I love places like Coca Café, Tamari and Round Corner Cantina, but for a quick bite there really isn’t a lot to choose from below the hill. Mauramori Café fulfills a role that many people from outside of the Lawrenceville are not privy to. For residents who want a casual breakfast or lunch experience, I think Mauramori Café will fill the gap nicely.
I have always been waiting for the day a genuine “sandwich shop” opens up next to my apartment, something that’s a quick walk away. Oddly enough, two have popped up within the same month. One’s across the street and owned by the Boys and Girl’s club of America. The other is just across the street and run by the owner of Pizza Amore, a relatively divey pizza shop a stone’s throw down Butler Street and a good spot to grab pizza.
The café across the street, known as Mauramori Cafe, is what captured most of my attention. I had been to it before, actually, right around when I first moved to Lawrenceville. At that time it was also newly opened but they only served sandwiches, which were cleverly named after different Lawrenceville streets and alleys. The sandwich shop was good but any further patronage was impossible; the shop closed it doors the week after my first visit due to a violation. A violation!? Gross! What could it have possibly done? Well, they didn’t have an exhaust system over their grill and the expense of installing one turned out to be too costly for them. It was a trivial oversight that nearly cost them their restaurant.
Just when I thought the restaurant had abandoned all hope of re-opening, a bunch of brown paper appeared in the windows with the words “Coming Soon”. I was pretty excited and relieved that they got everything straightened out because the sandwich I originally had was great and the location was perfect. I also don’t like seeing people fail on another person’s terms (the building inspector’s). In the consecutive weeks I could see hints of work going on from within. Finally, a bright, brand new neon sign popped up with the name Mauramori Cafe. I do not understand the name, but I like it. The owner is a friend of the neighborhood so it’s good to see him finally get Mauramori Cafe off the ground.
I said earlier that Mauramori Cafe’s owner has another restaurant, Pizza Amore, and that it is a bit of a dive. It truly is, but has that Do the Right Thing charm to it that a neighborhood pizza shop should embrace. The pizza and subs are good and I’m the kind of guy that actually gets excited when a pizza shop looks a little grimy. Much like a cast-iron skillet, remnants of previous cooking season a pizza shop. Mauramori Cafe on the other hand, is an obvious attempt to capture Lawrenceville’s newer, decidedly more pristine image. Everything inside Mauramori Cafe is spotless and new. Brick walls add a touch of style and large, textured oil paintings adorn the space. Seating is abundant and, though it originally gave off a take-out sandwich shop vibe, Mauramori Cafe has transformed itself into a comfortable sit down spot that serves breakfast and lunch. I think of it as an enticing hybrid, somewhere between trendy café and to-the-point diner.
On my first visit I had lunch. I ordered the Italian-style roast beef sandwich with fries. The sandwich was on a nice, thick roll and the roast beef was out of this world. The beef was sliced to medium thickness and retained plenty of that delicious, beefy juice it’s cooked in. On their menu, it explained that the roast beef was cooked in an “Italian style” which I assumed to be similar to Chicago’s Italian beef sandwich. However, while the beef was juicy, there was no extra au jus on the bread and the sauce on top had a horseradish base. While I’m in no position to make suggestions to the owner, I would have liked an au jus dipped roll and some tangy Italian seasoning rather than horseradish. I can’t complain, though; I thoroughly enjoyed the sandwich and was appreciating that I was enjoying a warm, thick roast beef sandwich in a café that was essentially under my apartment window.
On my second trip I remembered my camera. The Café was absolutely full of people coming and going. I ordered a Buffalo chicken wrap and cheesecake for dessert. The Buffalo chicken wrap was really good. The fresh lettuce gave it a nice snap and the cheddar cheese was grated finely to bring out its full flavor. The tortilla was warm and just a tad steamed to give it that nice elastic consistency. The fries, both times I’ve been, have been good but not quit the style I like. I do not believe they are fresh cut, either. The cheesecake tasted good but when asked whether they made their desserts in-house the waiter informed me that they did not. She explained that their pumpkin pie was from Costco and was not sure of the origins of the cheesecake. While I enjoyed the cheesecake, I hope they can start making their own desserts or at least purchase them locally.
I hope Mauramori Café succeeds. Lawrenceville is increasingly becoming a culinary hotspot but there’s astonishingly little casual dining to be had. I love places like Coca Café, Tamari and Round Corner Cantina, but for a quick bite there really isn’t a lot to choose from below the hill. Mauramori Café fulfills a role that many people from outside of the Lawrenceville are not privy to. For residents who want a casual breakfast or lunch experience, I think Mauramori Café will fill the gap nicely.
|5202 Butler St
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Mon to Fri: 6am – 2pm
Sat to Sun: 8am – 2pm