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"I spent a lazy frigid Friday evening stuffed in Ray's, as the real dining seating was all full and the bar crowd was mingling well. Ray's is a rather new addition to Pittsburgh's rather dull, meat focused, very formal(read expensive and dull) or very crappy (read chains, junkfood and imitation Italian).
Lawrenceville, (the neighborhood where Ray's is located) unfortunately, only recently seems to garnered any positive press and attention. Also unfortunate is the type of business and business owner invading a pristine working community of Lawrenceville - this place is full of charm in it's left alone state. The great increase of 'I work there but live far away' and the inflation of property values through questionable valued rehab is driving Lawrenceville into a new different sorry state.
--Well don't tell the folks at Ray's this. Ray's is a prime example for all the Grant Street politicians grasping for straws about what Pittsburgh needs and about what real development is. All the local politicians ought to spend an evening at Ray's examining the real soul of Pittsburgh. Real development is respecting the neighborhood and reviving a lifeless building and providing a useful and cherished space that the neighbors can frequent and are proud of.
The kind table, cleared from personal belongings of the very petite and well liked co-owner Keri Fisher allowed me the space to sample a bit of what Ray's is all about. Instantly when seated I had a keen view of the bar back area, trinket notables for sale area and the long aisle of tables and bar stools. I then realized this place is something special. Ray's suceeds in mixing vintage old-Ray's-bar discoloration and original fixtures with more modern elements. Yet this is all done without lots of polish and sparkly stuff. It's certainly best described as ecelectic.
The patrons were a widely varied bunch, some hyper intellectual university personalities with some walking locals plus all the odd and ends and nearly extinct population types Pittsburgh seems to have otherwise caused to flee to 'better' cities.
Now onto the food and beverages...
Ray's stocks a pretty hefty beer selection when it comes to micros - much to my surprise. They had all my usuals - Victory, Troegs, Stone. They probably carry 30 if not more micros and some nifty imports. Applause please for their ambitious and varied tastes.
Ray's Marlin Beach & Grille name leads you to say what about the fish? This isn't a fishery, but they do have several fish items on the menu. They seem to take pride in their fish and when we tried ordering a specific fish item we found it was not available and there had been a shortage in getting the fish fresh.
See that's the part where I say wow! Fresh fish and a shortage? You don't rush to get the frozen stuff in? Filler? That's the really down to earth honesty that is Ray's. Best part is they tell you why, they don't leaving you grasping for explanations or leave you with a lousy dish of otherwise normal Pittsburgh fare.
I downed an appetizer, plus some very good seasoned fries (nice and thick) and a fine vegetarian burger...
Indeed this place is sensible, the waitstaff is concerned and attentative and overall the prices are rather affordable.
The only problem I can see and I experienced is Ray's might be too much of a good thing. Too much demand can equal need to expand or some obvious problems in orders (I never received my salad - but paid for it).
I hope to see Ray's, this new revitalized replacement of a neighborhood bar that probably existed at least 50 years before this new version, go on to exist and thrive for another 50 years."
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