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 Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's

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Mosca

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  • Joined: 5/26/2004
  • Location: Mountain Top, PA
Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 1:46 PM (permalink)
College visit, U Pitt. Man, it's been a long time. I'm a Pittsburgh native, I went to Pitt in the '70s, and I lived on Oakland Ave until I moved to NE PA in '87. But I don't get back much. I should.


As you are driving toward Pittsburgh from the east, along 22, the road changes from partially limited access to full access, with businesses along both sides, and some interesting looking food places. Most know about Dean's Diner, a real block glass front diner on 22 east, heading out of town... but what about Dick's Diner, about 10 miles or so closer to town, and on 22 west, so that you don't have to tuen left across traffic?

Dick's Diner, since 1946. I Ate Here So That You Don't Have To.

Mustard brown. That is the color of Dick's. the walls, the carpet, the tablecloths, the food. Everything was brown. Even the food; cream of wild rice & mushroom soup, hard rolls, meatloaf and onion rings, roast beef and potatoes, chicken strips and applesauce!

To be fair, the soup was homemade, according to the waitress, and it was genuinely excellent. There was some odd crunchy ingredient... I surreptitiously singled one out. Almond slivers. That soup is good.

Everything else, blah. the meatloaf was trumpeted as homemade. I didn't like it. The rest of the meals were institutional, one notch above cafeteria. On the way out, The pies looked really good; the cream pies must have been at least 8 inches high with meringue. Dick's Diner might be worth a try for the pie.







...You get the idea.
 
#1
    Mosca

    • Total Posts: 2936
    • Joined: 5/26/2004
    • Location: Mountain Top, PA
    RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 1:52 PM (permalink)
    We continued on to da burgh; Garmin shuffled us off of the Parkway East and through Wilkinsburg. Oh, my. Note to self, remember to continue on to Squirrel Hill next time, at least after dark. You don't want to have an incident in that part of town. We didn't, and we arrived safely at Courtyard Shadyside.

    Next morning

    Up early! We need to be at Alumni Hall by 9AM, and Pamela's opens at 8. We arrived 10 minutes early, and killed time by browsing the wares at Prandl's Bakery next door.



    The clock strikes 8... 8:04, and Pamela's unlocks her door!



    Question... why, oh why, are these eggs and bacon looking so forlorn on this plate?




    Because there's no room for the strawberry filled pancakes!



    I think I over-ordered.

    Man. Those pancakes are incredible. The best I can describe, imagine the best strawberry shortcake you've ever had in your life... now figure that you just had it served warm, for breakfast, and you were served not just a slice, but the whole cake! I ate one of them.



    MJ got the banana-chocolate filled; she finished most of one...





    and MJ #2 got an omelet and the renowned lyonnaise potatoes. She didn't finish but half of that, either.



    How was the food at Pamela's? In my opinion, this is one of the best breakfasts in America. It's the best one I've ever had, anyhow. Pancakes, $6.95. Add the eggs and bacon for $2. Or, you could get eggs, bacon and unfilled pancakes for $6.95. Each pancake is about 12” in diameter, btw.
     
    #2
      Mosca

      • Total Posts: 2936
      • Joined: 5/26/2004
      • Location: Mountain Top, PA
      RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 1:57 PM (permalink)
      We rolled ourselves out to the street and into the car, drove to Pitt, broke for an institutional lunch that we picked at, toured the campus and the city (see the[url='http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=30864&whichpage=6']Miscellaneous/Food related/Pittsburgh Memories of the 2,000,000...[/url] thread, page 6 for pictures of the campus and city), met a friend and chatted, and then in late afternoon headed over to Tessaro's in Bloomfield for dinner.



      Tessaro's is dark inside; the small camera was having a hard time with autofocus and white balance, so the pictures aren't as good as I'd like.



      MJ never, ever orders a hamburger for dinner in a restaurant; at my urging, she ordered a hamburger. She may never order one again, but she's glad she ordered one here!

      How are the burgers at Tessaro's?

      Big. Half pound.



      Condimented properly. 2 tomato slices, one thin red onion slice from the center. Leaf lettuce, mayo on the side.



      Juicy. If you order well done, they advise you to wait at least 20 minutes, and it is described on the menu as “dry”... I bet they don't get many orders for well done. Medium-well is described as “no pink, still juicy”. I got medium rare, MJ #1 got medium, MJ #2 got medium well, and all were what we ordered.



      Flavorful. Fire grilled. Meaty, steaky, beefy. One of the best in America? Who knows, I haven't eaten everywhere. But if I made this burger at home, I would be really damn proud of myself. It is one damn fine hamburger.

      That was it; no desserts, my hb1ac levels are up and I had the pancakes already that day. We left town during rush hour (which is driving hell in Pittsburgh's decentralized neighborhood layout), finally got free of town and drove home satisfied!


       
      #3
        MetroplexJim

        • Total Posts: 3706
        • Joined: 6/24/2007
        • Location: McKinney, TX
        RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 2:32 PM (permalink)
        Thanks for the wonderful report & pics; Tessaro's and Pamela's are definitely on our list - as well as the Breezy Heights Tavern ( http://roadfood.com/Forums/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=30783 ) the next time we visit the 'Burgh!

        BTW: Mrs. Metro is a size 2 pancake-eatin' machine; your great pics of those strawberry-stuffed pancakes at Pamela's makes that trip sooner rather than later.

        Thanks!
         
        #4
          mar52

          • Total Posts: 7605
          • Joined: 4/17/2005
          • Location: Marina del Rey, CA
          RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 2:43 PM (permalink)
          Lightweights! I think I could have fineshed my plate and what the other two didn't eat.

          I wouldn't be good for the rest of the day, but I'd be happy. Think I would have gone with the banana and then had tastes of the others.

          The breakfast plates looked like they needed something. Even the good pancakes looked wanting.

          Gornish Garnish!

          On the other hand, The hamburger plate looks like a work of art. Yum!

           
          #5
            morningglory

            • Total Posts: 559
            • Joined: 2/6/2005
            • Location: Sacramento, CA
            RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 6:47 PM (permalink)
            Wow, great report Mosca.

            Some really great looking burgers. Didn't realize Pittsburgh was such a huge city with the usual traffic and all.

            Thanks for the report. I think the soup in the first picture looks scrumptious.
             
            #6
              mmarkovitz

              • Total Posts: 80
              • Joined: 2/28/2006
              • Location: charlotte, NC
              RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 6:52 PM (permalink)
              Outstanding report and memories. Great pics and I hope you don't mind I borrowed the shot of the Point.
               
              #7
                Mosca

                • Total Posts: 2936
                • Joined: 5/26/2004
                • Location: Mountain Top, PA
                RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 7:33 PM (permalink)
                quote:
                Originally posted by mmarkovitz

                Outstanding report and memories. Great pics and I hope you don't mind I borrowed the shot of the Point.


                email me and I'll send you one in a larger size, suitable for printing a poster, if you like! I'm kind of proud of that shot. It's hard to get that sharp when the camera is hand held.
                 
                #8
                  Greymo

                  • Total Posts: 3666
                  • Joined: 11/30/2005
                  • Location: Marriottsville, MD
                  RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 7:51 PM (permalink)
                  Pamela's sounds like it is worth a special trip and I looked online and saw where they have HOMEMADE corn beef hash! Would love to go there.
                   
                  #9
                    wanderingjew

                    • Total Posts: 7399
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                    • Location: East Greenwich/ Warwick, RI
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                    RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 7:59 PM (permalink)
                    Mosca,

                    You made some excellent choices. I only went to Dick's once, and of course it was for dessert only. Speaking of desserts, the next time you're in Pittsburgh, you should check out Gullifty's in Squirrell Hill- they're famous for their huge dessert menu.
                     
                    #10
                      joerogo

                      • Total Posts: 4466
                      • Joined: 1/17/2006
                      • Location: Pittston, PA
                      RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 8:33 PM (permalink)
                      Mosca, Very nice pics and report. My daughter graduated from PIT and moved to Virginia. We had 5 great years of Roadfood when we visited her.

                      Tessaro's is on my to do list. Glad I never stopped at Dick's.
                       
                      #11
                        Baah Ben

                        • Total Posts: 3026
                        • Joined: 11/30/2001
                        • Location: Ormond Beach, FL
                        RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 8:36 PM (permalink)
                        Mosca - Great pictures. Thanks!!

                        Prantil's is a good bakery. Yeah, Pamela's is right up there with the best. Metroplex Jim - Try
                        Jo Jo's in the Strip District, too for breakfast! No pancakes, but a great and hearty Pittsburgh breakfast with hand pattied Italian sausage..Terrific. It'd be my second breakfast choice.

                        One other suggestion for you and your wife...In Oakland, near the University of Pittsburgh, try to get to the Original Hot Dog Shoppe and just watch the people order those fries. The hot dog is ok, but it's the fries you want. You'll want to wait a minute and hope you see a "medium" order handed out. Rarely, will you get to see a "large" order unless you catch a group of students "sharing" and I do mean a group. The sizes are comical. This is an amazing sight and the fries are great..at least they use to be.

                        BB - Have you been to the Dirty O (just a figure of speech folkes) lately? Can you give an update on the fries? Anyone else?


                         
                        #12
                          joerogo

                          • Total Posts: 4466
                          • Joined: 1/17/2006
                          • Location: Pittston, PA
                          RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 8:49 PM (permalink)
                          Baah Ben, The last time we were there, one of my daughters went in the back for fries while we were up front getting dogs. Not knowing any better she ordered a large. She came to the table holding a cafeteria tray overflowing with fries. You should have seen her face. We laughed our butts off while helping her eat the fries.
                           
                          #13
                            Baah Ben

                            • Total Posts: 3026
                            • Joined: 11/30/2001
                            • Location: Ormond Beach, FL
                            RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 8:54 PM (permalink)
                            Joe--Yup..Two different stations...It's amazing isn't it. And they're good!

                            They have to cup their catsup because you could never have enough ketchup packets. We use to do the same thing and it's a chore. They get these huge foil bags of catsup (Heinz) and there's a unit you put on the wall. You drop the bag into it and open the spout and out comes the catsup so you can fill all these cups up.

                            Got to go the the Dirty O!
                             
                            #14
                              buffetbuster

                              RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 9:15 PM (permalink)
                              Mosca-
                              Beautiful photos! I know I asked in another thread, but did you get the burnt almond torte at Prantl's? Can you believe I have never been to Dick's Diner? Now I know why.

                              Baah Ben-
                              It has been about two months since my last visit to the Dirty O, but it is still just as good as ever!
                               
                              #15
                                Mosca

                                • Total Posts: 2936
                                • Joined: 5/26/2004
                                • Location: Mountain Top, PA
                                RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 9:30 PM (permalink)
                                quote:
                                Originally posted by buffetbuster

                                Mosca-
                                Beautiful photos! I know I asked in another thread, but did you get the burnt almond torte at Prantl's? Can you believe I have never been to Dick's Diner? Now I know why.


                                Thanks! I'm not allowed to take the big camera into restaurants... the Nikon was having trouble producing a decent shot. It gets like that in low light, and that's a bumma because it is my favorite small camera, I generally prefer it to the Canon. I didn't know it was going to be that dark in Tessaro's; in the dark, the Canon focuses better (and shoots in raw, so I can correct the white balance in Lightroom).

                                No, we just went into Prantl's and looked around and took deep breaths. Whatever we bought was going to have to sit in the car for 14 hours, so we passed. If we were going to be in town for a while, or had a place to stash stuff, we probably would have spent $50.

                                 
                                #16
                                  Mosca

                                  • Total Posts: 2936
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                                  RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Sun, 11/9/08 11:27 PM (permalink)
                                  quote:
                                  Originally posted by wanderingjew

                                  Mosca,

                                  You made some excellent choices. I only went to Dick's once, and of course it was for dessert only. Speaking of desserts, the next time you're in Pittsburgh, you should check out Gullifty's in Squirrell Hill- they're famous for their huge dessert menu.


                                  I considered for some time where to go, with only one day, casual wear. If Pitt hadn't provided lunch, we would have eaten it at Oakland Primanti's or the O. We didn't have time to go to Dave & Andy's for ice cream. I know Gullifty's and Squirrel Hill well; my sister married into Squirrel Hill society! And then divorced out of it, but that's a different story. I still miss my home town, even after 20 years of roots in NE PA.
                                   
                                  #17
                                    tracy20

                                    • Total Posts: 75
                                    • Joined: 7/5/2007
                                    • Location: indianapolis, IN
                                    RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Mon, 11/10/08 12:40 AM (permalink)
                                    Beautiful!!!!!
                                     
                                    #18
                                      leethebard

                                      • Total Posts: 6082
                                      • Joined: 8/16/2007
                                      • Location: brick, NJ
                                      RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Mon, 11/10/08 12:52 AM (permalink)
                                      Great report...Tessaros looks like a keeper!!!!
                                       
                                      #19
                                        Nancypalooza

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                                        • Joined: 6/17/2004
                                        • Location: Columbia, SC
                                        RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Mon, 11/10/08 2:33 PM (permalink)
                                        Stunning pancakes and the burger!
                                         
                                        #20
                                          Kenny Joe

                                          • Total Posts: 193
                                          • Joined: 7/14/2005
                                          • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
                                          RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Mon, 11/10/08 10:00 PM (permalink)
                                          I was in the Dirty O yesterday afternoon and it hasn't changed much in the last few years. Yesterday it was pretty crowded, which has been unusual lately, and most of the customers seemed to be older folk who went probably hung out there when they were much younger.I wouldn't call "dirty" a figure of speech. The food is perfectly acceptable, but it's been a long time since the place has had a thorough cleaning.
                                           
                                          #21
                                            Baah Ben

                                            • Total Posts: 3026
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                                            • Location: Ormond Beach, FL
                                            RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Mon, 11/10/08 10:24 PM (permalink)
                                            Hey, thanks for all the current updates on the Original..I am happy to hear the fries are still good! I always over looked the "atmosphere" when I went there.

                                            Kenny Joe..My sister who still lives in Pittsburgh said that they have lost a lot of customers because the prices are not cheap..That the students get less expensive food in the area. that there is a lot of competition. I have to guess a hot dog is at least $2.50 there now? College students need a lot of food so I guess a pizza from Pizza Hut is a better deal?
                                             
                                            #22
                                              Kenny Joe

                                              • Total Posts: 193
                                              • Joined: 7/14/2005
                                              • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
                                              RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Tue, 11/11/08 8:08 PM (permalink)
                                              Your sister is right. There is rarely a crowd anymore at the O. I was surprised to see a lot of folks there Sunday. I doubt any were regulars; they seemed to be Pitt alums in town for the Louisville game.
                                              In my opinion, there are several reasons for the decline which are more significant than the menu prices:
                                              (a)Tastes change. One of the places in Oakland most crowded by students at meal time is the Panera down the block. I doubt many of those kids would consider indulging in Dirty O cuisine.
                                              (b)If you're looking for unhealthy fast food, there are more a lot more options than in the good old days. For example, there's a relatively new 5 Guys next to the O, which usually has more people in it than the O.
                                              (c)I don't think this is still true, but for awhile the O could be a scary place for a sheltered kid from the suburbs away from home for the first time. While that may no longer be the case, the reputation may linger. In any event, there's still a security surcharge late at night (after 10 PM?).
                                              (d) Everything, even Wal-Mart, has a life span. Places grow and die.
                                               
                                              #23
                                                CajunKing

                                                • Total Posts: 6317
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                                                RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Thu, 11/13/08 12:26 AM (permalink)
                                                Mosca

                                                Banananaanas and Chocolate...... I'm IN!!!!

                                                I wanted to grab the burger through the screen, hmmmmmmmm.... OH MAN!! Now I am hungry
                                                 
                                                #24
                                                  Baah Ben

                                                  • Total Posts: 3026
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                                                  • Location: Ormond Beach, FL
                                                  RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Thu, 11/13/08 8:39 PM (permalink)
                                                  Kenny Joe - A security charge? What the heck is that? So, you think kids' tastes have changed. I have no idea..I believe the family who owned the O and perhaps still does is the Simon family.

                                                  One night the son and his sister who both worked there at the time came into our place and ordered one hot dog and walked right out. I knew who they were. They wanted to check out our hot dog..I was flattered.

                                                  The O got their hot dog made locally at Silver Star Meat Packing while we had our's brought in from Marathon Industries in NJ..Sabrette. We had the hot dog..They had the customers There was no comparison between the hot dogs and no comparison as to who had the more successful business...

                                                  I always wish them well.
                                                   
                                                  #25
                                                    Kenny Joe

                                                    • Total Posts: 193
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                                                    • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
                                                    RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Thu, 11/13/08 9:34 PM (permalink)
                                                    The Simon Family still owns the O as far as I know. (And I would probably know if they sold.)

                                                    The security surcharge is what you charge after 10PM when you want the people who come in after 10PM to pay for your rent-a-cop instead of passing the cost around to everyone.
                                                     
                                                    #26
                                                      Twinwillow

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                                                      RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Thu, 11/13/08 10:37 PM (permalink)
                                                      I love that picture of Pittsburgh's rivers and bridges. It's terrific!
                                                       
                                                      #27
                                                        phlmaestro

                                                        RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Thu, 11/13/08 11:02 PM (permalink)
                                                        I've been to a couple of the Pamela's and agree that the pancakes are fantastic. I always get banana-walnut; and I usually finish them or come very close.
                                                         
                                                        #28
                                                          Baah Ben

                                                          • Total Posts: 3026
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                                                          RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Thu, 11/13/08 11:06 PM (permalink)
                                                          Does anyone have any idea how Pamela's makes that pancake batter?

                                                          KennyJoe - Thanks. Even when I was there, they always had security at night. I just never heard of a surcharge..Thanks for the info on the Simons, too.
                                                           
                                                          #29
                                                            GeoNit

                                                            • Total Posts: 378
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                                                            • Location: Sewickley, PA
                                                            RE: Pittsburgh: Dick's Diner, Pamela's, Tessaro's Mon, 06/15/09 10:41 AM (permalink)
                                                            This photo of a Tessaro burger will have you drooling over your computer keyboard  . . .

                                                            http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/06/hamburger-america-tessaros-in-pittsburg-pennsylvania.html-
                                                             
                                                            #30
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