JG's Tarentum Station Grille: On the right track
JG's Tarentum Station Grille has been renovated several times, but maintains its roots as a Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station.
The station, built in 1892 and now a historic landmark, served famous passengers such as Kit Carson, Chief Irontail and President William Howard Taft. When the station closed in the late 1950s, the building was boarded up and sat empty. In 1984, it was renovated and became a popular restaurant only to close in 2007.
In 2007, John Greco won over Tarentum Council with a strong proposal for the building and a commitment to remain local -- beating out competitor Franco's. He opened JG's Tarentum Station Grille in January 2008 after gutting the kitchen, dining rooms and bar area.
Although he owns a metals company in nearby Creighton, he is no stranger to the restaurant business. For 15 years, he was a part owner of the former Italian Oven on Freeport Road in New Kensington.
Jeff Norris has managed the restaurant since its opening and says restaurant sales have increased each year.
The former train station offers a cozy ambience featuring framed historical prints of area landmarks in the dining rooms. White linen table dressings present a clean, crisp contrast to the rich woods and brick of the rooms.
An upscale vibe buzzes in the bar area where flat-screen TVs hang near the ceiling amid plenty of wood and a brass rail along the bar counter bar with high-back chairs and well-stocked shelves.
We dined in a narrow patio-style dining room with a stone floor and a full wall of windows that offered a view of the large-scale mural of Tarentum. An elegant dining room is tucked away upstairs and is perfect for small parties. Another five tables for dining are in the bar area.
Our service was swift and friendly, but never rushed as we dined on what probably is in the top two of toughest service tests -- New Year's Eve. Only Valentine's Day would be more crowded. Our meals and service passed admirably. Although the menu was just a bit smaller than the usual offerings, we found plenty (with the exception of the missing Eggplant Rollatini, one of our favorites at the Station) to enjoy.
Joe Ross is the head chef. He brings a wealth of experience with nearly 40 years in the business, including former head chef at Franco's. His skills are evident in presentation and quality.
Our beverages arrived pronto and soon after a basket of fresh, warm rolls with butter. We never had to ask for refills on our drinks because of attentive service.
The New York Strip Steak ($25.99) was char-grilled perfectly to our medium-rare order, leaving it tender, juicy and savory. We didn't even bother with the side of au jus available.
Kudos for the sides that came with all the entrees: a choice of an exquisite twice-baked potato, risotto, a large, moist baked potato, crispy fries, pasta or steamed broccoli. Some in our group enjoyed fresh side salads, while the rest devoured homemade Italian wedding soup and piping hot French Onion au Gratin.
Compliments to the chef for the Stuffed Salmon ($23.99), a large filet stuffed with a deliciously seasoned lump crab filling and baked.
The Veal Piccata ($21.99) featured tender medallions of veal (or chicken for $18.99) sauteed with mushrooms and capers in a light white lemon sauce.
The Pasta Misto Vegetali offered a colorful medley of veggies tossed with garlic and olive oil in penne pasta. We found plenty of artichokes, mushrooms, basil, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes and chunks of chicken. Diners can opt for shrimp for $22.99.
We were too full for dessert, but the next time we stop in, we intend to savor the chocolate or vanilla creme brulee ($4.99).
JG's Tarentum Station Grille
Cuisine: American, featuring steaks, seafood and Italian
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays; 4-10 p.m. Saturdays
Entree price range: $13.99-$30.99
Notes: Major credit cards accepted. Reservations suggested.
Address: 101 Station Drive, Tarentum
Details: 724-226-3301; www.jgtarentumstation.com
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