When the owners of Mulberry Italian Ristorante and Brick Oven Bistro joined forces on a downtown Lackawanna spot at 717 Ridge Road, a couple blocks from Curly's, their aim was higher than hot dogs, chicken wings and fish fries.
The resulting menu has burgers and pizza on offer, to be sure. But the we're talking about a chorizo burger, a Mess Hall burger with bacon-onion jam (both $11), and a truffle burger with sottocenere cheese and a truffle butter bun ($13).
Here's what the latter looks like:
If you like mushrooms with your burger, you should warm to the big mushroom flavor it delivers.
It being Lackawanna, pierogis on the table are no surprise. But these pierogis went to finishing school, stuffed with shredded oxtail, richer-than-usual beef pot roast essentially. Then they're duded up with creme fraiche, fresh grated horseradish, and beef jus. Don't let your babcia see the menu if you bring her in, as they are $12, which some people will find an outrage for two pierogis.
In The Mess Hall's defense, these are not just any pierogis.
Further confounding the notions of what Lackawannans will put up with is a Uruguayan sandwich called a chivito. It's not on the menu because it's Uruguayan; there hasn't exactly been a major upswell of demand for Uruguayan cuisine. It's on the menu because it's different, and tasty.
The Mess Hall chivito starts with beef tenderloin, then just piles it on: Krakus ham, fried egg, mozzarella, green olives, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on an English muffin. Crazy. Or is it?
Here's what it looks like:
My favorite bite at a recent lunch stop was a pizza sporting nduja, a Calabrian spreadable salami with huge chile flavor, much like a cured, dry Spanish chorizo. (That's it at the top of this article.) I cannot reproduce the name here, because The News has rules.
It's $12 for a smallish pizza, which might be considered a felony in some precincts, but the flavor is so big and bold, it just might make up for its lack of heft.
Whatever else you might say about The Mess Hall, you can't say it's business as usual in Lackawanna.
Send your restaurant news to firstname.lastname@example.org