by: Jessica Fera Updated:
PITTSBURGH - More than 3,000 votes were submitted to the Pittsburgh's Best Fish Sandwich contest and on April 13, the Top 3 winners were surprised with a visit from a WPXI crew.
Finishing in 3rd place was Shop 'N Go in Jefferson Hills.
Sometimes, great fish sandwiches are found in unlikely places, and such is the case with this little convenience store on Route 837.
Owner Carrie Howard’s parents opened Shop ‘N Go 16 years ago, and she and her husband introduced the fish sandwich when they took over in 1995.
“We needed something to get customer to come in. We were new in the neighborhood and we didn’t have gas like a typical convenience store,” Carrie said.
So what makes this fried cod sandwich great? Carrie said it’s all in the secret beer batter.
“Nobody knows what’s in it. No even the girls, because I keep the recipe in my pocket when I do it,” Carrie said.
Shop ‘N Go only serves fish on Fridays during Lent so you'll have to wait until next year to try this award winning sandwich.
From a small town convenience store to the infamous fish market in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, The Robert Wholey Co. won our 2nd place award.
“Wholey’s has a great fish sandwich because we use Icelandic cod, Mancini’s bakery, right next to us, we use 100 percent corn oil and it’s made with a lot of love by a lot of dedicated associates,” said owner Dan Wholey.
You have your choice of cod or whiting, broiled or fried, Mancini’s buns made especially for Wholey’s and homemade tartar or cocktail sauce to top it off.
It’s no wonder it’s such a popular place, but don’t be afraid of the crowd. Wholey’s is prepared.
“We double our staff and the line goes very quick. You wouldn’t know you’re waiting in a long line. But on a busy Friday Lent we’ll probably go through 1,000 fish sandwiches,” Dan said.
Now that’s a lot of fish. Another restaurant seeing an increase in sales since the Pittsburgh’s Best Fish Sandwich contest began is our 1st place winner, E Town Bar & Grille in Etna.
“We went from 245 the first week to 481 when it hit the news, WPXI. So hopefully this Friday, I don’t know how much more we can do,” said co-owner Tim Gralewski.
E Town’s fish sandwich starts with cod from Pittsburgh Seafood, then it’s hand battered with a secret recipe, fried and served opened face on a bun.
“We’re in here almost every Friday and we have taste tested a few other fish sandwiches in the area, and E Town is the best,” said customer Holland Williams.
WPXI viewers submitted hundreds of nominations to the Pittsburgh's Best Fish Sandwich contest and the Top 10 were named as our finalists.
The finalists were invited to participate in a blind taste test at the Channel 11 studios on March 31.
The judges scored E Town Bar & Grille in Etna the highest, followed by Sunny Jim's Tavern on Camp Horne Road and The Robert Wholey Co. in the Strip District.
Fish sandwiches were scored based on the quality of the fish and overall taste. The results for the Top 3 were the closest we've ever seen in any of our Pittsburgh's Best contests, with only 2 points separating each finalist.
Our 10 judges included Channel 11 anchors Peggy Finnegan and David Johnson, Chief Meteorologist Julie Bologna along with Mikey and Bob from the 96.1 KISS Morning Freak Show, Bill Wareham, Game-Night Producer for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Food Blogger Burgh Gourmand, Chef and Restaurateur Jason Capps of Bella Sera, Mitch Wexler from the WPXI Sales Department and Rich Wehner representing our Pittsburgh's Best sponsor, The Original Mattress Factory.
SPECIAL SECTION: Pittsburgh's Best
TOP 10 FINALISTS:
Blinky's Noble Grill & Bar, West End
E Town Bar & Grille, Etna
Nied's Hotel Restaurant, Lawrenceville
Pitzer's Townhouse, Jeannette
RoadRunner's Lounge, Route 51
Robert Wholey & Co., Strip District
Rocky's II Restaurant & Lounge, McKees Rocks
Shop N Go, Jefferson Hills
Spadafora's Restaurant, Allison Park
Sunny Jim's Tavern, Camp Horne Road
1. The top 10 fish sandwiches will first be determined by the number of valid nominations received and second, by the willingness of the restaurant to participate.
2. The nomination process opened Monday, March 7 and will close Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1 p.m. Our finalists will be determined at that time.
3. A taste test will take place at the Channel 11 studios during the week of March 28. Each finalist will deliver a sample of their fish sandwich for the test. If a restaurant does not show up for the taste test they will be disqualified.
4. Voting will open to the public Monday, April 4 at noon on WPXI.com and will close Monday, April 11 at 3 p.m.
5. The winners will be revealed on April 13. Award plaques will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners as determined by the public vote. Award certificates will be given to the remaining finalists.
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