Share This Page

World-famous Kelly O's knows down-home cooking

Kelly O's Diner is the best little hidden secret in town, owner Kelly O'Connor says. Yet, after being featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," the secret is getting blabbed all the way to other hemispheres.

"If (people) haven't been here, then they're missing out," she says.

O'Connor, who opened her diner eight years ago, was thrilled when Food Network host Guy Fieri featured her diner. The eatery is known for quick, inexpensive, down-home cooking, including breakfast feasts available anytime, burgers, sandwiches, homemade pies and O'Connor's specialty haluski, with cabbage, onions, noodles, bacon, garlic, salt, pepper, butter and Romano cheese. Fieri particularly was interested in that recipe, O'Connor says.

The "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" episode first aired in February and appeared again in reruns. The response from the exposure has been phenomenal, O'Connor says, with the Kelly O's Web site receiving nearly 40,000 hits this year. People from many states -- and even from more than a dozen countries, including China and Switzerland -- have visited the diner, O'Connor says. Next month, Kelly O's will be included in the second edition of the television series' accompanying book.

"We're in the economy now where you have to pick the cheaper thing to do when you're traveling," says O'Connor, 44, of Wexford. "While (people) are traveling, they're looking for the little home-cooked places.

"I've definitely put Pines Plaza back on the map," she says.

O'Connor also has appeared on KDKA's "Pittsburgh Today" show three times to do cooking demonstrations, and she plans on appearing in another episode soon.

Before its Kelly O's days, the diner -- with vintage-looking black-and-white tile, booths, tables and a counter with stools -- had a long history, including a period as a Village Dairy. Two years ago, when O'Connor was remodeling and removing asbestos, she found what was practically a time capsule in the walls behind the booths: a series of old menus, when everything cost just 10 cents, and a Pittsburgh newspaper dated Feb. 21, 1957.

O'Connor says she inherited many of the dairy's longtime customers, and her regulars have been very loyal for years.

"I've seen women carrying babies, and then I'm watching their children grow up," O'Connor says. "It's their favorite place to go. A lot of kids say, 'Take me to Kelly O's.' It's cute."

Favorite snacks and simple meals include Italian French toast ($4.99), omelettes ($5.99) and homemade soups -- including turkey pot pie, a vegetable soup with turkey and crumbled, homemade pie crust sprinkled on top. A cup is $3.99, and a bowl is $4.99.

Kelly O's features numerous sandwiches, including BLTs ($5.99), egg salad ($3.99) and grilled ham and cheese ($6.19). Burgers are $4.50, with 50 cents extra for cheese, and $1.50 to add fries. The diner's homemade pies -- cut into six hearty slices -- include apple, peach, blueberry, lemon meringue and coconut cream. A slice of fruit pie is $1.95, and a slice of cream pie is $2.95.

Charlie Francioni, a longtime employee of Kelly O's, says the restaurant has a friendly, family atmosphere and welcomes its many out-of-towners.

"That's the reason I'm coming to work every day, to see who's coming out here and why," he says.

Kelly O's Diner, 1130 Perry Highway, Pines Plaza, Ross, is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. Specials on breakfast, lunch or dinner are offered daily. Details: 412-364-0473 or www.kellyosdiner.com .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.