Review: Del’s Bar & Restaurant

1 Mar

As I’m writing this, I am finishing what’s left of my lunch from Del’s Restaurant: half of a Mancini Panino.

I was hesitant about going back to Del’s.  We have been patrons of this restaurant over the years and the decline in quality was noticeable, but the history of the place is undeniable.  Del’s has been owned and operated in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh, BY THE SAME FAMILY, since 1949.  Um, hello.  How could you not want to support a business like that?

Plus, I’m from New Castle which means I can’t help but want to adopt every little old Italian lady that I see.

But, I’d been burned by Del’s before.  And so had a lot of other people – so much so that it was chosen to undergo a makeover by Robert Irvine of Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible.  The first time we saw this episode was last night, so our choice to patronize Del’s today was no accident.

I had also read a review from Chef Chuck Kerber at Pittsburgh Hot Plate, who attended the re-opening for the television show.  Needless to say, I had mixed feelings about today’s lunch.

Let me start by saying that the decor in the restaurant has improved, tenfold.  I also enjoyed the fact that all three dining rooms were open and being seated.  It really gave me a sense of what Del’s may have been like in its heyday; I would have considered it to be a good sized lunch crowd today.

I didn’t take photos of it because I was sort of incognito today… Several of the waitstaff referred to us as “regulars” as we were being seated and I felt like a lot of attention was being paid to our table.  Don’t get me wrong, it was great – good service means good retention.  It was just a little awkward to take photos because I wasn’t sure if this review was going to be good or bad.

The Food:

I started with French Onion Soup, which was broiled.  Friggin amazing.

I thought it was odd that the waiter asked me if I wanted cheese.  When we got the bill, I realized that we had been billed for cheese on top of what the soup cost.  Really?  Who eats french onion soup without cheese?

As I said before, I ordered the Mancini Panino, which was also delicious.

This doll has capicolla, genoa salami, roasted red and banana peppers, and mozzarella cheese.  So good.  The french fries tasted exactly like everything at Long John Silver’s.  Which tells me that they have been frying fish in the same fryer as everything else.

She♥ ordered chicken Parmesan, not only because it is something she had had before but also because it was something featured on the show.  Apparently, prior to Chef Irvine’s intervention, the DelPizzos had been using frozen chicken breasts for the chicken Parmesan.  He showed them on the show that they could save money and time by freshly breading and frying chicken breasts.  He also plates it with pasta and a little sauce.  This, of course, is what we were expecting to be served.

Wrong.

She♥ was given a chicken breast, which was not crispy as if it had just been fried.  It was alone on a plate, drowning in sauce.  I couldn’t even take a photo of it because it would have been unrecognizable as chicken parmesan.  We asked Travis, our server – what happened to the freshly breaded chicken?  He responded, “Well, he must have gone back the old way of doing it.  I didn’t work here before the renovation, so I don’t know.”

Oh, okay…

The show just filmed December 3rd, aired February 29th and its March 1st.  I, as a former patron and viewer of Restaurant Impossible, would assume that Del’s is serving what I’m being told they are serving.  And don’t worry, for a side of pasta to go with her♥ disgusting chicken Parmesan was $2.

(The other $1 was for a salad.)

Annoyed.

As we ask Travis for our bill, we mentioned to him that we had brought our Del’s loyalty card.  This card had always enabled us to get 20% off of our bill.

Travis informed us that he had only seen 10% off loyalty cards, which made me feel happy because I have an extra special loyalty card that gives me 20% off.  Then Travis informed that it wasn’t valid with any specials, early birds or for lunch.

Sorry Del’s, but I will no longer be referring people your way.  And I probably won’t be using that loyalty card again anyway.  There are other family-owned Italian eateries that I look forward to supporting.

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