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The Sports Grille scores big off the field, on the plate

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:18 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
The Sports Grille at Cranberry.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
A pretzel bacon cheddar burger with savory bistro spread and homemade potato chips and french onion sauce on the side. (background) mango nachos with the chicken option at The Sports Grille at Cranberry.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
Mango nachos with a chicken option at The Sports Grille at Cranberry. The menu reads, 'Heap of nachos, chili-queso, melted cheese, buffalo sauce & our homemade creamy garlic ranch.'
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
A pretzel bacon cheddar burger with homemade potato chips with french onion sauce on the side at The Sports Grille at Cranberry.

The football-helmet lighting fixtures above the tables, team flags flying from the outdoor patio, hockey pennants dangling from the walls and, of course, a black-and-gold ceiling are all indications of the theme of this restaurant.

The Sports Grille at Cranberry is for athletes and anyone who loves sports, from coaches to parents to the most fanatical fan. With 37 high-definition LED televisions, it's hard to miss a play. There are even screens located near the restrooms. One alcove — referred to as “the man cave” — gives diners access to the remote control to select the game or match to watch. There is a children's play area as well.

“Pittsburghers are passionate about their sports teams, from the childrens leagues to the college competitions to the professional level, and we support all of those players, fans and coaches,” says Sean Pregibon, owner of the sports bar and restaurant. “We want them to be welcome here, to come after they've played or to cheer on their favorite team. And while they are here, we invite them to dine here, too.”

There's plenty to choose from with a menu that starts with appetizers such as the mango nachos with chicken or chili-queso, a heap of nachos, melted cheese, buffalo sauce, and the restaurant's homemade garlic ranch dressing for $9.39, and stuffed banana peppers, filled with Italian hot sausage, oven-baked marinara, and fresh mozzarella for $8.39. There are homemade soups and eight salads, including taco in fresh tortilla ($9.89) and buffalo chicken ($9.99). The 10 burgers consist of 10 ounces of seasoned ground chuck and are hand-formed daily. Try the Stiller 'Burgher, with your choice of cheese, fresh lettuce, tomato, onion and a pickle spear for $9.49.

Dinner entrees start with a half-rack of baby back ribs for $15.99, complete with bread, homemade coleslaw, fresh-cut fries and a salad. There's the Haddock Nicholas (named after Pregibon's son) for $14.59. It's a filet, with white-wine garlic saute, Pregi-peppers (hot peppers in oil) and Parmesan cheese, with a side and salad. The sandwich list contains a meatball Parmesan sub ($9.79) topped with homemade marinara by Pregibon's mother-in-law, Dolores Manning, and fried bologna with hot peppers ($8.79).

There are homemade pizzas and tasty chicken wings, too, with 15 sauces to choose from, ranging from honey mustard to fire. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are part of the menu.

“We try to do everything well; that's our goal,” Pregibon says. “It's more than bar food. We are more than burgers and wings. Everything is made from scratch. You will get nothing from a jar here.”

Pregibon also owns a similar business, Youngstown Sports Grille in Ohio. It's been there for 11 years, which is near where he and his wife Kerry and their children —Nicholas, 8, and Katie, 6 — live. The Cranberry restaurant is 1 year old.

Pregibon came up with the original idea for his first sports-themed restaurant from his wife's trophy business. So, when Pregibon found this second location, he immediately contacted local high school, college and professional teams, that gave him memorabilia for the decor and have frequented the place.

“Cranberry is such a wonderful location,” says Pregibon, whose father, Nick, has lived in Pittsburgh and Gibsonia for nearly 20 years. “Everyone around here welcomed us with open arms. It's a great location, one that I have been looking at for some time. We want our restaurants to be family- and sports-team oriented, where mom and dad and the kids or a coach and his team can come and get something to eat and have a nice night out.”

There's a separate dining room and party area as well as an outdoor patio with a stage for live entertainment as well as the bar area, which has a garage door that opens for that outdoor feel. Choose from 20 beers on tap from domestic to seasonal to craft, a full-service bar and extensive wine list.

“I think what sets us apart is we aren't a chain restaurant,” says Pregibon, who learned to cook at a young age, when his parents divorced. “We have the feel of a neighborhood bar and restaurant, and we are meticulous about who we hire, and we train them well. We pay attention to details.”

The Sports Grille at Cranberry is located at 1294 Freedom Road, Cranberry. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen is open until midnight with a full menu). Details: 724-776-5500 www.sportsgrillecranberry.com

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

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