The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA

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buffetbuster
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2009/06/23 14:41:51 (permalink)

The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA

Sorry, some of these photos aren't my best.....

Because of their appearance in the new Jane & Michael Stern book, 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late (and the Very Best Places to Eat Them), I stopped at the Isaly's in West View, just north of Pittsburgh.  It has been several years since I was last here. 
 
The food item that the Sterns wrote about at Isaly's is a sandwich called The Slammer.  Here is the menu description.

For those who didn't grow up in western Pensylvania, chipped ham is ham lunch meat, sliced ultra thin.
 
Isaly's used to be a way of life around these parts.  They may be best known nationally as the inventors of the Klondike bar, but they were just as well known in the Pittsburgh area for skyscraper ice cream cones, chipped ham and their bbq sauce.  It seemed every town of decent size had their own Isaly's.  Unfortunately, they started disappearing and now there is only a small handful left.  I read there is one in Washington, Pa, but I have never been there.  The one in West View is luckily still going strong.
 
I walked in and sat in the far rear booth, so I could be more inconspicouos taking photos.  Yeah, like that could happen!  My friendly waitress asked if I knew what I wanted and I told her I came here for The Slammer.  She asked if I was here because of that book and of course, I said yes.  She told me she heard about it and read about it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper, but she hadn't seen it yet.  I told her I had my copy in the car, so I walked outside and grabbed it.  Soon, a bunch of the employees were huddling around looking at.

 
I got up and walked around the room, checking things out and taking some photos. The long narrow room has lots of counter seats, tables and booths and a tin stamped ceiling.

Here is the list of Isaly's ice cream flavors available at the soda fountain.

You can buy a t-shirt with a skyscraper cone on it.

But my second favorite thing about this place?  They have the hours for the local jail posted in the corner.

Only in Pittsburgh!!!
 
My slammer arrived and this is quite a substantial sandwich.



As you can see, they really loaded it up with the grilled onions.  For my cheese choice, I went with swiss.  I was asked if I needed any mayo or any kind of sauce, but this sandwich didn't need it.  Delicious!  Very simple, but a true taste of Pittsburgh!
 
It wasn't until my sandwich was half gone, that I realized I was being a dunderhead and not drinking a milkshake.  That was soon corrected.
 
The strawberry shake was extra thick.
 
Because I was nice enough to show them the book (her words), my waitress, who turned out to be the owner, along with her husband, gave me a cool Isaly's coffee mug, which I appreciated.  She did point out one thing though.  In the book, the Sterns say Isaly's supposedly stands for I Shall Always Love You.  She said it should be I Shall Always Love You, Sweetheart, since it is plural.  This is the first I have ever heard of this version!
 
I mentioned the jail sign was my second favorite thing about this place.  Number one is this on the back of the menu.

That giant egg is actually the headstone for the owners in the local cemetary.  Apparently, they make so many breakfasts here, they decided to have a giant egg headstone.  And if customers go have their photos taken with it, they put the photos on the back of the menu.  Once again, only in Pittsburgh!  Even better, is what she told me they will have engraved on the headstone, which I don't think I should say here.  If you go, make sure you ask, because it is hilarious!
 
Isaly's is open 7 days a week, for breakfast and lunch only.
 
Quick quiz:  On the menu, there is a sandwich called The Bomber, which features jumbo.  Any non-Pittsburghers know what jumbo is?
 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/06/24 11:42:04
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19 Replies Related Threads

    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 14:44:07 (permalink)
    TJJackson visited this Isaly's before and did a real nice trip report, which can be found here.

    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=217987&high=slammer
    #2
    Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 14:48:36 (permalink)
    buffetbuster, I had never heard that (jumbo) before!  Had to Google it.
    #3
    Foodosaurus
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 14:49:25 (permalink)

    I was actually wondering just that.
    #4
    CENTRALVA
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 15:00:57 (permalink)
    Baloney!
    #5
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 15:06:33 (permalink)
    CENTRALVA

    Baloney!
    What did you call me?


    #6
    CENTRALVA
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 15:31:55 (permalink)

    Hello Buffetbuster! I kind of cheated a bit, I lived in South Park back in the 70's. I have great memories of going to Isaly's every Saturday morning with my Dad and standing in line at the deli to get our weekly supply of chip chopped ham. Although our Isaly's had a lunch counter we never actually ate inside, except for an ice cream cone. My Dad had Steeler season tickets during the iron curtain years so I was one lucky kid! We used to sneak and take the street car into Pittsburgh during the summer to fish in the river and get into all sorts of trouble. We once took the  incline up to Mt Washington and spent all of our money on itlalian ices and didn't have the fare to get back down. We climbed down the mountian with me the only one to get stuck on a rock face near the bottom. My mom found out we had snuck to town when my rescue was shown on the six o'clock news! I didn't get out of the house for a long time after that incident. Do they still have the italian ice carts downtown? Good memories.
    #7
    TJ Jackson
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 15:35:45 (permalink)
    I didn't think it was fair for me to answer, having been there and all :-)

    Thanks for bringing back some excellent memories, BB
    #8
    JRPfeff
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/23 22:20:45 (permalink)
    Great stuff buffetbuster, I want that sandwich.  Why does the name Isaly's sound familiar to me?  I received 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late for Fathers Day and love it.

    Bobbi & I are eating our way through your Manitowoc footsteps this week.  Beersten's and The Penguin tonight.  The weather has improved slightly since February.

    CENTRALVA - Great story, your parents must have had heart attacks.
    #9
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/24 07:58:19 (permalink)
    JRPfeff-
    Very jealous of your visit to Manitowoc.  Beautiful area and the Penguin and Beernsten's are both wonderful Roadfood stops.  

     
    CENTRALVA-
    I can't believe you climbed down Mt. Washington!  And what a way for your mom to find out.  Thanks for the story.  No, there aren't that many Italian ice places here in Pittsburgh, at least that I see.   
    #10
    MiamiDon
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/24 10:28:58 (permalink)
    buffetbuster: Great-looking sandwich!

    JRPfeff:  The Isaly's chipped ham sandwich was on the Sandwiches You Will Like show, and in the accompanying book.
    #11
    joerogo
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/24 11:15:15 (permalink)
    buffetbuster, Thanks for the great report on a classic place.  Did I ever mention how much I miss pittsburgh?
    #12
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2009/06/24 11:41:05 (permalink)
    joerogo-
    And I'm sure the University of Pittsburgh misses your money!

    #13
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 06:30:40 (permalink)
    It looks like the Isaly's in West View, which I wrote about in this thread, is being sold.  The new owners will continue carrying Isaly's products and will keep the same menu, but will no longer be called Isaly's.  Since this is the last week, I need to get down there in the next few days.  Hopefully, with my nephews.
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2012/06/18 08:19:59
    #14
    kozel
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 08:14:26 (permalink)
    Say it ain't so; I had a great breakfast there.
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    mamaduck43
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 10:35:19 (permalink)
    Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! 
    #16
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 13:51:07 (permalink)
    Does that mean the one on E. Ohio Street on the Northside is the last remaining Isaly's?
    #17
    Ralph Melton
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 14:17:50 (permalink)
    I'm glad that I'll still be able to get a Slammer. Now I regret that we didn't make it there this weekend.
    #18
    buffetbuster
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 14:37:38 (permalink)
    Ralph-
    Me too.  Have you noticed that we find out about this while TTM is in town?  Some may say coincidence, but I know better!
    #19
    MetroplexJim
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    Re:The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA 2012/06/18 15:10:17 (permalink)
    --- Betcha few people on Roadfood know that Isalys was the originator of the KLONDIKE BAR - now a national brand.
     
    --- Nothing like a frizzled ham sandwich!  A half pound of chip/chop ham going on the griddle yields a salty, juicy 0.375# sandwich.
     
    --- My maternal grandfather's uncle owned, among other things, the Harmony Creamery which evolved into Isalys.  Unfortunately, the $$$ remained on the other side of the family.  Nevertheless, we always remained loyal customers.  Here's my "Uncle Ed":  http://www.lindapages.com/wags-ohio/romine.htm .
    #20
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