Restaurant celebrates 25 years
‘Fresh is the key,’ the co-owner of City Seafood and Steakhouse in Mahanoy City says.
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.”
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.