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May 20, 2012
Times Leader
IN?TERMS?of population, the Ohio Valley pales in comparison to its larger metropolitan neighbors like Pittsburgh to the east in Pennsylvania and Columbus and Cleveland to the west and northwest. But fortunately for those who call the valley home, this area boasts quite a diverse assortment of dining options. From the upscale to the down home and even the obscure, you’d be hard pressed to find a person who can’t find that perfect restaurant to fit their tastes. Picky eaters rejoice! The Ohio Valley is sure to offer something that even you can enjoy. In Wheeling, folks come from far and wide to sample the seafood at Coleman’s Fish Market. The lines can get long but fortunately the experienced staff keeps the queue moving at a brisk pace. Then you have DiCarlo’s Famous Pizza, with locations scattered on both sides of the Ohio River. For many in the valley, the question isn’t if you like DiCarlo’s Pizza, but rather which location’s subtle twists on the recipe you like the best. For most former residents who’ve long since moved out of the area, a stop at these two establishments is near the top of the list during any return trip home. But with so many great places to eat, it’s hard to narrow down each category without leaving out some of the lesser known establishments where the food is equally as good. This list is by no means definitive, but will provide a starting point from which to expand. Italian As the Ohio Valley grew, so did its population of Italian immigrants. That heritage is reflected strongly by the number of Italian-style eateries in the area, the majority of which are family owned establishments. With four locations between Weirton, Benwood, Wheeling and St. Clairsville, Undo’s Family Restaurant is perhaps the most well-known name in Italian dining locally. Since the first location opened in Benwood in 1953, the Sparachane family has been offering up quality Italian food to valley patrons. In the early 40s, the Figaretti family of Wheeling began selling their now-famous pasta sauce. It was so well received, the family opened its own restaurant, which has been in operation since 1949. While Figaretti’s and Undo’s are the top names in Italian dining in Wheeling, there are other viable options. Bella Via in Elm Grove, Greco’s along Washington Ave. national chain Olive Garden offer ample selections. There is also That’s Italian Deli on Bethany Pike, with an assortment of pasta along with numerous sandwiches to meet any demand. Across the river in Bellaire, Rigas’ Restaurant and The Roosevelt can be found. A short trip north up Ohio 7 leads you to Martins Ferry and a stop at Primo’s Italian Carryout. The menu isn’t extensive, but many rave about Primo’s homemade meatball and Italian Sausage sandwiches. Traveling further North, stop by Naples Spaghetti House in Steubenville. Pizza Similar to the numerous Italian-style eatery offerings locally, the ethnic makeup of the Ohio Valley has led to a number of quality pizza establishments. One Ohio Valley native who moved to New York remarked on a trip back that “You can tell a true valley native by the squareness of his or her pizza pie.” It’s a phrasing that holds true. There are plenty of great places to get a circular pizza, but in the Ohio Valley, square is king. The name everyone knows is DiCarlo’s. With numerous locations up and down the river, the decision boils down to personal preference. Some swear by the Elm Grove DiCarlo's, others the downtown Wheeling , Steubenville or Glen Dale locations. But DiCarlo’s isn’t the only name in the square-pizza business. Located in St. Clairsville, Halloran’s Home Pizza has nearly an equal loyal following. And in Martins Ferry and Bellaire, Zontini’s Pizza continues to develop a growing fan base. Carlini’s in Shadyside and Powhatan Point is also a top-notch choice. With nine locations locally, DeFelice Brothers’ Pizza has gained a reputation for taste both regionally and nationally for those who prefer a round pizza pie. Domino’s recipe redo a few years ago has seen an increase in its business. The return of Little Caesar’s and its “ready when you get there” pizzas has also caught on. For those wishing to satisfy a late craving for pizza during the wee hours of the morning, head to Bellaire and 24/7 Pizza. Wings What DiCarlo’s is to pizza, Drover’s Inn in Wellsburg is to wings. There are many fine options for the wings in the Ohio Valley, but Drover’s is usually the name at the top of that list. The 19th Hole and Caddy Shack restaurants in Wheeling offer a quality alternative for those not wishing to make the jaunt out Washington Pike to Drover’s. Other wing options in Wheeling include Ye Olde Alpha and Uncle Pete’s. The Dallas Pike section of Wheeling owns two excellent choices in Quaker Steak & Lube and Ruttenbucks. The ‘Lube’ also offers a weekly all-you-can eat wing special. Nearby, Buffalo Wild Wings’ locations in St. Clairsville and Moundsville offer a variety of wing flavors. Seafood The Ohio Valley doesn’t have near the variety of dedicated seafood eateries as other styles of dining, but the name Coleman’s Fish Market is well known in the tri-state area and beyond. National chains Hoss’s Steak & Seahouse and Red Lobster also offer an assortment of seafood. Steakhouse/Ribs Many restaurants serve various cuts of steak and ribs, but a few hang their hats on providing mouth-watering servings of rib eye, porterhouse, strip and sirloin. Locally-owned West Texas Roadhouse offers juicy steaks and mammoth-sized portions on its menu. It does quite well paired against a few national chains which also are never without customers in the Longhorn and Outback Steakhouses. Gasber’s Fine Day Restaurant in St. Clairsville also has a loyal base of clientele. At the Highlands in Wheeling, steak lovers are prepping for the opening of Logan’s Steakhouse, the first in the Ohio Valley. For those who crave ribs, Dee Jay’s in Weirton and Bill’s Famous Ribs in Yorkville are two places you can’t go wrong. Mexican The valley has a small but growing assortment of Mexican-style restaurants thanks to the recent editions of El Paso Mexican Grill at The Highlands near Wheeling and Tlaquepaque Mexican Grill and Restaurant in St. Clairsville. They join the Acapulco in Moundsville and Puerto Vallarta in Steubenville for those seeking a bit more kick and flavor with their meals. Asian When people think Asian cuisine locally, the image of a buffet usually is conjured up. And while there are many buffet options like Super Buffet in Wheeling and King Buffet in St. Clairsville, there are just as many sit-down locales. Two of the newer selections are Fusion Japanese Steakhouse at The Highlands and Osaka Japanese Steakhouse at the Ohio Valley Mall. Wheeling is also home to the Golden and Silver Chopsticks and Panda Chinese Kitchen. New Hong Kong can be found in Martins Ferry. Buffet-Style Sometime’s you’re not sure what you want to it. You just know you’re hungry. When that situation arises, there is no better drive than down W.Va. 2 to New Martinsville for a stop at Quinet’s Court. A buffet-style eatery with numerous homecooked options to choose from, it’s a favorite stop for locals as well as many passing through. Ponderosa Steakhouse in Glen Dale also offers a smorgasbord of eats. There is also the Country Pride’s buffet at the Travel Centers of America in Dallas Pike. The Islander Buffet at Wheeling Island Casino Racetrack and Hotel offers a multitude of options at its buffet, including a large variety for its Friday seafood buffet. A somewhat lengthy drive to Cambridge can have a patron feasting at a U.S.A. Steak Buffet. Washington, Pa. is also home to Cici’s Pizza, home of the all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. Bit of Everything Some restaurants don’t build their menus around a particular item. Some rather offer a variety of tasty treats whether in a family or bar & grill type setting. Plus the valley is not without it’s share of tasty greasy spoons. One of the more well-known in this category is a Sunday morning, after-church fixture for those in Bridgeport and the surrounding area. In fact, it’s a morning fixture period. Sonny Boy offers quality food after the midday sun rises but it’s most famous for its quality breakfast food at reasonable prices. Schlepp’s in Morristown offers similar faire to satiate your palate with equal enthusiasm displayed from its regulars. It seems each town locally has its version of this type of restaurant: small in size but rich in offerings and customers. In Bellaire, Gulla’s Lunch offers perhaps the most well-known hot dog in the tri-state area, a claim Louis’ Famous Hot Dogs in Wheeling likely will dispute. In Martins Ferry, the First Ward is a meeting place for locals to talk about the days’ news while enjoying a fine meal. In Shadyside, you will find the Central Grill, Good Thymes and Matt’s Tiger Pub on the ‘Loop.’ Cadiz boasts the Starlight Restaurant, including its popular steak night on Thursdays. Woodsfield features Traditions, a restaurant that is always packed. Snagging a seat near kickoff on fall Friday nights is nigh near impossible. Dillonvale houses Marsilis Family Restaurant. Chapz Bar & Grill in Belmont, Damon’s in Steubenville and Abbey’s Restaurant in Wheeling are popular choices. Wheeling is also home to Camelot in Elm Grove. Speaking of popular restaurants, no discussion of Ohio Valley eateries is complete without mentioning Mehlman’s Cafeteria in St. Clairsville. There are numerous national chains, offering both sit-down style dining like Perkins, or fast food on the go. Panera Bread at the Ohio Valley Mall offers a selection of healthier options at near fast-food speed. Speaking of healthy, there are a few options to choose from in Wheeling. The Salsa Cafe in Woodsdale and the Later?Gator in Center Wheeling are fine selections. For those who value their drink as much as their food, try the Market Vines Wine Bar and Grille or Casa di Vino’s House of Wine or Wheeling or J.C. Wine?Cellar in East?Springfield.


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