Chiodo's Bar | Pittsburgh City Paper

Chiodo's Bar

You either knew this Homestead landmark or you didn't. And if you didn't, it's too late now: The bar closed in 2005, replaced by Walgreens at the foot of the High Level Bridge. Your only consolation is that you never know what you missed.

For the rest of us, losing the bar -- and seeing its bric-a-brac furnishings auctioned off -- was compounded by the recent death of its owner. The lovable, and beloved, Joe Chiodo died last month, at age 89.

But there was some consolation at a Sept. 23 memorial held by regulars, former employees and loved ones. Some 60 people offered a final toast to Chiodo at the event, held at the historic Homestead Works Pump House, just across from the Waterfront Lowe's home-improvement store. And while memories were shared, a few mysteries were put to rest.

First, the bar's name was properly pronounced "KEY-oh-doh's." Other branches of the family pronounce the name differently. But Joe's nephew, Joe "CHEYE-oh do," recalled that on his first day behind the bar, his uncle told him, "As long as I'm paying you, it's 'KEY-oh-dos Tavern.'"

Second, the secret of Chiodo's famous "mystery sandwich" can now be told.

Marcia Anderson, who served the sandwich for years, could not attend the memorial: According to Charlie McCollester, one of the event organizers, she couldn't get time off from the big-box retailer where she now works. But longtime bartender Tony Novosel furnished City Paper with the recipe, in Anderson's own hand:

Chiodo's Mystery Sandwich

Cook hamburger patty. Top with thin slices of kolbassi and sauerkraut (see below). Heat through. Top with "mystery cheese" (a slice of provolone and a slice of American, with three pepperoni slices between) and "mystery sauce" (see below). Heat until melted.

Sauerkraut: Drain and rinse kraut. Add red and green pepper, garlic, sugar, oregano, red-pepper seeds and tomato sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1.5 hours, "depending on your crunch factor." Add seasonal vegetables to taste.

Mystery sauce: Mix tomato sauce or puree with tomato juice to make a "not-too-thick/not-too-thin" sauce. Add red-pepper seeds, sugar, oregano, garlic, pepper and "whatever floats your boat."

"There [are] no measurements," the recipe cautions. "That's what makes it a mystery every time."