By: Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
When walking down Liberty Avenue in the Downtown Pittsburgh, the aromas of different eateries could draw anyone in and cause salivation.
One particular scent emanates from Tessaro’s restaurant. The upscale burger place catches your eye almost without trying to. The “T” emblazoned on the awning gives the front a classy feel along with the blacked out windows.
Tessaro’s was bought about thirty years ago by Kelly Harrington. He took over the bar with the intentions of making a restaurant for the neighborhood, where people could get a quality burger for a fair price. The restaurant has been run by the family ever since, according to their website.
When my vegetarian friend and I entered the restaurant we were greeted by a grumpy hostess. We were given the option to sit at the bar which makes for a fun atmosphere, with TVs and a view of the kitchen or opt for the upscale atmosphere of the backrooms which are quieter rooms with only a few tables. We decided on a table in the room furthest from the entrance. Our waitress was quick to greet us and got us beverages rather quickly. The restaurant was not that crowded, but it can get really busy on the weekends according to our waitress.
The menu is simple and offers a few choices of quality items, rather than an inundated menu, with several filler items. They offer fish, chicken steak, and burgers for entrees. The sides are mediocre, with a surprise being that a burger place does not offer French fries. The salads are good especially with strawberry vinaigrette, according to my vegetarian friend. There are ribs on Thursday’s and the lunch menu features several staples including Reubens and tuna melts.
We arrived around 5:30 pm so the lunch section was off limits. The choices of fresh fish, steak and chicken were all appealing, but I was out to conquer the Burgh’s best burgers. The burger I ordered, the gourmet cheeseburger, came with bacon, grilled onions and my choice of cheese. What makes it a signature burger, though, is the addition of bleu cheese. The burger also came with choice of lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard. I told my waitress to give me the works and she did not fail. Having the burger cooked to the customers preferred temperature is a nice option that indicates care is taken when each burger is hand crafted. My vegetarian friend got the veggie kabob. The price total check was only about $25 which is a good deal for two entrees.
The brick walls and low light create an intimate dining experience. The waitresses have bowties and white collared shirts which presents a professional staff. The blue jean table cloths and paper place mats, however, keep the restaurant from being completely upscale.
The wait for our food wasn’t very long, especially considering the burger was cooked when I ordered it, all in all it probably only took 15 or 20 minutes. As we waited we looked at the mural on the wall showing all of the family members who had worked there.
When our food arrived it was hot off the grill and cooked to perfection. The meat on the burger was tender and fell apart with each bite. The blue cheese and bacon combination really maked for a good mix with the burger. The side dish of home fries was delightful as well. My vegetarian friend was underwhelmed with his kabobs. They lacked flavor and where not anything exciting. His side dish of broiled potatoes tasted like they had just come out of the microwave. They were soggy and didn’t have any real flavor.
Tessaro’s has never offered desert. The lack of desert options comes as a surprise considering the environment. They will however point you in the direction of Paddy Cake Bakery which is about a block away and offers exquisite desert options.
Tessro’s does deliver an outstanding burger, but there isn’t much else to get excited about. It is a can’t miss for Burgh’s best burgers, for fish or steak sandwiches as well. But the rest of the menu does not support these star items.