Pauly’s opens today, July 7, in the former Cain’s Saloon in Dormont. If you think it’s gonna be anything like its predecessor, fuhgeddaboudit.
The eatery’s namesake, Paul Yelenovsky, spent nearly a year renovating the old watering hole at 3239 W. Liberty Ave. He changed everything from the façade and light fixtures to the tables and décor, which now boasts a mobster movie theme.
The menu was given a makeover, too. Pauly’s focus is on Italian food — there’s even a new pizza oven in the kitchen — but, eventually, grilled wings, signature burgers and breakfast offerings will be added.
You can enjoy The Godfather Sandwich — a hot Italian hoagie with coppa, soppressata, pepperoni, banana peppers and shaved mozzarella — while seated under a photo of Vito Corleone, or chow down on chicken parm next to Joe Pesci. Check out the changes from 4 to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, wise guy.
Yelenovsky grew up in Mt. Lebanon, just a few blocks from the business. He remembers dining at Cain’s as a kid and is excited to bring a new aesthetic to the Dormont institution.
When the place went up for sale, it was an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.
“I wanted to revitalize it and give people in the neighborhood a good place to go,” Yelenovsky says.
He’s worked in Pittsburgh restaurants for most of his life, starting as a dishwasher at Papa J’s and tackling every position in the industry, including general manager, bar manager and executive chef.
When the upstairs room opens in the next three to six months, it’ll boast more of a sports bar atmosphere. All told Pauly’s seats about 150, including at the long, concrete bar.
Yelenovsky will soon extend his hours to cater to the lunchtime crowd and offer delivery service through third-party vendors such as Grubhub and Uber Eats. Right now, he’s just thrilled to get the doors open to this long-awaited gathering place.
Although opening a restaurant is a gamble, Yelenovsky, a big fan of the movie “Casino,” is glad he rolled the dice.
Quoting Robert De Niro’s character in the 1995 film, he says, “There are three ways of doing things around here: the right way, the wrong way and the way that I do it.”