Casellula @ Alphabet City is the first dining spot in Pittsburgh to end its no-tipping policy, just 10 months after it opened.
Remember Forbes Field? Remember those old blue wooden-slat seats? Remember the count on the scoreboard when Bill Mazeroski swung his bat at 3:36 p.m. on Oct. 13, 1960? Remember the score, tied in the bottom of the ninth inning in the seventh game of the World Series? Can you just see those images? Want to see them again? Done.
Head for Mount Washington and The Dugout Deli, a tiny, hole-in-the-wall eatery, and I mean that in the best way. Just about every surface in the deli is a tribute to Maz, the Pirates and all things baseball. (The food is really good, too, but we’ll get to that.)
The Deli’s exposed brick walls mimic Forbes Field, with two of them cascading faux ivy to evoke the park’s look. A cutaway in the ivy on the front wall reveals “406 ft.” painted on the bricks, you know, where the ball sailed over the wall. High on a side wall is a replica of the big old green-and-white scoreboard, its stats locked in time at the exact moment before Maz hit his home run. Facing it, a mural of Pittsburgh baseball hall of fame players includes Maz, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and a player from the old Homestead Grays, among others. And the back wall shows a home plate view of PNC park. All murals are by artist Dino Guarino.
The Deli has seats from Three Rivers Stadium, and three wooden seats from Forbes Field. A framed Maz-signed baseball shirt, a framed old Sun-Tele newspaper, a baseball bat, a Stargell shirt, a signed baseball. The TV over the door plays baseball re-runs.
Everything is squeezed, plastered, painted, framed, nailed and hung in a space about as big as a very small dining room. You’ll be looking at all this stuff while you wait for your sandwich to be constructed. And wait you will.
The Dugout Deli makes sandwiches — big, big sandwiches. It takes some time to properly construct a Reuben, Rachel, roast beef, roast turkey, pastrami, Isaly’s chipped ham and more. A one-half pound stack of meat, cut to order and scaled, is piled on every sandwich. Penn Mac supplies the meats and cheese, and the breads and baguettes are from Breadworks. All sandwiches, with their sides, are under $10. There’s one dessert — homemade Greek rice pudding.
Order eat-in or take-out. Since we live just four minutes away, we order sandwiches to go, cut them into halves or thirds at home, match them with a beer and then sprawl out on our patio which is bigger than the deli. We sometimes wonder what would happen if the Dugout Deli and its Mazeroski theme time-traveled over to Duane Reider’s Roberto Clemente Museum in Engine House 25 on 3339 Penn Ave, Lawrenceville.
If location, location, location is a primary requirement for business success, why would anybody plop this barely visible jewel on the back end of a laundromat on a side street in Mount Washington?
“I’ve been on this corner since 1975,” says owner Richard Dante Pirain, who also owns Cestone’s Pizza right up the street. “I own the building and The Laundromat. The deli area used to be part of the laundry, then it was Cap’s Ice Cream for a while. I thought it would be fun to open a deli here. We opened on Oct. 13, 2016.”
It’s a most auspicious date — the day when the Pirates won the game, the series and a forever place in the heart of Pittsburghers.
Marlene Parrish: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-481-1620.