The Back Porch Restaurant, Belle Vernon, PA
Every once in a while I come across a restaurant with real character. These eating establishments are usually small, have a loyal following, and have been around for years. The Back Porch Restaurant in Belle Vernon is quaint, comfortable, and most importantly, serves excellent food. The Back Porch occupies one of the oldest buildings in Western Pennsylvania. The structure itself was built in 1806, and has been serving food since 1975. The current owners are dedicated to preserving and featuring the very best from architecture and atmosphere, to fine foods.
I arrived a few minutes before the rest of my party and was given a tour of the restaurant by Patty Keller, one of the proprietors. The stairs creaked as we ascended the old building, and I began to wonder how many others had made the same trip over the years. White tablecloths adorned wooden tables in the upstairs dining room, while large windows let plenty of light in providing a picturesque view of the riverfront.
There is additional seating on the first floor, as well as outside on the back porch. A bar occupied the basement area, and reminded me of an old Irish pub that had been around for years. It looked like an ideal place to get together with friends, have some great food, and throw back a few pints.
Five of us sat in the dining room on the main floor. We ordered a sampler platter for the table while we waited for our wine to arrive. The menu had all kinds of delicious food to choose from. There’s the filet served Oscar style ($34.00, that’s what I got), Scallops and Linguini with Saffron Broth ($24.00), and Asian Salmon ($24.00). Also available are Vegetarian Mafalda Pasta ($17.00), Shrimp Carbonara ($21.00) and Mixed Grill Trio ($27.00). The menu is quite extensive, and will likely make everyone in your party happy.
Our appetizer platter arrived ($29.00) and included stuffed mushrooms, fried artichoke hearts, butter-broiled shrimp cocktail, and baby back ribs. Everything (especially the ribs!) was delicious, and there was plenty of food for the five of us. Also served- fried calamari ($12.00) with sweet-chili Thai sauce. The calamari were fresh crunchy- the sauce added a great tang to the dish
Large iceberg wedge salads were served next. The sweet lettuce was drenched in thick, creamy, homemade blue cheese. Rich bacon lardoons, cheddar, cherry tomatoes and fresh sliced red onion topped the greens. It was easily one of the best salads I had ever eaten.
Entrees came to the table soon after our salads disappeared. My filet sat atop risotto with fluffy béarnaise sauce, lump crabmeat, carrots balls, and baby asparagus. The meat was cooked perfectly and well seasoned. The butter sauce was smooth, rich and velvety- the young asparagus was al dente. My dinner companions were equally impressed with their seared scallops with pasta and baked salmon.
Although we were quite full we couldn’t turn down The Back Porch’s homemade run raisin ice cream, pecan ball, and Reese’s cheesecake!
In addition to having world-class food, the service at The Back Porch is exemplary.
The Back Porch is a fun place to visit. The food is fantastic, and the ambiance is engaging. There are few restaurants around that have such rich history. If you’re looking for an extraordinary new dining spot, put The Back Porch on the top of your list.
Chef Chuck Kerber