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Restaurant Roadtrip: Lira

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MORGANTOWN -

Just a year ago, this was the site of the old Wesbanco building.

"We tried leaving as much of the Wesbanco as we could just to honor them," said Lira manager, Beckie Evans. "And ‘lira' is an old European currency, so we wanted something with European style food, but still honoring the building we were going in."

Today, Lira restaurant serves a different kind of customer one that always leaves happy.

"It's kind of a combination of sweet and salty with the ham and it's got the nice crispy grilled bread, and I really like that," said customer Beth Tomlinson. "And I had some chicken noodle soup before that which was really good."

Known for their paninis and flatbreads for lunch, Lira hosts more of a business clientele by day. "Our lunch is set up so you can have a lot of businesses around high street come in and have flatbread and panini and be able to get back to work really quickly," said Evans.

And a more family-oriented, European style by night.

"Our dinner is set up tapas style, so it's set up for that sharing-family experience. It's really unique to Morgantown."

Staying true to its past, Lira kept several of the old bank's unique features.

"The teller line is still the exact same for our bar," said Evans. "All the architecture on the ceilings are the same, this is the vault we definitely didn't add this to enhance the restaurant; this was here."

"So this is where all the money was kept?" I asked.

"Yes, maybe there's still some here somewhere!"

But the food is where the restaurant banks its success.

"This is our chicken marsala," said executive chef, Janet Ferraro. "We lightly bread it, in all purpose flour and Italian breadcrumbs. It's getting seared on our flattop, so it gets that nice crispy layer. And then we're going to transfer into the sauce to finish the cooking process, so you get the crunchiness and the flavor in the sauce. (The sauce) is actually the secret to the chicken marsala we are preparing now what it is a rich, rich, beef reduction of veal bones and a mirepoix which is onions, celery, carrots, garlic."

"So this is a piece of artwork," I said after the plate is put in front of me. "It's almost too pretty to eat but I'm not going to let that stop me. We got the mushrooms, the chicken, the veggies on the side and this delicious looking sauce. Mmm good, hearty, healthy delicious meal this is savory."

Lira also has a chef, who specializes in desserts. She bakes them fresh and changes her menu, depending on the seasons.