At one time, appetizers may have simply been the small bite to sate your initial hunger before a meal, but those days are no more. Appetizers have taken the spotlight on today’s restaurant menus. From raw bars, to brewing companies, to spaghetti houses, West Virginia’s best spots for appetizers will blow you away. Here are our favorites.
Although not a chain restaurant, Primanti Bros. has locations in five states and has been around since the Great Depression and has a great story to tell. What started as a food truck that offered hearty sandwiches for truck drivers in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area quickly spread to a storefront location in the same city, known for healthy portions and reasonable prices. When a man dropped off frozen potatoes to the restaurant, Joe Primanti, the original owner, fried them up, placed them on top of sandwiches and added cole slaw, and the Almost Famous Sandwich was born. Now after nearly 100 years, that sandwich and the eatery that serves it is famous.
Opened in 2012, Backyard Pizza and Raw Bar in Huntington, West Virginia, serves lunch and dinner every day except Sunday. Great for a quick stop for a slice of delicious wood-fired pizza, a family meal, or date night. Great appetizers include fresh oysters, giant bread sticks served with or without cheese, pulled pork sliders, unlimited chips and salsa, and wings. Specialty pizzas include Jammin’ Jamaican made with spicy black beans, mozzarella cheese, pineapple, onion, jerk chicken, and fresh cilantro, seafood fra diavolo, made of grilled shrimp, calamari, mozzarella, spicy marinara, parsley, and lemon.
Laury’s Restaurant in Charleston, West Virginia, opened in 1979, and has become known as one of the best places to eat in this part of the state. Situated in an old railroad depot, the interior is reminiscent of a time gone by and is listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places. Even though the surroundings might be old, the cuisine is modern and has a French flare. Laury’s offer great service, food made with fresh ingredients, and new twists on old favorites. Start your meal off with Portobello mushroom ravioli, Oysters Rockefeller, or the popular Saffron Scallops Par Fazi, a mouthwatering combination of scallops, crabmeat, and asparagus in a saffron cream sauce. Follow that by soup or salad, and one of the chef-prepared entrees like rack of lamb, filet mignon, veal schnitzel, roasted duck, or seafood risotto.
What goes better with your favorite pizza pie than a perfectly paired appetizer? Besides great pizza and fast service, Gino’s Pizza and Spaghetti House in Summersville, West Virginia, has the best and most flavorful sidekicks like jumbo, cheesy, or cinnamon breadsticks, onion rings, fries, or garlic bread. A longstanding favorite, Gino’s also serves pasta, wings, salads, and sandwiches.
Not far from Oglebay Resort is a little eatery called Avenue Eats in Wheeling, West Virginia. Listed in Bon Appetit Appalachia’s food map/guide, their mission is to deliver great food at a great price. Appetizers include fried risotto, made with roasted jalapenos, cream cheese risotto, and a lime-cilantro dip, lamb tacos, a variety of wings from sweet to spicy, vegan teriyaki tempeh tacos, and a selection of cured meats, cheeses, olives, and other treats on a charcuterie tray.
What do you do when everything on the menu is good? Visit often and try everything, of course! That’s the message on social media sites for people who have tried menu items from appetizers to desserts and in between at Cody’s Restaurant in Bridgeport, West Virginia. From the colorful artwork on the walls to the artful presentations on the plate, Cody’s is open every day of the week and has a Sunday brunch that’s worth trying. Live music happens every Thursday.
What do you get when you combine good food, polite and attentive servers, and reasonable prices? You get the Blue Moon Café in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. This quaint café with the charming outdoor garden and seating area has a mission to bring great food and great people together. With a list of appetizers that’s longer than entrees, Blue Moon Café uses local sources to prepare such popular dishes as Kimmy’s artichoke dip, vegetarian sesame noodles, crab melts, and their ‘Bowl of Beans,” a vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan favorite.
Open every day except Monday, the Forks Restaurant & Inn, located in Elkins, West Virginia, is a family affair that spans several generations and over 40 years of culinary experience. Nestled in one of the most beautiful places in the Mountain State, the Forks Restaurant & Inn takes food to a new level. Combining a love of travel and inspiration from other cultures, fresh herbs grown on site, smoked meats, an eclectic menu, and a passion for creating a varied and delicious menu, eating here isn’t just dinner. It’s an experience. For example, hungry diners can choose appetizers like smoke trout, Maryland crab margarita, or smoked shrimp and grits. Entrees include Vietnamese chicken, popcorn trout, and citrus turkey. You can also book weddings, receptions, parties, and corporate gatherings.
One of the newest establishments in Cross Lanes, West Virginia, the word is spreading quickly about Prime Station, a full bar and eatery that surpasses expectations with their high-quality food and great service. With something special every night, including discounted appetizers during the week from 4-7 p.m., there’s no reason not to go often. Come watch your favorite team play on one of the 13 large TVs, and try the appetizer sampler since making up your mind might be a challenge. Live music is a bonus on select nights.
By Penny Fox
Opened in 1864, Parkersburg Brewing Company offered a limited number of beers including the first beer brewed in Wood County, and at its busiest brewed, bottled, and stored over 60,000 barrels every year until it closed in 1912 because of the state-wide prohibition. The building was used for other businesses until it was eventually torn down, and the site of the new Parkersburg Brewing building is located not far from the original. Offering “historically good eats,” appetizers include Foundry Nachos, which is marinated chicken, jalapenos, black beans, gorgonzola dressing and pico de gallo, all smothered in bier cheese, house-made macaroni and cheese, a combination of bier, Colby jack, mozzarella, white cheddar, provolone, and smoked gouda cheeses, and Bavarian pretzel bites, to name a few. Salads, paninis, and a great selection of beer make this a very popular spot.