Res­tau­rant cel­e­brates 25 years

‘Fresh is the key,’ the co-owner of City Seafood and Steak­house in Ma­hanoy City says.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FOOD / HOME - BY JIM DINO StAFF Writer Con­tact the writer: jdino@stAn­dArd­speAker.com; 570501-3585

MA­HANOY CITY — When it comes to the City Seafood and Steak­house, the only word that mat­ters is fresh.

The res­tau­rant is cel­e­brat­ing its 25th an­niver­sary be­cause its op­er­a­tors have re­mained con­sis­tent in the qual­ity of their prod­uct, said James Mer­curi, who owns and op­er­ates the res­tau­rant with his wife, Ch­eryl.

“Fresh is the key,” he said. “I come from the old school. My mother and grand­mother never used mi­crowaves. We cooked. We al­ways went to the butcher shop.”

Mer­curi brings in his food daily.

“I’ve been do­ing this for 30 years, deal­ing with the same peo­ple,” he said. “More than 90 per­cent of our food is pur­chased in the Philadel­phia area, in par­tic­u­lar, Es­pos­ito Meat Pack­ing Co. and Sa­muels Seafood. Our chicken is Bell and Evans, the best on the mar­ket.”

City Seafood serves fresh food — never frozen — with fresh in­gre­di­ents, he said.

“Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand what they’re eat­ing,” he said. “Peo­ple are go­ing to farm­raised prod­ucts and pre­vi­ously frozen prod­ucts. They don’t tell you it is farm raised or frozen. Who wants to eat that? I see so many peo­ple that cheat to­day. Prices are go­ing up and their qual­ity is go­ing down. My prices have stayed the same.”

A Foun­tain Springs na­tive, Mer­curi learned to cook through ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in restau­rants in Dal­las, Texas; New Or­leans and Los An­ge­les. His wife, a Pottsville na­tive, worked for the Schuylkill Coun­try Club and for a cater­ing com­pany.

“Our goal is to of­fer the best food we can buy, main­tain­ing con­sis­tency,” Ch­eryl Mer­curi said. “The hard­est thing about run­ning the res­tau­rant is qual­ity con­trol. Any time we have a cus­tomer who comes back and says, ‘Boy, your food was very good,’ they ex­pect the same qual­ity ev­ery time. That is hard.”

The res­tau­rant of­fers a wide va­ri­ety of seafood and steak en­trees, as well as poul­try, ribs, and pasta dishes.

“The se­cret to a good steak is to never over­cook it,” he said. “Never cook it well done.”

Among the res­tau­rant’s seafood of­fer­ings are Chile and sea bass; Bronzini, or Mediter­ranean, sea bass, and stuffed shrimp and stuffed floun­der with Mer­curi’s own dev­iled crab mix.

“That is one of the things I’m known for,” he said of the dev­iled crab mix. “The recipe dates back to my grand­mother, Eva Kor­pochak.”

And when he says every­thing is fresh, he means it.

“With your en­tree, we will give you a salad with ro­maine let­tuce, the en­tree, fresh-cut fries from spe­cial fry­ing pota­toes, or an Idaho baked potato, and a hot veg­etable,” he said. “We make our own cole slaw, ap­ple­sauce and home­made bread.”

Henry Reiner, Klinger­stown, likes the seafood.

“If you come here, you know what fresh had­dock tastes like,” Reiner said.

Dave and Donna Gera of Frackville are steak lovers.

“Their steaks are very good,” Donna said. “It’s re­ally ten­der, and it has a good taste, too.”

“I usu­ally get a steak. I nor­mally don’t do prime rib, but I ran into Jim, and he said he had them,” Dave said.

Jim and Judy Veghte from Ring­town are reg­u­lars at the res­tau­rant.

“We come here about once a month,” Judy said. “I’m a steak per­son. I al­ways like their steaks. He’s a fish per­son.”

“Their fish is al­ways good,” Jim said.

The res­tau­rant also has home­made desserts like ap­ple, pump­kin and co­conut cus­tard pies, and Jew­ish ap­ple pie, which is “like cake,” James Mer­curi said.

He and his wife share cook­ing and man­age­ment du­ties.

“What­ever you have to do, you do it,” Ch­eryl said. “You have to be a jack of all trades when you own your own place.”

The res­tau­rant has a new room with a large, high ta­ble with chairs is­land, suit­able for par­ties and spe­cial fam­ily events.

“We will do cater­ing and holiday events,” James Mer­curi said. “Let us help you with your next event. We will work with you to cre­ate a menu and make it easy for you to plan and en­joy your event, as well as your guests.”

The res­tau­rant is a BYOB es­tab­lish­ment, he said.

“We de­liver twice a week, Wed­nes­days and Fri­days,” he said. “We pro­vide meat­less dishes as Len­ten spe­cials. And now I’m cook­ing for a lot of peo­ple who want gluten-free.”

On the other side of the build­ing, the Mer­curis also op­er­ate the Hoagie Shack, 708 W. Mar­ket St., cor­ner of Mar­ket and D streets.

“We make Philly cheeses­teaks,” he said. “We use Di­etz and Wat­son meats, and Amoroso buns. All my hams are smoked, and my turkey breasts that I roast are fresh. Who does that for a hoagie? It’s health­ier. Fresh mush­rooms, fresh pep­pers, what­ever, we can bring in from the mar­ket.”

JiM DiNO / StAFF PhOtO

Co-owner Ch­eryl Mer­curi holds a dish of Seared Scal­lops with an Idaho Baked Potato at City Seafood and Steak­house in Ma­hanoy City.

Broiled Had­dock is on the menu at City Seafood and Steak­house in Ma­hanoy City.

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