Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Beckley Edition: Calacinos Pizzeria

Calacinos CollageOn my seven-hour trek to Tennessee to see my parents during their vacation, I got hungry. I knew there were a handful of places in Beckley I hadn't been. So at a rest stop, I found the number for Calacino's Pizzeria, called in an order to pick up and asked to pick it up in a half hour or so.

I don't really know how I got to this place (thank you, GPS). But what I DO know is I somehow skipped the 40 cent toll, so that was awesome.

Inside, it seems as thought it's kind of sports bar-like. Lots of photos and jerseys on the wall. I stuck to the front, though, and picked up my pizza. They had it ready and waiting. Decently priced. I took it to my car and opened the box.

The first thing I noticed was that a chunk of it was hanging over the edge. That's why they couldn't shut the box all the way. Huh. Makes sense now.

Calacinos PizzeriaI mean, kinda. Why don't they have boxes big enough to fit their pizzas? Or was this one just different? Seems like that would be a thing that's important.

The pizza itself was very good, though. I got mushrooms and meatballs. Delicious sauce, crisp crust, some saltiness from the meatballs (which were slices, really) and the mushrooms. Good balance. Good pie. Will definitely stop here again on my way through.

Grade: A
Calacino's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 20, 2014

Welch Edition: Sterling Drive-In Restaurant

Sterling Drive In
McDowell County doesn't have the greatest reputation. A once-thriving coal-based industry in the area has slowed to a crawl, bringing with it an influx of drug abuse and poverty. It's been documented time and time again. Truth be told, I'm sure the same could be said about many areas of the state.

Sterling Drive InBut I've never been to this county, and I've wanted to go for years. I just wanted to see it for myself. Unfortunate circumstances brought me all the way south, but I made the best of it by stopping at the Sterling Drive-In. The Sterling Drive-In is one of the last drive-ins in the state, so I was excited to check it out (and I also got a nice story out of it for Taste WV). 

Sterling Drive In
You can still park, flash your lights and have a carhop come to you ready to take your order. Or, you can park and head inside. Since I had been in my car most of the day, I went inside. The interior has orange vinyl and some photos of cars, news clippings and other memorabilia on the walls.
Sterling Drive In

Looking over the menu, there are sandwiches and dinners and the like. But their "Signature Sterling Sub" is where it's at. It has cranberry sauce, bacon, lettuce, tomato and their special "spread" on a deep-fried bun.

Sterling Drive InThe owners say that no one ever guesses correctly what's in the spread, and few people do know. But it seems to be a pork mixture. Let's hope.

Sterling Drive InBut it's good! It's different, but it's tasty. A little bit of sweet, some crunch, some fresh and something ... odd. The spread isn't entirely noticeable since there are so many toppings, but it's definitely worth it to try and get a taste of the local food culture. It's fun, and I appreciate it for what it is.

Sterling Drive In

Grade: A
Sterling Drive-In Incorporated on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Morgantown Edition: Barside Grill

Barside Grill2 Collage

Barside Grill has been on my radar for quite some time, but I have had difficulty convincing my coworkers to go after the great Honky Tonk Disaster of 2014. The restaurant has recently started advertising on the radio for their food. And I saw them in the Morgantown Menu Guide. I was worried it was mainly a bar and gambling joint, but when I heard and saw their advertisements, I knew they at least had a little variety of food.

Barside GrilleBarside Grille

It's located in Westover in the small plaza, which housed a pizza place and bar. I parked out front and walked up to the second story where the flashing "open" sign hung. Once we were inside, I realized we should have parked around the back, which is actually level with the second story. I'm just not sure how you get up there. But there's a door from that side, too.

The inside is very dark and musty. It could use a deep-cleaning, but it wasn't on-the-surface dirty.

Barside GrilleWe ordered their garlic parmesan fries, which were actually tasty. Crisp and right out of the fryer. Probs not homemade but still like the flavor. Not a fan that they didn't serve Heinz ketchup. though.

Their signature sauce is "bottom of the bucket." I tasted it but wasn't a huge fan. Instead, I ordered boneless honey BBQ. Little nuggets of chicken covered in a too-sweet sauce. They are really pushing their wings, so I thought it would be better. But the honey BBQ was just OK. If it was a store-bought sauce, it wasn't even a very good one. I didn't finish them. They weren't awful, but they weren't great. I kept to the fries -- much better.

Barside Grille

Grade: C
Barside Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bluefield Edition: Portabella Italian Restaurant

Portabellas Collage

I traveled to McDowell County recently, and as I was exiting town, I was hoping to stop at Ya'Sou's Restaurant. Unfortunately, I found them closed. I made my way back to Bluefield to hit the interstate and head back north. But, stomach was rumbling and I needed dinner. So. Guess who I saw in Bluefield? Remember that guy?


The infamous Chris Slater. We went to a new restaurant in Bluefield called Portabella Italian Restaurant. We parked along the side, then I was asked to move so a gentleman could cut the grass, and then I parked again, and then we finally went inside.

It's pretty basic inside, though there is pretty stained glass above the door emblazoned with the restaurant's name. Our waitress was friendly. We first put in an appetizer of their "Italian Nachos," because it sounds interesting: deep-fried nachos, alfredo sauce, chicken, green peppers, jalapenos, and mozzarella cheese.

PortabellaEven though Chris has a newfound vegetarian calling, I think he may have had a piece of chicken or two. Whoops. So the cool thing about this was the chips are actually fried, and the sauce was pretty tasty. But it got soggy way fast. You know how quickly regular nachos do? And they're not really covered in a sauce like this. I dig the creative spin on the appetizer, though, but not sure I'd go after it again.

My house salad was impressing, boasting fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onion, carrots, banana peppers, croutons, cucumbers and fresh mozzarella cheese. Definitely on the better end of regular house salads. Too bad it automatically comes with ranch. I was hoping for a house Italian dressing.


Some garlic bread was brought to us. A little small, but not terribly for complimentary.

PortabellaOur wait for the main dishes was a little long. For my entree, I ordered their stuffed shells with meatballs in a pink sauce. Three small-ish stuffed shells, but they were each brimming with cheese. Meatballs were OK. I was a fan of the sauce - a nice mix between their alfredo and red.


Chris's calzone looked bangin'. Lots of cheese and a nice golden brown. Not bad, either.

PortabellaSo, Portabella is a no-frills Italian place. I'm always happy to see more local restaurants in an otherwise chain-heavy town. Food was above average. Nothing over-the-top or super amazing, but a decent meal. Service not totally polished, but friendly. Seems like a nice addition to the town.

Grade: B
Portabella Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wellsburg Edition: Applefest

Applefest CollageThe Applefest holds a place near my heart. It is THE event in Wellsburg, and it was always an exciting time in town growing up. There aren't many gatherings, so it was exciting to see all your friends and play games and ride rides and eat everything apple in sight.

The Grimes Golden Apple was founded in Wellsburg, and it's one kind that could've led to the discovery of the Golden Delicious. We even have a little park to celebrate it. True fact: This was actually the first time I went to the park, though.

Applefest 2 CollageWhile at the Applefest this year, I pigged out on an entire bag of cotton candy, a caramel apple with nuts and a sandwich from Granato's in Weirton. I hadn't heard of them, but it seems as though they're a deli. The sandwich was pretty good - but tiny. One single meatball. Oh well. Mom was nice enough to take care of all of it.

Applefest 2 CollageMy mom got a walking taco. She is a huge fan of Mexican - and my dad and I always go the more Asian route - so she doesn't always have the opportunity. Dad had a philly cheesesteak sandwich, which was topped with peppers and cheese. It all looked good. There are a few local vendors and some others not so local. We try to support the local folks at these types of things.