dimensional masterpieces through step-by-step instruction. They also kindle creativity during private parties held at the location of your choice, asking only that the destination be outfitted with enough tables, chairs, and paint-by-numbers templates of the Sistine Chapel ceiling for all invitees. Colors & Bottles has received a nod for their engagingly creative events on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and within the pages of the Columbus Dispatch.