PITTSBURGH - During a one-week public vote, more than 6,000 votes were submitted to WPXI.com for the Pittsburgh's Best Wings contest. On Thursday, the winners were revealed with a surprise visit to their businesses.
Sidelines Bar and Grill in Millvale took home 1st place, while Excuses Bar and Grill on the South Side was named the 2nd place winner and Big Shot Bob's House of Wings in Avalon placed 3rd.
Big Shot Bob's has 120 different flavors of wings. What makes them one of the best?
"Our unique flavors and the fact that everything is cooked when you order it, for you, and nothing is put aside," said co-owner Matt Cercone.
The wings at Excuses are different than many others you might have tried.
"We don't fry them at all," said owner George Pantelas. "We grill 'em, bake 'em, rub 'em and sauce 'em and serve them. Nice and fresh."
Sidelines has built up quite a following and has lots of loyal customers. Owner Bob Miller said the quality of his food is top priority.
"I think it's the love we put into them. We try not to let the quality slip. We try to make every order as good as we possibly can," Miller said.
The resident wing chef is Erin Leghart. You might be surprised to know she is a vegetarian and has never even tasted a Sidelines wing. So how does she cook the wings to perfection?
"I follow a strict rule of how they have to be made. I was sworn to secrecy when I started here," Leghart said. "They're crispy, they're big and juicy, so it's all that greatness. And then the sauces, the owner came up with them, they're fabulous. And there's a lot of sauce on them. So I think it all comes together to make one great wing," she said.
On Wednesday wing nights at Sidelines, Leghart said she dishes out 1,200 to 1,400 wings. Popular flavors include buffalo ranch and hot garlic barbecue.
To determine the contest nominees, WPXI.com asked for submissions from its viewers. More than 600 nominations were submitted for more than 125 local restaurants and our 13 nominees were chosen.
On Sept. 17, our celebrity panel of 10 judges, consisting of personalities from WPXI, local radio and newspaper, gathered at the Channel 11 studios for a blind taste test. Our finalists were invited to submit their best wing flavor, and we received everything from buffalo to garlic parm and honey habanero.
The winner of our taste taste had a bit of a different name; the "sexxy sauce" from 3 Rivers 6 Pack in Delmont scored the highest, followed by mild wings from Excuses on the South Side and buffalo ranch wings from Sidelines Bar and Grill in Millvale.
Wings were judged on appearance, texture and tenderness and taste.
3 Rivers Six Pack, Delmont
Big Shot Bob's House of Wings, Pittsburgh
Chasers in the Run, Pittsburgh
Excuses Bar and Grille, South Side
Hal's Bar and Grill, Pittsburgh
Monterey Pub, Pittsburgh
Sideline's Bar and Grill, Pittsburgh
The Midway On Main, Harrisville
The Oakdale Inn, Oakdale
TMV Brothers, Verona
Quaker Steak and Lube, Pittsburgh
1. The top 15 wing restaurants 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 close Tuesday, September 7 and our finalists will be determined at that time.
3. A taste test will take place at the Channel 11 studios. Each finalist will deliver one signature flavor of wings of their choice for the contest. If a restaurant does not show up for the taste test they will be disqualified.
4. Voting opened to the public Thursday, September 23 at noon on WPXI.com and closed Thursday, September 30 at 5 p.m.
5. 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. The winners were surprised by a WPXI crew on Oct. 7.