The Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15201
Well, isn’t this the most famous restaurant in all of Pittsburgh? I swear, every time I talk to any sales person on the phone who has been to Pittsburgh once or twice, they all exclaim, “oh, you simply MUST try Church Brew”. As if I don’t live here! As if I haven’t already! As if! Rant aside, you too must try Church Brew, because there is a reason why people in far away and exotic lands like Nebraska have heard of it!
It’s all in the name … a Brew Works in a Church. Pittsburgh actually has a lot of churches for sale all over the city, and the entrepreneurs of Church Brew saw a wonderful idea when they came across this glorious old church in Larryville. They had a vision – a brew house at the alter, and a brick pizza oven in the corner. They even salvaged the pews for use as booth seating, and left the big old organ in the back balcony (although I’ve never heard it used, I’ve been told that it still functions). What a great idea!
With all this, you might worry that the beer and food is sub par, riding the coattails of the genuinely awe-inspiring atmosphere. Well, you needn’t worry about that because, the beer is great, and though the fare it is a little hit or miss, it is still pretty darned good. The wait staff is bootcamp-trained on the kinds of beers and all their subtleties on the palate, so fire away with your questions to make sure you get a beer that is your style. They have one for every type of beer guzzler, from sissies to sadists.
There are two halves to Church Brew: a Dining Side and a Pub Side. You can get any of the food on either side, but you get a different menu depending on where you are seated. For instance, you only get the pizza menu if you are pub side. You can request the menu if you are on the dinner side, but they won’t give it to you when you are seated. The dinner menu is meant to be a little more refined, featuring steaks, chicken, and pasta in various forms of elaborate preparation. It is one of the few restaurants in town where you can get ostrich or buffalo meat (so 5 years ago), and they also have a chicken pot pie, which is not especially easy to find in this city.
But, what I want from Church Brew is rarely a fancy beast feast. It’s usually a flat, circular disc, topped with all kinds of little objects, and covered with some kind of shredded up dairy stuff that melts when it gets hot. Yes, the pizza! They have a selection of 9 pizzas, about 5 of which are specialty in some way or another. For instance, I love the Pierogie Pizza, which is crust with mashed potatoes, sautéed onions, and cheddar cheese. MMM. But then again, I am stuck on pierogies. Back to the pizzas though, all of them are good, so let your whim take you to your favorite one.
Speaking of pierogies, I’d like to interject that Church Brew makes their own, and each day they have a pierogie du jour which are often very inspired, such as the wasabi pierogie they once had. I think their pierogies are OK, but in a pierogie contest, Pierogies Plus in McKees Rocks wins hands down every time. The other appetizers on Church Brew’s menu are alright, but nothing spectacular.
In the end, Church Brew is a great place to take the aforementioned out-of-towners. Like, if your new CEO is in town? Don’t take him to the Olive Garden or Friday’s — Take him to Church Brew! Is it Parent Weekend at CMU? Don’t take them to Union Grill or Gullifty’s — Take them to Church Brew! It is perfect for that kind of application. Your guests will be wowed, it will be a memorable experience, and you’ll enjoy it too. And don’t forget to recommend it to the next telemarketer who calls at 8am on a Saturday!