Somma Pizza shoots and scores with taste in Plum
The Somma family may have pizza in their restaurant name, but they have hockey in their hearts.
Owner Sue Somma says the sports theme in the dining rooms and bar area are courtesy of years of a love for sports she shares with her husband and co-owner Mark Somma. They were Pittsburgh hockey fans long before Mario Lemieux was drafted by the Penguins and their oldest son is a professional hockey player in German. The sports influence is noticeable throughout the restaurant and bar.
The decor of Somma will intrigue any hockey fan. Signed jerseys, vintage Sports Illustrated covers and autographed photos — even a wall of messages from regional and national sports figures who have eaten at Somma — adorn the walls. When the U.S. Open was played in Oakmont in 2007, Somma was closed to the public while 84 Lumber rented the space. ESPN's “Mike and Mike” show broadcast from Somma while the couple watched the airings during a beach vacation.
The Sommas have been at the Plum location for 10 years. In 1977, they opened a pizza shop in Aspinwall, and when PPG Place opened in Downtown Pittsburgh, they were among the first tenants and operated four eateries: a pizza shop, hot-dog place, a deli, and a burger place, Sue Somma says.
With hockey back in action, Somma's crowds have increased. Two dining rooms and the bar area can accommodate 120 patrons, and on a game night, it's a full house.
Somma also has a video-game room for kids. There's a larger room in the back for parties and nine TVs showcase major sporting events with a good view from any seat in the bar.
The Sommas sponsor their share of local sports teams and all those team trophies and placques are displayed nicely in glass cases.
We were amazed at the al fresco dining on the deck — with twinkle lights on the railing and a protective shade roof — including an HDTV that was on. Temperatures were in the single digits when we first visited, so as inviting as it looked, we passed on the outdoor deck. We can imagine enjoying a baseball game out there on a pleasant summer night. Sue Somma says the television is encased to protect it from the weather and to prevent theft.
The menu is rich with good bar food and more. We satisfied our munchie needs by sharing the Power Play Platter ($19.95) with long lengths of fried zucchini, chicken tenders, onion rings, pepper poppers and provolone wedges.
We can recommend the Nachos Grande ($9.80) if you want to have them last through a game. A platter of tortilla chips is piled high with chili, cheese, jalapenos, ripe olives, onions, tomatoes and sour cream to cool the heat. We had to take ours home, because we hardly made a dent.
The Mushroom Bacon Swiss Burger ($10.95) was a hefty half-pound of juicy Angus beef topped with Swiss, bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and onion on a large soft roll. We noted, but skipped the “66” a Mario Lemieux tribute burger that weighs in at two (yes two) pounds. If you can finish it yourself, you earn a beer (as if you'd have room). We couldn't even finish the half-pound burger that came with fries, slaw and a pickle.
The Smokehouse ($9.85) left our tongue smokin' from the spicy chipotle sauce on the breaded chicken sandwich that was topped with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, onion rings, lettuce and tomato. Next time, we'll ask for it on the side so we can determine our heat level.
The Fettuccine Alfredo ($10.95) featured a light, creamy sauce and tender pasta. The meal included a side, so we enjoyed a hot bowl of Mom Somma's wedding soup and some garlic toast.
Southwest Tender Salad ($9.85) had a mix of crunchy lettuces including romaine and iceberg topped with breaded chicken tenders, red onions, eggs, cucumbers, cheese and crispy onion rings. The homemade ranch dressing melded the flavors.
We went back for pizza on a hockey night and the place was busy. The hand-tossed pizza with our personalized concoction of pepperoni, mushrooms and bacon was worth all the carbs we overloaded. We also had a small cheese hand-tossed pie, and it was fine, but the ample toppings are what really set apart Somma's pies.
The recipe for their pizza has remained the same one as the pies they started making some 36 years ago at the original Aspinwall pizza shop.
Rebecca Killian is a features editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-226-4669.
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