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1844 Restaurant offers innovative cuisine served in early American locale

| Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Joyce Hanz | for the Tribune-Review
Charred Romaine Caesar Salad ($10)with sangria tomatoes, honey balsamic reduction, shaved parmesan and cornbread croutons. 1844 Restaurant in Gilpin Township.
Joyce Hanz | for the Tribune-Review
Grilled Lamb Chops with a poblano mint jelly, accompanied by purple cabbage slaw, julienned zucchini and a quinoa and bean salad. 1844 Restaurant in Gilpin Township
Joyce Hanz | for the Tribune-Review
Executive Chef Brandon Gorelli of 1844 Restaurant in Gilpin Township.

An historic rural setting awaits patrons at 1844 Restaurant in Gilpin, where the family-owned and operated upscale eatery has served classic American cuisine since 1974.

Owner Robert Gorelli, 74, recalls returning from a trip to San Francisco during the 1970s, where he sampled the most wonderful prime rib.

“At that time, there wasn't anyone serving prime rib around here,” Gorelli says. “When I came back to Leechburg, I saw this house (1844) and the strange thing is I never noticed it before and I turned around, pulled in and bought the property that same day.”

The restaurant has been offering prime rib ever since.

The restored farmhouse sits on almost 3 acres and the original home was built around 1830, but assessed in 1844 — hence the name. At one time, the property served as a horse farm and later, a fruit farm, growing apples, pears and peaches.

Gorelli serves as bartender in the Keeping Room, a cozy basement dining area featuring Pennsylvania fieldstone walls, an oversized fireplace and a long wooden bar with ample seating. Son Brandon grew up learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business, washing dishes as a teen and later returning from California where he honed his skills as a self-taught chef, placing an emphasis on fresh ingredients at 1844 for the past decade.

The restaurant offers fine dining with a cozy vibe — where the Gorellis often know your name.

“We get a lot of anniversaries and birthday dinners here,” Bob Gorelli says. The Keeping Room section of the home is always in demand, so request a table there while making your reservation. Upstairs individual rooms decorated in early-American decor offer an intimate setting.

Chef Brandon Gorelli has fresh fish flown in from Hawaii weekly. He insists on fresh ingredients and a tour of his kitchen reflected his dedication to cleanliness and creativity. The kitchen is spotless.

The menu is a mix of fresh seafood dishes and traditional prime rib entrees. One may not expect an Asian-influenced eclectic menu blending traditional with contemporary but it's here.

Craving sushi? It's here. Sashimi? Check.

The Sashimi ($12) arrived meticulously presented with fresh Hawaiian sushi — thinly sliced and served raw, with a wasabi paste and pickled ginger accompaniment.

Our Crab Stuffed Mushrooms ($12) featured plump mushrooms filled with lump crabmeat, dijon aioli, cajun seasoning and an herb panko crust. They were baked to a golden brown and an immediate favorite appetizer.

The New Zealand Ora King Salmon ($36) is served either blackened or pan seared and topped with lemon dill aioli. It was cooked perfectly and seasoned beautifully — a must order for salmon lovers.

The prime rib is black Angus beef, seasoned and slow roasted overnight. With the Blackened Combo ($36), the meat is spicy and seared to your preference.

The nightly fish special accompanied the beef, along with a house steak sauce and green cabbage slaw.

Craving a unique game sandwich, the Bison Burger ($20) arrived topped with melted sharp cheddar, lettuce, tomato and herb butter, and served with German potato salad and Heinz 57. It was delicious and a leaner option in the burger world.

The bison is sourced from Midwest farms, Brandon says. It's always grass fed and antibiotic free.

“We had customers wanting a burger for a while and I thought it would be fun to do bison instead of your standard ground beef,” he says.

The weekly Hawaiian Fresh Fish Selection ($36) featured pan-seared walu. This intriguing selection enticed one diner. The fish was deemed “excellent” and seared perfectly, with a flavorful and moist fish.

The fresh fish weekly rotation can include swordfish, walu, ahi tuna, monchong, coral cod and snapper.

Bob Gorelli says he has no plans to retire.

“The perseverance of my father to maintain the quality of food, atmosphere and business sense at 1844 over a long period of time has made 1844 a mainstay in our area,” Brandon Gorelli says. “He is one of the most consistent people I know, and I do my best to maintain that mentality when I'm working in the kitchen.”

Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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