Living Large in Northeast Ohio
March 5, 2016
The Upstairs in Austintown is fast becoming my go-to place for dining out. Joe Saadey’s entry into the area restaurant scene has been around for a very long time. So have I…which makes me wonder why it has taken me so long to begin to patronize it. Years ago its owner described it as a bar with really good food. So maybe I viewed it as a bar more than a place for food.
Deserved or undeserved, it has always had an interesting reputation. It attracted many of the Youngstown area’s “colorful” people from politicians to union guys to whomever. If you were in the news, you were at the bar. I remember hearing reports of who was seen with whom at The Upstairs on Friday or Saturday nights…and I don’t mean just “colorful” characters. It was the place where “the elite meet” especially if the elite were looking for discretion. Most of it was probably gossip, but then again gossip can be fun.
But the fact of the matter is it is one of the most outstanding dining spaces in the area. The bar is great. The walls are adorned by wonderful artwork much of it done by the owner’s mother. It is classy. It is chic. The color palate is soothing although the bar and restaurant are anything but on a busy night. If Hollywood were to design a set for a Rat Pack bar, this would be it…except this isn’t any ersatz fake. It is the real McCoy from a time when going out meant “going out.” Stepping into The Upstairs is like a refreshing step back into “class.” This is local white tablecloth dining at its best.
And the bonus is the food and the service match the surroundings. I love sitting at the bar and having a drink. The bartenders are friendly and easy going. They become part of the act. Folks are convivial and fun. The drinks are good and generous. If you don’t feel at home when you sit down, you will by the time you get up.
I have never had a bad meal here. There dinner menu is somewhat limited…which is a good thing. It is more than compensated by their daily specials. My wife is hooked on the Boston Scrod, for which it has a well-deserved reputation. Last week I had outstanding Veal and Scallops which was an evening special. Last night I had the Flat-Iron Steak perfectly prepared (my favorite steaks are flat-iron, flank, and hanger steaks). Monday night is Mediterranean night with a bevy of Mid-east dishes. The Baba Ghanoush is among my favorites. There is a complete menu of kabobs and other Mideast specialties.
Anyone who reads my stuff knows that my number one restaurant pet-peeve is the “ta-da” girls that meet you at the hostess station. Not here!! They are friendly and welcoming…which to me is a major reprieve from just about any other establishment…not just in the Youngstown area.
Some of the other restaurant reviewers have described The Upstairs as pricey. Compared to what? Nothing is cheap these days. Has anyone gone out to eat in Cleveland or Pittsburgh lately? I view dining out as a complete package and this is the complete package. Dinner, plus an appetizer, plus a couple of drinks and the tip came to $ 75.00. For the quality and portion size and atmosphere and service, I would describe The Upstairs at the higher end of moderately priced.
On the weekends it can get a bit frantic. It is not a large space and tends to be crowded and noisy which is half the fun. Last night, for the first time, we ate in the back dining room which is a little less noisy and has windows overlooking its back patio which, by the way, is one of the better outdoor lounges in the area during the summer.
The crowd is mid 30 something and older. There is nothing wrong with looking for more adult surroundings. I have seen numerous family celebrations here but it does not strike me as being particularly conducive to children…which is a good thing. At this price range I would prefer not be sitting by a bunch of “little darlings.”
The Wine Bar downstairs is much less frantic. I haven’t eaten down there except at an event, but I understand that it offers the same menu. It is a very attractive space as well.
And “hurrah”…The Upstairs takes reservations. Always a plus!!!! Open for lunch Monday-Friday!!!
My only regret is that I waited so long to begin to go here regularly. See you at The Upstairs!!!
4500 Mahoning Avenue
Youngstown, OH 44515
By: Mark G. Mangie