by: Rob Johnston Updated:
PITTSBURGH - More than 5,000 votes were submitted on WPXI.com and on Thursday, I surprised the winners of the 2012 Pittsburgh's Best Wings contest.
Finishing in third place was Excuses Bar and Grill, located on the South Side of Pittsburgh.
Excuses is no stranger to the Pittsburgh’s Best Contest. The restaurant’s exceptional wings took second place in the 2010 competition.
Owner George Pantelas attributes the success of the wings to the unique way they make each order.
“All of our wings are grilled. We bake them, and blacken them with spices on the grill. They are unique and fall right off the bone,” said Pantelas.
The grilled wings have been a fan favorite for more than 24 years and the owner and staff appreciate the loyal customers.
“We thank our customers. They always come through for us and keep eating our wings like they’re going out of style,” said Pantelas.
From the South Side to Ambridge, FireHouse Lounge took home our second-place award.
The FireHouse entered its famous Hot Parmesan Garlic sauce in the competition, but the menu boasts more than 30 homemade sauces. Wing expert John Cornelius has taken a lot of time to carefully develop each unique falvor.
“A few years ago I started growing my own habaneros, and make my own habanero sauces from the ones grown in my garden. It has evolved into having many different flavors, some dry and some wet. I am very proud of it because I have put a lot of work into developing the sauces and recipes, and making it into what it is today,” said Cornelius.
Owner of FireHouse Lounge, Josh Tomayko is proud of where his restaurant placed in the contest.
“For us, being such a small place, it’s amazing. To go up against places like Wings Suds & Spuds and to have people in the public love our food this much, it really feels fantastic,” said Tomayko.
Another small family-owned business finishing strong in the competition is Harrington’s Bar in McDonald, our 1st place winner.
PHOTOS: WPXI surprises Pittsburgh's Best Wings winners
The restaurant submitted the now award-winning Michelle Sauce to the contest. It is a combination of sweet and spicy, and has become one of Harrington’s most popular flavors.
“It was actually created by my sister and a former cook of ours. They were having fun in the kitchen and came up with this crazy sauce, not knowing how it would go over. It quickly became one of the most popular sauces we sell,” said Harrington’s employee and family member Lyndsay Jordan.
Harrington’s not only won the public vote portion of our contest, but the taste test, too. The Harrington family is very proud to have placed first in the competition.
“Being that we are a small family-owned business, and that we have been here for 12 years, we have worked incredibly hard for our family, our customers and the local community of McDonald. This means a lot to not only to our family, but also to our customers that have voted for us,” said Jordan.
Congratulations to Harrington’s Bar for being named Pittsburgh's Best Wings.
The winners were determined by a combination of the public vote and taste test scores.
On May 29, the Pittsburgh’s Best Wings blind taste test was held at the Channel 11 studios.
The top 10 finalists were invited to submit a signature flavor of wings, and our panel of celebrity judges, including personalities from WPXI and local radio put each one to the test.
We received a wide variety of flavors from honey garlic to barbecue parmesan. One restaurant even brought a flavor called the Coyote that was a crowd pleaser.
The winner of the taste test was Harrington’s Bar in McDonald with its famous Michelle Sauce scoring big points with the judges. The Black Magic sauce from Big Shot Bob’s House of Wing in Pittsburgh had the judges under its spell, and took home second place. The third place winner was the hot parmesan garlic wings from Firehouse Lounge in Ambridge.
The wings were judged on taste, appearance, texture and tenderness.
Big Shot Bob's House of Wings, Pittsburgh
Firehouse Lounge, Ambridge
Excuses Bar and Grille, South Side
Sideline's Bar and Grill, Pittsburgh
Bigham Tavern, Pittsburgh
Mt. Troy Inn, Pittsburgh
Harrington’s Bar, McDonald
Mandy’s Pizza, Pittsburgh
Pizza Heaven, Penn Hills
Wings Suds & Spuds, Coraopolis
The Top 10 Wings will first be determined by the number of valid nominations received and second, by the willingness of the wing restaurant to participate.
2. The nomination process will open Monday, May 14, 2012 at 3 p.m. and close Friday, May 25, 2012 at 3 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 May 28. Each finalist must deliver one signature flavor of wings of their choice 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 Thursday, May 31, at 3 p.m. on WPXI.com and close Friday, June 8 at 3 p.m. Each registered user will be allowed one vote per day. Voting results will remain hidden.
5. The winners will be revealed during the week of June 11. 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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