Readers of Patch and newspapers throughout the country have known for decades that I am a critical (many would say "critical" is a gross understatement) and observant individual.
It is notable when I visit a restaurant and find virtually every facet of the dining experience to have been outstanding, but that is the case at Atria's Peters Township, one of the finest restaurants in the region.
The Peters Township branch of this local chain of fine dining establishments is presided over by warm and gracious proprietor Frank Sam. He is a key cog in its success as he is ever-present and is willing to do whatever is necessary to facilitate smooth operation and customer satisfaction. If plates need to be cleared, he does it; if assistance is needed in the kitchen, he dons an apron and springs into action, but most of all, he circulates throughout the dining room, making both the regular and first-time visitor feel welcome and appreciated, often sitting down to chat with patrons.
The graciousness that is exuded by Mr. Sam extends to the serving staff, bus help, and hostesses, all of whom are clearly well-trained and dedicated to providing the finest dining experience. When the customer says "thank you" to the staff, he or she is likely to hear, "It's a pleasure," the same type of response which is offered at extraordinary establishments like the Ritz-Carlton hotels. This is a refreshing break from the typical response at many facilities of, "No problem" (which I hate to hear).
The atmosphere is comfortable and attractive. On the most recent visit by me and my wife, Nov. 30, the restaurant was magnificently decorated throughout for Christmas.
The menu is extensive and fairly priced for the quality and quantity of the dishes, both of which are excellent.
There is an extensive list of delicious, skillfully-prepared cocktails plus beers, including many on tap. There is always a special draft beer selection, such as Oktoberfest in season. The bar area is usually teeming with patrons, particularly on a weekend night. Thursday is martini night, during which these fine cocktails are offered at a bargain price of $5 (regularly $9). Martinis are presented with flourish and fanfare, shaken and poured by the server at the table.
There are seafood, beef, pork, chicken, and salad entree dishes and specials. My favorite dish is Chicken Pot Pie ($12.99), which is offered only a few periods of time throughout the year. It is an entree which consumes the entire plate, filled with lots of fresh chicken, vegetables, and a delicious, creamy sauce. When this dish is not available, I usually order Chicken Marsala, which is unique at Atria's. It is two boneless chicken breasts served in a stroganoff-type sauce which contains lots of mushrooms over a bed of pasta ($14.99): mouthwatering. One can count on hot foods being served piping hot, and the customer is usually warned that the dish is extremely hot, which can prevent one from burning his or her mouth!
The sourdough bread is always fresh, served warm with whipped butter. All of the vegetables are fresh and delicious. My favorite side dish is homemade chips, a bargain at $1.99 for a good-sized basket. Salads are appealing to the eye and delicious, and the many dressings available unique. My favorite homemade dressings are peanut vinaigrette and garlic vinaigrette.
I recommend leaving room for dessert, which is always great no matter what one selects from the menu. The best value, and my favorite item, is fruit crisp ($4.99), an excellent portion of fresh fruit in a delicious crust, served with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. This is a dish to be shared.
Atria's is one of the most popular restaurants in the area, and for good reason. People know quality when they see it. It offers consistently excellent, uniquely-prepared cuisine in a warm, friendly, comfortable, and attractive environment at a fair price, and the customer is king and queen. I would not consider dining there without a reservation and I am surprised that many that come through the doors do not have one. I am generally seated immediately even when arriving early for my reservation, but individuals who were coming in at the same time as me and my wife without a reservation during this latest visit were being quoted wait times of as much as 40 minutes. Waiting is a problem when the restaurant is busy; if there is any criticism to be lodged, it is that the waiting area is virtually non-existent. Customers are sitting and standing on top of each other in an area not designed to accommodate many. If one has a reservation, though, the waiting area can be a non-issue.
The Atria's chain offers valuable incentives from time to time. One who is a member of the "Atria's Club" receives offers for discounts after registering at the website, and a complimentary appetizer upon joining (www.atrias.com). Atria's gift cards are available at Giant Eagle, which often offers double Fuelperks of 20 cents per gallon on gift card purchases of $50. Around the Christmas holidays, Atria's offers a $20 bonus on each $100 purchase of gift cards. Through Nov. 30, it provides in addition a complimentary bottle of wine of the customer's choice with a $100 gift card purchase: a double bonus and great deal. (Both the $20 bonus gift card and the wine voucher must be used in January, February or March of the following year and they must be used on separate visits.)
Like most area diners, I seek quality and quantity in restaurant cuisine. Atria's has it all! You will not be disappointed!