Jerome Bettis' Grille 36
375 North Shore Drive, North Side
412-224-6287 or www.jeromebettisgrille36.com
There's no shortage of sports bars in Pittsburgh, of course. But there's only one where you have a real chance to find yourself drinking and dining in the same place as former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis.
"He's in here quite a bit," says Mike Duganier, area manager for Jerome Bettis' Grille 36. Bettis, in fact, has his own "owner's box" for entertaining guests.
"It's something that sets us apart," says Duganier.
The retired running back, after all, wouldn't be a household name if he didn't know how to break through a crowded pack of competition. And his owner's box is just one example of how his restaurant is doing the same thing.
The décor has a clean, modern feel -- while certainly sporting its share of sports memorabilia and televisions. (There are 48.) The glossy hardwood floor of the entrance/bar area wends its way into two large carpeted dining rooms. Each room boasts soundproof glass walls, which, when closed, create individual "game zones," so the sound of one doesn't blend in with the other.
"Every day, we map out what games we're showing on each TV," says Duganier, "and we try to arrange them in a way that makes sense."
If you want to watch the Yankees, for example, the television set next to it will often show the rival Boston Red Sox playing at the same time.
But almost anywhere you look, you'll find a homage to Bettis' old jersey number: There are 36 draft beers, 36 bottled beers, 36 different types of wine and 36 different martinis. The food menu, meanwhile, is highlighted by a 36-ounce bone-in New York strip steak smothered in mushrooms and onions.
The extensive menu is another way in which the Grille 36 distinguishes itself. It features plenty of traditional bar food -- wings, pierogies, chips and salsa -- but also more elaborate options, like Pacific Rim tuna rolls.
Adventurous diners, meanwhile, might want to try a "Wild Game" burger. Every day of the work week features a different specialty burger: yak on Monday, bison on Tuesday, Wagyu beef on Wednesday, elk on Thursday and a llama burger on Friday.
Says Duganier, "It's just something else we do to help us stand out from the crowd."