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Family feel at Bee'z takes sting out of eating with strangers

| Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012, 10:27 a.m.
Patrons of Bee'z Bistro & Pub in South Fayette sit at the bar on the evening of July 28, 2012. Gwen Titley | Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Hoagies wait to be taken to patrons of Bee'z Bistro & Pub in South Fayette on July 28, 2012. Gwen Titley | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Jeff Plute and Paul Massimino check order slips at Bee'z Bistro & Pub in South Fayette on July 28, 2012. Gwen Titley | Pittsburgh Tribune Review

There is a place where everybody knows your name. And it's not just the Boston bar from the sitcom “Cheers.”

It's a friendly establishment located in South Fayette, called Bee'z Bistro & Pub, formerly Bee'z Pizza.

“We like having a ‘Cheers-type' atmosphere,” says Eric Hall, who owns the place with his brother, John, and their parents, David and Loretta. “A lot of our customers are regulars, and even if they don't know each other when they come in, they get to know each other, and that's one of the reasons they come back. We know most of the customers by name. This is a family-owned business, and they are certainly part of our family.”

On a recent Tuesday, the place was full with diners as well as a majority of a 34-member golf league from nearby Hickory Heights Golf Club in Bridgeville. After their weekly round on the course, they have a round — or two — at the bar.

“I consider this place like sitting in my own living room, it's so comfortable being here,” says golfer Bill Nott of McCandless, who often meets his fiancée Donna Durkan of Greentree there. “It is most definitely like a ‘Cheers' bar. It's like a big family. And they have the best food. We have fun here.”

What started as a pizza shop down the road on Washington Pike in 1994 has grown into a full-fledged bar and restaurant since moving to Portman's Country Commons in 2001. They now serve 17 different pizzas, nine burger selections and 11 hoagie choices, including the Fat Guy Italian ($11.50 for a whole). It is piled with ham, salami, capicola, bologna, pepperoni, bacon, French fries, hot peppers, mushrooms, onions, provolone cheese, dressing and mayonnaise.

Some choices from an ever-changing chef's choice menu are Toasted Pistachio Sockeye Salmon, Baked Lobster Macaroni and Cheese and Grilled Filet Mignon with wilted spinach and feta, each for $20.

The family changes a unique entree and starters list every four weeks to give customers a chance to try something new from the kitchen of executive chef Paul Massimino.

“We love to change things up and offer items you might not think a place like this would have,” says Eric Hall, a culinary school graduate whose family holds a customer-appreciation picnic every year. “We wanted to be more than pizza and hoagies and salads. We have tried to take it to the next level.”

Massimino says he enjoys the customer feedback because they are the ones paying.

“I think Pittsburgh is no longer just a meat-and-potatoes kind of city,” he says. “They love seafood, and we use high-end ingredients and try to come up with new and interesting dishes. If a customer asks for something and we can do it, we will do it.”

Among the staples from the standard menu is the small six-cut cheese pizza for $8. A five-cheese small pie has white sauce, mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, Romano and Parmesan cheese for $11.

A newer item is the Chipotle BBQ chicken pizza, with pulled chicken breast, chipotle BBQ sauce, green peppers, scallions, mozzarella, provolone and cheddar cheeses for $12 (for a small).

The Tony Special is a calzone filled with pepperoni, mozzarella and provolone cheese for $5.50. A veggie version is packed with spinach, onion, peppers, mushrooms, hot peppers, tomato, black olives, lettuce, ricotta, provolone and mozzarella cheeses for $13. Pasta dishes range from seafood alfredo ($13) to gnocchi in tomato basil cream ($10).

Satisfy your sweet tooth with desserts such as John's Pecan Ball, assorted cheese cakes, chocolate mousse cake, carrot cake or the mystery of the week. Start off with a buffalo shrimp or stuffed banana peppers appetizer for $7 each.

In addition to daily specials, there is wing night. Choose from one of 13 sauces. Entertainment ranges from karaoke to live bands. Trivia night is popular as is the wide selection of craft beers.

The Hall family, originally from Carnegie, has done a lot of the work themselves from redecorating to refurbishing the restaurant to building a new bar.

“It's the best-kept secret in the South Hills,” says golfer Tom Wheeler, of South Fayette.

Maybe not anymore.

Bee'z Bistro & Pub, located at 3249 Washington Pike, Portman Farms, South Fayette is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Bar is open until 2 a.m. Details: 412-257-9877 or www.beezbistroandpub.com

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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