Cooking Class: The Carriage Inn's Chicken Marsala
The Carriage Inn started out as a store in Lincoln Borough in the early 20th century. Then it became a speakeasy during Prohibition, reportedly with the dubious name Bucket of Blood.
Built partly with beams salvaged from the old Boston Bridge nearby, the inn then went through several other names, including Piccolo Pete's. Famed clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman played a few numbers there during a stay in Pittsburgh.
But when a previous owner inherited the property in the 1960s, he renamed it The Carriage Inn, after a restaurant and hotel he frequented in Florida.
Dave Walls was working as an Allegheny County police detective when his sister, Patty, was looking for a viable business. In 1982, the siblings bought The Carriage Inn, with Patty Walls the owner of the liquor license.
Dave Walls bought her out after eight or nine years and has owned it ever since, though his then-wife subsequently owned the liquor license. Police are prohibited from owning liquor licenses by state law, but Walls began ownership of both the restaurant and the liquor license when he retired from the county force in 2001, after more than 30 years in law enforcement.
“There wasn't the loyalty to the alcohol as there was to the food,” says Walls, 62, of Elizabeth. “We wanted to put out a good menu and develop the clientele.”
“Our goal is serving good food and giving good service,” says general manager Judy Gibala of Sewickley Township, Westmoreland County.
About 20 years ago, The Carriage Inn started catering events. The rear dining room down the hall from the bar seats about 60 for showers, rehearsal dinners and other events, Gibala says.
Kitchen manager Ed “Butch” Carr, 41, of Liberty, has been with The Carriage Inn for three years. Chefs here, such as Bruce Hoagland, 39, of McKeesport, are given free rein to develop recipes, such as Hoagland's Taco Soup, for $4.40 a bowl.
Carr is a chef who learned on the job and on his own through “trial and error,” he says. He spent three years with the Gateway Clipper fleet.
Entrees include Baby Back Ribs, with a whole rack for $21.99 or a half for $12.99; and The Carriage Inn Sirloin of 8 ounces for $11.99. Dinners come with a choice of two side dishes and freshly baked bread.
Pasta dishes include Chicken Parmesan with a side of spaghetti for $13.99 and Linguini Alfredo for $11.59. The Carriage Inn, also open for lunch, has a variety of salads, calzones, wraps, burgers and sandwiches. They include the Buffalo Chicken Calzone for $8.99, the One Pound Fish Sandwich for $8.99, the Hot Sausage Sandwich for $7.69 and the Spinach Salad with hot bacon dressing for $8.89.
Diners eat in the bar or the back dining room, which is decorated with prints of Kennywood, Forbes Field, the Civic Arena and Pittsburgh, as well as farm implements.
Walls' mother, Velma, 87, of Portvue has been bookkeeper practically since the Wallses bought The Carriage Inn “and continues to contribute,” her son says.
“You get a real sense of accomplishment when you feed a lot of people and they seem to be happy with” the food, Dave Walls says.
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Chicken Marsala is one of the most popular entrees at The Carriage Inn, says kitchen manager Ed “Butch” Carr. The elegant and tasty entree is “a very easy dish” to prepare with not many ingredients, he says. The combination of chicken and beef stocks added to the chicken deepen and enrich the flavor.
2 ounces chicken stock
2 ounces beef stock
3 tablespoons butter, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 chicken breasts (6 ounces each), pounded thin
4 tablespoons seasoned flour plus more for thickening (see Note)
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
4 ounces Marsala wine
Pinch of parsley, freshly chopped and left out to dry
Combine the chicken and beef stocks in a container.
Season the butter with salt and pepper. Place half the butter in a hot pan to melt. Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour. Place the chicken in the hot pan, skin side down. (If the chicken breasts are skinless, place them down on the side from which the skin was removed). Add the mushrooms, moving the mushrooms around the chicken to cook.
When one side of the chicken is cooked but not brown, turn it over. Add the Marsala and simmer, reducing the liquid to one-third. Add the parsley and the broth mixture and stir or shake to combine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by by half. Add a couple of teaspoons of flour to thicken the sauce. Turn the chicken out onto a plate and pour the mushroom mixture over the chicken.
Makes 2 servings.
Note: The Carriage Inn's seasoned flour calls for a pinch each of salt, pepper and its wings seasoning per 2 cups of flour. Owner Dave Walls says the seasoning is patented and would not give out the recipe, but said Lawry's Seasoned Salt is an acceptable substitute.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Pederson had to go at Pitt
- Pederson’s 2nd tenure as the athletic director at Pitt comes to abrupt end
- Chryst returns home, named football coach at Wisconsin
- Demolition project at Oliver’s Pourhouse in Greensburg moves forward
- Philly DA says no affidavits claimed by AG Kane in bribery case existed
- Steelers, young and old, thirst for opportunity to reach the postseason
- Steelers notebook: Brown leads WRs in Pro Bowl voting, Bell 2nd at RB
- QB Smith is chief concern for Steelers’ defense
- Many Pitt fans endorse move to oust Pederson as athletic director
- Toast of the Town: Explore Lawrenceville’s many watering holes
- Penguins continue to thrive, despite spate of ailments