By | February 2, 2006

4601 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
(412) 682-6809
M-Sat 11am-Midnight

I don’t know how the good people of Bloomfield can stand it.  I just don’t.  That smell, of the most delicious meaty goodness you’ve ever whiffed, wafting through the air … all the time!  Little seductive aromas winding their way into your nostrils and begging you to come have a bite.  It is a smell not even a vegetarian can deny awakens some primal hunger from deep within – the hunger for meat.

Tessaro’s is a Bloomfield institution that serves up meat in all its glory.  Near impossible to go to if you have a pure vegetarian in your crowd, the menu focuses on meat of all kinds with only a few items (ie – small salads) that could be thought of as vegetarian.  However, Tessaro’s is good for dieters or carb watchers, as most dishes feature grilled cuts of meat, and your options for sides are almost all healthful, in particular the steamed broccoli and cauliflower (very good), boiled red skins, and rice pilaf (less healthful items include potato salad, homefries, freshly prepared potato chips, and coleslaw, all of which are way delicious).  I often see people eating their burgers without buns, which means that the Atkins and South Beach crowd of the ‘Burgh eats here on a regular basis, and that the staff is more than happy to prepare any meal exactly the way you like it.  I don’t think Tessaro’s even OWNS a fryer, so there are no French Fries to go with that burger.  I actually really like this fact.  In my imagination, I figure that it is pretty hard to own a restaurant and not have a deep fryer at all.  It seems like it would be damn near impossible, so I give major cred to Tessaro’s for running an excellent establishment without having to resort to the deep fryer even once.

My favorite Tessaro’s treat is either the burger or the filet mignon.  I can never decide which one is truly my favorite, because I really do honestly love them both.  The Filet is somewhere around $24 and is the best value for a filet I have found in the city.  They know the difference between Rare and Medium Rare, and I think they are usually right on the money.  The outside is charred and the inside is juicy, and if you can’t eat it all, it makes the best steak sandwich the next day.  They give you A-1, but the flavor is so wonderful that you might find yourself eating most of it without adornment of any kind.

Tessaro’s has their own personal butcher dude downstairs, and aside from generating delicious cuts of meat, he grinds all the beef used for the burgers.  He triple grinds it, so its supa-fine!  It really makes a difference (I mean….he even grinds in Strip and Filet).  I have heard people complain about some aspects of the burger, ‘it’s too big’, ‘I don’t like the bun’, etc.., but I have never heard anyone say anything about the burger itself.  It is luscious, way juicy and succulent, and has an incredible wood-fired flavor (the one that paralyzed you with its aroma when you were parking your car around the block).  It is true that it is huge, a problem easily solved by cutting it in half with your knife before digging in.  The bun, in case you are concerned, is a smooth-topped bun that can structurally withstand the juices of a burger, but sometimes slips around, leaving you with very little between your fingers and the burger itself (again, remedied by knifing it in half before eating).  But it is sooo good!  And only 7 or 8 bucks!  The options for toppings are relatively straightforward: sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, a couple kinds of mustard, and mayo.  My fave is onion, mushrooms, cheddar, lettuce/tomato, and brown mustard.  Reed gets the gourmet (mush, onion, cheese of choice, and bacon) with mayo, and my friend Rachel often gets the Bacon Bleu, which you can get with dry or wet bleu cheese.  Whatever your style, you won’t be disappointed by this burger.

Tessaro’s also offers fish dishes, which are listed on the blackboard, and are usually very good.  You’ll also see soups listed on that board, and I actually recommend the soups too.  I have never had a bad soup here.  Wednesday is Rib Night, with pork and beef ribs, and three kinds of sauce, maxing out at ‘Atomic’.  The pork ribs are pretty decent, but I am not yet finished with my quest for BBQ in Pittsburgh, so that is another review entirely.

I want to finish by saying a word about the people who run Tessaro’s and the wait staff.  They are really wonderful people.  There are three people you might deal with when you first come in to get a table, and they are all characters.  The one you are most likely to see is the Big Bearded Guy, and if he isn’t there that night, just look around at the mural-clad walls – you will be able to pick him out in a second.  I like to think of him as a nice, jolly fellow, and he’ll make sure you get a table.  If it is really busy, and you have a good vibe with him, he might tell you to go over to Gator’s Saloon across the street for a drink – he’ll call the bartender when your table is ready.  Talk about service!  The waitresses all seem to have been working there for many years (and indeed, there are several I know have been there at least 8 years, since I started dining there), and they have a great attitude for working such a fast-paced and crowded joint.  I think it helps that the clientele are all there to have a casual, good time, so everyone gets along just fine.

And so, you’ve gotta give this place a try.  It was featured on the Food Network too, which just further proves my point: Tessaro’s is a dining establishment of the very best kind – one where you can grab a good beer – one where you can impress a new special lady friend – and one where people of all kinds come to satisfy a primordial urge to feast on the beast.

Filet Mignon

Tessaro’s doesn’t serve dessert of any kind (except for this one that is reserved for super-insiders who know the secret code), but Crazy Mocha is just across the street and features several types of cakes and very fine coffee.

If you ever need vacuum services, be a good citizen to Bloomfield and go to Sweeper World, located right next door.  Additionally, a very old cat lives in that store, and sometimes she will entertain you through the window as you wait for your table on a warm summer night.