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Good food with a side of humor at Craftwork Kitchen

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:19 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Shrimp Po' Boy sandwich at Craftwork Kitchen on the plaza at the U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street on Thursday July 11, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
The Porkgasam sandwich at Craftwork Kitchen on the plaza at the U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Justin Rothman crafts a Shrimp Po' Boy sandwich at Craftwork Kitchen on the plaza at the U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street on Thursday July 11, 2013.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
John Pieranunzi completes an order with a hefty helping of fries at Craftwork Kitchen on the plaza at the U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street on Thursday July 11, 2013.

In addition to your food being served in a timely manner, you might get a side of comedy or be serenaded with a dish of karaoke at Craftwork Kitchen.

Owners Justin Janosko, Justin Rothman and John Pieranunzi have a good time creating meals. And they add a little humor as a key ingredient at the establishment nestled inside the concourse level of the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown. Their outdoor spot on the plaza is open May through September.

“It's all about the experience,” says loyal customer Dan Daly of Peters. “They are more than a sandwich shop. They serve quality food and know the importance of customer service and having a good time.”

What started as Craftwork Catering by Janosko has grown to include the two locations. They opened downstairs Jan. 15 and the outside space in May. The lunch menu includes house-made sandwiches with the finest meats, sauces and cheeses, salads and fresh-cut French fries. Breakfast ranges from bagels and lox to eggs, tasty potatoes or French toast strata.

“This is such a great location,” Pieranunzi says. “We see and meet new customers every day, which is fun.”

Janosko agrees.

“A lot of our customers are in an office and working hard all day and we like to give them time to relax and smile, if only for a few minutes,” he says. “We like to have fun with the people who come by.”

The name signifies that each meal is handmade and crafted — nothing comes from cans or has been frozen. They have fun naming the sandwiches such as the Porkgasm or Flyers Suck and often write funny sayings on the menu chalkboard.

Start your day with an Old School wrap, which is a popular breakfast item. It's bacon, sausage, eggs, home fries, sour cream, salsa and cilantro. Pair it with a cup of Zeke's Coffee.

The Yinzer salad is mixed greens, cucumber, grape tomatoes, shredded carrot, green pepper, roasted red pepper, cheddar cheese, bacon, fresh cut fries and roasted chicken served with house-made ranch dressing. The Porkgasm is slow-roasted pulled pork shoulder, crispy onions, cheddar cheese, pickle and house barbecue sauce.

Most sandwiches are $6.50 to $8.50. Add a drink and fries and your total will be less than $10. Menu offerings change monthly, but you'll always find a chicken, steak, pork and vegetarian option.

They play games such as hangman. The first person to guess the word gets a free lunch. If someone is a newcomer and/or if someone tips a horn will sound and the workers will welcome and thank them.

The food, as well as the atmosphere, keep people coming back say Kristen Williams of Sewickley and Jennifer Stevens of North Shore, who work in U.S. Steel Tower.

“It's a good combination,” says Stevens. “They use fresh ingredients, which makes a huge difference, and they add the personal touch, such as knowing our names and saying something funny to brighten our day. They make it enjoyable.”

Williams says she has had nearly every item on the menu.

“And they will customize a meal for you,” she says. “There are days I am not sure what I want and they ask me what I am in the mood to eat, and if they have the ingredients they make it.”

Matt Persic of Ross who comes from the other side of Downtown says “Craftwork Kitchen has the best food.”

“The meat is slow-roasted and is so good,” he says. “They have something special going on here.”

The owners say 40 percent of the daily clientele are regulars and they know 25 percent of them by name.

“We are all about having our customers have as much fun as possible,” says Janosko, who can be easily spotted by his signature red-white-and-blue headband. “We try to be as personable as possible. We recognize customers who are here for the first time and make them feel welcome. We stand behind our food and we also promise that you will have fun for the few minutes you are around us.”

Craftwork Kitchen is on the concourse level of the U.S. Steel Tower, 600 Grant St., Downtown. Hours: Breakfast: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Mondays through Fridays. Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Details: 412-979-4754 or www.craftworkcatering.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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