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Hungry for something Mom made? Oakmont's What's Cookin' at Casey's serves it up

| Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, 3:54 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
What's Cookin' At Casey's owner Rose Henry and executive chef Scott Sloan present the chicken cacciatore, greens and beans soup, and friend zeppoli. The Oakmont restaurant has been in business nearly 30 years.

BACKGROUND

For nearly 30 years now, there's been something good cookin' at What's Cookin' at Casey's in Oakmont.

And, as a recent visit proved, that doesn't look to change any time soon.

It all began in the late spring of 1984, as an idea for a pizza shop by Rose and Bill Henry. However, the space they wanted along Allegheny River Boulevard had been a full-service restaurant. And the couple was convinced that Oakmont needed to keep it that way.

The couple knew it would be a tough task to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. “All I knew was making pizza,” Rose Henry says.

The restaurant is named after Rose's father — Casey was his nickname. He was so proud of Rose's mother's cooking that he would bring co-workers home to sample her meals.

Those recipes ­— especially the pizza — are the same ones served at Casey's today. Although, Rose says, the menu is “much more extensive today.”

Rose says they are constantly looking to expand their menu with new offerings. Chef Scott Sloan has been with the restaurant for nearly eight years.

Oakmont is home to one of several restaurants in Rose's family. Others include Casey's in Turtle Creek and Tolerico's in Monroeville.

What's Cookin' at Casey's is owned by the Henrys and Casey and Jerry Tolerico.

ATMOSPHERE

With its yellow-wood paneling, gold and rose-colored floral wallpaper and the variety of plates and tasteful knickknacks on the walls, Casey's has the feel of a charming country home. Natural wood beams cut across a black-painted tin ceiling. The tables and floor are natural wood.

The open-air single room is divided into two sections, the front section gives way to a slightly higher back section accessed by a long, gently sloped ramp. The dining room offers tables and booths.

The waitstaff only adds to the hominess by being so attentive and friendly.

Casey's is the kind of place where the neighborhood comes to catch up on each other's lives. And even non-Oakmonters are made to feel welcome.

MENU

Casey's is known most for its pizza, and, because the dough and sauce are made in-house daily, it's no wonder.

Diners can choose from a regular mini (four-slice, $5.85) to a large (12-slice, $10.45); toppings are extra. Or, Casey's offers seven specialty pizzas — including the Abruzzi ($9.95-$14.60), a white pizza with chicken, roasted red peppers, red onions, black olives and fresh mushrooms; and the Napoli ($7.95-$13.25), a white pizza with broccoli, hickory-smoked bacon, tomatoes and cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

But, just as the Henrys didn't limit themselves in 1984, they go well beyond pizza nowadays.

Casey's breakfast options are plentiful. And delicious.

Sure, there's the usual offerings — eggs, pancakes, French toast (so fresh-tasting). But why not go off the board a bit?

The unconventional Italian Frittata ($7.95) will arrive at your table with melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese covering sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted red peppers over angel hair pasta. A delicious combination.

Joann's Omelette ($7.95) combines hot sausage, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, home fries with mozzarella and cheddar cheese. It's a well-balanced mix of tastes that arrives in a perfect portion size.

For lunch and dinner, Casey's has everything from Italian ($5.25, half; $8.95, whole) and steak ($5.75, half; $10.95, whole) hoagies to a Reuben ($9.50) and burger platters ($5.75-$9.55).

For those looking to venture beyond the norm, some ideas:

The Monte Christo sandwich ($9.95) features thick portions of turkey breast and ham, with crisp bacon, tomato and Swiss cheese on bread that is egg-battered and grilled. The solid sandwich has a perfect hint of sweetness and is loaded with flavor. It is served with coleslaw or french fries.

As for dinners, the Shrimp and Chicken Tolerico ($17.95) is brings together Gulf shrimp and chicken with capers, mushrooms, roasted peppers, tomato and a Romano cream sauce. All of that is tossed with farfalle pasta.

The Coconut Chicken ($16.95) is hand-breaded and served with plum sauce and risotto. The flavor is decent, but ours could have better with more plum sauce.

The 8-ounce filet of sirloin ($16.95) was delicious. The menu says they will cook it to your preference. However, on our visit, we were not asked how we wanted it cooked, and so, the steak was slightly overcooked for our liking.

The salads at Casey's are worth noting. Besides the usual offerings, diners can try the Grilled Pear Salad ($10.95), which features grilled chicken and grilled pears over greens with gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, raspberries and raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Or, try Rose's Spinach Salad ($7.95) with spinach leaves, crumbled bacon, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and hard-boiled eggs with Rose Henry's own sweet-and-sour dressing.

With so much great food to enjoy, we couldn't manage room for the homemade Italian desserts. But we are sure to stop back ­— probably just to enjoy some of the offerings.

On the slate worth noting is tiramisu ($3.95) or maybe the zeppoli ($3.75), which is homemade dough, deep-fried and dusted with sugar. But they've also got pies and cakes, baked fresh every day.

Something to note: What's Cookin' at Casey's doesn't have a liquor license, but diners are welcome to bring alcoholic beverages — and there's no corkage fee.

Chris Pastrick is a copy editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at cpastrick@tribweb.com.

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