The Wooden Nickel has been recognized in several previous Restaurant Weeks for its delicious food; honestly, it’s always just been that trek to Monroeville that’s deterred us from coming. This year, though, we were determined!
The place allows BYOB, but also has its own wine list, so we set aside the Malbec we’d brought and opted to start with a little Central Coast Chardonnay. It went very well with this basket of rosemary bread with butter and seasoned olive oil that we were given right after seating.
For our meal, we decided to do a combination of Restaurant Week and non-Restaurant Week courses. This dish was not part of the Restaurant Week prix fixe menu, but it was the dish that won them the Best Preview award at this season’s Kick-Off Party: mini-crab cakes with truffled corn hash. It’s no surprise why these were winners; the crab cakes were delightful – all-crab meat, no filler, and the truffle oil was used sparingly (the way I very much prefer!).
After our crab cakes, we did a round of salad. In the image, the Restaurant Week salad is down in front; it was made with arugula, an Asiago shallot tarte, garlic chips, and ginger vinaigrette. The bitterness of the arugula played well off the spicy ginger, and while the Asiago was a little hard to break down into bites, its flavor and texture were quite good. Choosing from the regular menu, I opted for a Caesar salad, which had a good amount of dressing without being drenched — and look! Fresh anchovies! It was a touch I rarely see, and one that I very much appreciated.
After the appetizers, we switched to the Malbec we’d brought (for a $10 corkage fee) in anticipation of our entrees. Fox’s entree was an option off the Restaurant Week menu: a sliced filet with mushroom and truffled onions over “Berger Lane” potatoes. The steak was done to a spot-on medium rare that you barely had to chew, while the potatoes were rich and buttery.
My own entree came off the regular menu: titled “Not Your Mamas Meatloaf,” it came wrapped in Applewood smoked bacon with a spicy cheese bread, whipped potatoes, frizzled onions & Smokey BBQ sauce. Look at the size of this thing.
Seriously, it was a mountain! I could only eat about a third of it, but that third was delicious. It was on the heavy side, though — a really dense meal. Don’t expect to do any physical activities after eating.
As full as we were, we still did manage to save room for dessert. The Restaurant Week offering, “Beer-a-misu,” had run out, so we were allowed to just substitute an item of our choosing off the dessert menu. We got molten lava cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream added on — and man, oh man, was it good. It was small, but so rich that it easily split between two.
So, we definitely would give The Wooden Nickel a gold star. While the portions were a bit more than we could handle, that did fit in with the overall Italian family vibe that was going on. The service was excellent, and the meals were tasty, so if you’re looking for an out-of-the-way spot to enjoy on Saturday or Sunday of Restaurant Week, be sure to check it out!
The Wooden Nickel is located at 4006 Berger Lane in Monroeville, PA 15146. Open Monday-Thursday, 11am-11pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-12am; Sunday, 11am-9pm. Reserve a table online or by calling (412) 372-9750. BYOB + Full Bar.