Snacks 'N At: At Valliant's in Ross, diners appreciate its classic look, food
Walking into Valliant's Diner is a step into the past. And while the look might be old-fashioned, the food is classic.
“We try to keep everything fresh,” says Gerry Valliant, owner of the Ross site that is heading into its 46th year. “The burgers, we sell a lot of burgers, and they are all fresh, ground steak.”
Valliant's has the classic look of a diner: the booths and tables are laminate surrounded by aluminum in a classic mid-century- modern way. The seats are bright green trimmed in gold; the stools at the counter are of the round, spinning variety.
Music even comes from a jukebox — well, a radio that looks like one — sitting in one of the windows.
Valliant's is tucked away along Babcock Boulevard and is easy to drive past, but its regulars keep it hopping. The owner says the diner is largely a neighborhood place that thrives on its repeat trade. “I know what people are going to order as soon as I see them,” Valliant says of his frequent diners. “I could start cooking as soon as I see them get out of the car.”
Sometimes, he says, there will be four generations of a family at a setting.
Valliant says his father, Pete, founded the diner in 1968, and it has been the same since its first days. He believes it has maintained its life as a breakfast-lunch establishment because it serves fresh, made-to-order offerings of the type chains do not.
The menu at Valliant's is classic diner fare, with an egg-and-cheese muffin sandwich ($3.25), French toast and pancakes ($3.25 to $5.95) and a variety of omelets ($3.95 to $7.95 ).
All the orders can be customized with sides from toast (75 cents for white, wheat and rye and $1 for raisin or Jewish rye) to bacon, sausage or hash ($3).
Breakfasts probably are the diner's most popular items, the owner says, but, he adds, Valliant's does well with the burgers that are the boss at lunch. They go from $2.25 for a quarter-pound hamburger to $5.50 for the Valliant burger, which is a half-pounder with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, green peppers and mushrooms.
Valliant's also has a good run of other sandwiches, from a grilled cheese and hot dog ($2.25) to a turkey-bacon club ($5.50). In true Pittsburgh fashion, of course, the diner also has a deep-fried fish sandwich ($4.25).
While the diner does well with those sandwiches, Valliant says, it also has a good clientele for its homemade soups offered Mondays through Saturdays ($3.25).
One of the best features of the restaurant is the mystery of the model cars. Throughout the diner, centered in a case on the counter, is a collection of model cars. A tribute to the gearheads of diner heyday?
Nope, a gift from a unknown friend.
“A few years ago, once a month, somebody would leave one car sitting around somewhere,” Valliant says. “We found them everywhere. In a booth. In the bathroom. Happened for one year, and then it stopped. Have no idea why.”
Valliant's Diner, 3418 Babcock Blvd., Ross, is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Details: 412-364-9577.
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or 412-320-7852.