Braddock, Pennsylvania is a working class suburb of Pittsburgh. It is home to one of the few remaining steel mills. It is not the kind of place you would think of going out of your way to in order to try a restaurant. Portogallo Peppers N’at makes it worth the trip.
Peppers N’at is a restaurant bar with a large dining area that doubles as a music venue. Portogallo is the name of the owner, Bob Portogallo, who opened Peppers N’at in Swissvale in 2015 showcasing his special pepper blend. 2 years ago, when he outgrew his original location, the restaurant moved to Braddock. On the night we were there, we arrived before the band did so there was ample seating available. Towards the end of our meal, the band, Dancing Queen, was setting up and the place was filling up. So it seems to be a popular venue. At the very least, it attracts popular bands.
But we were not there for the band. We were there for the food. Peppers Nat has a large craft beer selection. The brews available change with the season. And indeed the first drink I ordered was no longer available, a cider from a local cider house, Arsenal. So I went with Snow Bound Cinnamon, a different cider from Arsenal. My dining companions went with a Guinness stout and a Lancaster, a local milk stout.
Peppers N’at is primarily a hoagie place, offering dozens of different kinds of hoagie sandwiches. But they also have pizza appetizers. Our waitress highly recommended the stuffed peppers. It is also available in sandwich form but her preference was the appetizer version. This consisted of three Hungarian wax peppers stuffed with spicy Italian sausage, all covered with a marinara sauce and mozzarella. I was expecting a pepper stuffed with chunks of sausage mixed in with some filler. Not so. The pepper was completely filled with a solid chunk of sausage, essentially using the pepper as a sausage liner. Delicious and filling, we could have made a meal with just that.
For our dinner, we each went with a hoagie. The speciality of the house is a sandwich called the bomber, a 22 inch sandwich piled with deli meats — Parma Sausage Montadella, Capicola, and Salami — along with Provolone cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. No one in my party felt up to that challenge. Our orders consisted of the Polish kielbasa hoagie, the fried fish sandwich, and the meatball hoagie with added peppers. Peppers are their speciality, after all. I gather that the fried fish is one of the things Peppers N’at is known for, as there were signs all along the outside of the building promoting it. All three sandwiches were quite good. Of them, the fish hoagie was the largest, containing one a giant piece of cod. My companion commented that the cod tasted fresh and was crispy without being greasy.
For dessert, we had the seasonal offering which was a pumpkin roll. Fresh and moist, it was stuffed with generous amounts of cream cheese custard. A filling end to the meal.
Both my companions and I recommend Peppers N’at, and would love to eat there again.