When my husband, Bobby, suggested we go to Pittsburgh for the day on Saturday, April 23, 2016, one of the first things we did was search Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. That is our style. We want to check out area restaurants that Guy Fieri has already been to. (We also like to see where Michael Symon goes. His show is Burgers, Brew and ‘Que.) For our trip to Pittsburgh, we had five options to choose from. We decided that we would at least have to try Nadine’s Bar and Restaurant which is on the Southside of Pittsburgh.
On the show, Guy Fieri parks outside of Nadine’s and comments about how small it is. He was not kidding. In fact, the video makes the restaurant look bigger than it did in real life! I had second thoughts about trying it once we were there. But then again, we have never been disappointed when following Guy’s suggestions, so we forged ahead.
My first impression of the inside is that we had walked into a bar/restaurant that is a local hangout. The Pittsburgh Penguins were on all the television screens playing in a NHL playoff game against the New York Rangers. The bar and one corner of the restaurant was crowded with people intently watching the game. The narrow space between bar and the wall had a couple of high top tables, but Bobby decided we should sit at the bar so we could talk with the bartenders/cooks. At Nadine’s everything is right there, behind the bar.
Since we had been driving around Pittsburgh for a while without any pit stops (if you know what I mean), Bobby had to use the facilities right away. So that left me to order drinks. We typically only drink water, one because it is better for us and two because it is cheap, so that is what I ordered. The bartender, whom I later learned was Earl, said, “Water?! We don’t make any money off of water.” I was taken aback, but then realized he was mostly kidding. He brought us water and then went about his business cutting up green peppers (presumably for the fried bologna sandwiches on the menu).
We placed our order, Bobby got the meatball hoagie and fries. I ordered the hot roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes. Both were dishes that we saw on the video from the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show. The food was phenomenal. Bobby loved the meatball sub. It had two huge meatballs on it. The bread was a substantial roll and the sauce was a little tangy for Bobby’s taste. It was a large and filling sandwich–which Bobby had to cut and eat a little at a time, instead of holding the whole sandwich in his hands. The fresh cut fries (my favorite) were yummy. (Yes, Bobby let me have some.)
My meal was huge. Earl cut two huge slices of bread from what appeared to be fresh baked and added a large layer of hot roast beef to one slice and then added the second slice of bread. Then he smothered the sandwich and the scoop of real mashed potatoes with this rich, deep color brown gravy. I think the mashed potatoes were red potatoes because the skins were part of the potatoes.
As we ate, I watched Earl go from cooking food, to serving drinks, to cutting up the potatoes for the fries, to cleaning dishes. He and his co-worker, (which I didn’t catch his name), worked behind the bar tending to all the needs of their customers. I enjoyed listening to some of the banter between Earl and customers. He stopped a couple of times to talk with us. We told him that we had seen the restaurant on the show, which he said he figured since he hadn’t seen us before. He also let us sign their “guest book” which was one of three that they started since being on the show 8 years ago. He also told us that the show was actually scoping out another local establishment, but the bartender there said she only cooked one burger a week. Then she suggested that they check out Nadine’s. Someone from the show checked out the restaurant for a few days, liked what they saw and called Nadine. She thought it was a joke and hung up on them several times. Finally the producer said, “This isn’t a joke. Here is our number. If you are interested, call us back.” She did and the rest is history.
Ironically, we again discovered that we can actually never get far away from home. We were sitting there telling Earl we were from Ohio, near Akron. The guy sitting next to me asked, where we were from. I said Wooster. He said, “I graduated from the College of Wooster.” It truly is a small world!
If you get a chance to go to Pittsburgh, I would highly suggest a trip to Nadine’s. It isn’t fancy and it really is quite small, but the food is great, the atmosphere is colorful and the bartenders, at least Earl, are down to earth and mostly friendly.