Weekend in Northeast PA

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2009/03/24 14:22:46 (permalink)

Weekend in Northeast PA

My cousin Johnny and I recently spent a weekend in northeast Pennsylvania visiting restaurants and meeting some other Roadfooders.  Two of the guys we met, Mosca and JoeRogo have already posted wonderful photos and descriptions in this thread here:
On the Friday night, Johnny and I planned to meet in the town of Girardville for dinner at Marrone's, which appears in the 2008 Roadfood book.  When I pulled up around 8:30PM, Johnny was already sitting outside, ready to go.  Even though we weren't that far off of I-81 and Girardville wasn't that small of a town, we still felt in the middle of nowhere.

is a tavern that is best known for their Old Forge style pizza.  We walked in and grabbed a seat in the dining room, where the attractive blonde waitress greeted us.  Sometimes when you walk into a restaurant in a small town, they view strangers suspiciously.  But we were treated like old friends.  Here is the menu page for the pizza.

Nothing too exotic there.
Since neither one of us had eaten since lunch, we were ready to do some serious eating.  Johnny started off with the fried provolone sticks for an appetizer. 

He thought they were very good, although I thought they were too lightly breaded.  My appetizer was something called Mini-Beenies.  When I saw it on the menu, I asked Johnny if he knew what it was.  An avid follower of the Food Network, he correctly guessed that it was small potato pancakes.

When we saw how small they were, we figured they must be dried out.  We were happily wrong.  A nice crispy exterior with a creamy inside, these were a big hit.  Johnny figured out the best way to eat them was to slather them with the sour cream and then add another layer of the hot sauce the waitress brought for our pizza.  Absolutely delicious!  Since I had never seen these before, I asked the waitress who told me they were a common dish in this area.
With plenty of appetite to go around, we also decided to split an order of the lasagna.  The waitress told the kitchen we were splitting it and they brought it out in two seperate plates for us, which we appreciated.  I have to admit to not being a big lasagna fan (I ordered it because I know it is a favorite of Johnny's), but this was clearly the best lasagna I have had.

The lasagna noodles were heavy duty and thick and worked well with the dark, sweet chunky sauce.  Oh, that amazing sauce!  This sauce was lick the plate clean good!  The lasagna came with some wonderful, spicy Italian sausage,

again drowned in that sauce.  There hasn't been a day gone by since this meal I haven't craved that lasagna and sauce!
Finally, the pizza came out and we realized immediately our mistake.  From reading previously, I knew that Old Forge style pizza worked best when it was kept simple, with maybe just cheese as a topping.  We loaded it down with pepperoni and mushrooms.

We found the pizza to be overly doughy, with a thick, heavy cheese.  Hot sauce did come with the pizza and even though it seemed a little strange, the sauce, which had a nice, mild lingering heat to it, enhanced the pizza.  Knowing we had a bit of a drive ahead of us and a long day tomorrow, we only ate about half of it before getting it boxed up for the road.  We did finish it in the hotel room.
Marrone's has plenty of quirks that help make it such an attractive Roadfood spot.  There are buzzers at the table with which you can signal your waitress.

I also met the owner of the place in the bathroom, who quite proudly bragged that they had a celebrity eat here in the 1970s.  None other than Howard Cosell's brother!!!  This is a family place (the two waitresses were his daughters, both in their 40s, I'm guessing) and they were thrilled to find out their inclusion in the Roadfood book.  I would love to come back and explore more of that Italian-American menu.
31 W. Main Street
Girardville, PA
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/03/29 20:55:00

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