The Pitch knocks it out of the park, draws lots of fans
As a father who frequently had a few hours to kill during sports practices at Shawnee Athletic Complex back in BC times (before COVID) I often lamented the fact that there was no restaurant (OK, bar) on site where I could enjoy a drink or bite to eat while I waited.
There’s Ridge View BBQ across the street – and a handful of places down the road in Dunbar – but I always thought it would be convenient to have a place right there, maybe even a spot where you could watch the action on fields right outside.
The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill answered my prayers earlier this spring. Yay!
Then the fields were shuttered due to the pandemic just a few weeks later. Boo!
The good news is, I don’t have to wait for sports to restart to enjoy the new restaurant’s food and vibe. The Pitch has stayed open throughout and has gaining quite a following for great casual grub served in a nicely renovated clubhouse at Shawnee.
Two floors of indoor seating are available, along with outdoor patio tables overlooking the sprawling complex. A bar with an ice rail keeps your drinks cold and there are a handful of games to keep kids occupied as well.
While you’ll find plenty of typical sports-bar fare here like chicken wings, pretzel bites and burgers, there are some more unusual options.
Like delicious, crispy, slow-braised pork shank “wings” tossed in peach BBQ sauce with Napa cabbage slaw and fire-roasted peppers, and the “Cornfused” basket blending fried pockets of corn and sweet potato tots topped with scallion crème. Both are fantastic, as were the Angelo’s sausage balls.
After you devour those tasty apps make your next play The Mountaineer pizza, featuring cupping pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, garlic, parmesan and roasted local Hernshaw Farms mushrooms with house-made pizza sauce drizzled over the TOP of the pizza.
You heard that right. Instead of letting the sauce disappear under all those toppings, The Pitch puts it right on top where it can shine. I was skeptical at first, but am a true believer now.
Other pizza options range from the basic margherita-style First Base to a Bases Loaded with all the things, plus a pie made with a cauliflower crust. (That last option, along with a few salads, are your only real healthy-ish options, however.)
The burgers are bangin’, especially The Pinch Hitter with smoked bacon and a fried egg, and the Shroom & Swiss with local Hernshaw Farms mushrooms on a butter-griddled bun.
I’ve also enjoyed a nice smoked pulled-pork BBQ sandwich and a thick-cut griddled and slathered hot bologna sandwich, both served with spice-dusted house chips.
For the heartiest of appetites, the towering Man vs. Burger boasts three patties stacked with smoked bacon, three cheeses, house chili, onion, pickles, candied jalapeños, shredded lettuce, waffle fries, a pepperoni ball and housemade sauce. All on the burger.
I didn’t tackle that beast, but I most certainly dove into two massive desserts. The Waffle ala Mode with J.Q. Dickenson salted caramel and the Softball (a large donut split and filled with ice cream, with salted caramel and a cherry on top) were both hits at our table.
A kids menu for the wee ones offers smaller burgers, mini corn dogs, a PB&J and such.
While the restaurant has hit both food and service out of the park during my visits, those cautious about dining out during the time of COVID should keep in mind The Pitch is a very popular place, so lots of people want to check it out.
That means tables are often full, there are often people waiting in the lobby to be seated and there’s a general flurry of activity during peak times. The good news is, the restaurant has lots of space, indoors and out, plus servers have been mostly good about properly wearing masks after a few initial hiccups.
Just keep in mind the restaurant’s busy vibe may not appeal to everyone right now.
My only other nit to pick is there’s no printed beer list available. You have to download the Untapped app or hope your server can name something you like from the many options available.
The restaurant says its large and frequently changing tap list makes it difficult to keep an updated beer menu on hand. I get it, but I’d be fine with even a simple sheet that could be printed and copied every few days.
But if that’s my only complaint, The Pitch has nothing to worry about. It’s easy to see why many people love the place and I’ll be a frequent visitor myself – even more so once youth sports return to Shawnee.
IF YOU GO: The Pitch Sports Bar & Grill, 2947 Fairlawn Ave. at Shawnee Athletic Complex, is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday and closed Monday-Tuesday. For more information, visit www.thepitchwv.com or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
• • •
In case you missed it, the owners of downtown Charleston’s popular Rock City Cake Co. did a “mic drop” move last week by announcing on social media that they were also opening a new bagel shop just down the street.
This makes me VERY excited!
I still miss the old Chesapeake Bagel Company that once graced Capitol Street and I have a feeling owners Morgan Morrison and Cortney Marsh are going to do right by us.
Add in the fun “Golden Girls” theme the new place will be built around and you have all the ingredients for another successful venture downtown.
Not even Dorothy could find fault with that.
• • •
Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at email@example.com.