Luke and Mike’s Frontporch in Aspinwall focuses on outdoor dining experience
Billy Rice of Aspinwall has owned 11 restaurants.
But his last eatery endeavor, Luke & Mike’s Frontporch, is personal.
“I named this last restaurant after my boys,” Rice said. “It’s a great outdoor spot, and it’s been a great adventure.”
“They will be the next generation to take over,” said mom and co-owner Sheri Rice of her sons.
Luke, 21, and Mike, 18, handle bartending duties with their parents and work together to make customers feel “always welcome,” Sheri Rice says.
The quaint restaurant, housed in a former historic train station in a residential part of Aspinwall, emphasizes outdoor dining options, either on their porch or at the side bar, a covered outdoor bar and grassy space along Commercial Avenue.
Luke & Mike’s opened nine years ago, emphasizing freshly sourced American cuisine prepared by executive chef Blakely Aluise and sous chef Zach Bell.
The red-brick building, overhanging roof and wide front porch is the draw during nice weather. When winter hits, a smaller indoor dining area complete with hardwood floors and a fireplace provides a bistro-style cozy atmosphere.
“People always say they feel like they are in my living room,” Sheri Rice says. “Customers are made to feel welcome, and we pride ourselves in making them feel welcome. I’m a little bit of a task master with customer service.”
Local ingredients from area businesses such as La Prima Coffee, Allegro Hearth, Patty’s Farm, Freedom Farms, Bob’s Herb Farm and Caryn’s Bakery are utilized, Aluise says.
“We like to do things seasonally here. Customers are loving the side bar with the small bites and specialty drinks. They love to come for dinner and be outside,” Aluise says.
Aluise keeps the menu varied, but seafood lovers take note — you’ll be happy at Luke & Mike’s.
Look for calamari, Ahi tuna, scallops, shrimp, Alaskan Sockeye salmon and wild sea bass, along with standards such as beef filet and chicken.
“Seafood is healthy and light. We do get into a chop here and there, but my favorite protein is seafood,” Sheri Rice says.
Soup delivery begins
Luke & Mike’s recently kicked off soup delivery, capitalizing on 17 years of homemade soup experience.
Soup choices include wedding, tomato basil, pasta fagioli, chicken dumpling, white chili, chicken tortilla and sausage tortellini.
“I make all of the soups, and we deliver it to your house in quarts every Sunday evening,” Sheri Rice says. “You can sign up for weekly delivery or just choose the dates you want. This is my soup side hustle.”
Soups are priced $13 per quart, and there is no delivery charge.
Current areas of delivery include: Aspinwall, Blawnox, Fox Chapel, parts of Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Hampton, O’Hara and Indiana townships and Oakmont proper.
Dinner delivery from 3 to 5 p.m. is offered Wednesdays to the same areas.
Online ordering is available at www.frontporchgrille.com.
The Rice family plans to develop the backyard area of the side bar, adding another bar against the mural area, increased landscaping and possibly a grill.
“It’s fun. Outdoor dining and outdoor drinking. What could be better?” Sheri Rice says.
Luke & Mike’s Frontporch
Where: 235 Commercial Ave., Aspinwall
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 4 to 9 p.m. Saturdays. Bar hours begin at 4 p.m.
Contact: 412-252-2877, www.frontporchgrille.com, @frontporchgrille
The concept: A casual family-owned bistro serving American cuisine with fresh locally sourced ingredients.
Menu sample: Small plates include Blackened Fish Tacos ($11.95) with cucumber pineapple slaw, avocado, cilantro and lime and Braised Beef Ravioli ($11.95) tossed with asparagus and peas in a rosemary cream sauce. Entrées include Grilled Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon ($26.95) marinated in a peach chimichurri over sautéed spinach, and handmade Asiago Gnocchi ($24.95) tossed with heirloom tomatoes, garlic, basil and drizzled with a balsamic glaze.
Must try: Lemon Basil Chicken ($21.95) featuring pan-seared chicken breasts sautéed in a lemon basil beurre blanc,
heirloom tomatoes with burratta (Italian cow milk cheese with mozzarella and stracciatella.
The bottom line: Seasonal porch dining with fresh locally sourced cuisine and specialty cocktails at the “side bar” in a welcoming backyard setting in residential Aspinwall.
Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.