Want to eat like the Pittsburgh Steelers, without being stampeded by Casey Hampton in the mess hall line?
Wait, he's gone?
OK, then, how about eating like the Penguins, without being concussed by Matt Cooke?
Come again? No longer with the team? The fellow has been reformed, you say? He's elbowing people in the noggin with diminished frequency, you say?
Well, the heck with this lead, such as it was. Just head over to Savory Hill in Moon, where Thomas Langan -- former executive chef at Heinz Field, where he catered Super Bowl parties, Winter Classic dinners and countless other events -- has opened his own restaurant along Brodhead Road. The 100-seat venue, a former residence that was later a series of dive bars before being gutted and polished to an antiseptic, off-white sheen by Mr. Langan and company, lacks personality at the moment (I believe the nondescript decor motif is known as Nouveau Kirkland's), but makes up for it with an interesting menu and some quality food.
Appetizers include a selection of what the menu calls "bites" ($6.95) -- deep fried foodstuffs, essentially "poppers," but a bit more inventive than the fried mushrooms or jalapenos that populate so many bar menus 'round these parts. Spinach dip bites were a winner (one was cold on the inside, but hot on the outside, suggesting the ingredients weren't at room temperature when fried), and bacon-cheese-horseradish bites looked like fun, as well. Nachos come decked out in four possible dressings -- classic, pulled pork, buffalo chicken and "Pittsburgh-style," topped with mini-pierogi.
The balance of the menu is filled out by sandwiches, burgers, salads and a handful of entree options. A grilled mahi-mahi burger ($11) was a nice option, an already-light fish sweetened slightly with pineapple tartar sauce. The vegetarian risotto ($16), laced with chopped asparagus and sitting beneath a small pile of snap peas and beans, was handled deftly, too (although the marinated portobello tasted a bit too heavily of balsamic vinegar, threatening to overwhelm the earthiness of the mushroom and the risotto itself, which really was delightful). Risotto is prepared with vegan stock, before the dairy products are mixed in, meaning it can be served in a vegan-friendly manner, if requested.
I don't think it's insulting to say this is very much a menu you might find in a football stadium suite, or at a country club (Mr. Langan has worked at a couple of those, too). It's relaxed and accessible, neither dull nor overly trendy. It is not, however, a sports bar menu -- and should you come here hoping to catch the game, there is but one small TV attached to a wall near the 10-seat bar. You want game day wings, go to one of those chain spots in Robinson.
And speaking of those highly trafficked establishments just a few miles away, the question for this restaurant -- the question for any restaurant positioned off the beaten path -- is whether people will drive out of their way to eat there. So far, six months after its opening, the answer seems to be: sometimes.
Sometimes probably isn't enough to get by, which would be a shame, because Moon could use a place like this -- a place for a nice meal, without blaring TVs. In other words, stadium-suite food without any measure of the football game.
Which, if you saw the Steelers' misadventures this past Sunday, might not be a terrible fate this coming football season.
Savory Hill is at 988 Brodhead Road, Moon. Information: 724-457-7109 or www.savoryhill.com. Closed Mondays.
Bill Toland: email@example.com, 412-263-2625 or Twitter @btoland_pg.