all photos courtesy of Facebook, Union Grill www.facebook.com
Every town has that one place that you HAVE to go if you want something great to eat. In Washington, that place is the Union Grill. Located just a block from campus down East Wheeling Street, the Union Grill is a prime restaurant for taking the family to eat when they visit or to enjoy a meal with friends that could put most home-cooking to shame. The atmosphere echoes their motto, “Where Friends Meet”: nestled in the foundation of an old city building, the stone walls and old wood seal you into cozy quarters that smell of garlic and marinara.
The Union Grill has been under the ownership of Michael Flynn since 1967 and was nominated one of the Top 20 Independent Restaurants in Pennsylvania. The menu is a mix of American pub fare and gourmet Italian. Restaurant goers rave about “House Specialties” such as the fried zucchini appetizer, the Reuben, and the linguini arrabiatta. There is careful craft in the service and preparation of food at the Union Grill---it is no Applebees. A full loaf of fluffy Italian bread wrapped in red cloth gets your appetite ready for a beautiful entrée of exquisite flavors. The chefs meticulously prepare each meal to its finest quality. If everyone knew that three quarters of Olive Garden’s menu is microwave ready, they would never go back after experiencing what the Union Grill can offer. Not only will you have the hardest time deciding what to settle on, you will tell everyone at your table that “next time” you want to try this or that…before you have even told the lovely waitress what you’ll be eating that night.
You will find W&J students, alumni, and even professors eating among the locals any night if the week. The bar mixes an old feeling of "Cheers" with technologically updated screens to watch the game. “I always get the Chicken Parmigian with a side of angel hair pasta. I go there with my family, when my mom comes to visit. We always get the fried provolone cheese wheel because you can’t get it anywhere else!” (Gina Policastro, senior at W&J). The Union Grille is a great place to eat out, and another perk is that you can walk off the fettuccini on your way back to campus. Or if you just really need a break from the Commons, but don’t have the time to be waited on, you can call ahead and the servers will prepare your food to go.
One of Many Experiences
Every time my parents come to Washington and Jefferson they make it a point to eat at The Union Grill. Now my family is not the eat-out-every-week type. We are quite the opposite really: Mom buys organic, Dad grills, and my sister and I have known how to cook since gradeschool. But after hauling refrigerators and enough clothes to fill a small boutique up three flights of stairs for not just one, but two daughters, Dad (on the verge of collapsing), practically starts to head down Wheeling Street before the rest of us have time to take a breather. It happens each beginning and end of the year; The Union Grill is a kind of convocation and commencement for each of the four years I have attended W&J. The last time my family and I dined at the restaurant I knew I wanted to get something different that I wouldn’t normally get. Over past few years I have fallen in love with the hot stuffed peppers and the pecan salmon bathed in maple syrup, but I was in an adventurous mood and decided on…pizza. Now that craving sounds mundane, but this was no ordinary pizza I was considering. It was labeled “New” on the menu---an artichoke-chicken pizza with garlic sauce. The personal size is about ten inches in diameter and comes hot on the plate with the cheese still in ooze form. It was delicious! My family all took a taste (a practice which is of no extraordinary surprise when one of us ends up with something exceptionally tantalizing). I took half of this fabulous pizza back to my dorm for later in the evening. That may have been one of the best pizzas that I have eaten, and I cannot wait until the year is over and my parents come to load of the cars again. There is no doubt we’ll be back at The Union Grill, enjoying a lovely dish before the long drive home.
From Patron to Employee: a first person narrative
Narrative written by Chamois Crookshanks, based on an interview with Ryan Kraski on December 3, 2010
I began working at the Union Grill the first semester of my sophomore year at W&J. It started when my parents and I went to eat there for dinner one night. Sometimes when I get bored waiting for my meals I am likely to fold up the cloth napkins in an origami-like style which I learned while working at another Italian restaurant. It's a really intricate fold, much nicer than anything they do, which caught the waitress’s attention. After some small talk my mom insisted that I should start looking for a job and that led to the waitress adding me to their busing roster.
During my time there I did see a good handful of W&J students and faculty. I saw teachers bringing in groups quite often. The Parkhurst supervisors seem to like stopping by after they are done at work, and Union Grille has a really good knack for drawing students trying to entertain their visiting families. It’s also common to see the occasional couple on a dinner date. My favorite, though, was seeing a Fiji graduate-brother, Mike Grasso, come in. I would encourage students to stop by more---the reasonable prices and the great quality of food make the Union Grill a very attractive place to eat.
"My opinion of the restaurant is still very high after having worked there if not higher. The chefs pride themselves on quality food and the waitresses push to make sure that everybody has a good experience. They have the older, but still lovely, veteran waitresses who keep it running smoothly and the atmosphere friendly and familiar."
A Taste of the Menu
A delectable sampling to tease your taste buds:
Appetizers (all served with Italian bread and butter):
Stuffed Eggplant Parmigiano $7.99
Hot Stuffed Banana Peppers $7.99- also great as an entrée with Spaghetti on the side
Crispy Wings with sweet and spicy chili sauce $7.99
Salads (not just your ordinary greens):
Grilled Tuna Salad- seared ahi tuna kebab with toasted walnuts, pears and bleu cheese $9.99
Union Grill Chef Salad- greens with carrots, pepperocini, egg, turkey, ham, and Swiss $8.99
Sandwiches and Hoagies (oh my!...and the fries are hot!)
The Rachel-grilled corned beef or turkey with coleslaw and Swiss with Thousand Island on rye $8.95
Meatball Hoagie with Cheese $7.95
Fish Sandwich-fresh cod, battered in a light coating and served crisp on a hoagie roll $8.95
Entrees: include Beef and Pork, Seafood, Veal Chicken, Pasta, and Specialty Pizzas
Pork Dijon-pork chops, sautéed with roasted red peppers and spinach, topped with jumbo lump crabmeat in a white wine Dijon sauce $19.99
Bleu Cheese and Herb Crusted Veal- Sautéed veal with hot peppers, pepperoni and roma tomatoes in a light aglio sauce finished with a bleu cheese crust $21.99
Pecan Salmon- Norwegian salmon fillet pan seared and finished with a sweet maple glaze served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes $21.99
Linguini Arrabiatta- Tender chicken breast sautéed with hot peppers, sausage, garlic, olive oil basil, tomatoes. Finished in a white wine sauce $16.99/$10.99
Save Room for Dessert (or take it with you!)
Triple Chocolate Cake $5.95
Italian Almond Torte- Amaretto flavored white cake filled with cream topped with crushed almonds $6.95
Make your way over
1) Walk, or drive toward the heart of Washington on East Wheeling Street (the one the Library and Admissions House is on)
2) If you drive, there is a parking lot just on the left.
3) If you get to the stoplights, you’ve gone TOO FAR
4) The Union Grill is located on the right at 13 E. Wheeling St., and don’t get confused…yes, you must enter by walking down those stone steps into what looks like
Friday & Saturday 11am-11pm
Call: (724) 222-2860