Per Your Recommendation: A Steamed Burger? Don’t Nox It — Try It!
Nox’s Tavern & Grille and the new Nox’s on 8 specialize in elevated bar food.
(Per Your Recommendation is a regular column about the eateries you hold dear. From swanky spots and roadside diners to neighborhood gems and gotta-try food trucks, I want to taste everything the Pittsburgh region has to offer. Pub grub, ethnic cuisine, fine dining, takeout — it’s all “fare” game. Please email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Jennifer Carrozza and Brittany Schaffer spent 15 years working at the Shaler Lounge before going full-steam ahead on their own culinary business.
In April 2014, the friends purchased an old Blawnox haunt popular with mill workers, updated the decor and started experimenting in the kitchen to cook up something unique to draw people in from busy Freeport Road.
Several readers insisted that I head to Nox’s Tavern & Grille in Blawnox (hence the name), or its new sister location, Nox’s on 8, in Allison Park to have one of the best burgers in the city.
After visiting both sites, I can attest that that wasn’t a lot of hot air! Warning: this story is about to get steamy!
Each half-pound, cooked-to-order beef patty is placed on the flattop, seasoned, flipped, steamed under a metal chafing dish and placed back on the grill for a few more seconds before being placed on a Mancini’s bun. It’s topped with white cheddar, lettuce, tomato and pickles, with secret sauce on the side.
Schaffer learned the method from her mom and decided to offer them to differentiate Nox’s from other watering holes serving pub grub. There are a variety of signature Steamers on the menu and a monthly special.
On my first trip to the original space — formerly George’s — at 720 Blaw Ave., I opted for The Nox, which is piled high with thick strips of bacon, roasted red peppers and pepperjack cheese. There’s nothing blah about it. It’s one of those big, juicy burgers that takes two hands to hold and drips like a leaky spigot. It comes with steak-cut fries, which despite my full stomach, I couldn’t leave behind
I’ve realized that the messier my place setting is after a meal, the more I enjoyed it.
Nox’s Tavern has seating for about 50, including at the bar and on the patio out back. There’s live music as well as food and drink specials throughout the week. If you’re not in the mood for a burger that’s been sweating it out in a sauna, Nox’s serves a bunch of appetizers and bar staples such as nachos, cheeseballs, chicken fingers, egg rolls, hoagies, wraps, salads and award-winning wings with more than 30 sauce options to choose from.
The neighborhood bar pays tribute to Armed Forces through its decor; a collection of photographs of family members and friends who have served.
Last December, when the owners of Casey’s Family Restaurant decided to shut down after 23 years at 3008 William Penn Highway, they called Carrozza, a former employee, and Schaffer to see if they were interested in the building.
Nox’s on 8 opened Feb. 1.
“We were afraid to jump in, but we have young children and we needed to do this for them,” Schaffer says. “We have Shaler roots. We’ve come full circle.”
It’s larger than the Blawnox bar and seats about 150 people, including at the enormous U-shaped bar, where I enjoyed a late lunch and the Pirates game on TV.
The eatery still dedicates a small portion of its menu to its predecessor’s most popular items, including pizza and wedges. Longtime customers appreciate that they can still chow down when nostalgia strikes.
The Shaler Lounge, Carrozza and Schaffer’s old stomping grounds, is also being resurrected.
Acrospire Brewing Co., which has outgrown its tiny facility on Butler Plank Road in Glenshaw, renovated the local landmark at 1702 Mt. Royal Blvd. It opens Saturday, May 13. Hours are noon to 10 p.m.
As a creature of habit (most of them bad), I know change is frustrating. So, if you’re the kind of person who gets steamed easily, just relax with a Nox’s burger and a beer.